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Blackbird Leys

blackbird leys leisure centre, blackbird leys pool timetable
Blackbird Leys is a civil parish and ward in Oxford, England According to the 2011 census, the population of the ward whose boundaries may change occasionally so as to ensure minimal malapportionment stood at 6,0772 Unlike most parts of the City of Oxford, the area has a civil parish The civil parish was created in 1990 In 2011 the population was recorded as 13,1001


  • 1 History
    • 11 Early history
    • 12 Modern history
      • 121 Employment
      • 122 Politics
      • 123 1991 street disturbances
  • 2 Facilities
    • 21 Sports and leisure
    • 22 Musical groups
  • 3 Education
  • 4 Transport
  • 5 Religious sites
  • 6 See also
  • 7 Footnotes
  • 8 References


Early historyedit

There was a Bronze Age or Iron Age settlement on the site Evidence has been found suggesting pits and roundhouses, with remains of pottery and a cylindrical loom weight of a kind previously known only from East Anglia3 The area was originally called Blackford Leys; blackford after the dark-coloured ford which crossed the southern branch of Northfield Brook at the entrance to Blackbird Leys farm4 The ford would be located where Windale Avenue crosses Northfield Brook a The farm was also called Blackford Leys farm5 The Middle English leys meaning pasture or meadow6

Modern historyedit

Evenlode Tower, with Windrush Tower in the background

Modern-day Blackbird Leys was built mainly in the 1950s and 1960s to meet the then pressing need for accommodation It was part of a plan to re-house people from the dilapidated inner city This included large-scale clearance of a site near to where the Oxford Ice Rink was built The Oxpens Many of the families that moved onto the estate originally came from this area It was also a convenient site for factory workers at Morris Motors Limited plant in nearby Cowley Greater Leys is sometimes applied to describe recent development adjacent and comprises mostly privately owned houses



The area has traditionally been staunchly Labour The Independent Working Class Association performed strongly in the mid-2000s, holding three of the four council seats on Oxford City Council between 2006 and 2008 Local MP Andrew Smith lives on the estate His late wife Valerie Smith was also one of the City councillors and County Councillors for the area and a former Lord Mayor of Oxford7

1991 street disturbancesedit

Following a crackdown by police on joyriding in September 1991, some 150 youths stoned police officers Two women suffered stab wounds and two men suffered other injuries during the riots8

Around this time, Blackbird Leys was infamous for its joy riding Young men from the estate would steal cars and 'display' them with a variety of high-speed stunts to an audience gathered outside the estate shops known locally as the 'top shops', eventually gaining worldwide media attention9not in citation given Politician Andrew Smith stated in 1991 that the extensive national media coverage of confrontations with the police in August and September left many of the wider public with a distorted picture of the problem10 Some say journalists visiting helped encourage some of the action for filming9 Various measures were brought in by the local council and police to stop the displays Police often found it difficult to catch joy riders, whose stolen cars were faster than the police vehicles, though eventually a faster police car was introduced Chicanes were built around the shops area, and an anti-skid surface applied to the road, making it difficult to execute handbrake turns and other stuntscitation needed

Crime levels have decreased consistently since 2004, a change thought to be due to a higher police presence on the estate though both recorded crime and rates found in the British Crime Survey have fallen across England and Wales11


Sports and leisureedit

The Kassam Stadium, home to Oxford United Football Club

The Kassam Stadium is the home of Oxford United Football Club and is just within the greater boundary of Blackbird Leys in an area known as Minchery Farm Initial construction begun in 1996 and the first football match took place on 4 August 2001

Musical groupsedit

In 2006, residents from the estate took part in The Singing Estate, a Channel Five reality TV show following their progress from amateur singers to classical choir12 The Blackbird Leys Choir emerged from the original choir and continues today


Schools on the estate include Pegasus First School, Windale Community Primary School and Northfield School City of Oxford College has a campus situated on Cuddesdon Way which provides Further education, higher education, modern apprenticeships and community evening classes


Blackbird Leys has no mainline railway station but is served by Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach in Oxfordshire which provides bus services between Blackbird Leys, central Oxford and Oxford railway station The freight-only railway between Kennington Junction and the BMW Mini factory via Iffley and Littlemore forms the northwestern boundary of Blackbird Leys It is part of the former Wycombe Railway that British Railways closed to passenger traffic in 1963

Religious sitesedit

Blackbird Leys has two places of worship, The Church of the Holy Family which was dedicated on 10 April 1965 and Sacred Heart Catholic Church

See alsoedit

  • Banlieue
  • Littlemore Brook, which flows from Blackbird Leys and through the Oxford Science Park to the south


  1. ^ Back in the early 1950's a gravel lane led from Sandy Lane to Blackbird Leys farm This lane was lined, either side, with horse-chestnut trees5 and was known to all local children as "Conker Alley"


  1. ^ a b "The Leys profile—2011 Census" PDF Oxford City Council 2011 Retrieved 3 June 2015 
  2. ^ "Blackbird Leys ward profile—2011" PDF Oxford City Council 2011 Retrieved 3 June 2015 
  3. ^ "Earliest Oxford" British Archaeology September 1995 Retrieved 3 June 2015 
  4. ^ Oxford, cartogr notes by J B Harley Sheet 70 1970 One-inch Ordnance Survey of England and Wales Repr ed Newton Abbot: David & Charles ISBN 0715346067  |access-date= requires |url= help
  5. ^ a b Newbigging, Carole 24 September 2014 "construction of Blackbird Leys The Development of Blackbird Leys" BBC Memoryshare BBC Oxford Retrieved 22 September 2016 
  6. ^ Ayto, John; Crofton, Ian 2005 "Blackbird Leys" Brewer's Britain and Ireland London: Chambers Harrap ISBN 978-0-304-35385-9 
  7. ^ Baldwin, Tom 30 May 2002 "Mr Smith celebrates with a takeaway" The Times London p 1 
  8. ^ Google news
  9. ^ a b "Dreaming Spires and Screaming Tyres" Socialist Party of Great Britain Retrieved 17 November 2015 
  10. ^ "House of Commons Daily Debates 9 December 1991 538 pm" Hansard Retrieved 6 April 2007 
  11. ^ Chaplin, Flatley and Smith 2011
  12. ^ Wilkinson, Matt 13 March 2007 "Leys choir set to star again" Oxford Mail Oxford Retrieved 3 June 2015 

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