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Jericho Sketchbook

Walton Street


Walton Street shops

Like many old roads, Walton Street, or Jericho Street as it was often called, has been redefined over time. Until the early 17th century the section south of Little Clarendon Street was considered part of Stockwell Street, named after the Stock Well near Hythe Bridge, now in the grounds of Worcester College. To the north it extended to Walton Well hard by the 19th century basin near the site at the junction of Walton Well Road and Longworth Road. There was no road into Port Meadow here before the 19th century and Walton Well Road was not so named until it was built up in the 1880s.

Modern Walton Street demarcates the eastern limit of the residential area of Jericho. Anyone living east of Walton Street is not in Jericho, nor are those in Walton Well Road. The road takes its name from the ancient manor of Walton whose manor house lay approximately where the graveyard of St.Sepulchre now lies. The cottages and small holdings of its tenants were strung out southwards along the road, the Jericho Gardens of early records. On the opposite side of the road lay the manorial plough lands and the enclosure of Buricroft or Deny's Close which re-emerges in history as Coggin's Piece on which the Radcliffe Infirmary was built. Stockwell Street divided the properties of St.Giles from the small settlement of Twentyacres. Both Buricroft and Twentyacres disappeared in the 14th century and Walton dwindled to a scatter of cottages. The road itself became a back road, no longer frequented by travellers using the old roads across Port Meadow. Even the building of the Radcliffe Infirmary and Observatory and the opening of Observatory Street in 1792 made little difference.

It was not until 1820 when Beaumont Street opened to give better access to the city that Walton Street started to be built up and by 1850 the whole of the west side to Jericho Street was lined with houses spaced out as far as Juxon Street. As late as 1850 the eastern side was only built up between the Victoria Arms and the Observatory grounds with another row of houses running from the Radcliffe Infirmary to Little Clarendon Street. By 1871, however, it was completely built up.

As the population grew, residential houses fronting the road were converted to shops and others were added to supply the residential population with foodstuffs and domestic services. With the success of urban renewal in the 1980s the social structure of the area changed from poor working class to include professional middle class families and students and the style of shops changed. Many closed but Walton Street is now developing more specialist shops, often branches of larger companies looking for cheaper inner city outlets. Fast food concerns and ethnic restaurants also attract tourists and commuters.