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Oxford: pictured as the 'City of dreaming spires' by Matthew Arnold. Home to the world's most famous university - well certainly the oldest in the English-speaking world - but also home to a thriving industrial base of printing, publishing and, of course the motor industry. This curious mix of the academic and the commercial has led to recurring conflict between 'Town and Gown'. It was after just such trouble in 1209 that some academics fled to Cambridge and established the younger university in that town. The two universities have a unique rivalry both in the academic and, as importantly, the sporting world that is maintained to this day.
The sporting competition is continued in the annual Varsity matches. These are held in many sports, from the major down to the almost non-existent (tiddlywinks!), but the most notable events are the rugby match, held at Twickenham, the cricket, at Lord's, hockey, boxing, football, at Wembley, and, of course the University Boat Race rowed on the Thames from Putney to Mortlake. In the good old days when many sports were still fully amateur (such as rugby union) or a mix of amateur and professional (gentlemen and players in cricket) the standard of Varsity sport was sufficiently high for the Oxford and Cambridge sides to be regarded as first class, in fact the premier first-class fixtures, and their players were often selected for international sides. With the increasing gap between the modern media-driven professional sporting world and the universities this is sadly becoming a much less common occurrence.
Oxford, like Cambridge, is unusual when compared to more recently established universities in its collegiate structure. Undergraduates are selected by colleges, not by the University. The colleges provide tutorial teaching while university-wide examinations, lectures and other facilities, such as laboratories, are the responsibility of the University and its academic departments.
The major industrial operation in 20th century Oxford was Morris Motors, based at Cowley to the south-east of the city. A factory was established by William Morris in 1913 and built a succession of models for the company (including the famous Morris Minor), BMC (including the famous Mini and the Morris Oxford (still produced in India as the Hindustan Ambassador), British Leyland (the infamous Marina), Austin Rover and the Rover Group. After the latter's acquisition and ignominious disposal by BMW (the group was known as 'The English Patient' in Munich) the Cowley plant was the sole significant part to be retained by the Germans and the successful Mini is still produced there.
William Morris became Lord Nuffield, establishing the Nuffield Foundation and became a major benefactor of the University, founding Nuffield College.