The Carfax Conduit was a water conduit that supplied the city of Oxford with water from 1617 until the 19th century.
The conduit ran in an underground lead pipe from a spring on the hillside above the village of North Hinksey, beneath Seacourt Stream and the River Thames, to a building at Carfax in the centre of Oxford. The system was built by Otho Nicholson, a London lawyer, to supply the citizens of Oxford with clean water. It replaced a system built by Osney Abbey between 1205 and 1221 that had fallen into disrepair.
The conduit building at Carfax was an elaborate structure, some 40 feet (12 m) tall, with eight niches containing statues of historic and mythical figures. By 1787 it had become an obstacle to traffic and it was removed and replaced by a smaller cistern. The original structure was given to the Earl Harcourt, who had it re-erected in the grounds of his home, Nuneham House, where it remains to this day. Two plaques are attached to opposite sides of the building, giving a short history in English and Latin.
The entire system fell into disuse in the 19th century. In 1869, when it was carrying very little water, the conduit was sold to Oxford Corporation.
In 2008 the image of the conduit was chosen as the emblem for Carfax Education, an international group of educational businesses, that originated from Oxford. It is also the emblem of Carfax Tutorial Establishment, an independent school and tutorial college in Oxford. Carfax staff and pupils hold an annual summer picnic by the conduit.
- Conduit House
- Cistern, now at Nuneham House Coordinates:
- Hanson, W.J. (1996) A Thousand Years: a study of the interaction between people and environment in the Cumnor, Wytham and North Hinksey Area Wytham Publications, p.22
- Follies and Monuments website
- Photograph of the English plaque
- English Heritage website
- Victoria County History of Oxfordshire: Water Supply