OXFORD PAVING COMMISSIONERS

Scope and Content

the Paving Commissioners [also called Improvement or Street Commissioners] were appointed under the Oxford Improvement Act 1771 [also referred to as the Oxford Mileways or Paving Act of 11 George III c19]; the Commissioners included representatives of the university and its colleges, the city corporation and parishes and 250 named local residents; it was thus a large body representing a wide range of interests and with more powers and scope than usual at the time; its responsibilities under the Act included turnpiking the St Clement's mileway, rebuilding Magdalen Bridge and constructing a new meat market as well as the usual schemes for improvement e.g. paving, cleansing and lighting the streets; the Commissioners were given powers of compulsory purchase, making bylaws and raising finance by levying tolls and local rates; the Commissioners carried out significant changes to the infrastructure of Oxford as is clearly revealed in the large collection of deeds of properties acquired for street improvements in several parishes including the Upper St Aldates Street Improvement, widening the road east of Magdalen Bridge in St Clements, the removal of Middle Row at the east end of St Mary Magdalen Church; the Paving Commission was dissolved in 1865 and its powers transferred to the newly-created Local Board of Health [see OCA2/4]; further information can be obtained from Victoria County History of Oxfordshire volume 4

cataloguing note: as the Paving Commissioners and St Clements Turnpike Trustees were created under the same Acts and their members were often the same individuals their records were administered jointly and frequently became intermixed [see for example the minute books in OCA2/1/A1]; however a document of 1860 recites that because of a difference in qualifications required by the Oxford Paving Acts and General Turnpike Acts [which required trustees of turnpike roads to have a higher property qualification of £100 per year instead of £40 required by the Oxford Paving Acts] the St Clements Turnpike Trustees and the Paving Commissioners had in fact become separate bodies although there was no legal distinction under the Paving Acts except that the powers of the Turnpike Trustees were limited to a certain period of time which didn't apply to the Commissioners [see OCA2/1/C13/5]