The main road (A45) was known to exist in 1675 as a coaching road. Its original route was via ‘Old Road’, a steep and dangerous hill with a sharp turn at the bottom, which caused many accidents with runaway horses and overturned coaches. It became a turnpike in 1720 before being straightened in 1822 under the direction of Thomas Telford.
In the 1780s this part of the village became a hive of activity when the Oxford Canal passed under the turnpike bringing a busy wharf to this important canal/road crossing. There were also canal employees’ houses and a real concentration of pubs and alehouses. The “Ship Inn” stood where Brindley Quays stands now. (At one time the railway bridge passed over the top of it.) The “Bird in Hand” was at the bottom of Old Road where the Marlborough Arms was also shown on a 1790 map. The “George Inn” was opposite the “Ship Inn” on the London Road, as shown on a map dated 1828.“The “George and Dragon “ and the “White Swan” were demolished when the railway came in 1895, and, further down the road, the “Champion Inn” was sold to the Wesleyan Society in 1863. It is now a private house at the end of the row of cottages opposite the Marina entrance. The hut next to it was a Boatman’s Mission.
In 1828 it was decided that a quicker waterway passage was needed through the Leam Valley to Napton so the Oxford Canal was re-routed, resulting in a dead-end at the Wharf where an Oxford Canal Company Warehouse was built, together with a dry-dock and wet dock. The Grand Junction Canal Company had a smithy here and it was generally a hive of boat building and operating activities. Some of these continue today, primarily serving the leisure boating industry.
All this trade and activity increased the prosperity of the village as it created work for the inhabitants, either by employing them directly as canal workers or providing for the food, clothing and all the other services that were required.