Jericho, Oxford

Jericho, Oxford

Jericho is a historic suburb of the English city of Oxford. It consists of the streets bounded by the Oxford Canal, Worcester College, Walton Street and Walton Well Road. Located outside the old city wall, it was originally a place for travellers to rest if they had reached the city after the gates had closed. The name Jericho may have been adopted to signify this 'remote place' outside the wall. [Stalker, Peter. [ A brief history of Jericho] (Jericho Echo)]


The area was originally an industrial area which grew up because of the presence of the Oxford Canal, which arrived in 1790. The Eagle Ironworks (now being redeveloped), wharves and the Oxford University Press were based there and its residential streets are mostly 'two-up, two-down' Victorian workers' houses. With backstreets of nineteenth century terraced housing and many restaurants, it has become a hugely popular location for student and London commuter accommodation.

In the 1950s, Jericho was briefly a red light area, and in the early 1960s there were plans to demolish it and replace it with light industrial units and new housing. However, many people objected and campaigned to save this historic area, rallied by local city councillor Olive Gibbs and the Jericho Residents Association. As a result the plans were changed. Although the houses beyond repair were demolished many were upgraded in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the help of council grants. This encouraged many young professionals and families to move in and subsequently Jericho became one of Oxford's most sought-after areas.


Jericho continues to have a strong community spirit. The Jericho Community Association runs the Jericho Community Centre [ [ Jericho Community Centre] ] in Canal Street, publishes the local newspaper the "Jericho Echo" [ [ Jericho Echo] ] and organizes the annual Street Fair which is held in mid-June each year, around the feast day of the patron saint Barnabas (11 June). It is also the focus for other community activities and has also been very active in campaigning for responsible development of the canalside land behind St. Barnabas Church on a small part of which it plans to build a new Community Centre.

With its gentle biblical name, Jericho is also known for its iconic places of worship. The Anglo-Catholic St Barnabas Church [ [ St Barnabas Church Website] ] is the Church of England parish church in Jericho, next to the Oxford Canal. St. Sepulchre's Cemetery lies off Walton Street, although there is no associated church. The Albert Street Chapel [ [ The Albert Street Chapel website] ] (Reformed Baptist) is also in the neighbourhood. The Oxford Synagogue (one of the few in England with more than one denomination of Judaism worshipping in the same house) and the Oxford Jewish Centre [ [ Oxford Synagogue] ] are located in Jericho.

Castlemill Boatyard is a 160-year-old wharf on the canal in Jericho, owned by British Waterways and now closed. There are controversial plans to sell the site. Since the yard's closure of the yard, Jericho Community Boatyard Ltd has been set up to restore services for Oxford Boaters and protect the future of Castlemill Boatyard Fact|date=February 2007.

The cinema has had a number of incarnations. It started in from 1913 as the North Oxford Kinema. In the 1925 it was renamed the Scala, then in 1970 it was split in two and became Studios 1 and 2, one of which showed soft-porn. In 1977 the cinema revived again after being taken over by the London company Contemporary Entertainments and acquired its current name, the Phoenix, showing first-run and arthouse films.

Jericho in fiction

Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure has a scene set in St Barnabas Church, and it is possible that the suburb nicknamed 'Beersheba' in the novel is actually Jericho [ [ Jericho Echo] ] . As a homage to Hardy, in 1996, one of Jericho's pubs was renamed Jude the Obscure.

The first episode of the long running ITV drama series Inspector Morse, starring British actor John Thaw called "The Dead of Jericho", was partially filmed in the streets of Jericho, notably Combe Road (which is 'Canal Reach' in the drama). It also featured the exterior of the 'Bookbinders Arms' pub on the corner of Victor Street. The spin-off show "Lewis" is also based around the same area.

Philip Pullman set parts of his novels "Northern Lights" and "Lyra's Oxford" in Jericho. In the books, Jericho is home to the water-dwelling "Gyptians". He has been a vocal advocate of the residential boaters' fight to save the Castlemill Boatyard [ [] ] .


External links

* [ The Oxford Guide: Jericho]
* [ Jericho Echo]

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