Oxford History: Schools


Central Girls’ School, New Inn Hall Street

Central Girls' School

The above picture was drawn by Hervey Rutherford in 1900 and appeared in The Builder of 18 May 1901. The accompanying text reads:


This building has been erected for the Oxford School Board, to accommodate about 300 girls, and is situated in New Inn Hall-street. It also contains a cookery centre and a pupil teachers’ centre.

The school has a stone front, and the roof is covered with Yorkshire stone slates.

Messrs. Kingerlee & Sons, of Oxford, were the builders, and Mr. Leonard Stokes the architect. The drawing is exhibited at the Royal Academy.

The original Central School for Girls had been founded in about 1797 and occupied the old Wesleyan Chapel in New Inn Hall Street. The Oxford School Board took it over in 1898 and bought another site in that street from Balliol College for this new, purpose-built school building. It was described by Pevsner as “not really like any other Oxford building”.

The girls moved in towards the end of 1900, and the building was formerly opened by Sir William Anson in January 1901.


By the end of the 1940s, it was the third choice for a girl who passed the 11+, the first four choices being:

  • Oxford High School for Girls
  • Milham Ford School
  • Central Girls’ School
  • Girls’ Technical School (in St Ebbe’s until 1954).

Right: The name of the school survives on the side of the building on the right

School dinners were taken in the Hall of New Road Baptist Church, which was adjacent to the school. The girls went to the nearby Wesley Memorial Church Hall for PE, and for outdoor sports had to walk to the field in Manor Road.

The school moved up to Gipsy Lane in Headington in 1959, becoming Cheney County Secondary Girls’ School, and its former building (below) is now part of St Peter’s College.

Girls' High School

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 20 October, 2018

Headington home Small Shark Oxford History home