• Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

Nine photos of a bustling Queen Street in Oxford


Sep 4, 2022

Here we feature some Oxford Mail archive photos of bustling Queen Street over the years.

The city centre shopping street has had its ups and downs, and been the subject of intense debate about how many buses should use it, but the new Westgate Centre in 2017 gave it a big boost.

Following the £440m revamp of the centre in 2017, with a large number of new shops and restaurants, a cinema and roof terrace, Queen Street has got even busier, as shoppers head to the entrance opposite Bonn Square.

Read again: Traditional flour mill to close

While there are still a number of empty units in Queen Street, new businesses are arriving, including fried chicken restaurant Popeyes, which is due to open later this month.

Oxford Mail:

For decades Queen Street in Oxford has been one of the city’s busiest shopping streets. In 2019, it was resolved that Queen Street would continue to be used by buses after a proposal for it to be fully pedestrianised.

The county and city councils had initially wanted to pedestrianise the street ahead of the Westgate Centre's reopening in October 2017 following a £440m revamp. But transport secretary Chris Grayling told the county council it had to allow buses down it as part of an 18-month trial. That ended in April 2019.

Oxford Mail:

Read again: Bus companies vow to fight over Queen Street closure

However, the county council’s cabinet then agreed to continue allowing up to 30 buses to travel along Queen Street every hour because changes could have had ‘negative impacts’ on public transport and passengers.

Yvonne Constance, the council’s cabinet member for environment at the time, praised ‘exceptional’ bus drivers who had ensured there have been no reported accidents on the street since the trial started.

Oxford Mail:

Other councillors said while they supported buses using Queen Street, they worried more about the conflict between pedestrians and cyclists there.

The council said it wanted buses to continue in part because of the ‘very low likelihood that the remaining buses in Queen Street prevent Westgate visitors from continuing their journeys into the rest of the city centre’.

Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company’s managing director, welcomed the county council's decision.

Oxford Mail:

He said at the time: "I’m pleased the county council has taken a pragmatic view to keep Queen Street open to maintain efficient bus access to key streets in the city centre.

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"If Queen Street had been closed to buses, they would have had to have travelled an extra 149,000 miles per year, increasing journey times and negatively impacting on the city’s air quality.

Oxford Mail:

"We will continue to work with the city council and county council on how to balance public realm improvements with maintaining excellent access to the city centre for buses and other sustainable modes.”

Read more from this author

This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF