Lock gates moving along Bridge Street, 14 April 2021

This coming Wednesday (14 April) the EA will be moving the old gates from Days Lock back to the depot at the end of Bridge Street. This is the final part of replacing the gates.

Please ensure that the east side of Bridge Street is clear of cars on Wednesday, as well as any spaces opposite bike racks. A parking amnesty has been arranged with the council allowing cars to park elsewhere on the island.

The plan is as follows:

1.     HGV laden with gates to enter Bridge Street mid-morning (ETA 10.30am) Wednesday 14th April

2.     Unladen HGV to exit Osney Depot approx 12pm

3.     HGV laden with gates to enter Bridge Street mid-afternoon (ETA 2.30pm) Wednesday 14th April

4.     Unladen HGV to exit Osney Depot approx 4pm

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Lock gates moving down Bridge Street, 10 March 2021

This coming Wednesday the Environment Agency will be moving its second set of lock gates for Days Lock from the depot. These will come down Bridge Street between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. on 10 March.

Please ensure that all vehicles are moved from Bridge Street, or ready to move, at this time. Bikes in the bike bays will also need to be moved.

See the EA letter for further information.

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Katie Miller

Katie Miller, who lived on Osney as a child and now lives just off the island, near the River Hotel, is raising money for some surgery she needs. See the Oxford Mail article here: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/18334187.woman-craniocervical-instability-fundraising-operation

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Bill Bowell obituary

Bill Bowell died on 19 January 2021 aged 87. He had lived for 60 years in Bridge Street with his wife Edna, who died in December 2019. Bill worked as a chef when younger, and is remembered in Osney for his friendliness, for delivering the Oxford Mail and Times door-to-door, and for famously swimming with dolphins off the coast of Ireland to help with his depression.

His funeral is at St Frideswide’s Church on 5 February (family only due to COVID restrictions).


Marc Thompson writes: Bill was our newspaper delivery ‘boy’ when we first moved to the island 20 years ago. We discovered that he visited Dingle in Kerry most years to swim with Fungi the dolphin. Bill suffered from depression and the dolphin swimming he found helped with this. It is probably no coincidence that Fungi has disappeared from Dingle in the last couple of weeks just as Bill has departed this life.  He was a lovely man, gentle and kind.

Miranda Jones writes: Dear Bill Bowell delivered newspapers to Osney islanders and was always willing to  have a chat if one’s paths crossed. He would keep an eye open for people who left their keys in the door or even left their door open. A very kind and good person. Farewell Bill.

Elizabeth Newbery writes: Bill was the very first person I met on the Island when I arrived here. Bill became a good source of information for the newsletter which I used to put together before Jane.

Chris Gray writes: Bill was one of the brightest stars of Oxford Mail distribution. One colourful detail I recall is that each weekday night he would be on Osney Bridge with a paper ready to hand to the Bentley-driving chauffeur of Sir Basil Blackwell en route from Blackwell’s bookshop to his home at Appleton.

Councillor Susanna Pressel writes: I have known Bill and his family for about 25 years. He was a special and much loved man – always warm, friendly and hospitable, with a delightful twinkle in his eye and a really lovely voice. Until recently he was very active locally. …When I first got to know him, his children lived nearby; his daughter, for instance worked at West Oxford School for a long time. They have always been a close family. I’m sure he will be fondly remembered for a long time. Osney Island will be poorer without him.

Julia Marsh writes: Bill Bowell was a larger than life character when we moved to South Street in 1990, always taking an interest in our daughters, telling me I’d need to get a move on in order to catch up with the number of children he and Edna had (5)!

There are newspaper stories about Bill and the dolphins here, and about Bill and Edna’s experience in the 2007 floods here.

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Annette Steele obituary

Annette Steele died on 19 January 2021 in Sobell House Hospice after a short illness, just a month before her 82nd birthday. Annette was born in the house in East Street where she lived her whole life, for the last four decades with her beloved husband Ron, who passed away 2 years ago. She was a much-loved, kind neighbour with amazing stories of island life. Annette is survived by her son Barry (who had cared for her since Ron’s death), and four grandchildren, of whom she was very proud.

Annette’s funeral is on 15 February. The hearse will be passing down East Street at approximately 2.15 p.m. if local people wish to pay their respects.

Local tributes

Maureen Ergeneli writes: Annette was a lovely neighbour who never forgot a birthday, or Easter or Christmas, and as often as not, children would find a fiver tucked in as well. She had a great memory and to our delight she would tell us about the characters who used to live on the island: the milkman and his horse, all those who had little shops where one could buy sweets or groceries. She remembered the barges pulled by horses which were stabled at the Waterman’s Arms [now The Punter], swimming in the river, getting chewing gum from American soldiers in the war. She leaves a big hole in our lives. We shall miss her terribly.

Alison Burdett writes: Annette was a wonderful, kind neighbour with amazing stories of island life over the many years she lived here. She had a wide circle of friends and a great sense of humour, and will be sadly missed.

Pauline Massey writes: Annette Steele was a good friend to me and my family, as she was to many others. Always kind and thoughtful, phoning regularly to see how you were; she was a fine lady who will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved her.

Julia Marsh writes: Annette was a good friend.  We chatted regularly on the phone including her final weeks in Sobell House.

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University plans for students this term

Oxford Brookes and the University of Oxford have issued the following press release about plans for student teaching:

Oxford’s two universities will deliver learning online for most students until at least mid-February, in line with the national lockdown across England.

The majority of students at Oxford Brookes and the University of Oxford have been asked not to return to Oxford, with the exception of those studying specific courses relating to medicine, health, education and social work.

Students who do return will be asked to take free and fast tests for COVID-19 to minimise the risk of transmission, and to protect the health of students, staff and the wider community. Where in-person teaching does take place, both universities have COVID-secure arrangements to ensure it can continue safely. These measures have been in place since the start of the academic year helping to contain the virus, and prevent further transmission. They are kept under constant review to ensure they meet the latest government guidance and advice from Public Health England.

At Oxford Brookes University, the semester will start on 25 January with remote teaching for the majority of students, except for those on specific courses. Face-to-face teaching for most courses will not begin until 14 February at the earliest.

Professor Anne-Marie Kilday, Pro Vice-Chancellor Student and Staff Experience at Oxford Brookes University said: “Our first priority is the health of our students, staff and the wider community in Oxford. This is a challenging time and we all have a part to play in slowing the spread of the virus. I want to thank our staff for their ongoing efforts to minimise risks, support students and ensure they can continue to learn effectively.”

The University of Oxford’s Hilary term will start on 11 January, with most students learning online. The University will continue to operate, but museums and other buildings will be closed to the public.

Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education, at the University of Oxford, said: “While very important for stopping the spread of COVID-19 the national lockdown will change how universities operate. We have been planning for scenarios such as this for several months, and remain confident that we can continue to support our students, and protect the health of our wider community in the weeks ahead.”

Some students may return to university accommodation in Oxford if they do not have suitable study space where they currently live, or for mental health reasons.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “The universities are at the heart of this city, I want to thank them for moving so fast to ensure the safety of staff, students and residents in this latest lockdown. They have been thorough and proactive at managing the risk throughout this pandemic, I wish them and their students a safe and productive term through lockdown.”

Ansaf Azhar, Director for Public Health in Oxfordshire, said: “We have worked in strong partnership with our colleagues at Oxford’s universities throughout the pandemic and this continues as we enter the new lockdown period. We have been kept fully briefed of all key decisions. The universities are such a huge part of Oxford’s day to day life and our collective efforts in managing the local impacts of the pandemic will continue throughout the difficult weeks ahead and beyond as we deal with further developments throughout 2021.”

Latest information on COVID-19 from each university:



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Hallowe’en advice from Oxford City Council

Stay safe this Halloween

Halloween is this weekend. We are encouraging residents to celebrate Halloween safely this year and to continue to follow social distancing guidelines as Oxford enters in to Tier 2 (High Alert) for coronavirus from 00:01 tomorrow (31 October).   Residents are reminded that traditional celebrations are likely to spread the virus and the council recommends they should:

  • Avoid going door to door when trick or treating, and giving out treats by hand
  • Not attend gatherings that are held indoors with members outside of your household
  • Not attend outdoor gatherings where there are more than six people
  • Not substitute a facemask with a Halloween mask as this will not keep you safe.

Some suggestions and ideas (suitable for councillors too ..)

  • Getting involved in the Big Neighbourhood Pumpkin trail outside
  • Hosting a virtual Halloween costume party with friends and family
  • Holding a Scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins to light up the doorstep or in the window
  • Pumpkin picking at one of Oxford’s local farms
  • Socially distanced Halloween dance party on your doorstep
  • Host a virtual Halloween quiz
  • Have a Halloween film night with your household members
  • Make a Halloween themed face mask/covering

  Households in Oxford are also being encouraged to recycle their real Halloween pumpkin at the kerbside on top of or beside their food caddy.  Those who live in flats with shared bins are invited to pop their pumpkins directly in their red food bins.   There is a lot of waste produced around Halloween so, where possible please try to make your Halloween decorations or buy second hand or reusable products. If you’re unsure whether something can be recycled check Oxfordshire County Council’s recycle, repair and reuse web page.   Recycling organisation Hubbub believes that 12.8 million pumpkins are expected to be left uneaten this Halloween in the UK. For some pumpkin recipe ideas, visit the Hubbub website.

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Tree pulled out of river

The EA today removing the tree that has been in the river upstream of the lock ever since the winter floods.

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Black Lives Matter

Osney residents take part in the Stand up to Racism doorstep protest this evening against the killing of George Floyd

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Osney Easter egg hunt


How many Easter eggs can you spot in Osney Island windows this weekend? Osney is taking part in the West Oxford Window Easter Egg Hunt, 6–20 April. Keep a safe distance while out hunting.


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