A Bicester historian who has published a new book says it’s important to preserve the rich history of the town and pass it on to future generations.

Author Matthew Hathaway’s new book, Bicester: A Potted History, hit the shelves last weekend (April 15).

The penetrating paperback details the full history of the town, from the Roman settlement of Alchester that preceded it, right through to the present day.

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Punctuated by photos from the past and the present, Mr Hathaway has painted a picture of Bicester’s transformation throughout the ages while highlighting the town’s significant events and people.

He said: “History in general has always been of interest to me, but focusing on the history of the local area makes it much more tangible.

“I’ve lived in Bicester my whole life so it’s a history that I’ve grown up as a part of.”

It took Mr Hathaway 10 months to write the book, but he said all the information that has gone into it has been slowly gathered over the last thirty years.

He commented on the changing nature of the town, and the need to preserve its history: In the introduction to my first book I wrote that Bicester is more than just its buildings.

“The character, the atmosphere and the feel of the place comes just as much from its community.

“Unfortunately, that's even more difficult to preserve, so I think we have to accept that things will never stay the same for long and the best we can do is preserve enough of it to help tell the ever-evolving story.

“That way Bicester can maintain its identity and heritage but still grow. The town of today is totally different to the one I grew up in during the 80s and 90s, but it still feels like home.”

Mr Hathaway also commented on the town’s listed buildings, and development plans that could see them demolished: “Bicester does have many listed structures, some obvious ones, like St Edburg’s Church, and other, more obscure ones, like the two red telephone boxes in Market Square.

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“When Bicester Local History Society (BLHS) tried to get the old St Edburg’s School building listed it was rejected on the grounds that it wasn’t unique enough, which means that if the current owners, Value Retail, chose to demolish it tomorrow then they could do.”

He went on to talk about the town’s Magistrates’ Court, and developers GG Oxford Investments Limited’s application to demolish it and replace it with 48 flats.

He said: “In the case of the Magistrates’ Court, I feel that replacing it with flats is totally inappropriate.

“The building is only about sixty years old and would be much better converted to a new use, something for the community.”

The author said the main message of his book is that Bicester has a rich and varied history spanning many centuries, and that evidence for a lot of it can still be found today.

People just need to get out there and look.

Mr Hathaway's book is available from Coles Books, and can be ordered online from W.H. Smith. 

It's also available online from Amazon or can be ordered directly from the publisher at www.amberley-books.com.

The same goes for his first book, Bicester Reflections, and Bicester Through Time, a book that Bicester Local History Society produced a few years ago.