Police officer and pub owner Alan Course was a talented cartoonist


The Jim Needle cartoons we released recently brought back memories of another famous Oxford artist, Alan Course.

Alan was a larger than life character who featured in many aspects of city life.

Besides his cartoons, which featured regularly in the Oxford Mail, he was a police officer, host, three pub owner, fire extinguisher salesman, guidebook author and telephone operator.

He came to Oxford in 1934 to join the Oxford City Police, in which he served for 12 years.

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He then ran The Bear Inn at Blue Boar Street, where he started a collection of nearly 3,000 ties, the White Hart in Wytham and the Star in Woodstock.

He has organized many entertainment shows for charity.

He died in 1975, the day after his 62nd birthday.

He was remembered when the drawing below appeared in the Oxford City Police Association newsletter, depicting officers who served in the city’s police force before the creation of the Police of Thames Valley in 1968.

It features the combined city and county police rugby team and, as you’ll see, commentary on the Teddy Boy craze around that time.

According to former city police officer Richard Tyrrell of Kidlington, who had kept the cartoon, the team had suffered greatly at the hands of the Birmingham forces.

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He writes: “A search of the records revealed that the team played against Birmingham City Police on five occasions and lost each time – 1958, lost 3-16; 1960, lost 3-18, 1961, lost 3-13, 1964, canceled due to snow; 1965, lost 8-10 and 0-42.

“The 1966 game was called off due to homework.

After the great defeat of 1965, perhaps the cancellation in 1966 “because of homework” was strategic. ”

Alan Course had a flair for creating last-minute cartoons that reflected local news.

John Turner, of Sandford-on-Thames, remembers being sketched by him in 60 seconds after playing in an Oxford Boys cricket match against Middlesex.

He was the last batsman in the crease and scored an impressive 30 points.

The cartoon appeared in the Oxford Mail, John being described as the “tail-wagger-in-chief”.

Other readers with memories of Alan Course include Terry Smith of Norwich, who featured in one of his Mail cartoons after competing in a cross country race.

And Neil Harris, of Weston-on-the-Green, received a personal image of an Oxford Cheetahs speedway runner to mark his interest in the sport.

Earlier this year, The Bear Inn, one of the city’s smaller pubs, set up seating for 95 people outside, due to coronavirus restrictions on indoor alcohol consumption. .

This included 10 tables inside a marquee and eight tables outside, accommodating more people than the pub itself can accommodate inside.

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