IT WAS an iconic feature of Headington life for 40 years and chronicled the rich history of an area which had been home to Tolkien, CS Lewis, and Oxford United.

Now, a month after the much heralded Headington Subway was filled in, its colourful murals have been digitally preserved on the Internet and published for the whole world to see.

Oxfordshire County Council has published an online archive of the subway’s murals featuring paintings of the Headington shark, The Hobbit and Oxford United in their spiritual original home at the Manor Ground.

Its webpage featuring panoramic pictures of both sides of the subway’s walls cost £1,000.

At the same time Ben Emlyn-Jones, a hospital porter who used the subway each day on his way to the John Radcliffe Hospital, has published his own community tribute.

Mr Emlyn-Jones, of Bodley Road, Littlemore, said: “The subway was unique to Headington.

“No-one else in the world had that subway and people from the community used it to express their pride and sense of community in Headington through their art. I can understand it’s nice to freshen up an area and make it nicer, but it seems there’s a global design template which is being repeated across Britain and across the world.

“You see the same things everywhere you go these days and that puts me off travelling.

“If I was considering travelling somewhere, a folk art exhibition made by the people of that area would attract me far more than some nicely styled pavement and seating area.”

More than 5,400 people signed a petition to save the underpass, which was blocked up with concrete at a cost of £45,000 as part of the £2m London Road traffic scheme.

As part of the road improvements, Headington will be smartened up with granite paving, which has also has been used in Summertown, and 16 new bins and 19 new benches will be installed.

Maureen Green, of Franklin Road, who helped paint The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe scene for the underpass, said: “It’s going to look smarter, but they could have made it look smart without getting rid of the subway.

“It’s really nice that my relatives will be able to see the pictures online.

“But I miss seeing them in real life.”

Council spokesman Owen Morton said: “No-one can deny that the artwork was colourful and the subway itself a long-standing feature in Headington.

“But as a whole, this scheme will help to enhance the street environment and make Headington a more pleasant place to shop.

“As part of the council’s consultation with local people, 58 per cent were in favour of the removal of the subway.

“Many people chose not to use it.”

  • To view Mr Emlyn-Jones’ tribute to the Headington subway visit:
  • To view the council’s panoramic collection of photos from the subway visit