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Village Life in the 1980s and 90s

Little of note seems to have happened in the 1980s but the Parish Meeting minutes of the 1990s suggest that the doldrums of the 70s and 80s were well and truly over. There were two crises which brought the village together. One concerned the church and the other the road through the village.

Parish meetings were at this time being held in the barn at Hill Farm with James Garson in the chair. A new decade saw a new chair when Carolyn Brown of Sescut Farm took over the chairmanship in 1990. In this year the community policeman was given a van, rather than a bicycle, bringing him somewhat late in the day into the twentieth century! Local authority boundary changes meant that Elsfield, being north of Oxford, became incorporated into South Oxfordshire, with the administrative headquarters at Wallingford.

The Road

One of the first tasks of the new Chair was to try to tackle the problem of the road. A road safety committee was formed and met regularly in the kitchen at Sescut, the home of the Brown family. They expressed themselves thus:

"The Elsfield road is very dangerous. There have been 16 accidents with substantial damage to vehicles, including two injury accidents and one involving the school minibus... These occur as cars travel in large numbers (about 2000 a day) along a 13 foot single track road, often at high speed (at a monitored average of 45 mph) and for 0.8 miles through a village with no speed limit, no footpath, a considerable amount of unavoidable on-street parking, several blind bends and twelve houses within four yards of the road. There is routine damage to parked cars, and pet dogs and cats are regularly killed on the road. (One family had had six cats killed in six years) Most in Elsfield believe that it is only a matter of time before there is a human fatality. Ordinary village life is impossible as everyone is afraid to walk along the road."

This doesn’t mention the 38 ton lorry which crashed or the post van which was twice in collision with cars or the school taxi which was also in a collision.

They argued for and got a draft order to close the road which would involve installing a gate at the northern end of the village. There was a public meeting in Beckley, whose inhabitants used Elsfield as their most direct route into Oxford. The meeting attracted a hundred people, and a petition against the closure was signed by 700. The people of Woodeaton, the neighbouring village to Elsfield, were outraged, since there would be even more traffic flooding through their village. Similarly the inhabitants of Fencot and Murcott, affected in the same way as Beckley residents, pressed their chairman to pronounce against the move. ‘Otmoor is in revolt’ he announced, while one correspondent of the Oxford Mail pointed out that the piece of road beyond the gate would become unused as a road and would quickly become a haven for New Age travellers. He estimated that upward of 80 vehicles could be accommodated on the land and expressed the hope that Elsfield residents would wake up to reality "before the Sword of Damocles descends upon them!"

In the face of such opposition the local authority backed down and revoked the closure scheme. They did however agree to install traffic calming measures and speed bumps and their accompanying street lighting, which were installed in 1995. This led to a decrease of 30% in the volume of traffic and the speed was significantly reduced from 39% travelling over 30mph outside the Manor to 2%, with no cars travelling above 40mph. A footpath, however, was deemed an expense too far and the village still remains without one.


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