What is causing a bit of a stink - Nasty whiff hangs over city and county

NAUSEOUS: Marie Vickers experienced the smell in Trinity Road

NAUSEOUS: Marie Vickers experienced the smell in Trinity Road Buy this photo

First published in News

ITS VILE smell has nauseated residents and baffled officials.

But nobody has claimed responsibility for the foul stench that swept across Oxford, said to be like cheesy Wotsits, feet, mouldy milk, manure and raw sewage.

It came as the warm weather prompted many to open their windows on Monday night, but then straight away to regret it.

Last night, Oxfordshire’s local authorities could not explain where it had come from and a Thames Water spokeswoman said that sewage was not the cause.

Sarah Sharpe said: “I’ve spoken to the teams at Oxford sewage treatment works and all our equipment is working as usual and there have been no operational problems.”

The firm could not say how many calls it had received about the matter, she added.

Meanwhile, Oxford City Council spokesman Chris Lee said 12 reports had come in about the smell and that the situation was being monitored.

He said: “We have received reports of manure or a sewage-type odour.

“If residents continue to experience foul odour, we will investigate further to establish whether it is causing a statutory nuisance.”

No further complaints were received yesterday, he added, and it was suspected that it could have come from farming activity near to the city.

A spokeswoman for the Met Office said winds, which could have been carrying the smell, had been blowing from the north-west at speeds of 3mph on Monday night and yesterday morning.

She said: “It was a very gentle breeze, which did calm down early in the morning at about 6am.”

But suggestions that muck-spreading may have been the cause were met with scepticism from some farmers. Sally Walker of Warren Farm, in Holton, said she knew of no farmers who had been fertilising in the last few days and that it was not the right time of year for that activity.

The Environment Agency said it also did not know where the odour had come from. Spokesman Ash Dobson said: “We have checked and there are no reports of this problem coming from any of the sites we regulate in the South East.”

People speculated the stench could even be coming from the BMW Cowley plant, but spokeswoman Rebecca Baxter said this was not the case.

Almost 150 readers yesterday contacted the Oxford Mail to say they smelt the odour in areas including Old Marston, Headington, Risinghurst, Wood Farm, East Oxford and Cowley, as well as Blackbird Leys, Littlemore, Botley, Jericho and Osney. Reports even came from Berinsfield, Banbury and Wallingford.

Headington Quarry resident Marie Vickers said she first noticed the smell when she went outside late at night on Monday.

Mrs Vickers, of Trinity Road, said: “I suddenly remembered I hadn’t put the rubbish out that evening and when I went out to my front gate with the bags, there was this dreadful stench.

“At first we thought it might have been coming from our food waste bins, because it is so hot.

“But it was in the back garden too and because we had the door open, it got into the house as well.

“It actually made me feel nauseous.

But when an engineer from Thames Water came round in the morning he said there was no fault and, of course, you could not smell it by then,” she added.

Mrs Vickers’s son Gerry, 44, was visiting her coming from Manchester. He said the smell had made it “impossible to go out of the house”.

He added: “My sister also returned from London late at night and said that the smell was at the Green Road Roundabout as well.

“I am glad we were not the only ones to have noticed this and I will be interested to find out the reason."

On Facebook, residents described the smell as “like manure”, “foul”, “vile” and “like mouldy milk”.

Commuter Lindsay Russell commented yesterday morning : “I’m on the 280 bus from Wheatley to Oxford and around Nielsen in Risinghurst [there is a] really strong smell of manure.”

Asked to comment on the cause of the foul smell, Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “It is not something we are aware of.”


  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.

Send your Letter to the Editor

11:20am Monday 28th July 2014

What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.

  • Our top stories

Adding extra lanes to A34 through Oxfordshire could cost £800m

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Monday 24th November 2014

PLANS to widen the A34 in both directions through Oxfordshire would cost at least £800 million, a new report has revealed.

Update: Two people cut free after cars collide on the A44 near Begbroke

Oxford Mail:

12:44pm Monday 24th November 2014

THE A44 is closed following an incident between Spring Hill Road and Sandy Lane/ Rutten Lane between Yarnton and Begbroke.

Explore today's interactive front page

Oxford Mail:

12:00pm Monday 24th November 2014

Want to explore our interactive front page? Here it is...

A44 at Wootton re-opens after accident

Oxford Mail:

9:46am Monday 24th November 2014

THE A44 near Wootton, West Oxfordshire has reopened in both directions after an accident.

Burst water main near Bicester

Oxford Mail: Thames Water logo

9:25am Monday 24th November 2014

A WATER main has burst in Stratton Audley Road, Stoke Lyne, near Bicester.

Philippa first in the queue to meet Sir Terry Wogan at Abingdon book signing

Oxford Mail:

9:10am Monday 24th November 2014

PHILIPPA Randels had met Sir Terry Wogan twice before but that didn’t stop her being at the front of the queue for a third meeting in Abingdon.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree