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Banbury Cross - 2.jpg
Banbury Cross
Grid reference: SP4540
Location: 52°3’40"N, 1°20’10"W
Population: 41,802  (2001)
Post town: Banbury
Postcode: OX16
Dialling code: 01295
Local Government
Council: Cherwell
Website: Banbury town council

Banbury is the second town of Oxfordshire. Situated prominently in the north of the county and overspilling into Northamptonshire, Banbury historically was a centre for industry.

The arrival of the Oxford Canal and the railways enabled the already prominent industries to continue. At one time Banbury was known for its plush making, wool and its cattle market, (closed in 1998) which was once the largest in Western Europe. Another once-famous product of Banbury, the Banbury Cake is still in production to a limited scale and resembles an Eccles cake. Today, the automotive industry continues in the area, partially influenced by near-by Silverstone, Northamptonshire.

At the junction of two ancient roads, Salt Way and Banbury Lane, the wool trade flourished in mediaeval times. Banbury Castle was built circa 1135 by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, and survived into the Civil War, when it was besieged. Due to its proximity to Oxford, the King's capital, Banbury was a Royalist town, but the inhabitants were known to be strongly Puritan. This led to its use as a base of operations for Oliver Cromwell, who is said to have planned the Battle of Edge Hill in the Globe Room of Ye Olde Reindeer Inn on Parsons Street. Banbury's castle was subsequently demolished after the war by the Parliamentarians. Banbury played an important part in the Civil War.

Today, the M40 and fast rail links, both connecting to Birmingham and London, have enabled Banbury to be used as a base for many commuters. To some extent, the M40 has also enabled Banbury, which is centrally located within England and regionally, to become a place for smaller businesses to operate from. Some of the more curious traditions which continue in Banbury include the Banbury Street Organ Festival and National Town Criers Competition.


Banbury has several sporting clubs, most notably Banbury United football club. There are also rugby, canoeing, golf, running, triathlon and cricket clubs. These clubs represent a variety of age groups, and play at varying levels, from amateur to national.

Banbury United F.C. was first formed as Spencer Villa in 1931 and their home matches played at Middleton Road. At this time it was essentially a works club. In 1934, they changed their name to Banbury Spencer and moved to the Spencer Stadium.

Banbury and District Golf Club (now defunct) was founded in 1904. The club disappeared in the mid-1920s.[1]

Notable people

  • John Brooke-Little was a former officer of arms who lived in Banbury at the end of his life.[2]
  • Anthony Burgess, novelist, taught at Banbury Grammar School (now Banbury School) for several years during the 1950s.[3]
  • Television presenter John Craven lives in the Banbury area and has often presented BBC Countryfile stories and features from around the area.[4]
  • Benjamin Franklin's grandfather Thomas Franklin is buried in Banbury. According to Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, his grandfather was born in 1598 and he visited Banbury to see his gravestone in 1758.
  • Gary Glitter, born Paul Francis Gadd in Banbury, glam rock star and convicted paedophile.[5]
  • Larry Grayson was born in Banbury but grew up in Nuneaton.[6]
  • Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, British physiologist and biophysicist and Nobel Prize winner, was born in Banbury
  • Lancelot Holland, the admiral who was killed aboard HMS Hood in 1941 commanding the fleet that engaged the Bismarck, grew up in the Banbury area.
  • TV Hypnotist and Hypnotherapist Chris Hughes was born in Banbury but grew up in Ardley.
  • Actress Jo Joyner grew up in Bloxham and studied at the Warriner School. She is now best known as EastEnders' Tanya Branning.
  • William Knollys, 1st Earl of Banbury, Lord High Admiral and First Lord of the Admiralty 1646–1660.
  • Former Prime Minister Lord North was MP for Banbury.
  • Tim Plester, actor, playwright and film maker. Born and grew up in Banbury
  • Chef and TV star Gordon Ramsay moved to Banbury at the age of 16.[7]


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