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banbury golf course, banbury cross
Banbury /ˈbænbri/ is a market town on the River Cherwell in Oxfordshire, England, 64 miles 103 km northwest of London, 38 miles 61 km southeast of Birmingham, 27 miles 43 km south of Coventry and 21 miles 34 km north-by-northwest of the county town of Oxford It had a population of 46,853 at the 2011 census1

Banbury is a significant commercial and retail centre for the surrounding area, which is predominantly rural Banbury's main industries are car components, electrical goods, plastics, food processing, and printing Banbury is home to the world's largest coffee-processing facility Jacobs Douwe Egberts, built in 1964 The town is famed for Banbury cakes – similar to Eccles cakes but oval in shape


  • 1 History
    • 11 Origin of the town's name
    • 12 General history
    • 13 Banburyshire
    • 14 Local development plans
  • 2 Industry and commerce
    • 21 Employment
  • 3 Companies
    • 31 Jacobs Douwe Egberts
    • 32 Cattle market
  • 4 Transport and infrastructure
  • 5 Local newspapers
  • 6 Places of interest
    • 61 Banbury Cross
    • 62 Banbury Museum
    • 63 Tooley's Boatyard
    • 64 Spiceball Centre and Park
    • 65 Other recreational areas and parks
    • 66 Motorsport
    • 67 Notable place names
  • 7 Education
  • 8 Local government
    • 81 Mayor of Banbury
  • 9 Geography
  • 10 Religion
  • 11 Sport
  • 12 Twinning
  • 13 People associated with Banbury
  • 14 See also
  • 15 References
  • 16 Further reading
  • 17 External links


Origin of the town's nameedit

The name Banbury derives from "Banna", a Saxon chieftain said to have built a stockade there in the 6th century or Banna possibly a byname meaning 'felon', 'murderer'2, and "burgh" meaning settlement34 The Saxon spelling was Banesbyrig56 The name appears as "Banesberie" in Domesday Book56 Another known spelling was 'Banesebury' in Medieval times

General historyedit

Main article: History of Banbury The town hall in December 2005 Peoples' Park in 2001 Banbury's oldest pub, the Reindeer Inn

During excavations for the construction of an office building in Hennef Way in 2002, the remains of a British Iron Age settlement with circular buildings dating back to 200 BC were found The site contained around 150 pieces of pottery and stone Later there was a Roman villa at nearby Wykham Park57

The area was settled by the Saxons around the late 5th century5 In about 556 Banbury was the scene of a battle between the local Anglo-Saxons of Cynric and Ceawlin, and the local Romano-British It was a local centre for Anglo-Saxon settlement by the mid-6th century5 Banbury developed in the Anglo-Saxon period7 under Danish influence, starting in the late 6th century It was assessed at 50 hides in the Domesday survey and was then held by the Bishop of Lincoln

The Saxons built Banbury on the west bank of the River Cherwell On the opposite bank they built Grimsbury, which was part of Northamptonshire but was incorporated into Banbury in 18898 Neithrop was one of the oldest areas in Banbury, having first been recorded as a hamlet in the 13th century It was formally incorporated into the borough of Banbury in 18899

Banbury stands at the junction of two ancient roads: Salt Way used as a bridle path to the west and south of the town, its primary use being transport of salt; and Banbury Lane, which began near Northampton and is closely followed by the modern 22-mile-long road It continued through what is now Banbury's High Street and towards the Fosse Way at Stow-on-the-Wold Banbury's mediæval prosperity was based on wool

Banbury Castle was built from 1135 by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, and survived into the Civil War, when it was besieged Due to its proximity to Oxford, the King's capital, Banbury was at one stage a Royalist town, but the inhabitants were known to be strongly Puritan The castle was demolished after the war

Banbury played an important part in the English Civil War as a base of operations for Oliver Cromwell, who is reputed to have planned the Battle of Edge Hill in the back room which can still be visited of a local inn, the Reindeer Inn as it was then known today's Ye Olde Reine Deer Inn10 The town was pro-Parliamentarian, but the castle was manned by a Royalist garrison who supported King Charles I In 1645 during the Civil War, Parliamentary troops were billeted in nearby Hanwell11 for nine weeks and villagers petitioned the Warwickshire Committee of Accounts to pay for feeding them11

The modern Castle Quay Shopping Centre alongside the Oxford Canal, with Banbury Museum in the background Banbury's Fine Lady Statue

The opening of the Oxford Canal from Hawkesbury Junction to Banbury on 30 March 1778 gave the town a cheap and reliable supply of Warwickshire coal12 In 1787 the Oxford Canal was extended southwards,13 finally opening to Oxford on 1 January 179014 The canal's main boat yard was the original outlay of today's Tooley's Boatyard15

Peoples' Park was set up as a private park in 1890 and opened in 1910, along with the adjacent bowling green

The land south of the Foscote Private Hospital in Calthorpe and Easington Farm were mostly open farmland until the early 1960s as shown by the Ordnance Survey maps of 1964, 1955 and 1947 It had only a few farmsteads, the odd house, an allotment field now under the Sainsbury's store, the Municipal Borough of Banbury council's small reservoir just south of Easington Farm and a water spring lay to the south of it The Ruscote estate, which now has a notable South Asian community, was expanded in the 1950s because of the growth of the town due to the London overspill and further grew in the mid-1960s

British Railways closed Merton Street railway station and the Buckingham to Banbury line to passenger traffic at the end of 1960 Merton Street goods depot continued to handle livestock traffic for Banbury's cattle market until 1966, when this too was discontinued and the railway dismantled In March 1962 Sir John Betjeman celebrated the line from Culworth Junction in his poem Great Central Railway, Sheffield Victoria to Banbury British Railways closed this line too in 1966

The main railway station, now called simply Banbury, is now served by trains running from London Paddington via Reading and Oxford, from London Marylebone via High Wycombe and Bicester onwards to Birmingham and Kidderminster and by Cross Country Trains from Bournemouth to Birmingham and Manchester

Banbury used to be home to a cattle market,16 situated on Merton Street in Grimsbury For many decades, cattle and other farm animals were driven there on the hoof from as far as Scotland to be sold to feed the growing population of London and other towns Since its closure in June 1998 a new housing development has been built on its site which includes Dashwood Primary School The estate, which lies between Banbury and Hanwell, was built in between 2005–06, on the grounds of the former Hanwell Farm


Some old houses in Aynho, which is claimed to be in Banburyshire

Banburyshire is an informal area centred on Banbury, claimed to include parts of Northamptonshire and Warwickshire as well as north Oxfordshire Use of the term dates from the early to mid 19th century It was common in the 19th century for market towns in England to describe their hinterland by tacking "shire" onto the town's name17 "Stones Map of Banburyshire" held by the Centre of Banbury Studies was published in the 1870s or 1880s18 and it asserted that the term originated in the 1830s19 but no source is given for that assertion In the 1850s magazine articles used "Banburyshire" or the hyphenated term "Banbury-shire"20 The Banburyshire Natural History Society was formed in 188121 In the 20th century a number of books used the term "Banburyshire" in their titles, dating from the early 1960s22232425 The county of Oxfordshire has two main commercial centres, the city of Oxford itself that serves most of the south of the county, and Banbury that serves the north such as Adderbury, Deddington, Wroxton, Great Bourton and Bloxham plus parts of the neighbouring counties of Northamptonshire and Warwickshire2627282930

The villages of King's Sutton and Middleton Cheney, and possibly also Aynho, Fenny Compton, Charlton and Croughton could be considered part of Banburyshire, as well as Upper and Lower Brailes The settlements of Bicester, Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Chipping Norton and Hook Norton are on the border of Banburyshire's area27

Local development plansedit

There was a plan in the late 2000s to expand the Bretch Hill estate westwards into local farmland,31323334 but this has now been suspended due to the credit crunch and local hostility to the plan, including the southern expansion towards Bodicote3132333435

The Hanwell Fields Estate was built in the north between 2001 and 20093132333435 It was intended to provide affordable social housing to the west and south of Banbury, and more upmarket housing in the Hanwell fields area35

Industry and commerceedit

Main article: History of Banbury Banbury High Street Banbury Market Place

The Domesday Book in 1086 listed three mills, with a total fiscal value of 45 shillings, on the Bishop of Lincoln's demesne lands, and a fourth which was leased to Robert son of Waukelin by the Bishop Among Banbury's four Medieval mills was probably a forerunner of Banbury Mill, first referred to by this name in 169536 In the year 1279, Laurence of Hardwick was also paying 3 marks equivalent to 40 shillings in annual rent to the Bishop for a mill in the then Hardwick hamlet3636

The forerunners of Butchers Row were probably long standing butchers' stalls which were known to be in situ by 143836

The Northern Aluminium Co Ltd or Alcan Industries Ltd pig and rolled Aluminium factory was opened in 1931 on land acquired in 1929 on the east of the Southam road, in the then hamlet of Hardwick The various Alcan facilities on the 53-acre site closed between 2006 and 200736 The factory was demolished between 2008 and 2009 The laboratory was also closed in 2004 and is now used as offices for numerous companies3637383940

Another major employer is Jacobs Douwe Egberts, which produces instant coffee The facility moved to Banbury from Birmingham in 196536

In the central area were built many large shops, a bus station, and a large car park north of Castle Street In 1969 proposals for the redevelopment of the central area were in hand, leading to the creation of the Castle shopping centre in 1977 the centre was later combined into the Castle Quay centre The 1977 plans to build a multi-storey car park on what is now the open air car park behind Matalan and Poundland were scrapped in 1978 and another one was built to the rear of the Castle Shopping Centre in 197841

The former Hunt Edmunds brewery premises became Crest Hotels headquarters, but closed in the late 1970s and was abandoned in the late 1980s, while the Crown Hotel and the Foremost Tyres/Excel Exhausts shops found new owners after they closed in 1976 due to falling sales Hella Manufacturing, a vehicle Electronics firm, closed its factory on the Southam Road in the mid-2000s decade The ironmonger, Hoods, opened in the mid-1960s and closed c 2007, with the shop becoming part of the then enlarged Marks and Spencer shop


Banbury has one of the UK's lowest unemployment rates, as of April 2016 it stood at 07%42 Once Poland joined the European Union in 2004, a number of Banbury-based employment agencies began advertising for staff in major Polish newspapers In 2006 one estimate placed between 5,000 and 6,000 Poles in the town With the influx of the largely Roman Catholic Poles, one local church was offering a Mass said partially in Polish and specialist Polish food shops had opened43


  • Westminster group plc
  • Banbury Sound 1076FM
  • Banbury Guardian
  • Prodrive
  • Norbar
  • Manor Racing

Jacobs Douwe Egbertsedit

The Jacobs Douwe Egberts factory in Banbury has been a major employer in the town since the mid-1960s

Jacobs Douwe Egberts, in the Ruscote ward of Banbury, is a large food and coffee producing factory44 It was built in 1964 and has gone through a number of ownership changes since It is still sometimes known by its previous names of Bird's and General Foods or GF

Cattle marketedit

Banbury was once home to Western Europe's largest cattle market, on Merton Street in Grimsbury The market was a key feature of Victorian life in the town and county It was formally closed in June 1998, after being abandoned several years earlier and was replaced with a new housing development and Dashwood Primary School5

Transport and infrastructureedit

Banbury railway station

The Oxford Canal is a popular place for pleasure trips and tourism The canal's main boat yard is now the listed site Tooley's Boatyard15

Banbury railway station has services run by Chiltern Railways services between London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill and Moor Street with some services running further north to Kidderminster The line is now the Chiltern Main Line and is not electrified It also has services run by Great Western Railway to Oxford, Reading and London Paddington Services to other parts of the country are provided by CrossCountry via Birmingham New Street, to Cardiff, Bristol, Southampton, Gloucester, Leicester, Stansted Airport, as well as direct services to other cities across England and Scotland

A Stagecoach in Oxfordshire bus in Bridge Street on route B7 to Neithrop

Banbury has Stagecoach in Oxfordshire bus services both within the town and linking it with Brackley, Chipping Norton and Oxford Stagecoach Midlands services link Banbury with Daventry, Rugby and Stratford-upon-Avon

Heyfordian operates routes not covered by Stagecoach, including routes from Banbury to places including Bicester, the Heyfords, Ardley, Towcester, Wappenham and Northampton A local operator, Tex Coaches, also runs regular routes from Banbury town centre to Brackley via Kings Sutton and Greatworth National Express coaches serve Banbury with regular services to and from major UK towns and cities

Hennef Way A422 was upgraded to a dual carriagewaywhen easing traffic on the heavily congested road and providing north Banbury and the town centre with higher-capacity links to the M40

As of 2013 Banbury had no traffic wardens45 or civil enforcement officers46

Local newspapersedit

Banbury has two local weekly newspapers

  • The Banbury Guardian is published by Johnston Press, is priced for sale and is a tabloid
  • The Banbury Cake is published by Newsquest, is a tabloid and is free of charge

The Banbury Guardian is published on Thursdays and goes on sale the same day The Banbury Cake is published on Wednesdays and is released for delivery on Thursday

Places of interestedit

Banbury Crossedit

The Fine Lady and Banbury Cross The cross was designed by John Gibbs and erected in 1859

At one time Banbury had many crosses the High Cross, the Bread Cross and the White Cross, but these were destroyed by Puritans on 26 July 1600citation needed Banbury remained without a cross for more than 250 years until the current Banbury Cross was erected in 1859 at the centre of the town to commemorate the marriage of Victoria, Princess Royal eldest child of Queen Victoria to Prince Frederick of Prussia The current Banbury Cross is a stone, spire-shaped monument decorated in Gothic form Statues of Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V were added in 1914 to commemorate the coronation of George V The cross is 52 feet 6 inches 16 m high, and topped by a gilt cross

Towns with crosses in England before the reformation were places of Christian pilgrimage

The English nursery rhyme "Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross", in its several forms, may refer to one of the crosses destroyed by Puritans in 160047 In April 2005, Princess Anne unveiled a large bronze statue depicting the Fine Lady upon a White Horse of the nursery rhyme48 It stands on the corner of West Bar and South Bar, just yards from the present Banbury Cross

Banbury Museumedit

Main article: Banbury Museum

Banbury has a museum in the town centre near Spiceball Park, replacing the old museum near Banbury Cross49 It is accessible over a bridge from the Castle Quay Shopping Centre or via Spiceball Park Road Admission to the museum is free The town's tourist information centre is located in the museum entrance in the Castle Quay Shopping Centre

Tooley's Boatyardedit

Tooley's Boatyard was built in 1790 and is a historic site with a 200-year-old blacksmiths' shop

Spiceball Centre and Parkedit

Spiceball centre in 2010

Spiceball Park is the largest park in Banbury It is east of the Oxford Canal, mainly west of the River Cherwell, north of Castle Quay and south of Hennef Way It includes three large fields, a children's play area and a skateboard park Across the road from the main park there is the sports centre, which includes a swimming pool, courts, café and gym facilities

The sports centre began to be re-developed in late 2009, for a new centre and café, which was completed by mid 2010

Other recreational areas and parksedit

Neithrop is home to the People's Park which opened in 1910, and has a bird house, tennis courts, a large field and a children's play area The park is often used in the summer to hold small festivals The park is also one of the town's biggest in terms of the area covered and one of the few major ones not to be built on a steep hill Easington Recreation Ground is another principal park and recreational area


Owing to the surrounding area's notable links with world motorsport, the town is home to many well known organisations within the industry Prodrive, one of the world's largest motorsport and automotive technology specialists, is based in the town as are a host of race teams involved in competition across many different disciplines and countries

Within Formula One, two teams have had their base of operations in Banbury The former Simtek team which competed in the 1994 and 1995 F1 World Championships was based on the Wildmere Industrial Estate The Marussia F1 team had its manufacturing and production facility sited on Thorpe Way Industrial Estate using the building formerly owned by Ascari Cars, a luxury sports car manufacturer Both Simtek and Marussia F1 had been brought to Banbury by Nick Wirth who owned the Simtek team and was the former Technical Director at Marussia After Marussia F1 went into administration in 2014, their base was purchased by the United States-based Haas F1 Team to service their cars during the European races50 Manor Racing are also based in the town

Notable place namesedit

Plaque at bridge 164 on the Oxford Canal, Banbury
  • Since 1999 bridge 164 on the Oxford Canal in Banbury has borne Tom Rolt's name in commemoration of his book Narrow Boat as does the Tom Rolt Centre at the Ellesmere Port section of the National Waterways Museum A blue plaque commemorating Rolt was unveiled at Tooley's Boatyard, Banbury on 7 August 2010 as part of the centenary celebrations of his birth51
  • Concorde Avenue was named in a 1995 street naming contest in honour of the 50 years' peace 1945–1995 in Europe since the Second World War
  • Claypits Close was built in about 2007 and named after the old clay pit on which it was built There were many small, Victorian clay pits and kilns in the south west of Banbury, but they had closed by the 1920s
  • Gillett Avenue was named after either Joseph Ashby Gillett, who ran Banbury's branch of 18th century Britain's New Bank, or his descendant Sarah Beatrice Gillett, who was mayor in 1926


One of the campuses of Oxford and Cherwell Valley College as well as one of the international campuses of Fairleigh Dickinson University at Wroxton Abbey are situated in Banbury The town also has four secondary schools – North Oxfordshire Academy, Banbury Academy,Space Studio Banbury and Blessed George Napier Roman Catholic School – and a number of primary schools Independent schools in Banbury include Tudor Hall and Al-Madina School

Local governmentedit

Main article: History of Banbury, Oxfordshire

In January 1554 Banbury was granted royal charter that established legally the town as a borough to be thus governed by the aldermen of the town5253 The same charter created the position of High Steward of Banbury

Banbury was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Reform Act 1835 It retained a borough council until 1974, when under the Local Government Act 1972 it became part of the traditionally Conservative-ruled Cherwell District Council, an unparished area with Charter Trustees A civil parish with a town council was set up in 2000

Mayor of Banburyedit

The post of the mayor of Banbury was created in 160754 The first mayor was Thomas Webb

A number of roads are named after former mayors of the town, including Mascord Road, Mold Crescent and Fairfax Close Another former mayor, Angela Billingham, went into national politics


Banbury is located in the Cherwell Valley, and consequently there are many hills in and around the town Apart from the town centre much of Banbury is on a slope and each entrance into the town is downhill Estates such as Bretch Hill and Hardwick are built on top of a hill and much of the town can be seen from both Other notable hills include the suburban, Crouch Hill and the more central Pinn Hill, and Strawberry Hill on the outskirts of Easington Mine Hill and Rye Hill lie along with many others to the north east, south east and west of the town

Banbury is located at the bank of the River Cherwell which sweeps through the town, going just east of the town centre with Grimsbury being the only estate east of the river

Banbury is at the northern extreme of the UK's South East England region, less than two miles from the boundary with the East Midlands, and three miles from that with the West Midlands

Heavy clay and Ironstone deposits surround Banbury55


St Mary's parish church, built in the 1790s to replace a Medieval predecessor

In 1377 a pardon was given to a Welshman, who was wanted for killing another Welshman, after the accused person had taken sanctuary in St Mary's parish church3656

The Neithrop district of Banbury was the scene of rioting in 1589 after the Neithrop's maypole was destroyed by Puritans57

Reverend William Whateley 1583–1639, whose father was several times bailiff or mayor of Banbury, was a notable Banbury vicar, who was instituted in 1610 but had already been a 'lecturer' there for some years In 1626 Whateley refused communion to his own brother, who had been presented for religious incompetenceclarification needed A report by the church wardens in 1619 said he was a well liked and tolerant priest58

The Quaker meeting house by the town centre lane called 'The Leys' was built between 1748 and 175059


Banbury has several sporting clubs, most notably Banbury United football club There are also rugby, canoeing, golf, running, triathlon and cricket clubs These clubs represent a variety of age groups, and play at varying levels, from amateur to national

Banbury United FC was first formed as Spencer Villa in 1931 and their home matches played at Middleton Road At this time it was essentially a works club In 1934, they changed their name to Banbury Spencer and moved to the Spencer Stadium

Banbury and District Golf Club now defunct was founded in 1904 The club disappeared in the mid-1920s60


Banbury is twinned with:

  • Ermont in France, Since 198261
  • Hennef in Germany, Since 19816162

Twinning in Banbury began on 26 October 1978, at a public meeting held at the Post-Graduate Education Centre, and called on the initiative of the late Councillor Ron Smith, the then Town Mayor of Banbury Initial visits between Banbury and Ermont in 1979, and for a long time after there was a period of informal relationship before a formal agreement was signed in 1982 Contact was first made with Hennef about a possible agreement in October 1980 and within a year the formal agreement was signed63

As a consequence of this, two roads in Banbury Hennef Way and Ermont Way have been named after the two towns Likewise a former Railway station square in Hennef has been named Banburyplatz

People associated with Banburyedit

  • Police inspector James Roy Bradley, who was run down and killed by a suspect car at a local police road block in 1967; the Bretch Hill estate's Bradley Arcade is named after him6465
  • John Brooke-Little was a former officer of arms who lived in Banbury at the end of his life66
  • Anthony Burgess, novelist, taught at Banbury Grammar School now Banbury School for several years during the 1950s67
  • Television presenter John Craven lives in the Banbury area and has often presented BBC Countryfile stories and features from around the area68
  • Benjamin Franklin's grandfather Thomas Franklin is buried in Banbury According to Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, his grandfather was born in 1598 and he visited Banbury to see his gravestone in 1758
  • Benjamin Geen was born in Banbury and employed as a staff nurse at the Horton General Hospital During December 2003 and January 2004, Geen poisoned 17 patients for the thrill of trying to resuscitate them He was found guilty of two murders and 15 charges of grievous bodily harm in April 200669
  • Gary Glitter, born Paul Francis Gadd in Banbury, glam rock star and convicted paedophile70
  • Larry Grayson was born in Banbury but grew up in Nuneaton71
  • Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, British physiologist and biophysicist and Nobel Prize winner, was born in Banbury
  • Lancelot Holland, the admiral who was killed aboard HMS Hood in 1941 commanding the fleet that engaged the German battleship Bismarck, grew up in the Banbury area
  • Actress Jo Joyner grew up in Bloxham and studied at the Warriner School She is now best known as EastEnders' Tanya Branning
  • William Knollys, 1st Earl of Banbury, Lord High Admiral and First Lord of the Admiralty of England 1646–1660
  • Former Prime Minister Lord North was MP for Banbury
  • Chef and Hell's Kitchen star Gordon Ramsay moved to Banbury at the age of 1672

See alsoedit

  • Banbury Rural District
  • Banbury railway station
  • Banbury Merton Street railway station
  • Banburyshire
  • National Filling Factory, Banbury


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Further readingedit

  • Clark, Ted 1992 Banbury History and Guide Stroud: Sutton Publishing ISBN 0-7509-0214-0 
  • Compton, Hugh J 1976 The Oxford Canal Newton Abbot: David & Charles pp 25, 37, 39 ISBN 0-7153-7238-6 
  • Crossley, Alan ed; Colvin, Christina; Cooper, Janet; Cooper, NH; Harvey, PDA; Hollings, Marjory; Hook, Judith; Jessup, Mary; Lobel, Mary D; Mason, JFA; Trinder, BS; Turner, Hilary 1972 A History of the County of Oxford Victoria County History 10: Banbury Hundred London: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research pp 5–127 ISBN 978-0-19722-728-2 
  • Potts, William; Clark, Edward T 1978 1958 History of Banbury: Story of the Development of a Country Town revised ed Banbury: Gulliver Press ISBN 0-906428-00-9 
  • Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus 1974 Oxfordshire The Buildings of England Harmondsworth: Penguin Books pp 435–444 ISBN 0-14-071045-0 

External linksedit

  •  "Banbury" Encyclopædia Britannica 3 11th ed 1911 
  • Banbury town council
  • Banbury in the Domesday Book

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