AN OXFORD church launched a ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign to raise money for its new building.

The Rev Tom Stiff and churchgoers stood at various points in Headington in 1959 urging passers-by to support Collinwood Road Congregational Church.

The collection teams based themselves outside the Westminster Bank at 91 High Street and in Barton, Risinghurst and Sandhills, with posters which read: “Be a brick – Buy a brick – Bob a Brick”.

Supporters were urged to give a ‘bob’ – a shilling (5p) – to pay for one brick.

Two months after the start of the campaign, £187 18s had been raised towards the £3,000 target.

Mr Stiff said at the time: “The money we have raised, plus the spirit in which people contributed, is a great encouragement.”

Donors signed their names in chalk on the sides of their bricks, and during later work on the building, some were exposed with the original signatures still visible. When Mr Stiff arrived at Headington as a newly ordained minister in 1951, there was no manse, so he lived in a caravan on the site until one was built.

He served as minister until he retired in 1986, but continued to preach regularly and in 2001, a special service was held to mark his 50 years with the church. He died a year later aged 82.


COUNCILLOR Kathleen Lower was an arch opponent of allowing contact sports at Oxford Town Hall.

We reported (Memory Lane, November 15 2010) how, during a city council debate, she objected to wrestling being held there, describing it as “beastly entertainment”.

She said: “I have certain pride in the hall and buildings and the type of person it is likely to attract is not the type who would respect the amenities of the Town Hall.” Amid laughter, she added: “There is nothing particularly skilful about trying to twist each other’s heads and necks off.”

Six years earlier, she took councillors to task when it was suggested that the council should buy a boxing ring.

Councillor J R S Duke, who put forward the idea, said boxing tournaments would be a useful source of income. Mrs Lower said it would be better to improve the Town Hall stage than to buy a boxing ring.

The Labour councillor, who later became an alderman and served as Lord Mayor in 1965-6, was in critical mood that day. Later in the meeting, she criticised the drabness of the Town Hall stage during a concert given by pianist Dame Myra Hess.