Building of Berinsfield
The huts had been taken down in phases since the site was first used for temporary housing. As Mr. Winterbourne had said he had first moved from huts close to Mount Farm Houses and been moved from one side of the Roman Road to the other as the airfield had been returned to farm land. Towards the end, the huts were coming down faster, first the Field Farm huts, which were replaced by Colwell Road and Green Furlong, and the families were moved from the Mount Farm huts into these new houses. They took down the Field Farm Huts from the gate house at the end of what is now 1 Fane Drive - up to what is now Barrington Close, building the first part of Fane Drive, leaving spaces for the shops, health centre, West Croft, Crutch Furlong and Russell Jackson Close. They also took down the huts alongside the old Oxford-Henley road (formally A423) and built Wimblestraw Road with Shadwell Road and Bullingdon Avenue off as cul-de-sacs - the first private houses for sale as Terry remembers, at £1,000 a piece. Some that could afford these prices moved in. It was rumoured that some of the private dwellers could only afford orange boxes as furniture, but this was certainly not true in every case. The first phase was up to Lay Avenue and was built by Selick & Nickels, a builder from Cornwall.
Elise East, husband and daughter Nicky East were the first to move into Shadwell Road in September 1959 from Henley Street in Oxford. The builders hurried to finish 4 Shadwell Road as Elsie was expecting and wanted to move in before the birth - Russell East was born in December 1959. I have asked who was the first to move into the houses in Colwell Road, but a few people have claimed that honour. At the end of the Field Farm Estate there were some 69 families out of the original 200 families still waiting to be housed, one of these families was Mrs Cox and family. Mrs Cox had been living in the huts from the beginning.
Veronica moved from the hut in Field Farm to Colwell Road with her father and mother (Lil Huggins). After Terry and Veronica married they initially lived in Colwell Road, then moved to the flats in Fane Drive and now live in Barrington Close.
A little known piece of our history is held by each of us who are home owners. The deeds to our properties give us a history of the land on which it stands. Cathy Keogh reports that her deeds reveal the land in Shadwell Road and to the west of the village was owned by the father of Arthur Cullen, a local builder and landowner.
An aerial photograph taken in 1961 shows Berinsfield still being built, the footings for the shops, still no health centre and the last of the bungalows in Bullingdon Avenue being finished, the church being started. Eddie Connell had come out of the Army, having been stationed in Germany and came to visit his brother in Watlington. He liked the area so much that he wanted to live here, so looked for work. He got a job as a bricklayer in Berinsfield and brought his young family down from Glasgow in 1962. Eddie¹s first job was to put the footings in for the shops and pub (Berinsfield Arms) He was always proud of the fact that he had built the house he and his family lived in until his death.
The village continues to grow!
Bullingdon Avenue was going to be called something else originally, as Chris Law recalls. He had heard about the new development when he was working at Morris¹s in 1958. He put down a £100 deposit on one of the 3 bedroom bungalows, which was in each of the corners of the Avenue and were built first, the 2 bedroom bungalows built shortly afterwards. The Avenue was to be called Holdford Avenue, as Chris Law recounts. He had already paid to have 200 business cards printed with Holford Avenue, but there were a few issues and it resulted in Sir William Holford and Bullingdon RDC falling out. A secretary who worked for the Chief Executive at the time said there were some very heated exchanges and he had said he would not have his name put to any part of this village after what Bullingdon RDC had done to his original plan for the village and the name changed to Bullingdon Avenue.
The Oxford Mail reported on the 26th February 1962 that Berinsfield had become a separate Parish, which was favoured by both Bullingdon RDC and Oxfordshire County Council. A final comment made in the article was that "a burial ground will be needed in the parish". It took 33 years to achieve this goal and could justify a complete chapter all of its own. The first parish meeting was held on the 16th April 1962 and is commemorated by the stained glass window in the church dedicated to all Parish Councillors "Past & Present" who have served the community. The final article to do with the our village name was on the 30th August 1962 when the local post office adopted the new name of Berinsfield. The sub-office had been called "Field Mount" after the two adjacent farms.
On the 23rd May 1963 the Bullingdon Rural District Council put forward expansion plans for Berinsfield with 700 new houses, which were to include two blocks of 8 storey flats. 26 May 1964 Multi storey flats rejected, but 3 and 4 storey flats approved.
In 1964, the year the new Primary school opened, Chris Law recounts the Big Snow when the weather turned icy no one could get up the Oxford Hill (The A4074 just north of Berinsfield). John Pratt went in with a JCB to dig a way through, when the snow began to thaw a 3-wheel Messerschmitt bubble car was found on top of a hedge. A tractor was used to retrieve some of the vehicles and on one occasion the front of a Princess car was pulled off.
Coming down the A4074, formally A432 from Nuneham Courtenay there was a staggered junction near where the Golden Balls roundabout is today. The lay-by was part of the main road, which then dipped down to the brook and wound its way back up to Berinsfield. There were numerous accidents (The Oxford Hill). Major road improvements took place to straighten the road and move it away from the side of Berinsfield, closing the Fane Drive entrance, leaving us with that lay-by and a new junction/roundabout. The junction at the Golden Balls caused more accidents than it resolved and was eventually changed to a roundabout. The lay-by has now been closed and is returning back to nature.
Lionel Brett wrote a paper "Landscape in Distress" in 1966 stating - "It is difficult to write fairly of this solitary attempt at a planned village. It was enlightened of Bullingdon RDC, having made this decision, to use this old airfield camp site for housing, to seek the advice of a distinguished planning consultant on its layout. But something went wrong and the "village" is no such thing, but just another Council housing estate with standard road widths and semis."
Bullingdon RDC saw the potential of Berinsfield being able to resolve all their housing problems. There was a rapid increase in the population rising to 1,220 in 1966. By 1971, just five years later it had risen to 3,238. The housing mix was 75.5% owned by local authorities and only 19% owner occupied, the national average for properties owned by local authorities was 30%.
The Oxford Mail and Times once again report extensively on the proposed high rise to be built in Berinsfield, which was not accepted. Two blocks of flats at the end of Cherwell Road and Evenlode Drive and later another block opposite the health centre were built. Views were expressed saying this was a mistake when they were being built. By 1974 the Church, Health Centre, Public House, two parades of shops, a community centre, Primary and Secondary schools had been built. The Oxfordshire County Council was expanding the Secondary school to increase its capacity from 600 to 900 pupils, the library and youth centre were under construction.
South Oxfordshire District Council established a project team in July 1974 to give consideration to the future of Berinsfield. The report highlighted the land the Home Office had purchased to build 82 homes for Prison Officers. They would be employed for the new Lockwood Prison to built at Culham, but this project had been abandoned and the Council was trying to get the land to develop. This was achieved and we had a phase of self-build, Leach Road was built and the remaining gaps along Fane Drive were filled in. The village has been growing ever since; the last major bit of building was Abbey Woods Close, built on the site of the Abbey School. The first residents moved in during March 1998. The last major phase to our village is at its mid-point, the flats at Evenlode Drive and Cherwell Road are down and major building work is scheduled to start and be completed in the next two years. Berinsfield has grown from the initial 278 accommodation units of the first phase to 1,136.