NOA's Story


NOA's aim remains as it was over 50 years ago: to find out what local people want from their community association and do the best to provide it.  


50 years serving the community


Extensive improvements were made to the Cutteslowe Pavillion


An annexe providing much-needed extra space was opened by the Lord Mayor. Generous donations from members and other individuals and organisations made the building possible and a plaque at the entrance records the benefactors. As a consequence of these alterations, NOA was also able to transform an awkward piece of unused land into an attractive courtyard


The rejuvenated building opened, renamed simply 'The NOA Community Centre' the Association wanted to emphasise that it is quite separatefrom the City's sportsfacility which, overthe years, had hijackedthe name 'Ferry'.



After years of hard use, the community centre was showing its age, besides needing alterations to comply with new disabled access and health and safety legislation. Oxford City Council undertook development of the sports complex and also refurbished NOA's premises. The Centre closed for nine months but the Association kept its Summertown presence. Reception was a Portacabin next to the car park, with room for visitors to sit and have a cup of coffee. The administrative staff moved temporarily to vacant City offices in Cutteslowe Park, where some courses were held, while other activities relocated to the Pavilion.


Opening of the swimming pool. Ten years of fundraising, led by NOAvolunteers and membersof Cherwell School, withhouse-to-house visitingin North Oxford,sponsored swims andother events, had raised £10,000. This wasmatched by £10,000 from the Sports Council. With this startthe City Council agreed to build the pool on a site adjoining the Community Centre. Over the years theCouncil has added moreindoor sports facilities.


NOA was invited to build on its reputation for adult education by co-ordinating all classes in North Oxford on behalf of the County Council. Some years later, Oxfordshire set up a separate body, NAWOCEC (North and West Oxford Community Education Committee). It was based in the Ferry Centre until yet another Council reorganisation severed the link.


NOA still provides a home for classes given by outside organisations and tutors and also runs informal courses itself.


A questionnaire by NOA produced a list of memberswilling to help local peoplein difficulty or emergencies. Calls for help were coming in from individuals and healthand social care professionals.


So the Neighbourly Help scheme began


In the same year NOA's licence was extended to include the Pavilion in Cutteslowe Park.


By the early 70s, French, German, Italian and Spanish conversation classes, art classes, handicrafts, yoga, cookery and even wine-making were all going strong. 'Junior NOA activities' listed badminton, basketball, boxing, chess, drama, football, indoor games, judo, modern dancing, painting, rollerskating, trampolining and the 4U Club. Local schools generously made facilities available. NOA members organised children's indoor holiday activities and held outdoor ones in various temporary locations until St Edward's School came to their help with a more satisfactory space. Both St Edward's and the Dragon School lent their swimming pools for NOA's first swimming club and Wolvercote School's learner pool was used by the youngest members.


The City Council originally planned only a youth centre but was persuaded to build one for the whole community instead; it became knownas the Ferry Centre and was managed by NOA's volunteers.


A school canteen, open twice a week from 2-10pm initially housed a youth club, junior drama and chess, and a documentary theatre group. A pensioners' lunch club, badminton and keep-fit were all held in a church hall; swimming was arranged at St Edward's School; painting and yoga in the Old Bakehouse in South Parade; children's activities in local schools.

NOA's aim remains as it always was:

to find out what the community wants and strive to provide it