Axle Tree Factory/YMCA Club/Legion Club

Rob Forsyth

 (Italics indicate verbatim quotes from relevant documents)

28 March 1730 Zacharia and Anne Stilgoe transfer the property by Feoffment to their daughter Mary (Griffin).

The 1851 Census states that Benjamin Mason,Blacksmith of 9 New Street, employs 4 men and 1 boy as an Axle Tree manufacturer. Other sources tell us that he had a partner called Hard.Their Axle Tree factory, located as it was on the east side of High Street near to the Tchure, was well located on the busy main road between Oxford and the North to attract passing trade.

1 October 1888 an Indenture of Mortgage lists Samuel Mason, George French and and John Ward as previous occupiers. Possibly they were tenants because Deveraux Hoare is named as the beneficial owner taking out the mortgage. The relationship between Benjamin and Samuel has not yet been established (2017) Father and son?

25 March 1911 conveyed from Catharine Maria Griffin and Elizabeth Huntley Griffin (daughters of Maria?)  to William Cox of South Newington (Mechanician),  who carried out carriage/wagon repairs in the old factory.*

7 September 1918 William Cox sells " …a workshop outbuildings yard and premises situate at the rear of the Conservative and Unionist Club in New Street…" to Hedley Hore. So at some stage the workshop had changed use. 

*This photograph was taken while the building was William Cox's workshop. The alleyway on the near end led to a Farriers yard behind so you could get your horse and cart seviced at the same time.

Picture is courtesy of John Plumbe whose father was also a very skilled mechanic and ran the Archway Garage on the west side of the High Street from 1957 - 1991.

29 September 1920 Mr Cox sells the building to    ...the newly established trustees of The Red Triangle Club1 and The Deddington Institute... raised funds by means of a public collection... and purchased the property  ... recently converted from a workshop belonging to Mason & Hard ... for the sum of £350 . 

Facsimile of 1920 Indenture   Transcription of 1920 Indenture

The Banbury Advertiser reported the formation of the Club on  2 October 2020, its opening on the 30 October and, on 25 October, that it was a great success

                                                Photograph courtesy of John Plumbe

There are a few inconsistencies to clear up in the records above; in particular why Mason & Hard are not listed as owners if they were stated as such in the 1920 Conveyance; was this an incorrect statement by lawyers based on hearsay?  And why there is no mention of the Conservative and Unionist Club in the 1920 Conveyance when it is specifically mentioned in 1918 Deed and the Banbury Advertiser reports; was it so short lived as a club not to have made an impact!

12 February 1925 The Trustees of the Red Triangle Club & Deddington Institute2 resolved to hand over the Club Premises to the Trustees of ... newly formed Deddington Branch of the British Legion3... who... shall henceforth stand possessed of the said heraditaments and premises upon trust to permit the same to be used and appropriated for the purposes of the said Deddington Branch of the British Legion...

The Deed also stated that...the trustees shall in the event of the said Deddington Branch of the British Legion ceasing to exist hold the said heraditaments and premises in trust for the Parish Council of Deddington aforesaid for and on behalf of the inhabitants of the Parish of Deddington aforesaid.

Facsimile of 1925 Trust Deed    Transcription of 1925 Trust Deed

1 The photograph was taken sometime between 1920 & 1925 and shows the YMCA logo of a reversed red triangle above the front door.  Red Triangle Clubs were an integral part of the YMCA movement.

2 The Trustees were Messrs William Joseph French, Brian Worsley Mollington , Thomas William Turner  and Harry Douglas Hopcraft.

3 The Deddington Branch of The British Legion had been formally constituted previously on 22 January 1925.

The British Legion was granted the status to become 'Royal' in 1971.

Photograph taken inside the Club in the 1950s

(l to r) Frank Goodland, Jimmy Hayward, Seymour Hirons, Rev Smith who lived in North Aston and was the branch Padre.


The building as the Royal British Legion Club



A list of Trustees since 1925 can be found HERE

Sale of the building

In late 2016 a survey of the building revealed serious problems with the roof and exterior of the building beyond the financial capacities of Trustees, Branch and Club to resolve. Reluctantly a decision was made that the Club must close and the building be disposed of. Under the terms of The Trust (see above) the building had to be offered to the Parish Council but the PC also could not see a business plan that justified carrying out the very extensive repairs (in excess of £100k) and then leasing the building. Instead, as was their right, they instructed the Trustees to sell the building and give the net proceeds to the PC to use on behalf of the community. The building was therefore placed on the market in June 2017. See brochure (1Mb pdf) and sold to Paul Harris Homes Ltd for residential development.

The Club had its last night party on 30 September 2017.


Colour images from the brochure can be seen with other images in the Gallery.