Oxford – The Boswell’s Crane

There is usually something going on in Oxford and it seems that there is always building and/or roadworks. I generally take that as a good sign as it means that people still have some money for building/refurbishing/repairs. Being an urban artist (amongst other things), it is something that I tend to notice though I guess most people just blanket it out. For the urban sketcher, though, cranes are good and offer something new and interesting, something changing in an otherwise relatively static environment. As a sketcher they are also good because they are not generally studied very much and the urban sketcher can get away with taking liberties with their drawings – although of course there is that thing called ‘artistic licence’.

So before Christmas I was back on Broad Street doing some sketching – what to draw?

-The Sheldonian Theatre- tempting

-The various colourful shop fronts – also tempting

Instead, I decided to turn around and look towards the North Gate and draw the former Boswell’s Department Store (farewell – and thanks for being there!) and its construction crane. Here is a view:

Boswell’s was an Oxford institution, a very slightly old-fashioned department store on multiple floors – done for, apparently, by Bicester Shopping Village/Covid and a lack of footfall. This is, alas, the fate of a lot of Oxford’s smaller shops. It is presently being turned into yet another Oxford hotel, though with an effort to preserve at least some of the old frontages.

Here is my sketch:

The Boswell’s Crane

Another thing I noticed was that although a lot of the lower levels are shrouded with screening, the upper frontage is now mostly complete – with some shiny new windows – and that maybe the new hotel is more advanced than most of us would have thought!

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