Anyone else undertaking massive renovation work during COVID? Ha! The lovely Izzy, who helped us to get this project off the ground, told us that lots of people had been interested in the property that we are transforming into Taste Tibet's new home, but that nobody else she knew had gone for it because of the scale of the task. And that was before a global pandemic!
But the excavation work at 109 Magdalen Road - and that's pretty much what it has been - has been fun. The rooms upstairs, which now sing with modern conveniences, were once insulated only by four layers of carpet, and at last we have a roof over what the children like to call the "gunfight room" (because the ceiling was falling in).
As for the shop, if you comb past the years of cobwebs in the basement of the building you can still find what looks like an old forge. Oxford's great local historian Stephanie Jenkins found us copies of both the 1901 and 1911 censuses, which show that during these years the shop operated as a bakery: mystery solved. But the best part of these documents is actually the final column, which reveals that no "lunatics, imbeciles or feeble-minded people" occupied these premises during this time. There's a first time for everything then!
So far we have ascertained that this building has operated variously as a bakery, a butcher's, an ironmonger's, a hardware store, a grocer's and a florist. More recently it has been a pawnbroker's and a convenience store also dealing in cargo to Africa...
If you have any Magdalen Road local history to share we'd love to hear it! We would like to compile something that honours the previous occupants and incarnations of our new shop in some form, especially as what we're planning for it is such a departure from all that it has been. Saying that, Yeshi - ever the entrepreneur - is threatening to bring the bread oven back to life in order to return the shop to its original use. Help!