Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Lionel Ernest Harrison (1905–1988)

Mayor of Oxford 1961/2

Lionel Ernest Harrison was born at 126 Great Lister Street, Duddeston, Birmingham in 1905 and baptised at St Matthew's Church at Duddeston on 3 July.

His father Ernest Harrison was born in Leeds in 1874 and was a hairdresser. His mother Emily Louisa Amor was born in Frome in late 1871.

Lionel's parents were married in the Headington registration district of Oxford in the first quarter of 1899, and began their married life in Birmingham. Their elder son, John William Harrison, was also born at 126 Great Lister Street and baptised at St Matthew's Church on 13 March 1901. They had moved down to Oxford by early 1911.

At the time of the 1911 census, Lionel (5) was living at 85 Bullingdon Road, Oxford with his father Ernest (37), who was a hairdresser, his mother Emily (38), who was a dressmaker, and his older brother John (10), plus his mother's sister Mrs Violet Sheppard (41), who was a tailoress.

In 1922 Lionel Harrison went to work in his father’s hairdressing salon at Barrett Chambers, 38 Queen Street (on the north side near Carfax).

On 19 June 1930 at St Ebbe's Church, Oxford, Lionel Ernest Harrison (25), described as a hairdresser of 85 Bullingdon Road, married Violet Mabel Cross (22), a typist of 23 Paradise Square and the daughter of the taxi driver Walter Cross.

At first they lived over the shop at Queen Street, and they had three children:

  • Peter D. Harrison (born in the Headington registration district in 1932, probably at 85 Bullingdon Road)
  • Roger L. E. Harrison (born in Oxford in 1935, probably at 43 Divinity Road)
  • Penelope E. Harrison (born in Oxford in 1939, probably at 43 Divinity Road).

By 1935 the family was living at 43 Divinity Road.

Lionel took over his father's hairdressing business, and continuing to run the salon and for forty years from 1922 until his retirement in 1966 he ran his salon at Barrett Chambers, 38 Queen Street (on the north side near Carfax) as well as other family businesses

Harrison was Conservative councillor for East Oxford from 1949.

In about 1953 Harrison moved from Divinity Road to 108 Hurst Street in east Oxford.

He was elected as the last Mayor of Oxford (for 1961/2) – all subsequent holders of the office were to be Lord Mayors. During his mayoral year he went with the Oxford solicitor E. A. Ferguson on a 1,900 mile trip from Oxford to Moscow in a specially converted Mini to promote the success of Morris Motors. The car had a special 50 gallon tank, and the whole journey was completed without refuelling.

Harrison then served as an Alderman, but retired from the council in 1964 after the reorganization of local government.

In 1966 he retired from the family hairdressing business at 38 Queen Street. He lived at Langley Close in Headington in his retirement.

† Lionel Ernest Harrison died in April 1988.

His daughter Penny and her daughter Justine both continued the family hairdressing tradition.

See also:

  • Oxford Times, 7 November 1975, p. 3 (article about his and his wife’s retirement from the Committee of the East Oxford Conservative Association, including photograph)
  • Oxford Times, 29 April 1988, p. 3 (obituary)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 2 December, 2018

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