Gill and I in the unventilated basement.  Compare it with Maxwell’s council house,  Headington Hall

Good programme about Robert Maxwell who rented Headington Hall from Oxford City Council for £7,500 in 1978

Before we set up at the Jam Factory, my business partner and I ran a business called Oxford Antiques Omnibus – an art and antiques market in an airless basement in Omni store in George St (now Pizza Hut) 1985-1987.   It was hard finding premises. Oxford has been a difficult city for small businesses and especially for women as we weren’t admitted to the Clarendon Club where the networking happened.

The rent for the basement started at £7,500 per annum and rose to £12,000. Oxford City Council owned Headington Hall and the George Street building and Nuffield College had the head lease. The millionaire pays £7,500 for a grand house and grounds and two women earning  little pay £12,000 rent for a basement! When Nuffield College paid their leaseholder a generous sum to leave, they gave all ten businesses in the building one month’s notice and refunded one month’s rent which, for us, was a princely £1000!

Says a lot about the world!

Fortunately we had been desperately looking for better accommodation and set up  Oxford Antiques Centre on the ground floor of Coopers Oxford Marmalade Factory.  As well as 30 dealers, a book shop and the Marmalade Cat Cafe we offered lots of  services rather like The Repair Shop. The Oxford Mail interviewed me about it recently bringing back good memories . Do you think with the High Street emptying of the big guys there could be a opportunities for small businesses like we supported or will the rental and rates structure continue to be prohibitive ?—antiques-memories-jam-factory/