Oxford Street

Oxford Street
Oxford Street
Heavy Bus Traffic on Oxford Street.jpg
The view east along Oxford Street, showing Routemaster buses before their withdrawal from routes serving the street
Road number UK road A40.svg Part of the A40 road
Location Westminster, London, UK
Length 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
Direction East-West
Start Marble Arch
End Tottenham Court Road
Landmarks Selfridges, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus
Known for Shopping
Passes through Central London

Oxford Street is a major thoroughfare in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, United Kingdom. It is Europe's busiest shopping street, as well as its most dense, and currently has approximately 300 shops.[1][2] The street was formerly part of the London-Oxford road which began at Newgate, City of London, when it was known as Oxford Road. Today the road forms part of the A40, although, like many roads in central London which are not now intended as through traffic routes, it is not signposted with the road number.

Roughly halfway along Oxford Street is Oxford Circus, a busy intersection with Regent Street. A diagonal crossing at Oxford Circus opened in 2009, currently the only one of its kind in central London.

Common sights on Oxford Street include preachers (such as Philip Howard who was at Oxford Circus), political demonstrations (such as the 2001 May Day protests and small scale protests) and Hare Krishnas.



The road leading west from London is Oxford Street

Oxford Street runs for approximately one and a half miles (two and a half kilometres) from Marble Arch at the north east corner of Hyde Park, through Oxford Circus to St Giles Circus, at the intersection with Charing Cross Road and Tottenham Court Road. Eastwards, the road then becomes New Oxford Street until it runs into High Holborn. Oxford Street intersects with other London roads including Park Lane, New Bond Street and Regent Street. West of Marble Arch, Oxford Street becomes Bayswater Road, then Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park Avenue until it becomes the Uxbridge Road at Shepherd's Bush Roundabout. At Uxbridge it becomes the Oxford Road again, all the way to Oxford, save for some short sections where it has been given a local name.


Oxford Street in 1875, looking west from the junction with Duke Street. The buildings on the right are on the future site of Selfridges

Oxford Street follows the route of a Roman road, the via Trinobantina, which linked Hampshire with Colchester and became one of the major routes in and out of the city.

Between the 12th century and 1782 it was variously known as Tyburn Road (after the River Tyburn that ran just to the south of it, and now flows underneath it), Uxbridge Road, Worcester Road and Oxford Road.[3] Note: Today the name Uxbridge Road is still used for the portion of the London—Oxford Road between Shepherds Bush and Uxbridge itself. It became notorious as the route taken by prisoners on their final journey from Newgate Prison to the gallows at Tyburn near Marble Arch. By about 1729, the road had become known as Oxford Street.[4]

In the late 18th century, many of the surrounding fields were purchased by the Earl of Oxford, and the area was developed. It became popular with entertainers including bear-baiters and masquerades, and for entertainment buildings such as the Pantheon. During the 19th century, the area became known for its shops.

Oxford Street is a square on the British Monopoly board. It is part of the green set together with Regent Street and Bond Street.


United Colors of Benetton at Oxford Street
Selfridges shop on Oxford street in 1987

Oxford Street is home to a number of major department stores and numerous flagship stores, as well as hundreds of smaller shops. It is the biggest shopping street in central London, though not the most expensive or fashionable, and forms part of a larger shopping district with Regent Street, Bond Street and a number of other smaller nearby streets.

For many British retail chains their Oxford Street branch is regarded as their 'flagship' store. Major stores on the street include:

  • Selfridges, the second-largest department store in the UK and flagship of the Selfridges chain, it has been on this site for over a century
  • John Lewis, the third-largest department store in the UK and flagship of the John Lewis chain, opened in 1864
  • Marks & Spencer, the famous retailer's flagship store of 170,000 square feet (16,000 m2), at the junction of Oxford Street and Orchard Street, is known as Marks & Spencer Marble Arch and is the company's largest store. A second branch is located between Regent Street and Tottenham Court Road and stands on the site of the famous Pantheon building. Its fine polished black granite frontage completed in 1938 was awarded Grade II Listed Building status in September 2009.
  • Debenhams, the flagship of the national department store chain. Originally known as Marshall & Snelgrove, the store took the name of its parent company in 1973 after the store was rebuilt. The original Debenham & Freebody store was located in nearby Wigmore Street
  • House of Fraser, the London flagship of the national department store chain. The store traded as D H Evans until 2000. It is located in an art-deco building completed in 1935; the first department store in the UK to include escalators serving every floor
  • HMV, the music retailer has three stores on the street including a concession within Selfridges and its shop at 150 Oxford Street, which is Europe's largest music shop at 50,000 square feet (5,000 m2)
  • New Look, features the largest shoe department and both women's and men's clothing ranges of the entire chain in the country.
  • Schuh, the largest shoe store on Oxford Street, with the biggest range of branded footwear in London
  • Topshop, claimed to be " the largest fashion store in the world" [1]
  • Primark, London flagship store
  • Zara, London flagship store
  • Gap, London flagship store
  • Niketown, London flagship store


Oxford Street, at a busy junction

Oxford Street is served by the Central (which runs parallel beneath it), Jubilee, Bakerloo, Northern and Victoria London Underground lines, as well as many major bus routes.

Tube stations along Oxford Street, starting at Marble Arch (western-most):

Crossrail will have two stations serving Oxford Street, at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road. Each station will be "double-ended", with exits through the existing tube station and also some distance away: to the east of Bond Street, in Hanover Square near Oxford Circus;[5] to the west of Tottenham Court Road, in Dean Street.[6]

Heavy congestion due to the number of stopping bus routes along Oxford Street, plus traffic crossing Oxford Street between Marylebone to the north and Mayfair and Soho to the south, led to proposals in 2006-08 from the New West End Company, the Mayor of London's office and several of the Mayoral candidates to pedestrianise Oxford Street with a tram service running end to end.[7] However the new Mayor, Boris Johnson, elected in May 2008, announced on 6 November 2008 that the Oxford Street Tram/Transit scheme would not be progressed within the TfL Business Plan 2009/10 – 2017/18 as the scheme was unaffordable and the disruption during construction would be very substantial. In response to a request from the Mayor, Transport for London undertook to reduce the bus flow in Oxford Street by 10% in each of 2009 and 2010.[8] In January 2009 the New West End Company had called for a 33% reduction in bus movements in Oxford Street.[9]

Oxford Street can become congested both on the footpath, due to the high number of shoppers and tourists, and on the road as a result of the many buses routed along the street. Largely because of the diesel-engined traffic in the street (buses and taxis), annual average NO2 concentrations on Oxford Street are around 180 micrograms per cubic metre. This is four and a half times the EU target of 40 micrograms per cubic metre (Council Directive 1999/30/EC).[10]

Since 2004 Oxford Street has been made traffic-free on a Saturday before Christmas. In 2009 this was on Saturday 5 December, from 12 noon. It was promoted as "VIP Day", where VIP stands for Very Important Pedestrian.[11] The promoters were the New West End Company, which represents retailers and property owners in Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street. Oxford Street was also made traffic-free on Saturday 23 May 2009, from 12 noon until 5 pm. This was the first time Oxford Street had been made traffic-free on a day in May. However the May traffic-free day was not repeated in 2010. The VIP Day before Christmas in 2010 was Saturday 27 November.[12]

Christmas lights

The 2005 Oxford Street Christmas lights

Each Christmas the street is decorated with festive lights. The use of Christmas lights began in 1959, five years after its neighbour Regent Street had begun the tradition. In 1967, as the recession hit London, the lights were stopped and only returned in 1978 when Oxford Street organised a laser display.[13]

In mid to late November a celebrity turns on the lights and they remain on until 6 January (Twelfth Night). The following celebrities have turned on the lights:

See also


  1. ^ "Land Securities to Spend $1.1 Billion on London Developments". Bloomberg. 19 January 2010. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a0D86ca5MwuM. Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Oxford Street gets its own dedicated local police team". The Londoner. September 2006. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070930204913/http://www.london.gov.uk/londoner/06sep/p7a.jsp. Retrieved 19 June 2007. 
  3. ^ Oxford Street: The Development of the Frontage, in Survey of London: volume 40: The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings) (1980), pp. 171-173, from British History Online
  4. ^ Tottenham Court Road in Old and New London: Volume 4 (1878), pp. 467-480, from British History Online
  5. ^ "Bond Street Station - design". Crossrail. http://www.crossrail.co.uk/route/stations/bond-street/design#content. Retrieved 2010-12-01. 
  6. ^ "Tottenham Court Road - design". Crossrail. http://www.crossrail.co.uk/route/stations/tottenham-court-road/design#content. Retrieved 2010-12-01. 
  7. ^ "Mayor's Oxford Street tram vision". BBC. 31 August 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/5301366.stm. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  8. ^ "Streets ahead: Relieving congestion on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street". London Assembly Transport Committee. 4 February 2010. http://legacy.london.gov.uk/assembly/transport/2010/mar02/item06a.pdf. Retrieved 2010-05-09.  See Appendix 1.
  9. ^ "Way To Go January 2009". New West End Company. http://www.newwestend.com/generic/document/content/393. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  10. ^ "Developing a new Air Quality Strategy and Action Plan - Consultation on Issues". Westminster City Council. August 2008. http://www3.westminster.gov.uk/docstores/publications_store/Developing%20a%20new%20Air%20Quality%20Strategy%20and%20Action%20Plan%20-%20Consultation%20on%20Issues.pdf.  See p 10
  11. ^ "West End shoppers celebrate VIP Day". West End Marketing Alliance. 2009-12-10. http://www.westendlondon.com/Whats-Happening/West-End-shoppers-celebrate-VIP-Day.aspx. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  12. ^ "Shop West End Marketing Strategy 2010/11". http://www.newwestend.com/programmes/marketing_and_events/annual_plan. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  13. ^ "London's bright past". BBC. 22 December 1997. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/for_christmas/_new_year/christmas_decorations/41518.stm. 
  14. ^ "Rihanna lights up Westfield". London Evening Standard. 5 November 2010. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/showbiz/article-23894797-rihanna-reveals-longing-to-live-in-uk-as-she-switches-on-westfield-christmas-lights.do. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  15. ^ "Jim Carrey switches on Oxford Street Christmas lights". The Telegraph. 3 November 2009. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/christmas/6496308/Jim-Carrey-switches-on-Oxford-Street-Christmas-lights.html. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  16. ^ "Actor Carrey switches on lights". BBC News. 2009-11-04. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8339611.stm. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  17. ^ "Christmas crackers: Sugababes light up West End as X Factor finalists sing for screaming crowds". Daily Mail. 13 November 2008. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1085201/Christmas-crackers-Sugababes-light-West-End-X-Factor-finalists-sing-screaming-crowds.html. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  18. ^ "Sugababes switch on Oxford Street Christmas lights". The Telegraph. 2008-11-13. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/3449286/Sugababes-switch-on-Oxford-Street-Christmas-lights.html. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  19. ^ "Leona to turn on Christmas lights". BBC. 29 October 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7067102.stm. 
  20. ^ Carmichael, Sri (2007-11-08). "Thousands see Oxford Street lit up by spirit of Christmas". Evening Standard. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/events/article-23420111-thousands-see-oxford-street-lit-up-by-spirit-of-christmas.do. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  21. ^ "Energy row over Christmas lights". BBC. 9 November 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6132964.stm. 
  22. ^ "Westlife switch on festive lights". BBC. 15 November 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4436544.stm. 
  23. ^ "Westlife switch on London's Christmas lights". RTÉ Ten. 2005-11-16. http://www.rte.ie/ten/2005/1116/westlife.html. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  24. ^ "Festive switch-on for Potter star". BBC. 16 November 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4012555.stm. 
  25. ^ "Enrique Turns It On For London Shoppers". Sky News. 2003-11-21. http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Sky-News-Archive/Article/200806412931596?chooseNews=Popular_stories. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  26. ^ "Enrique the Christmas hero". Mirror. 2003-10-28. http://www.mirror.co.uk/celebs/news/2003/10/28/enrique-the-christmas-hero-115875-13563380/. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Swinnerton, Jo (2004). The London Companion. Robson Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-1861057990. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=DiN8mA7CcaYC&pg=PA24&dq=%22esther+rantzen%22%22oxford+street%22+christmas+lights&ct=result#v=onepage&q=%22esther%20rantzen%22%22oxford%20street%22%20christmas%20lights&f=false. 
  28. ^ Hu, Claire (2001-11-01). "Seven light up Oxford St heavens". Evening Standard. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-815013-seven-light-up-oxford-st-heavens.do. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  29. ^ "Charlotte lighting up London". charlottechurch.net. 21 November 2000. http://www.charlottechurch.net/news/arch11.html. 
  30. ^ "Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit". BBC. 19 November 1999. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/527422.stm. 
  31. ^ McGeever, Mike (1997-12-20). "Peter Andre's got the 'Time'". Billboard: p. 18. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=4wkEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA18&dq=%22Peter+Andre%22+%22Oxford+Street%22+lights&ct=result#v=onepage&q=%22Oxford%20Street%22%20lights&f=false. Retrieved 2010-11-28. "Andre has become a familiar face in Britain, where he was the celebrity chosen for the high-level media of switching on the Christmas lights Nov. 7 on London's Oxford Street." 
  32. ^ Sinclair, David (2004). Wannabe: how the Spice Girls reinvented pop fame. Omnibus Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-0711986435. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=UeGVatY5WzIC&pg=PA90&dq=%22Spice+Girls%22+%22Oxford+Street%22+lights&ct=result#v=onepage&q=%22Oxford%20Street%22%20lights&f=false. "They [the Spice Girls] were an obvious choice, for example, to switch on the Oxford Street Christmas Lights in November 1996, a commitment which they took conspicuous delight in fulfilling." 

External links

Coordinates: 51°30′49″N 0°09′20″W / 51.51361°N 0.15556°W / 51.51361; -0.15556

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