DID YOU know that South Oxford Community Centre used to house Oxford’s waterworks?
Or that the railway into the city used to run through Hinksey Park to Oxford’s original railway station in Marlborough Road?
Local historian Liz Woolley, who calls South Oxford the city’s “Cinderella”, is hoping to bring its hidden charms to light.
She has designed two interactive information boards for each entrance to Hinksey Park revealing the area’s secret past.
Ms Woolley, who lives in Marlborough Road, said: “This area is very interesting historically, it’s just not as well-known as Jericho or East Oxford. Hinksey Park is a well-loved part of town. People come for the pool and farmers’ market and my idea was to tell people its history.”
One sign at the Lake Street entrance will tell the story of Oxford Waterworks, opened in 1856, which gave residents running water in their homes for the first time.
Ms Woolley said: “The original buildings which are now the community centre had no floors and they were full of massive stream-driven engines.”
Hinksey Lake was the original reservoir for the waterworks – the swimming pool was a filter bed where water was filtered through sand and the boating lake provided water to cool the giant engines.
A second information board at the northern entrance will trace the former route of the railway through the park. The line took passengers to Oxford’s first railway station at the corner of Marlborough Road and Western Road – named after the Great Western Railway.
The signs will both have QR codes that people can scan with a smartphone that will take them to a history page on South Oxford Community Association’s website.
Ms Woolley said in time she hoped other groups interested in local history will be able to contribute to the page and build a repository.
The boards, now being created, will be unveiled in a ceremony at 10.30am on Sunday, September 7.
As well as funding from Oxford City Council, her project has also been funded by Abingdon Road’s Four Pillars Hotel, Brasenose College, which owns land in South Oxford, and the Greening Lamborn Trust for history.
City councillor for South Oxford Bob Price said: “I think it is a really exciting project which will bring alive the history of Grandpont and Hinksey Park for the many visitors who come for the pool and all the other activities here.”
- To get involved with the project email Liz@lizwoolley.co.uk or call 01865 242760