See these snippets of how Oxford's undergraduates, tutors, and iconic landscapes adapted to wartime Britain.

By Olivia Williams
(St Edmund Hall, 2006)

John Scott Haldane
Fellow of New College, Oxford, John Scott Haldane began the slightly unorthodox technique of experimenting on himself and his family in his home laboratory in Crick Road, Oxford to develop the first prototype of the gas mask. Scott Haldane's speciality was respiration, he had had notable success in his introduction of canaries in coal mines to test for toxic fumes. When the Germans began using poison gas in 1915 he threw himself into the war effort as a front line scientist. Throughout his career he was renowned for his self experimentation.

In 1891 he married Louisa Kathleen Trotter and they lived at 11 Crick Road, Oxford. They raised their children here, the geneticist J. B. S. Haldane, and the novelist Naomi Mitchison. It was also here that Haldane conducted some of his early experiments with gases (both on himself and his family!) The Haldanes later lived at Cherwell house (subsequently demolished to make way for Wolfson College) with a private laboratory built for Haldane at the end of Linton Road. 

Wadham College Gazette, No 66, Michaelmas term, 1919
“The ‘reconstruction’ which has been promised everywhere, and which has been realized so rarely, has come to pass in the old Universities; they are both full to overflowing, fuller than they have been in living memory…at the end of 1918 we had 14 men up, this term we have had nearly 140. And the old life has come back with all its vigour. The return of the tide of young life to Oxford has naturally reminded us of those whom we shall never see again, those who by the sacrifice of themselves have saved Oxford and England for the generations to come.”

Oxford and the Great War: Remembering the War

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All images © Oxford University Images, Oxford University Officers' Training Corps
Wadham College Gazette is repurposed with kind permission of Wadham College, Oxford


By Dr Michael Kenw...

Somerville undergraduates were housed in Oriel College third quad and a barier wall was built to prevent the males ganing access to the third quad. But they made a hole in the wall to gain access.
Vera Brittain and Dorothy Sayers were among the Somerville undergraduates in Oriel.

By Squadron Leader...

A well presented narrative. I wonder about all the wars Oxford survived. I remember visiting friends in college when I returned from Bosnia, and then later from Iraq. Not a unique experience this. Oxford presented itself as an oasis of peace. This is (her) role - standing aside from the conflicts of the day.