WITH the start of a new year, I thought I would take a look back at some of my previous submissions regarding the history of Didcot.

Archaeological digs indicate evidence of Iron Age and Romano-British occupation in the area. A Saxon settlement named Wibaldston was recorded in the Domesday register of 1086.

From approximately 1200, the name Duddas Cot (Cottage of Dydda) appears. The Stonor family owned the village of Duddas Cot for some 300 years, from 1300.

Didcot or Ducote as it was known continued as a typical agricultural village with farm labourers cottages huddled around All Saints Church in the Manor Road vicinity.

But all that was to change in 1840, when Brunel constructed his Great Western Railway from London to Bristol, coming close to the sleepy Berkshire village along with the railway came workers who required accommodation (see the houses in Station Road.)

The town became a junction station shortly afterwards when the line to Oxford was opened.

In the 1870s, the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway was built, meandering across the Berkshire Downs and allowing through trains from the Midlands to south coast ports.

The First World War saw the construction of a huge Army Ordnance Depot to the north and west of the town, out of reach of German Zeppelin raids, once again bringing workers and soldiers to the town who needed accommodation. housing estates sprang up,shops along the Broadway opened to provide for these new residents.

Further expansion of the town took place in between the wars and the the coming of the Second World War saw the Army Ordnance Depot in use again, but this time in range of German aircraft! Measures were taken to protect it.

Post-war Britain saw the standing army number reduced and military depots around the country were closed .The depot at Didcot became one of the casualties of the cuts, finally closing in the early 1960s.

The 600-acre site at one end became Milton Trading Estate, but the majority of the land was turned over to the Central Electricity Generating Board for the construction of a 2000MW coal-fired power station to satisfy the needs of a growing population.

Once again housing was required for power station employees.The power station functioned from the late 1960s and final shutdown in 2013. Since then, the land is being cleared and earmarked for further building development

The Ladygrove housing estate was constructed north of the main town in the 1980s and the opening of the Orchard Centre with some high street shops put Didcot on the map as a shopping destination for many people from around the county.

I wrote about three town councillors in particular, Stephen Freeman (Stephen Freeman School, Freeman Road), Ernest Edmonds (Edmonds Park, Ernest Road, Edmonds Court), Harold Merritt (Merritt Road and his contribution to Didcot Hospital).

These gentlemen had visions of the expanding Didcot which today we can see all around us, with the Great Western Park Housing development edging towards the A34.

With road and rail links, Didcot has become a top commuter town for the county.