The Suburbs of Victorian Oxford: Growth in a Pre-Industrial City
thesisposted on 26.08.2010, 10:36 by Malcolm Graham
This study examines the origins, growth and subsequent character of the Victorian suburbs of Oxford, a small provincial city with no industrial base. Major sources include newspapers, census enumerators' returns, deposited plans, and plan registers, rate books, the records of leasehold estates and deeds of properties acquired by the City Council. Chapters are devoted to:- The Creation of the Suburbs; Development Control; the House-Building Industry; Suburban Houses; House-Ownership; Residents of the Suburbs and Life in the Suburbs. Victorian Oxford grew steadily, attracting local migration because of the varied job opportunities. Suburban development was profoundly influenced by topography and the decisions taken by landowners. Corporate landowners preferred leasehold development to outright sale and their concern for reversionary value encouraged the building of high-cost, low-density housing. On freehold estates, too, standards were raised by the social and financial preferences of developers and builders, the introduction of building byelaws and the rising real incomes of potential investors and tenants. Access to cheap freehold plots prolonged the fragmentation of a building industry which depended heavily upon loans and credit. The suburbs were the product of innumerable local and personal decisions, providing a safe income for many private landlords and larger, more sanitary homes for better-off tenants. The new suburbs required many services and facilities, but the provision of these owed much to their social status. With an increasing number of resident councillors, leasehold, middle-class North Oxford had the political and economic power to maintain and enhance its character. Elsewhere, market forces prevailed over amenity, public utilities were grudgingly provided and the limited nature of municipal intervention was most seriously felt. Conditions were ameliorated, however, by those people and organisations who, for various reasons, provided churches, schools and recreational facilities.