Oxford Circus was originally called Regent Circus.
The development of Oxford Street
began in the 18th century once local fields had been purchased by the Earl of Oxford.
In 1739, a gardener called Thomas Huddle built property on the north side. Buildings were erected on the corner of Oxford Street
and Davies Street
in the 1750s and further development occurred between 1763 and 1793.
By the end of the 18th century, Oxford Street
had been built up from St Giles Circus
to Park Lane, containing a mix of residential houses, pubs and theatres.
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 built between 1913 and 1928.
All Souls Church All Souls Church is an evangelical Anglican church situated at the north end of Regent Street. All Souls Place, W1B All Souls Place is a short cul-de-sac in the shadow of All Souls Church, originating in the eighteenth century as a mews off Edward Street. Argyll Street, W1F Argyll Street was named after John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, owner of the land in the 18th century. Avery Row, W1K Avery Row was probably named after Henry Avery, an 18th century bricklayer who built this street over the Tyburn Brook. Beak Street, W1B Beak Street runs roughly east-west between Regent Street and Lexington Street. Beak Street, W1F Beak Street is named after Thomas Beake, one of the Queen’s messengers. Berners Mews, W1T Berners Mews is one of the streets of London in the W1T postal area. Berners Street, W1D Berners Street runs from the junction of Oxford Street and Wardour Street to join up with Mortimer Street and the former Middlesex Hospital. Berwick Road, W1F Berwick Road is one of the streets of London in the W1F postal area. Berwick Street, W1F Berwick Street commemorates the Duke of Berwick, an illegitimate son of James II. Boyle Street, W1S Boyle Street was built on a piece of land called the Ten Acres to discharge some Boyle family debts. Brewer Street, W1D Brewer Street runs west to east from Glasshouse Street to Wardour Street. Bridle Lane, W1F Bridle Lane is one of the streets of London in the W1F postal area. Broadwick Street, W1F Broadwick Street runs west-east between Marshall Street and Wardour Street, crossing Berwick Street. Brook Street, W1K Brook Street was named after the Tyburn Brook that formerly ran nearby, Brook Street, W1S Brook Street is one of the streets of London in the W1S postal area. Brooks Mews, W1K Brooks Mews is one of the streets of London in the W1K postal area. Bywell Place, W1T Bywell Place is one of the streets of London in the W1T postal area. Cavendish Square, W1G Cavendish Square was laid out in 1717–18 at the beginning of the transformation of Harley family lands in Marylebone. Davies Mews, W1K Davies Mews is one of the streets of London in the W1K postal area. Davis Street, W1K Davis Street is one of the streets of London in the W1K postal area. Deans Mews, W1G Deans Mews is one of the streets of London in the W1G postal area. Duck Lane, W1F Duck Lane is one of the streets of London in the W1F postal area. Eastcastle Street, W1T The portion of Eastcastle Street to the east of Wells Street originally belonged to the Berners Estate. Great Windmill Street, W1F Great Windmill Street has had a long association with music and entertainment, most notably the Windmill Theatre. Greens Court, W1F Greens Court is one of the streets of London in the W1F postal area. Ham Yard, W1D Ham Yard is one of the streets of London in the W1D postal area. Hanover Square, W1S Hanover Square was created as the ’Whig’ square with Cavendish Square being the ’Tory’ square. Harley Place, W1G Harley Place is one of the streets of London in the W1G postal area. Hills Place, W1F Hills Place is one of the streets of London in the W1F postal area. Holles Street, W1C Holles Street runs north from Oxford Street, on the east side of the John Lewis store. Kemp’s Court, W1F Kemp’s Court is situated in the heart of Berwick Street Market where a line of stalls stretch down both sides of the road. Kingly Court, W1B Kingly Court is one of the streets of London in the W1B postal area. Linen Hall, W1B Linen Hall is one of the streets of London in the W1B postal area. Livonia Street, W1F Livonia Street was originally Bentinck Street, family name of owner the Duke of Portland. Market Place, W1W Market Place is one of the streets of London in the W1W postal area. Mill Street, W1S Mill Street is one of the streets of London in the W1S postal area. New Bond Street, W1S New Bond Street is the northernmost section of what is simply known as ’Bond Street’ in general use. Newburg Road, W1F Newburg Road is one of the streets of London in the W1F postal area. Noel Street, W1F Noel Street is one of the streets of London in the W1F postal area. Palladium House, W1B Palladium House is a grade II listed (in 1981) Art Deco office building located on the corner of Great Marlborough Street and Argyll Street. Peter Street, W1F Peter Street is one of the streets of London in the W1F postal area. Regent Place, W1B Regent Place is one of the streets of London in the W1B postal area. Riding House Street, W1W Riding House Street commemorates a riding house and barracks of the First Troop of Horse Grenadier Guards. Sedley Place, W1C Sedley Place is one of the streets of London in the W1C postal area. Silver Place, W1F Silver Place is one of the streets of London in the W1F postal area. Smiths Court, W1D Smiths Court is one of the streets of London in the W1D postal area. Union Street, W1W The easternmost section of Riding House Street was previously known as Union Street. Vere Street, W1G Vere Street is one of the streets of London in the W1G postal area. Walker’s Court, W1D Walker’s Court is one of the many passageways which in past years was known as ’Paved Alley’. Wardour Street, W1F Wardour Street is a street that runs north from Leicester Square, through Chinatown, across Shaftesbury Avenue to Oxford Street. Welbeck Street, W1G Welbeck Street has historically been associated with the medical profession. Welbeck Way, W1G Welbeck Way is one of the streets of London in the W1G postal area. Wells Mews, W1T Wells Mews is one of the streets of London in the W1T postal area. Wells Street, W1W Wells Street is one of the streets of London in the W1T postal area.
Oxford Circus, designed by John Nash in 1811.
Oxford Circus, the busy intersection of Oxford Street
and Regent Street
, was constructed in the beginning of the 19th century, and was designed by John Nash. Regent Street
had been commissioned by Prince Regent, who was later to become King George IV, as a grand scheme to connect the Princes home at Carlton House with his newly acquired property at Regents Park. Nash designed a wide boulevard with a sweeping curve that became a clear dividing line between the less respectable Soho and the fashionable squares and streets of Mayfair. Born from the concept of Nash’s layout of the New Street in 1812, frontage alignments remain, with the rebuilt listed architecture of 1920s buildings.
The surrounding area contains important elements of the Nash heritage. All frontages on the Circus are Grade II Listed. The entire of Regent Street
is also listed and sits within a conservation area.
The circus is served by Oxford Circus tube station, which is directly beneath the junction itself.
Oxford Circus station has entrances on all four corners of the intersection. The station is an interchange between the Central, Victoria and Bakerloo lines. It is the fourth busiest station on the network and the busiest without connection to the National Rail service. It opened on the Central London Railway on 30 July 1900, with the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway’s platforms opening on 10 March 1906. The two companies had separate surface buildings and lift shafts. The station buildings, which remain today as exits from the station, were constructed on very confined plots on either side of Argyll Street
on the south side of Oxford Street
, just to the east of the circus itself. The stations were originally built as entirely separate, but connecting passages were swiftly provided at platform level. The surviving Central London Railway building to the east of Argyll Street
is the best surviving example of the stations designed by Harry Bell Measures, and the Bakerloo line building to the west is a classic Leslie Green structure. Both station buildings are Grade II listed.
Almost from the outset, overcrowding has been a constant problem at the station and it has seen numerous improvements to its facilities and below-ground arrangements to deal with this difficulty. After much discussion between the then two separate operators, a major reconstruction began in 1912. This saw a new ticket hall, dealing with both lines, built in the basement of the Bakerloo station, the Bakerloo lifts removed, and new deep-level escalators opened down to the Bakerloo line level. Access to the Central line was by way of existing deep-level subways. The new works came into use on 9 May 1914 with the CLR lifts still available for passengers. By 1923 even this rearrangement was unable to cope, so a second rebuilding commenced. This saw a second set of escalators built directly down to the Central line, the CLR station building becoming an exit only. Then, on 2 October 1928, a third escalator leading to the Bakerloo platforms was opened. Unusually, lifts came back into prominence at an Underground station when, in 1942, a set of high-speed lifts came into use, largely used as an exit route from the Central line platforms directly to the Argyll Street
The Victoria line opened on 7 March 1969. To handle the additional passenger loads, a new ticket hall was constructed directly under the road junction. To excavate the new ticket hall below the roadway, traffic was diverted for five years (August 1963 to Easter 1968) on to a temporary bridge-like structure known as the ’umbrella’ covering the Regent Street
intersection. Services tunnels were constructed to carry water mains and telecom cables past the new ticket hall. Construction of the Victoria line station tunnels with their platforms, the new escalator shafts and the linking passages to the Central line platforms was carried out from access shafts sunk from nearby Cavendish Square
, Upper Regent Street
and Argyll Street
. To this day, traffic passing through the Oxford Circus intersection literally travels over the roof of the ticket office.