Friday, August 26, 2011

Oxford, England - August 22, 2010

Oxford, first settled in Saxon times, was initially known as Oxenaforda - Ford of the Ox - an actual oxen crossing in early 10th century which developed into a military frontier town between the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex. The earliest colleges were University College in 1249, Balliol in 1263 and Merton in 1264, all established at a time when Europeans were starting to translate the writings of Greek philosophers. Today there are 39 colleges in town but no central campus.
The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through the town, meeting south of the city center. Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire with a current population of about 160,000. Curiously, for a few miles in the vicinity of Oxford, the river Thames is known as the Isis. Oxford buildings represent every English architectural period since the Saxons. The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world.
Oxford was heavily damaged during the Norman Invasion of 1066 following which the new governor, Robert D'Oyly, built Oxford Castle to assure Norman authority over the area. Although never used for military purposes its remains survive to this day.
In 1642, When Charles I was expelled from London during the English Civil War, Oxford hosted his court. It also played host to the court of Charles II during the Great Plague of London in 1665–66. In the 1790s, the Oxford Canal connected the city with Coventry and two other canals connect this to the Thames.
The first quarter of the 20th century saw rapid commercial and industrial growth along with a population explosion. Printing and publishing was firmly established and, in the 1920's, William Morris organized the Morris Motor Company to mass produce cars in Cowley, in the south-east of the city, eventually employing over 20,000 people.
Cowley suffered major job losses in the 1980's and 1990's as British Leyland failed and it is now manufacturing the successful New MINI for BMW on a smaller site. Much of the old plant has been redeveloped as the Oxford Business Park.
In May 1954, Roger Bannister, a previous student at Oxford, ran the first authenticated four-minute mile at the Iffley Road running track in Oxford at age 25.
In July 2010, hybrid buses using battery power supplemented by a diesel generator, started service in Oxford.
More pictures available here.

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