© Marcus Roberts (1995 and 2005)


Bookmark this page |  E-mail this page to a friend

Pages < 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   > 

Having run a confectionary shop at 1 Broad Street, Banbury, in the early 1930s, Bobby then moved to Oxford in 1935 to be closer to London. Initially, he ran a grocer's shop at 101 Cowley Road and subsequently he opened another store next to the Old Swan on Cowley Road, where he sold some kosher goods -- apparently the first shop to sell kosher groceries in Oxford in the 20th century. A family story relates that after one war-time Pesach there was a surplus of matzah. Bobby broke it up into pieces and advertised it as a breakfast cereal... 'No Points on Your Coupon -- just add milk and sugar!'... which was quickly snapped up by his non-Jewish customers!

In the years that followed, he established Silk Estates, a very well known property business, which he started after selling a property for a relative and realising it was better business than grocery. The company specialised in property around the Iffley Road, and Pembroke Court was one of his developments. He was later a prime mover in the construction of Oxford's West Gate Shopping Centre (1970-2).


The inter-war idyll of Oxford was broken with the rise of Nazism in Germany. As Jews started to flee the country, the university and the Oxford Refugee Committee played an active role in bringing in Jewish academics from Germany, helping to save many Jews. The most famous of the refugees was Albert Einstein, who spent time in Oxford, before moving on to America.

During his brief sojourn in the town, he lectured at Christ Church. One student related how he had heard that Einstein was giving lectures and decided to go and hear the great man. On arriving at the lecture hall, however, he was surprised to see he was one of only two students there. Then, all became clear; Einstein delivered his lecture entirely in German as he had not yet learnt English. However, a blackboard chalked with equations has been preserved in the Hooke Museum, from one of these lectures.

Some colleges, such as Balliol, Magdalen, Christ Church, University, Corpus Christi, All Souls and Queens, were very active in bringing over or supporting refugees. Others did little, whether through lack of funds (an important and real limitation for the poorer colleges), the lack of inclination, or both. Conditions weren't easy for the refugee academics. Though spared from a far worse fate in Nazi Germany, many notable figures experienced a serious loss of status and frequently lived in very straitened circumstances in poor digs, as there was a lack of accommodation and funds.

Post a Comment
Submit to this trail