We run a year-round programme of Oxford-themed talks, walks and visits aimed to encourage an awareness and understanding of our city. The talks (free and open to all) are given by leading speakers in interesting locations across the city. Topics can include Oxford’s history, buildings, arts and science, and current development projects.

The extensive programme of visits and walks (members only and usually for a small charge) is led by local experts and held both in and out of Oxford.


Magdalen’s Grove Auditorium has level access via the main entrance doors though the foyer. Wheelchairs may be placed in front of the front row of seats. There is an accessible toilet via the fire exit leading to Longwall Street from the front of the Auditorium. Neither venue has disabled parking spaces nearby although there are limited general pay-and-display parking places in Longwall Street near the Grove Auditorium entrance.

Rewley House is wheelchair accessible via a ramp. Once inside there is a lift to the lecture theatre and to the bar! There is limited parking in Wellington Square and more in St Giles.

Oxford Town Hall Assembly Room is on the first floor. There is a street-level entrance to the Town Hall on St Aldate’s immediately after the Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop. You may need to ring the bell to get the door opened by Reception. Once inside there is a lift to the first floor and then a level floor to the meeting room.

OCS@50 Debates - ticketed events

One event this season. Tickets required.

  • A vision for tourism in Oxford: a panel discussion

    This event was postponed from 10 February but is now confirmed for Tuesday 17 March at 7.30pm at Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA. Please note the change of venue.


    tourist bus Magdalen College

    Oxford’s many attractions and a vibrant programme of events attract over 8 million visitors a year. They contribute an estimated £873 million to the local economy and provide about 12% of local jobs. But less than 40% of visitors are satisfied with their experience: Oxford is among the lowest-rated of destinations that tourists would consider returning to for a second visit.

    Meanwhile, city residents complain of the rising flood of tourists and summer school students, crowded pavements, chaotic parking and coaches choking St Giles. In response to these complaints – including from the Civic Society – the City Council is starting to take action but a vision of what tourism should look like is still lacking.

    Following on from the highly popular OCS@50 debates a seven-strong panel chaired by OCS’s Chairman Ian Green will present and discuss their views on the issue. There will be ample opportunity for the audience to join in the debate and have their say on what needs to be done to make tourism work better for everyone.

    The panel is:

    • Hayley Beer-Gamage (Experience Oxfordshire)
    • Mary Clarkson (City Council Cabinet member for culture and the city centre)
    • Rebecca Hawkins (Responsive Hospitality Partnership)
    • Kurt Janson (Tourism Alliance)
    • Stephen Lusty (York Civic Trust)
    • Mike Naworynsky (Conference Oxford)
    • Phil Southall (Oxford Bus company)

    Doors open 7.00pm

    This is a ticketed event, price £7. Tickets can be bought online from Eventbrite. This is a public discussion, all welcome.

Members-only Walks and Visits

Tickets are needed for these events. Closing date for booking is 18 December. Download the booking form

  • Tap Social Brewery, Botley: a visit

    Saturday 21 March 3pm

    Tap Social is a craft brewery that trains and employs people during and after prison sentences. Join us for a one-hour tour of the brewery, including a talk about brewing and the company’s work with the criminal justice system. The tour concludes with a tasting session of all beers on tap (up to 10) and a pint of your favourite.

  • The regeneration of Blackbird Leys: a visit

    Wednesday 22 April 2pm

    Catalyst Housing Ltd is working in partnership with Oxford City Council to redevelop council-owned sites in Blackbird Leys. The
    development will provide much needed new homes in the District Centre, as well as new shops and new community facilities. A talk by Catalyst and City Council staff will be followed by a short walk around some of the areas which will benefit.

Open talks — all welcome

Come and learn about your city. No pre-booking, free of charge and open to all.

  • 250 years of weather in Oxford

    Wednesday 19 February 8pm
    Magdalen College Auditorium, Longwall Street

    Weather observation at Radcliffe Observatory
    Weather observation at Radcliffe Observatory

    Weather observations have been made at the Radcliffe Observatory since 1772, the longest continuous record in the British Isles
    and one of the longest in the world. Dr Stephen Burt from the University of Reading delves into the records. What do the records tell us about weather oddities and climate change?

  • Saving Oxford’s wetland wildlife

    Tuesday 3 March 8pm
    Magdalen College Auditorium, Longwall Street

    Ellie Mayhew from the Freshwater Habitats Trust will explain why our area has such rich biodiversity and what the charity has been doing to improve and monitor these valuable freshwater areas to protect the species they support.

  • Oxford: onwards and upwards?

    Tuesday 24 March 7pm followed by the AGM 8pm
    Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square

    Gordon Mitchell, the City’s Chief Executive, takes a broad look at the many challenges and pressures facing the city and describes what the City Council is doing in response. Some of these challenges relate to climate change — and the city can claim to be something of a pioneer.

    Join us in the bar after the talk!

  • Architecture is plural: combining old and new

    Tuesday 31 March 7.30pm
    Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square

    The contest between modern architecture and its alternatives may never be resolved, but Alan Powers, academic and writer, makes
    the case for greater tolerance and renewed understanding of the ways in which buildings contribute to our enjoyment of places.