Marc West pours himself a cup of community spirit and joins a long-running street fair

According to recent surveys, more than a third of people are unable to recognise (let alone name) their immediate neighbours. However, this sad fact doesn’t mean communities are a thing of the past. Living in an area is a collective experience and getting to know the 'Joneses' is alive and well here in a pocket of East Oxford.

About 80 years ago, a new housing development sprang up as workers flocked to the city for employment in the booming automotive industry. Florence Park estate was started in 1934 by contractors Moss Brothers to meet growing demand for family housing following the rapid expansion of William Morris’s factory and associated US giant Pressed Steel.

The desirable area boasted a parade of shops on a grand central avenue and its very own landscaped park. Needless to say, the new residents were proud to call it home and didn’t need any excuse to celebrate – with the pavements outside the public house well known for often hosting fabulous street parties throughout the decades.

And, nearly a century on, this sentiment continues to this day. Royal weddings, coronations, victory celebrations or just about any other national event brings out the party spirit in us Brits – eager to dust off the bunting, pull out the trestle tables and indulge in a good ol’ knees-up with plenty of food, drink and dancing, no matter the weather.

Driven by the continued momentum of the community, a stretch of the street between Lytton and Cornwallis Roads is closed off every September for one day only. And, like days past, locals demonstrate just how much they love where they live by bringing along a table, chair, or dish to share, catching-up with old friends and making some anew.

On offer was an array of homemade delights – jalapeno and cheddar cornbread, spicy chickpea and feta samosas and (my favourite) traditional fruit scones – reflecting the now very cosmopolitan flavour of this special corner of OX4.

And, the estate has further reason to celebrate as this day also marked the reopening of its beloved period pub. A team of local entrepreneurs has transformed the formerly shabby Jolly Postboys into a fine establishment that the supportive locals can be very proud of indeed – and will no doubt share the clear vision of this unique community for the decades to come.

Florence Park Community Centre hosts a whole range of activities throughout the year including a book group, flower club, bingo and monthly café – which gives you no excuse to not know your neighbours anymore. For all details, visit