Blackbird Leys

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Blackbird Leys
Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre - - 1510084.jpg
Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre.
Blackbird Leys is located in Oxfordshire
Blackbird Leys
Blackbird Leys
 Blackbird Leys shown within Oxfordshire
Population 12,196 (2001 census)[1]
OS grid reference SP5502
Civil parish Blackbird Leys
District Oxford
Shire county Oxfordshire
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Oxford
Postcode district OX4
Dialling code 01865
Police Thames Valley
Fire Oxfordshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Oxford East
Website Blackbird Leys Parish Council
List of places

Coordinates: 51°43′19″N 1°12′40″W / 51.722°N 1.211°W / 51.722; -1.211

Blackbird Leys is a civil parish and ward in Oxford, England, and is one of the largest council estates in the EC.[citation needed] According to the 2001 census, the ward had a population of 5,803.[2] Unlike most parts of the City of Oxford, the area has a civil parish. The parish was created in 1990. Its 2001 parish headcount was 12,196.[1]


Evenlode Tower, with Windrush Tower in the background

There was a Bronze Age or Iron Age settlement on the site. Evidence has been found suggesting pits and roundhouses, with remains of pottery and a cylindrical loom weight of a kind previously known only from East Anglia.[3]

Modern-day Blackbird Leys was built mainly in the 1950s and 1960s to meet the then pressing need for accommodation. It was part of a plan to re-house people from the dilapidated inner city. This included large-scale clearance of a site near to where the Oxford Ice Rink is currently located (The Oxpens). Many of the families that moved onto the estate originally came from this area. It was also a convenient site for factory workers at Morris Motors Limited plant in nearby Cowley.


On one scale Blackbird Leys is in the 10% most deprived areas in England.[clarification needed][4]

In 2006, residents from the estate took part in The Singing Estate, a Channel Five reality TV show following their progress from amateur singers to classical choir.[5] The Blackbird Leys Choir emerged from the original choir and continues today, just one of the community groups thriving on the estate.

Greater Leys, a more recent development adjacent to Blackbird Leys, comprises mostly privately owned houses.


In early September 1991, rioting plagued Blackbird Leys for three nights. Following a crackdown by police on joyriding, some 150 youths stoned police officers. Two women suffered stab wounds and two men suffered other injuries during the riots.[6]

Around this time, Blackbird Leys was infamous for its joy riding. Young men from the estate would steal cars and 'display' them (with a variety of high-speed stunts) to an audience gathered outside the estate shops (known locally as the 'top shops'), eventually gaining worldwide media attention.[citation needed] Politician Andrew Smith stated in 1991 that the extensive national media coverage of confrontations with the police in August and September left many of the wider public with a distorted picture of the problem.[7] Some[who?] say journalists visiting helped encourage some of the action for filming. Various measures were brought in by the local council and police to stop the displays. Police often found it difficult to catch joy riders, whose stolen cars were faster than the police vehicles, though eventually a faster police car was introduced. Chicanes were built around the shops area, and an anti-skid surface applied to the road, making it difficult to execute handbrake turns and other stunts.

There have been several fatalities and serious injuries on Blackbird Leys as a result of joyriding. On 14 December 2000, nine-year-old Ross Doyle was killed by joyriders when a stolen Vauxhall Astra veered out of control and mounted the pavement. Nobody has ever been convicted in connection with the crime, in spite of several arrests being made in the year following the tragedy.[8]

23-year-old Jamaican immigrant Moshean Cameron was fatally stabbed on the estate on 30 April 2004; drugs were the suspected motive behind the crime. A local man was arrested in connection, but the case remains unsolved.

Crime levels have decreased consistently since 2004, a change thought to be due to a higher police presence on the estate though both recorded crime and rates found in the British Crime Survey have fallen across England and Wales. [9]

The Blackbird Leys is infamous for its 'car-keying' crimes. The youth notoriously key cars recreationally. The situation has become so severe that cars which are moving are keyed. Drivers in that area have been advised to travel over 20 mph to avoid such an occurrence.[citation needed]

The term 'ghetto' has been used with the area frequently by locals; one in particular prominent sociologist notes such an observation.[10]


The area has traditionally been staunchly Labour. The Independent Working Class Association performed strongly in the mid-2000s, holding three of the four council seats on Oxford City Council between 2006 and 2008. Local MP Andrew Smith lives on the estate with his wife. His wife is one of the City councillors and County Councillors for the area.


Blackbird Leys has no mainline railway station but is served by Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach in Oxfordshire which provides bus services between Blackbird Leys, central Oxford and Oxford railway station.

The freight-only railway between Kennington Junction and the BMW Mini factory via Iffley and Littlemore forms the northwestern boundary of Blackbird Leys. It is part of the former Wycombe Railway that British Railways closed to passenger traffic in 1963.


Schools on the estate include Pegasus First School, Windale Community Primary School and Northfield School. City of Oxford College has a campus situated on Cuddesdon Way which provides Further education, higher education, modern apprenticeships and community evening classes.

Religious sites[edit]

Blackbird Leys has two places of worship, The Church of the Holy Family which was dedicated on 10 April 1965 and Sacred Heart Catholic Church.


The Kassam Stadium is the home of Oxford United Football Club and London Welsh Rugby Football Club, and is situated on the perimeter of Blackbird Leys in an area known as Minchery Farm. Initial construction begun in 1996 and the first football match took place on 4 August 2001.

Oxford Stadium, a greyhound racing and speedway venue is also located on the boarder between Cowley and Blackbird Leys. Greyhound racing has been held at the stadium every year since 1939, postponing only occasionally due to bad weather.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "2001 Census: Key Figures for 2001 Census: Parish Headcounts, Area: Blackbird Leys CP (Parish)". Neighbourhood Statistics, Government site. Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  2. ^ "2001 Census: Key Figures for 2001 Census: Census Area Statistics, Area: Blackbird Leys (Ward)". Neighbourhood Statistics, Government site. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  3. ^ "British Archaeology, no 7, September 1995: News". Council for British Archaeology. After main articles — "In brief" section, "Earliest Oxford". Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  4. ^ "Super Output Area Profile Report For South East Area Committee" (PDF). Oxford City Council, Government site. 2008. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  5. ^ "Leys choir set to star again". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "House of Commons Daily Debates 1991-12-09 5.38pm". Hansard. Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  8. ^ Cummins, Fiona; Nuwar, Sara (2000). "ROSS, 9, MOWED DOWN ON JOYRIDERS' ESTATE; Police quiz 2 youths over hit-run death". The Free Library. Retrieved 2010-06-12. 
  9. ^ Chaplin, Flatley and Smith (2011)
  10. ^ Tangerine Segment, The Daily Mail, 20th May 2012

External links[edit]