Walton Street: Ruskin College

Ruskin College

Named after the social reformer and artist John Ruskin, Ruskin Hall (as it was first known) started life in 1899 at 14 St Giles, but moved in 1903 moved to an earlier building that stood on the corner of Worcester Place and Walton Street.

The original building was replaced in 1912 by the one shown above. The governing body of 1912 stated:

The new buildings present a handsome frontage to Walton Street. They are Georgian in design, and are a worthy addition to the many beautiful buildings.

The mock-Georgian façade stops at first-floor level, where stone turns to red brick.

There is a foundation stone under each of the four central ground-floor windows (details here), laid respectively by:

  • Mrs Amne L. Grafflin of Baltimore, USA (co-founder of the college with her husband Walter Vrooman)
  • Sydney C. Buxton MP (father of a former vice-principal);
  • C. W. Bowerman, Esq., MP (TUC president in 1901 and Ruskin executive committee member)
  • Miss M. Giles (who had been a member of staff of the college since 1899).

The name of the college (unlike those of the University) is inscribed over the main entrance, in the style of nineteenth-century mechanics’ institutes.

Ruskin College garden

The photograph on the postcard below dates from about 1910, and presumably shows part of the original college on the Walton Street site. A note on the back reads: ‘The daily “wash-up” at Ruskin College, Oxford’.

Washing up at Ruskin College

The photograph on the postcard below shows the 1908 Ruskin football team outside the old building:

Ruskin football 1908

Ruskin College sold its Walton Street premises to Exeter College for £7m on 17 March 2010, and in October 2012 reopened in its redeveloped Headington site at The Rookery, which it had bought in 1946 and renamed Ruskin Hall, and Stoke House, which it had bought in 1965. Exeter demolished all the old college except for the façade, and the site is now its Cohen Quad.

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