Sunday, 15 March 2015

Oxford : Part 2 - inner

The second part of our trip to Oxford takes in all the non-university buildings in the city centre. The "inner" is defined by the larger scale insert on the AZ Street Plan produced by the Geographers' A-Z Map Company Limited.

At the outer edge of the inner bit is The Plain. This is a junction where St Clements Street, Cowley Road and Iffley Road all converge as they enter Oxford just to the east of Magdalene Bridge.

The Plain was made into a roundabout in 1950, enclosing the fountain with its roof and clock tower which dates from 1899. Currently this roundabout in undergoing a major upgrade to improve the safety for cyclists.

The inscription underneath the clock faces reads Lympha cadit, Ruit hora, Sagax bibe, Carpe Fugacem, which translates as the water falls, the hour goes by, be wise and drink, seize the swiftly flying time (or something like that).

Carfax Tower is properly inner inner, at the junction of Cornmarket Street and Queen Street.

The tower is all that remains of St Martin's church, the rest of the building being demolished in 1896.

The drizzly weather made a retreat into the Covered Market a wise move (it was drinking the water at The Plain that gave me inspiration!).

Many indoor markets have a clock hidden somewhere amongst the stalls / shops, and Oxford has its own example by Gents. Nothing flashy or ornate, but it does its job efficiently.

Back outside, it is dry enough to visit Marks and Spencer in Queen Street. This version of the M&S always makes me think of After Eight mints.

The transport network in Oxford has not proved very fruitful for clocks, with nothing to be found at the railway station. The bus station hidden away in Gloucester Green does however provide the quarry I am hunting for.

The bus station is in a poorly accessed site and is very cramped for space. Maybe because of this the clock is mounted very high up and is partially obscured by cctv equipment. Overall this is an appalling piece of design.

The view of the clock is better from the other side, but is still not very useful for people wanting to catch a local bus or the frequent coaches to London. The whole design screams "get out of this town as soon as possible", or for those arriving by public transport "abandon hope all ye who enter".

Lets get back to the nicer parts of Oxford. And look, the sun is shining.

This is the church of St Giles.

A bit further south is the church of St Mary Magdalene.

And continuing southward we come across St Michaels.

And finally, yet another church. This is St Barnabas, tucked away from the centre in Cardigan Street.

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