New crowd management system to be implemented at May Morning

Published: Monday, 16th April 2018

Oxford City Council and event partners will implement a new crowd management system at this year’s May Morning.

May Morning sees thousands of people line High Street and Magdalen Bridge at 6am on 1 May to watch choristers sing from atop Magdalen College’s Great Tower.

The event, which is unique to Oxford, has been taking place for more than 500 years.

The new crowd management system will see one-way channels created on Magdalen Bridge to enable the crowd to flow during and immediately after the event.

People will not be allowed to stop in the channels, and stewards and signs will be in place to direct people to areas where they can stop and view the event.

If capacity is reached on Magdalen Bridge, stewards and barriers will be used to stop any more people from accessing the bridge from the west and east.

For the first time, bicycles – including those ridden and pushed –will not be allowed to cross Magdalen Bridge during the event.

Designated viewing areas for wheelchair and mobility scooter users, families with young children and those with buggies will be also available for the first time, in the car park of Magdalen College School and in the car park of Merton College's TS Eliot Theatre.

Last year, immediately after the event finished, those wishing to leave towards East Oxford encountered an unusually high number of people wanting to come into the city from the Plain Roundabout, and an impasse ensued on Magdalen Bridge.

The aim of the new crowd management plan is to ensure that does not happen again.

May Morning, which marks the coming of Spring, will start at 6am with the choristers of Magdalen College choir singing the Hymnus Eucharisticus from the college’s Great Tower.

Hymnus Eucharisticus was composed in the 17th century by a Fellow of Magdalen College and has been sung every year from the Great Tower on May Morning ever since.

This will be followed by the Great Tower’s bells ringing out over the city for approximately 20 minutes.

Events and activities, including Morris Dancing and folk singing, will then take place across the city.

Last year’s event, which took place at the end of a Bank Holiday weekend, saw record-breaking crowds of 27,000 people attend.

Paula Redway, Oxford City Council’s cultural development manager, said: “We take crowd safety incredibly seriously and, following last year’s May Morning, the City Council and event partners have been working hard to make sure that the crowd problems are not repeated.

“Magdalen Bridge will look different during this year’s event, with signs, barriers and stewards directing people to keep the crowd flowing on the bridge. We ask that those wishing to attend make themselves aware of the new plans and follow instructions on the day.”

Oxford City Council organises the May Morning event at Magdalen Bridge on behalf of partners, including Thames Valley Police, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, South Central Ambulance Service, Oxfordshire County Council and Magdalen College.

Events held at other venues and locations across the city are organised by the individual venues or groups.

For more information about events taking place across Oxford on May Morning, please visit the DailyInfo website.