Oxford Street

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Oxford Street
UK road A40.svg
Oxford Street (geograph 4949395).jpg
View east along Oxford Street in May 2016
Westminster London UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Central London
Former name(s)Via Trinobantina
Tyburn Road
Maintained by Transport for London
Length1.2 mi (1.9 km)
LocationLondon, United Kingdom
Postal code W1
Nearest Tube station
Coordinates 51°30′55″N0°08′31″W / 51.515312°N 0.142025°W / 51.515312; -0.142025 Coordinates: 51°30′55″N0°08′31″W / 51.515312°N 0.142025°W / 51.515312; -0.142025
West end Marble Arch
East end Tottenham Court Road / Charing Cross Road
Known for
Website oxfordstreet.co.uk

Oxford Street is a major road in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch via Oxford Circus. It is Europe's busiest shopping street, with around half a million daily visitors, and as of 2012 had approximately 300 shops. It is designated as part of the A40, a major road between London and Fishguard, though it is not signed as such, and traffic is regularly restricted to buses and taxis.

City of Westminster City and borough in London

The City of Westminster is an Inner London borough that also holds city status. It occupies much of the central area of Greater London including most of the West End. Historically in Middlesex, it is to the west of the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary is the River Thames. The London borough was created with the 1965 establishment of Greater London. Upon its creation, it inherited the city status previously held by the smaller Metropolitan Borough of Westminster from 1900, which was first awarded to Westminster in 1540.

West End of London Area of Central London, England

The West End of London refers to a distinct region of Central London, west of the City of London and north of the River Thames, in which many of the city's major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings and entertainment venues, including West End theatres, are concentrated.

Tottenham Court Road major road in the Fitzrovia district of Central London

Tottenham Court Road is a major road in the Fitzrovia district of Central London, United Kingdom, running from St Giles Circus to Euston Road. Historically a market street, it became well known for selling electronics and white goods in the 20th century.


The road was originally part of the Via Trinobantina, a Roman road between Essex and Hampshire via London. It was known as Tyburn Road through the Middle Ages when it was notorious for public hangings of prisoners in Newgate Prison. It became known as Oxford Road and then Oxford Street in the eighteenth century, and began to change from residential to commercial and retail purposes by the late-nineteenth century, attracting street traders, confidence tricksters and prostitution. The first department stores in the UK opened in the early-twentieth century, including Selfridges, John Lewis & Partners and HMV. Unlike nearby shopping streets such as Bond Street, it has retained an element of downmarket trading alongside more prestigious retail stores. The street suffered heavy bombing during World War II, and several longstanding stores including John Lewis were completely destroyed and rebuilt from scratch.

Essex County of England

Essex is a county in the south-east of England, north-east of London. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the River Thames to the south, and London to the south-west. The county town is Chelmsford, the only city in the county. For government statistical purposes Essex is placed in the East of England region.

Hampshire County of England

Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England. The county town is the city of Winchester. Its two largest cities, Southampton and Portsmouth, are administered separately as unitary authorities; the rest of the county is governed by Hampshire County Council.

Tyburn village in the county of Middlesex close to the current location of Marble Arch in present-day London

Tyburn was a village in the county of Middlesex close to the current location of Marble Arch and the southern end of Edgware Road in present-day London. It took its name from the Tyburn Brook, a tributary of the River Westbourne. The name Tyburn, from Teo Bourne meaning 'boundary stream', is quite widely occurring, and the Tyburn Brook should not be confused with the better known River Tyburn, which is the next tributary of the River Thames to the east of the Westbourne.

Despite competition from other shopping centres such as Westfield Stratford City and the Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Oxford Street remains in high demand as a retail location, with several chains hosting their flagship stores on the street, and has a number of listed buildings. The annual switching on of Christmas lights by a celebrity has been a popular event since 1959. As a popular retail area and main thoroughfare for London buses and taxis, Oxford Street has suffered from traffic congestion, a poor safety record and pollution. Various traffic management schemes have been implemented by Transport for London (TfL), including a ban on private vehicles during daytime hours on weekdays and Saturdays, and improved pedestrian crossings.

Westfield Stratford City

Westfield Stratford City is a shopping centre in Stratford, London, which opened on 13 September 2011. With a total retail floor area of 1,910,000 square feet (177,000 m2), it is one of the largest urban shopping centres in Europe, and the 4th-largest shopping centre in the UK by retail space, behind Westfield London, the MetroCentre, and the Trafford Centre. Taking the surrounding shopping area into account, it is the second largest urban shopping centre in the European Union.

Brent Cross Shopping Centre

Brent Cross Shopping Centre is a shopping centre in Hendon, north London.

Listed building Protected historic structure in the United Kingdom

A listed building, or listed structure, is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists maintained by Historic England in England, Historic Environment Scotland in Scotland, Cadw in Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland.


Oxford Street runs for approximately 1.2 miles (1.9 km). It is entirely within the City of Westminster. [1] The road begins at St Giles Circus as a westward continuation of New Oxford Street, meeting Charing Cross Road, Tottenham Court Road (next to Tottenham Court Road station). It runs past Great Portland Street, Wardour Street and Rathbone Place to Oxford Circus, where it meets Regent Street. From there it continues past New Bond Street, Bond Street station and Vere Street, ending on Marble Arch. [1]

St Giles Circus square in London, United Kingdom

St Giles Circus is a road junction in the St Giles district of the West End of London at the eastern end of Oxford Street, where it connects with New Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road and Tottenham Court Road. It is near to Soho, Covent Garden, Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia. The word Circus is used although the buildings around the traffic junction are not all rounded, as with for example Oxford Circus.

Charing Cross Road street in central London

Charing Cross Road is a street in central London running immediately north of St Martin-in-the-Fields to St Giles Circus and then becomes Tottenham Court Road. It is so called because it leads from the north in the direction of Charing Cross at the south side of Trafalgar Square, which it connects via St Martin's Place and the motorised east side of the square.

Great Portland Street street in the West End of London, England

Great Portland Street in the West End of London links Oxford Street with Albany Street and the A501 Marylebone Road and Euston Road. The road forms the boundary between Fitzrovia to the east and Marylebone to the west. Parts of it are in the City of Westminster's Marylebone High Street and West End wards.

The road is within the London Congestion Charging Zone. It is part of the A40, most of which is a trunk road running from London to Fishguard (via Oxford, Cheltenham, Brecon and Haverfordwest). Like many roads in Central London that are no longer through routes, it is not signposted with that number. [1] Numerous bus routes run along Oxford Street, including 10, 25, 55, 73, 98, 390 and Night Buses N8, N55, N73, N98 and N207. [2]

A40 road road in Great Britain, connecting London to Wales

The A40 is a major trunk road connecting London to Goodwick (Fishguard), Wales, and officially called The London to Fishguard Trunk Road (A40) in all legal documents and Acts. It is approximately 260 miles (420 km) long.

Trunk road type of major road, usually connecting major settlements

A trunk road, trunk highway, or strategic road is a major road, usually connecting two or more cities, ports, airports and other places, which is the recommended route for long-distance and freight traffic. Many trunk roads have segregated lanes in a dual carriageway, or are of motorway standard.

Fishguard Town in Pembrokeshire, Wales

Fishguard is a coastal town in Pembrokeshire, Wales, with a population of 3,419 in 2011; the community of Fishguard and Goodwick had a population of 5,407. Modern Fishguard consists of two parts, Lower Fishguard and the "Main Town". Fishguard and Goodwick are twin towns with a joint Town Council.


Early history



Map of the local area before urbanisation

Oxford Street follows the route of a Roman road, the Via Trinobantina, which linked Calleva Atrebatum (near Silchester, Hampshire) with Camulodunum (now Colchester) via London and became one of the major routes in and out of the city. [3]

Calleva Atrebatum Romano-British settlement

Calleva Atrebatum was originally an Iron Age settlement, capital of the Atrebates tribe, and subsequently a town in the Roman province of Britannia. Its ruins lie to the west of, and partly beneath, the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Silchester, in the county of Hampshire. The church occupies a site just within the ancient walls of Calleva although the village of Silchester itself now lies about a mile to the west.

Silchester farm village in the United Kingdom

Silchester is a village and civil parish about 5 miles (8 km) north of Basingstoke in Hampshire. It is adjacent to the county boundary with Berkshire and about 9 miles (14 km) south-west of Reading.

Camulodunum Roman castrum where Colchester, England now stands

Camulodunum, the Ancient Roman name for what is now Colchester in Essex, was an important town in Roman Britain, and the first capital of the province. It is claimed to be the oldest town in Britain. Originally the site of the Brythonic-Celtic oppidum of Camulodunon, capital of the Trinovantes and later the Catuvellauni tribes, it was first mentioned by name on coinage minted by the chieftain Tasciovanus sometime between 20 and 10 BC. The Roman town began life as a Roman Legionary base constructed in the AD 40s on the site of the Brythonic-Celtic fortress following its conquest by the Emperor Claudius. After the early town was destroyed during the Iceni rebellion in 60/1 AD, it was rebuilt, reaching its zenith in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. During this time it was known by its official name Colonia Claudia Victricensis, often shortened to Colonia Victricensis, and as Camulodunum, a Latinised version of its original Brythonic name. The town was home to a large classical Temple, two theatres, several Romano-British temples, Britain's only known chariot circus, Britain's first town walls, several large cemeteries and over 50 known mosaics and tessellated pavements. It may have reached a population of 30,000 at its height. It was not until the late 18th century that historians realised that Colchester's physical Brythonic and Roman remains were the city mentioned in ancient literature as "Camulodunum".

Between the 12th century and 1782, it was variously known as Tyburn Road (after the River Tyburn that crossed it north to south), Uxbridge Road (the name still used for the road between Shepherds Bush and Uxbridge), Worcester Road and Oxford Road. [4] On Ralph Aggas' "Plan of London", published in the 16th century, the road is described partly as "The Waye to Uxbridge" followed by "Oxford Road", showing rural farmland where the junction of Oxford Street and Rathbone Place now is. [5]

Nos. 399-405 Oxford Street, c. 1882. These buildings have now been demolished. Oxford Street 1882.jpg
Nos. 399–405 Oxford Street, c. 1882. These buildings have now been demolished.

Though a major coaching route, there were several obstacles along it, including the bridge over the Tyburn. A turnpike trust was established in the 1730s to improve upkeep of the road. [4] It became notorious as the route taken by prisoners on their final journey from Newgate Prison to the gallows at Tyburn near Marble Arch. Spectators jeered as the prisoners were carted along the road, and could buy rope used in the executions from the hangman in taverns. [6] By about 1729, the road had become known as Oxford Street. [5]

Development began in the 18th century after many surrounding fields were purchased by the Earl of Oxford. [6] In 1739, a local gardener, Thomas Huddle, built property on the north side. [7] John Rocque's Map of London, published in 1746, shows urban buildings as far as North Audley Street, but only intermittent rural property beyond. Buildings were erected on the corner of Oxford Street and Davies Street in the 1750s. [8] Further development occurred between 1763 and 1793. The Pantheon, a place for public entertainment, opened at No. 173 in 1772. [7]

The street became popular for entertainment including bear-baiters, theatres and public houses. [9] However, it was not attractive to the middle and upper classes due to the nearby Tyburn gallows and the notorious St Giles rookery, or slum. [6] The gallows were removed in 1783, and by the end of the century, Oxford Street was built up from St Giles Circus to Park Lane, containing a mix of residential houses and entertainment. [6] [7] The site of the Princess's Theatre that opened in 1840 is now occupied by Oxford Walk shopping area. [7]

Oxford Circus was designed as part of the development of Regent Street by the architect John Nash in 1810. The four quadrants of the circus were designed by Sir Henry Tanner and constructed between 1913 and 1928. [10]

Retail development

View west down Oxford Street in 1961, outside Bond Street Underground station Bond Street Station entrance on Oxford Street - geograph.org.uk - 1849747.jpg
View west down Oxford Street in 1961, outside Bond Street Underground station

Oxford Street changed in character from residential to retail towards the end of the 19th century. Drapers, cobblers and furniture stores opened shops on the street, and some expanded into the first department stores. Street vendors sold tourist souvenirs during this time. [7] A plan in Tallis's London Street Views, published in the late 1830s, remarks that almost all the street, save for the far western end, was primarily retail. [4] John Lewis started in 1864 in small shop at No. 132, [11] while Selfridges opened on 15 March 1909 at No. 400. [12] Most of the southern side west of Davies Street was completely rebuilt between 1865 and 1890, allowing a more uniform freehold ownership. [4] By the 1930s, the street was almost entirely retail, a position that remains today. However, unlike nearby streets such as Bond Street and Park Lane, there remained a seedy element including street traders and prostitutes. [13] Aside from a number of fixed places, there are no provisions for selling licensed goods on Oxford Street.

Stanley Green advertising on Oxford Street in 1974 Stanley Green by Sean Hickin, Oxford Street, London, 1974 (2).jpg
Stanley Green advertising on Oxford Street in 1974

Oxford Street suffered considerable bombing during the Second World War. During the night and early hours of 17 to 18 September 1940, 268 Heinkel He 111 and Dornier Do 17 bombers targeted the West End, particularly Oxford Street. Many buildings were damaged, either from direct hits or subsequent fires, including four department stores: John Lewis, Selfridges, Bourne & Hollingsworth and Peter Robinson. George Orwell wrote in his diary for 24 September that Oxford Street was "completely empty of traffic, and only a few pedestrians", and saw "innumerable fragments of broken glass". [14] John Lewis caught fire again on 25 September and was reduced to a shell. It remained a bomb site for the remainder of the war and beyond, finally being demolished and rebuilt between 1958 and 1960. Peter Robinson partially reopened on 22 September, though the main storefront remained boarded up. The basement was converted into studios for the BBC Eastern Service. Orwell made several broadcasts here from 1941 to 1943. [14]

Selfridges was bombed again on 17 April 1941, suffering further damage, including the destruction of the Palm Court Restaurant. The basement was converted to a communications base, with a dedicated line run along Oxford Street to Whitehall allowing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to make secure and direct telephone calls to the US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The store was damaged again on 6 December 1944 after a V2 rocket exploded on nearby Duke Street, causing its Christmas tree displays to collapse into the street outside. Damage was repaired and the shop re-opened the following day. [14]


A view of Oxford Street in 1987, with Selfridges on the right London Oxford Street Selfridges shop in 1987.jpg
A view of Oxford Street in 1987, with Selfridges on the right

In September 1973 a shopping-bag bomb was detonated by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at the offices of the Prudential Assurance Company, injuring six people. [15] A second bomb was detonated by the IRA next to Selfridges in December 1974, injuring three people and causing £1.5 million worth of damage. [16] Oxford Street was again targeted by the IRA in August 1975; an undiscovered bomb that had been booby trapped exploded without any injuries. [17] The IRA also detonated a bomb at the John Lewis department store in December 1992 along with another in nearby Cavendish Square, injuring four people. [18]

The human billboard Stanley Green began selling on Oxford Street in 1968, advertising his belief in the link of proteins to sexual libido and the dangers therein. He regularly patrolled the street with a placard headlined "less passion from less protein", [13] and advertised his pamphlet Eight Passion Proteins with Care until his death in 1993. His placards are now housed in the British Museum. [19]

Centre Point, just beyond the eastern end of Oxford Street next to Tottenham Court Road station, was designed by property developer Harry Hyams and opened in 1966. It failed to find a suitable tenant and remained empty for many years before being occupied by squatters who used it as a centre of protest against the lack of suitable accommodation in central London. In 2015, building work began to convert it into residential flats, with development expected to finish in 2017. [20]


A blue plaque at No. 363 Oxford Street commemorating the founding of HMV in 1921 HMV (7599445440).jpg
A blue plaque at No. 363 Oxford Street commemorating the founding of HMV in 1921

Oxford Street is home to a number of major department stores and flagship retail outlets, containing over 300 shops as of 2012. [21] It is the most frequently visited shopping street in Inner London, attracting over half a million daily visitors in 2014, [22] and is one of the most popular destinations in London for tourists, with an annual estimated turnover of over £1 billion. [23] It forms part of a shopping district in the West End of London, along with other streets including Covent Garden, Bond Street and Piccadilly. [24]

The New West End Company, formerly the Oxford Street Association, oversees stores and trade along the street; its objective is to make the place safe and desirable for shoppers. The group has been critical of overcrowding and the quality of shops and clamped down on abusive traders, who were then refused licences. [23] [25]

Several British retail chains regard their Oxford Street branch as the flagship store. Debenhams opened as Marshall & Snelgrove in 1870; in 1919 they merged with Debenhams, which had opened in nearby Wigmore Street in 1778. The company was owned by Burton between 1985 and 1998. [26] The London flagship store of the House of Fraser began as D H Evans in 1879 and moved to its current premises in 1935. [27] It was the first department store in the UK with escalators serving every floor. [28] Selfridges, Oxford Street, the second-largest department store in the UK and flagship of the Selfridges chain, has been in Oxford Street since 1909. [29]

The 100 Club has been a live music venue in the basement of No. 100 Oxford Street since 1942, and has been an important venue for trad jazz, British blues and punk bands. 100-club-oxford-st-london.jpg
The 100 Club has been a live music venue in the basement of No. 100 Oxford Street since 1942, and has been an important venue for trad jazz, British blues and punk bands.

Marks & Spencer has two stores on Oxford Street. The first, Marks & Spencer Marble Arch, is at the junction with Orchard Street. A second branch between Regent Street and Tottenham Court Road stands on the former site of the Pantheon. [30]

The music retailer HMV opened at No. 363 Oxford Street in 1921 by Sir Edward Elgar. The Beatles made their first recording in London in 1962, when they cut a 78rpm demo disc in the store. [31] A larger store at No. 150 was opened in 1986 by Bob Geldof, and was the largest music shop in the world at 60,000 square feet (6,000 m2). As well as music and video retail, the premises supported live gigs in the store. Because of financial difficulties, the store closed in 2014, with all retail moving to No. 363. [32]

The 100 Club, in the basement of No. 100, has been run as a live music venue since 24 October 1942. It was thought to be safe from bombing threats because of its underground location, and played host to jazz musicians, including Glenn Miller. It was renamed the London Jazz Club in 1948, and subsequently the Humphrey Lyttelton Club after he took over the lease in the 1950s. Louis Armstrong played at the venue during this time. It became a key venue for the trad jazz revival, hosting gigs by Chris Barber and Acker Bilk. It was renamed the 100 Club in 1964 after Roger Horton bought a stake, adding an alcohol licence for the first time. The venue hosted gigs by several British blues bands, including the Who, the Kinks and the Animals. It was an important venue for punk rock in the UK and hosted the first British punk festival on 21 September 1976, featuring the Sex Pistols, the Damned and the Buzzcocks. [33]

The Tottenham is a Grade II* listed pub at No. 6 Oxford Street, near Tottenham Court Road. It was built in the mid-19th century and is the last remaining pub in the street, which once had 20. [34] [35] [36]

The London College of Fashion has an Oxford Street campus on John Prince's Street near Oxford Circus. The college is part of the University of the Arts London, formerly the London Institute. [37]

The cosmetics retailer Lush opened a store in 2015. Measuring 9,300 square feet (860 m2) and containing three floors, it is the company's largest retail premises. [38]

Oxford Street is served by major bus routes and by four tube stations of the London Underground. From Marble Arch eastwards, the stations are:

The four stations serve an average of 100 million passengers every year, with Oxford Circus being the busiest. [39]

Crossrail, a major project involving an east-west rail route across London, will have two stations serving Oxford Street, at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road. Each station will be "double-ended", with exits through the existing tube station and also some distance away: to the east of Bond Street, in Hanover Square near Oxford Circus; [40] to the west of Tottenham Court Road, in Dean Street. [41]


On average, half a million people visit Oxford Street every day, and foot traffic is in severe competition with buses and taxis. Oxford Street December 2006.jpeg
On average, half a million people visit Oxford Street every day, and foot traffic is in severe competition with buses and taxis.

Oxford Street has been ranked as the most important retail location in Britain and the busiest shopping street in Europe. [42] The pavements are congested because of shoppers and tourists, many of whom arrive at a tube station, and the roadway is regularly blocked by buses. [43]

There is heavy competition between foot and bus traffic on Oxford Street, which is the main east-west bus corridor through Central London. Around 175,000 people get on or off a bus on Oxford Street every day, along with 43,000 further through passengers. Taxis are popular, particularly along the stretch between Oxford Circus and Selfridges. [42] Between 2009 and 2012, there were 71 accidents involving traffic and pedestrians. [44] In 2016, a report suggested buses generally did not travel faster than 4.6 miles per hour (7.4 km/h), compared to a typical pedestrian speed of 3.1 miles per hour (5.0 km/h). [45]

There have been several proposals to reduce congestion on Oxford Street. Horse-drawn vehicles were banned in 1931, and traffic signals were installed the same year. [46] [47] To prevent congestion of buses, most of Oxford Street is designated a bus lane during peak hours and private vehicles are banned. This is only open to buses, taxis and two-wheeled vehicles between 7:00am and 7:00pm on all days except Sundays. [42] The ban was introduced experimentally in June 1972 and was considered a success, with an estimated increase of £250,000 in retail sales. However, the area is popular with unregulated rickshaws, which are a major cause of congestion in the area. Their slow speed, coupled with the narrowness of the street (buses are unable to pass them, causing long traffic queues) only add to the traffic woes. [48] [49] In 2009, a new diagonal crossing opened at Oxford Circus, allowing pedestrians to cross from one corner of Oxford Street to the opposite without needing to cross twice or use an underpass. This doubles the pedestrian capacity at the junction. [50]


From 2005 to 2012, Oxford Street was closed to motor traffic on VIP Day, (Very Important Pedestrians), a Saturday before Christmas. The scheme was popular and boosted sales by over £17m in 2012 but in 2013, the New West End Company announced that the scheme would not go ahead as it wanted to do "something new". [51] In 2014, Liberal Democrat members of the London Assembly proposed the street should be pedestrianised by 2020. [52]

In 2006, the New West End Company and the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, proposed to pedestrianise the street with a tram service running end to end. [53] The next Mayor, Boris Johnson, elected in 2008, announced that the scheme was not cost effective, too disruptive and would not go ahead. In response to a request from Johnson, Transport for London (TfL) reduced bus flow by 10% in both 2009 and 2010. [54] The New West End Company called for a 33% reduction in bus movements. [55]

In 2014, TfL suggested that pedestrianisation may not be a suitable long-term measure due to Crossrail reducing the demand for bus services on the street and proposed banning all traffic except buses and cycles during peak shopping times. [43] Optimisation of traffic signals, including pedestrian countdown signals, was also proposed. [56] TfL is concerned that long-term traffic problems may affect trade, which competes with shopping centres such as Westfield London, Westfield Stratford City and the Brent Cross Shopping Centre. [44] In 2015, while campaigning for election as London Mayor, Labour's Sadiq Khan favoured pedestrianisation, which was supported by other parties. [57] After winning the election, he pledged the street would be completely pedestrianised by 2020. [45] In 2017, the project was brought forward to be completed by the end of the following year. [58] The plan has been disapproved by local residents, Westminster City Council and the Fitzrovia Business Association. [59] [60]


In 2014, a report by a King's College, London scientist showed that Oxford Street had the world's highest concentration of nitrogen dioxide pollution, at 135 micrograms per cubic metre of air (μg/m3). The figure was an average that included night-time, when traffic was much lower. At peak times during the day, levels up to 463 μg/m3 were recorded – over 11 times the permitted EU maximum of 40 μg/m3. [61] [62] Because of diesel-powered traffic (buses and taxis), annual average nitrogen dioxide concentrations are around 180 μg/m3. This is 4.5 times the EU target of 40 μg/m3 (Council Directive 1999/30/EC). [63]


Oxford Street has suffered from high crime rates. In 2005, an internal Metropolitan Police report named it as the most dangerous street in Central London. [64] In 2012, an analysis of crime statistics revealed that Oxford Street was the shopping destination most surrounded by crime in the UK. During 2011, there were 656 vehicle crimes, 915 robberies, 2,597 violent crimes and 5,039 reported instances of anti-social behaviour. [65]

In 2014, the United Arab Emirates issued a travel advisory, warning Emirati citizens to avoid Oxford Street and other areas of Central London such as Bond Street and Piccadilly due to "pickpocketing, fraud and theft". [66] [67] The advent of closed-circuit television has reduced the area's attraction to scam artists and illegal street traders. [68] [69]

Christmas lights

The 2016 Oxford Street Christmas lights London Christmas 2016 (32909695696).jpg
The 2016 Oxford Street Christmas lights

Every Christmas, Oxford Street is decorated with festive lights. The tradition of Christmas lights began in 1959, five years after neighbouring Regent Street. There were no light displays in 1976 or 1977 because of economic recession, but the lights returned in 1978 when Oxford Street organised a laser display, and have continued every year since. [70]

Current practice involves a celebrity turning the lights on in mid- to late-November, and the lights remain until 6 January (Twelfth Night). The festivities were postponed in 1963 because of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and in 1989 to fit with Kylie Minogue's touring commitments. [70] In 2015, the lights were switched on earlier, on Sunday 1 November, resulting in an unusual closure of the street to all traffic. [71]

Listed buildings

Oxford Street has several Grade II listed buildings. In addition, the façades to Oxford Circus tube station are also listed. [72] [73]

NumberGradeYear listedDescription
6II*1987 The Tottenham [36]
34 & 36II1987Built 1912 [74]
35II2009Built for Richards & Co. jewellers in 1909 [75]
105–109II1986Built c. 1887 for the hatter Henry Heath [76]
133–135II2009Pembroke House, built 1911 [77]
147II2009Built in 1897 for the chemist John Robbins. [78]
156–162II*1975Built 1906–08; an early example of a steel-framed structure [79]
164–182 II1973 [80] Former Waring & Gillow department store
173II2009The Pantheon, now Marks and Spencer [30]
219II2001 [81]
313II1975Built c. 1870–1880 [82]
360–366II1987 [83]
368–370II2008Early 20th-century construction with 1930s facade [84]

Cultural references

Oxford Street is mentioned in several Charles Dickens novels. In A Tale of Two Cities , as Oxford Road, it is described as having "very few buildings", though it was heavily built up by the late 18th century. It is also mentioned in Sketches by Boz and Bleak House . [85]

The street is a square on the British Monopoly game board, part of the green set (together with Regent Street and Bond Street). The streets were grouped together as they are all primarily retail areas. [6] In 1991, music manager and entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren produced The Ghosts of Oxford Street, a musical documentary about life and history in the local area. [86]

See also

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Oxford Circus tube station London Underground station

Oxford Circus is a London Underground station serving Oxford Circus at the junction of Regent Street and Oxford Street, with entrances on all four corners of the intersection. The station is an interchange between the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines. As of 2017, it is the third busiest station on the London Underground. On the Central line it is between Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road, on the Bakerloo line it is between Regent's Park and Piccadilly Circus, and on the Victoria line it is between Green Park and Warren Street. The station is in Travelcard Zone 1.

Bond Street tube station London Underground and railway station

Bond Street is a London Underground and future Elizabeth line station in Mayfair, in the West End of London. It is located on Oxford Street, near the junction with New Bond Street.

Selfridges, also known as Selfridges & Co., is a chain of high-end department stores in the United Kingdom, operated by Selfridges Retail Limited. It was founded by Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1908. The flagship store on London's Oxford Street is the second largest shop in the UK and opened 15 March 1909. Other Selfridges stores opened in the Trafford Centre (1998) and Exchange Square (2002) in Manchester, and in the Bullring in Birmingham (2003).

Bond Street street in the West End of London (officially Old Bond Street and New Bond Street)

Bond Street is a major shopping street in the West End of London. It links Piccadilly in the south to Oxford Street in the north and has been popular for retail since the 18th century, being the home of many fashion outlets that sell prestigious or expensive items. The southern section is Old Bond Street and the longer northern section New Bond Street—a distinction not generally made in everyday usage.

Swansea City Centre human settlement in United Kingdom

Swansea city centre in Swansea, Wales, contains the main shopping, leisure and nightlife district in Swansea. The city centre covers much of the Castle ward including the area around Oxford Street, Castle Square, and the Quadrant Shopping Centre; Alexandra Road, High Street, Wind Street and the Castle; Parc Tawe; and the Maritime Quarter extending down to the seafront.

London Buses route 12

London Buses route 12 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between Dulwich Library and Oxford Circus, it is operated by London Central.


Heal's is a British furniture and furnishing store chain comprising six stores, selling a range of furniture, lighting and home accessories. For over a century, it has been known for promoting modern design and employing talented young designers.

A40 road in London

The A40 is a major trunk road connecting London to Fishguard, Wales. The A40 in London passes through seven London Boroughs: the City of London, Camden, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Hillingdon, to meet the M40 motorway junction 1 at Denham, Buckinghamshire.

Selfridges, Oxford Street department store in Oxford Street, London

Selfridges is a Grade II listed retail premises on Oxford Street in London. It was designed by Daniel Burnham for Harry Gordon Selfridge, and opened in 1909. Still the headquarters of Selfridge & Co. department stores, with 540,000 square feet (50,000 m2) of selling space, the store is the second largest retail premises in the UK, half as big as the biggest department store in Europe, Harrods. It was named the world's best department store in 2010, and again in 2012.



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Further reading