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About Didcot

When Isambard Kingdom Brunel built something he built it well. The arrival of the Great Western Railway in 1839 and the erection of Brunel's railway station in 1844 started the transformation of Didcot from a rural location into the small town it is today. The railway still runs through the town and through its identity. Didcot Railway Centre is one of the best places to hear a steam train whistle and the distinctive chuff, chuff, chuff of Victorian technology. The centre also hosts a re-creation of Brunel's broad gauge railway.

Didcot's original Saxon name was Wibaldinton. In the 13th century it was recorded as Dudcotte and as recently as the 1900's the town was still called Dudecote. The Danes raided in 1006, and the town was also caught up in England’s Civil War strife centred on nearby Wallingford. The First World War saw the construction of an Army barracks and ordnance depot, which brought workers to Didcot. In the 1970s the construction of Didcot Power Station with its distinctive cooling towers, dramatically changed the face of the town.

Modern developments include the Orchard Shopping Centre for retail therapy and Cornerstone, the town's arts centre. There are several large parks and play areas such as Edmonds Park and Ladygrove Park as well as fishing lakes. The Millennium Wood at the Hagbourne Triangle is notable for its mixed deciduous wood and native species shrubs and Hagbourne Cycle which is part of the National Cycle Network. Mowbray Fields, Didcot’s nature reserve, includes species of common spotted and southern marsh orchids.

Several major Hollywood movies were filmed at Didcot Railway Centre including Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, the latter returning the following year to film Anna Karenina with Keira Knightly. Television series location credits include The Camomile Lawn’, ‘Carries War’ and ‘Beyond Narnia’.


Claims to Fame:

In 1844, ‘Victorian vandal’ Joseph Tubb spent several weeks carving a 20 line poem into a Beech Tree at Castle Hill. Although the tree died in the 1990’s traces are still visible and a rubbing was erected closeby to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the carving. In 2002, the tree Council selected it as one of 50 Great British Trees.

Tales of ancient human sacrifices on nearby Castle Hill keeps the archaeologists returning to one of the most extensive Iron Age landscapes discovered in Britain.

Sole surviving GWR Steam Railmotor no 93, recently restored to working order at Didcot Railway Centre, was active in 1908 transporting passengers to the 1908 London Olympic Games. It is the prototype of modern self-propelled units.

Artist Paul Nash (1889-1946) had a special affinity for South Oxfordshire’s Wittenham Clumps and 2012 marks the centenary of the first time he painted them. 

Three things to do in Didcot:
  • Get nostalgic for steam – with Didcot Railway Centre’s extensive collection of Great Western Society locomotives
  •  Enjoy the arts at Cornerstone – programme of events and exhibitions available

Five things to do near Didcot:
  • Earth Trust Centre – Always wanted to 'be a shepherd for a day' or learn bushcraft? Then the Earth Trust Centre is for you.  Three scenic walks take in Broad Arboretum, Neptune Wood, Paradise Wood, Church Meadow, Little Wittenham Wood and Wittenham Clumps
  • Pendon Museum – working scale model railways of typical 1920s scenes on the Great Western Railway
  • Harcourt Arboretum – an integral though less formal part of the Oxford Botanic Garden plant collection
  • Aston Martin Heritage Trust Museum – collection housed in a 15th century great tithe barn at Drayton St. Leonard
  • Dorchester Abbey – the site of a 7th Century Saxon Cathedral where the Cloisters Gallery charts the Abbey’s history through medieval stonework

What’s on in Didcot:

On ‘steam days’ the collection of former Great Western Railway (GWR) steam locomotives, coaches and buildings meet an adoring public. Children’s favourite Thomas the Tank Engine makes regular appearances and ‘driver experiences ’fulfil dreams of being a train driver.

Cornerstone Arts Centre programme offers a varied selection of performances and exhibitions to enjoy.

Browse the Didcot events on the Southern Oxfordshire What's On Events Calendar or on the Didcot community website.

Where to stay in Didcot:
Looking for tourist accommodation or somewhere to stay in Didcot? To view Hotel, B&B, Guest House, Inn, Self-Catering properties, Caravan and Camping sites in Didcot use the search facility on the right hand side of the page and click Didcot in the location option.
Visit Southern Oxfordshire only works with Quality Assured accommodation in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse districts.

Tourist Information:

Didcot Town Council 
Council Offices
Britwell Road
OX11 7HN
Tel:  01235 812637

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