The most-read news stories of 2023
Botley Road closure, Oxford Railway Station development, Oxford Christmas market, Remembrance Sunday. These were some of the most significant events in Oxford in 2023 and were among the most-read articles published by The Oxford Magazine this year.
To recap 2023, we compiled our most-read news stories, i.e. the stories that attracted the highest number of pageviews, and the result is a mix of news coverage about community-related activities as well as lifestyle news stories.
Renewed efforts for proposals by water companies for a giant reservoir near Abingdon, which would hold up to 100 million cubic metres of water, continued to face opposition. Oxfordshire council’s draft response described the proposals as “deeply flawed” and based on “unrealistic and non-evidence-based assumptions” about climate change, as well as “ludicrously outdated population projections”.
The winner of ITV’s The Voice UK 2022, Anthonia Edwards, will be joining the legendary Grammy Award-winning vocalist Billy Ocean on his 2023 UK tour as a very special guest. After seeing Anthonia perform on ITV primetime show The Voice and hearing her cover of Love Really Hurts Without You, Billy insisted Anthonia should join him on the road where he will perform his greatest hits.
The leader of Oxfordshire County Council declared herself “extremely disappointed” with TV star Jeremy Clarkson as parking restrictions near his Diddly Squat Farm were approved. Councillor Liz Leffman spoke in support of the county’s proposal to implement no waiting restrictions, the equivalent of double yellow lines, on the A361 and Chipping Norton Road, Chadlington.
Changes to bus services in and around Oxford were announced due to the closue of Botley Road in April. The section of the road that passes underneath the rail bridge near Oxford Rail Station was closed to motor vehicle traffic, including buses, to allow for works to upgrade Oxford Rail Station and Railway. The closure was expected to last until the end of October, but has now been extended into 2024.
The market town of Wallingford announced it was planning a Murder Mystery Weekend on 09 and 10 September 2023 to celebrate its famous former resident, Dame Agatha Christie – who lived here for 42 years (1934 to 1976), including the unveiling a life-size bronze statue of the internationally acclaimed author commissioned by the Town Council and funded by an Arts Grant.
Homesense opened the doors to its first store in Oxford in April. The store is situated in Templars Shopping Park in Cowley and spans 12,834 square feet. It adjoins the existing TK Maxx to form a new superstore. Launched in the UK in 2008 and in Ireland in 2017, Homesense is part of the TK Maxx family with 78 stores across the UK (76) and Ireland.
A new feasibility study set out the case for a railway route connecting Carterton, Witney, and Eynsham to Oxford. The preliminary strategic outline case for the Carterton-Witney-Oxford Rail Corridor (CWORC) was commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council to establish if there is a strategic need for the proposed railway line.
RH England launched a brand new culinary emporium housed within its new gallery at the Grade I-listed Aynho Park estate in Banbury. The new dining destination, nestled in the English countryside, comprises a fine dining restaurant, The Orangery, alongside The Loggia, an informal pizza terrace, an elegant Tea Salon and Wine Lounge and a specialist Juicery.
The smash-hit and critically acclaimed musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie announced the initial casting for its second UK & Ireland tour, which visits New Theatre Oxford from 12 to 30 December 2023. The cast includes Ivano Turco as Jamie New, Rebecca McKinnis as Margaret New, Shobna Gulati as Ray (Margaret’s best friend), and Talia Palamathanan as Pritti (Jamie’s friend).
The organiser of the Oxford Christmas Market for the last 14 years has announced that the market, as we know it, has been cancelled indefinitely after Oxford City Council insisted on maintaining the cycle lane on Broad Street during the period of the market. Subsequently, the council put out a tender for the market in Broad Street with the requirement to maintain the cycle route during the period.
News about a new cocktail bar and wine shop venture opening at the Graven Hill development in Bicester was warmly recieved in August. The ccktail bar provides a family-friendly place to meet and enjoy a glass of wine, cocktails or soft drinks, while the shop sells a variety of worldwide wine, spirits and beer, including Trappist beers, alongside day-to-day groceries until the arrival of the convenience store at the site.
Following the earlier news story about the Christmas Market, Oxford City Council announced that LSD Promotions will be the new organiser for this year’s Christmas market on Broad Street. Although this year will be the first time LSD have organised the Oxford City Christmas Market, LSD has a track record with markets in Oxford, organising the weekly market on Gloucester Green.
An Oxford student became the first Ayurvedic physician to be named a Champion of the British Society for Nanomedicine. Eeshani Bendale is a Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery, completing an MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care at the university. Nanomedicine is a branch of medicine that uses nanotechnology to treat and prevent diseases.
Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, visited Oxford Railway Station to witness first-hand the transformative work being undertaken by Kier. During the visit, which took place on 22 September, Annelise had the opportunity to engage with a number of talented engineers, including many women who are contributing their expertise to this project.
October saw thousands of runners taking to the streets of Oxford for this year’s Oxford Half Marathon. The news story also included the complete list of roads to be closed and their latest reopening times. The race is a flat 13.1-mile route that passes through Old Marston, down the River Cherwell, and through the University of Oxford’s Lady Margaret Hall before finishing in Parks Road.
Stagecoach West, which operates the Oxford Tube, announced the addition of extra services connecting Carterton, Witney and Eynsham to London, along with a new stop in High Wycombe. The early morning commuter trips originating in West Oxfordshire bypass Oxford city centre and stop at Thornhill before continuing the regular route to London.
Plans for seven new buildings at Bicester Motion’s new Innovation Quarter were given the green light by Cherwell District Council. Bicester Motion, located on a 444-acre former RAF site acquired in 2013, is the heart of Motorsport Valley in Oxfordshire and home to over 50 industry-leading businesses in all forms of mobility technology, past, present and future.
The Lord Mayor of Oxford, in partnership with the Oxford City branch of the Royal British Legion, hosted a Remembrance Sunday Service at the War Memorial in St Giles’ on Sunday, 12 November. Remembrance Sunday takes place on the second Sunday in November and honours those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure and protect our freedom.
The Unicorn School in Abingdon acquired the building of the former Premier Inn hotel and Beefeater restaurant on Marcham Road in Abingdon from Whitbread PLC, Premier Inn’s parent company. The purchase will allow the school, which specialises in helping children with neurodiversity challenges, to double its pupil numbers from 120 to 240 over the next few years.
Il Principe, the independent Italian delicatessen and takeaway on Cowley Road in Oxford, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this December. Two decades ago, Domenico Iorio serendipitously discovered the empty storefront at 82 Cowley Road and has since transformed it into a local treasure trove of authentic Italian produce with an evening fresh pizza takeaway service.