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. They were tenants because Devereux Hore 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.

Editor's note: The deeds are a bit confusing. They seem to cover two properties. In the 1888 document the reference is to a freehold messuage (house), yard, garden and outbuildings. There is no mention of a workshop. In 1911 and later the reference is to workshops (plural) with no mention of the messuage. The workshop was converted in 1912 though we are not told what its new use was. It cannot have been the Conservative and Unionist Club, which is said to have been in front of the workshop. We see also that in 1888 the main road was called 'New Street or High Street' but in 1911 was 'High Street' only.

*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 Len 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 Club 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 Plumbe1

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

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

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 first Trustees were Messrs William Joseph French, Brian Worsley Mollington , Thomas William Turner  and Harry Douglas Hopcraft. A list of subsequent Trustees and dates of their appointments can be found HERE

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

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.


1 January 1954 The Club acquired a cottage adjacent to its boundary to the North - subsequently known as 'Legion Cottage' - and land to the East from the estate of Mr Hedley Hore (deceased) for the sum of £2,030. The cottage was first occupied by the club steward, Mr Willimont, and then sold to him in January 1986. The land to the East was sold in July 1999 to Mr & Mrs Chadwick.  


The Club in later years

Sale of the building

In late 2016 a survey of the building revealed serious problems with the roof and exterior of the building at a cost beyond the financial capacities of Trustees, Branch or Club to resolve. Reluctantly, a decision was made that the Club should 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. The PC therefore asked the Trust to sell the building and convey the proceeds instead to be used for the benefit of the parish.

On advice from the Charity Commission Trustees sought and achieved a variation to the Trust Deed to enable it to sell the building and give the net proceeds to the PC.

June 2017 The building was placed on the market See brochure.

31 October 2017 The building was conveyed to Paul Harris Homes Ltd of 27 Newton Road, Oxford, OX1 4PT who then converted it to two semi-detached residences.The £356,101.92 net proceeds of the sale were passed to the PC. Soon afterwards the PC were able to make a grant of £100,000 to the Holly Tree Club and the balance is being spent mainly on refurbishment of the Windmill Centre


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