Oddington population 1902

Decrease in Oddington Population

In the Islip Rural Deanery Magazine of September 1902, the Rector of Oddington, Rev. Samuel Crawley wrote:-

“At the census in 1891 the return was 161 for the parish. Last year it was 109 only, so that the parish had decreased in population 52 in ten years, or nearly 33 per cent. If this decrease goes on continually at the same rate, we may assume that in twenty years’ time few people will be left in Oddington. The outlook is not satisfactory at all, and it is the same, more or less, up and down the country wherever agriculture in the main pursuit of the inhabitants. Everywhere small villages are becoming smaller, owing to the migration of the labouring youth to the nearest towns, which are, year by year, themselves becoming larger. And no case is perhaps more marked than in our own rural deanery. Noke has decreased from 120 to 80. Woodeaton, Beckley, Charlton, Islip, and other villages, have decreased in like proportion – all, in fact, more or less, except Headington and Headington Quarry, which are not wholly devoted to agriculture. It is so all over the country, in all purely farming districts, more especially in Oxfordshire, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and the Southern Counties of England. In the distant future our grandchildren will perhaps see the almost total disappearance of small agricultural parishes. Ten or a dozen towns in each county will swallow up all the inhabitants of rural districts. The farmers will live in towns, and such of the labourers as are left; and farmers and their men will work their farms by the aid of motor cars and huge motor wagons. Improved machinery will do nearly all the work now done by hand; labourers will be fewer in number, but more intelligent – and, let us hope, much better paid. The American farmer can work huge farms with few hands, but he uses the very best machinery, and his workmen are up-to-date, intelligent, and have a vested interest in the land. We in England will have to wake up, or the Americans will assuredly come over to show us how to make farming pay – and to Morganise* it. The cry of the British farmer is for more labourers; these he cannot get except at much increased wages, and so the English countryside is left not properly worked, labourers leave for the towns, and the English agricultural villages will soon be left “almost without an inhabitant” (Cf., Isaiah v.9; Jer. xivi. 19).”

*secretly do away with

The article brought the following response from “The District Tatler”, writing in the Bicester Advertiser and Mid-Oxon Chronicle of 10 October 1902:-

“The Rector of Oddington, near Islip, writes an article on the decrease of rural population in last month’s Islip Rural Deanery Magazine, as applied to his own parish and neighbourhood, which is not very gratifying reading to those who believe in our villages having a moderately prosperous future before them. I will not say absolutely prosperous, though I hope it may be so. It is within the realms of possibility that at some future time there may be an exodus from the town to the village, which may be rapid, and quite unlike the present steady drain of the population from the village to the town. This drain to the towns is no doubt mainly owing to the question of wages, although there are other potent factors at work, and when the decrease of village population will come to an end nobody can predict. In Mr Crawley’s own parish there are now two modern-built cottages, having three bedrooms, I believe, and other useful accommodation such as an oven and bakehouse for the common use of the occupants, besides their own private kitchen with a copper for washing, as well as large gardens. And yet these cottages are going to ruin, windows broken and dilapidated, and the gardens not recognisable from the adjoining pasture. They have been unoccupied for years, and because they are rather lonely no one cares to live in them although they adjoin a good public road.”