Oxford History: The High

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44–45: Oxford Bus Company Ticket Shop


44 & 45

This large shop at 44 & 45 High Street was built in the late eighteenth-century style by St Edmund Hall in 1968 as a single double-fronted shop with student accommodation upstairs. It was designed by Marshall Sissons.

There were formerly two separate houses/shops on this site. They are described in this auction advertisement in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 16 July 1853:

Lot 1.—A DWELLING HOUSE, No. 44, High-street, with front shop, side entrance, sitting room, and kitchen, on the ground floor; three rooms on the first floor, and attic over; cellar in the basement, back kitchen, and small yard behind the same, now in the occupation of Mrs. Clements, and is held by lease under Queen's College for a term of 40 years, from August 23, 1849.
Reserved rent, 18s.; rent £35 per annum.

Lot 2.—The DWELLING HOUSE, No. 45, adjoining now let as a Private Residence, containing a side entrance, hall, front and back rooms, kitchen, and every convenience on the ground floor; front drawing room, and two back rooms on the first floor; three rooms on the second floor and three attics over; cellars in the basement; the whole in excellent condition, and is held by lease under Queen's College for a term of 40 years; from August 23, 1849.
Reserved rent, 17s. 3d.; rent, £60 per annum.

In the latter years the former two shops on this site were both occupied by Minty Ltd: see photograph taken in 1949.

The shops on this site were in St Peter-in-the East parish until that parish was united with St Cross parish in 1957.

The former No. 44

John Clements, a watch & clock maker, was here by 1808, and in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 25 November 1809 advertised that he sold watches of every description and clocks made to any order in his shop opposite the Angel Inn.

An advertisement for an auction of his shop that appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 24 March 1838 described it as having “a convenient yard or backside, and a building formerly used as a stable, and loft over the same. It was then owned by The Queen's College.

In 1841 John Clements was living over still living over his shop with his wife Eliza and their children John, Henry, Eliza, Alfred, and Mary. By 1851 Eliza Clements was a widow, living here with her two daughters (both dressmakers) and two sons (an engraver and a watchmaker).

In 1871 the baker William Bayne lived over this house with the four bakers who worked under him.
In 1911 Alfred Thomas Walker (65), a lodging house keeper, lived in the twelve rooms over the Minty furniture shop with his wife and daughter.

The former No. 45

In 1841 the tailor James Embling was living over this shop with his son James (4) and two female servants.

In 1851 John Hewitt (described in the census as a hairdresser) was living over No. 45 with his mother, sister, and a servant. In 1861 Richard P. Huthnance (described as “incapacitated for business”) lived here with his milliner wife and daughter, his three other children, an assistant milliner, and three servants, including a young messenger. In 1871 Henry Storr, a linen draper, lived here with his large family.

The two former houses on this site were combined as a cabinet maker's shop in the late 1870s, and the upstairs was probably used as part of the business, so that at the time of the 1881 census, there was no one living at Nos. 44 and 45.


Minty’s Furniture

Minty

By 1898 Norman Minty, the founder of the Minty Furniture firm, operated from this pair of shops. He also had No. 60. The firm remained at this shop until 1966.

The founder of the firm was Norman Edward Ernest Minty, who was born in Oxford in 1860. He was only 20 when he opened his shop at 45 High Street. In a workshop at the back, he made a wicker chair known as the “Varsity”, and it was said that every undergraduate had one. Minty eventually purchased 44 High Street, and moved the factory side of the business to Cherwell Street in St Clement’s.

During World War One, Minty’s made canvas good (including stretchers and tents) for the armed forces, and after the war the firm continued making marquees. Additional shops were opened in London in 1920 and Manchester in 1932.

Norman Minty died in 1934, and the firm was taken over by B.B. Bowles, the managing director. The advertisement on the right dates from the 1950s.

In 1966 a new purpose-built factory and showroom opened on the Horspath Road industrial estate in Oxford; but in 1992 the firm went into receivership, and in 1994 it was sold for £1.1m to its rival, Cornwell Parker.

Occupiers of 44 & 45 High Street  
Darker background = former buildings on this site, now demolished

Date

44 High Street

45 High Street

1837, 1839

John Clements, Engraver, Watch & clock maker
Mrs Clements

{Alex & William Bayne, Bakers at 44A behind)

Harris & Co., Tailors
(Richard Harris to 1837, then his widow Catherine Harris)

1846–1853+ 

John Hewitt, Perfumer

1861–1876

Maria Bellamy, Bookseller & stationer
(jointly at 43)

(William Bayne, Baker
at 44 High Street Passage behind)

M. Huthnance (1861)

Frederick W. Ansell
Upholsterer, cabinet maker,
& paper hanger
(1866–1876)

1880–1884

Frederick W. Ansell, Upholsterer, cabinet maker, & paper hanger

1887–1966

Norman Edward Ernest Minty, Cabinet maker, later Minty Ltd, House furnisher

1970–1980+

Campus, Boutique

By 1993–2006

Marie Curie Cancer Care charity shop

2007–2012

Red Cross charity shop

2013

Oxford Bus Company Ticket Shop

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 4 July, 2021

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