Over the years Didcot has sometimes had a bad press. It doesn’t have the river or history of Abingdon or Wallingford, or the market town feel of Wantage. Yet it has so many great things going for it I thought I’d choose my top 10 things about Didcot.
Years ago, when the Orchard Centre was still a twinkle in the town planner’s eye I remember seeing an arts centre on the plan and thinking I wouldn’t be interested in that. How wrong I was! I’ve attended some great shows at Cornerstone, including comedians, music and family theatre. Cornerstone is also home to Didcot’s own symphony orchestra, a film club and many arts and exercise classes. Lastly, the outdoor cafe area is a lovely place to sit in the sun and enjoy an iced coffee.
2. Mowbray Field Nature Reserve
I grew up near Mowbray Field and spent much of my childhood in and around it. Nowadays it’s a hugely popular dog walking area, although I appreciate it most for the reservoir, where orchids bloom each summer.
3. Old Didcot
In a town full of relatively new housing stock it’s lovely to walk around old Didcot. Manor Road is home to the oldest property in town, White Cottage, a 16th Century wattle and daub building. Whereas All Saints Church, in Lydalls Road, is home to the oldest tree in town, a 1000 year old yew.
4. Didcot Railway Station
I won’t lie. One of the things I most appreciated about Didcot when I was a teenager was how easy it was to escape from! The railway station provides great connections to Oxford, Reading and particularly London, and is still a fantastic resource for the town. And, of course, it’s the location of the town’s premier tourist attraction, Didcot Railway Centre.
5. Wild in Didcot
This is a shameless plug for a Facebook group (of the same name) that I started in lockdown. Despite the housing estates, you’ll find wildlife all around Didcot; this group celebrates the hedgehogs, butterflies and bees. Do join if you’re interested. Plus (another plug), if you have a garden please sign up to the Didcot wildlife garden charter. I wrote about it here, and you can sign it here.
6. Boundary Park
This is a great facility for the local sports clubs, and is heavily used by the cricket, football and rugby teams. Across the road from the main pitches are tennis courts and a multi use goal area. There’s also a clubhouse and, in midsummer, a two day live music event, Bands on the Boundary.
7. Ladygrove Hill
Didcot is pretty flat so Ladygrove Hill makes a good viewpoint. It was a great place from which to watch the demolition of the power station towers and, ahem, (controversially) is a good viewing point for firework displays.
8. Blossom along the Broadway
I love the cherry blossom trees along the Broadway. I once read that Broadway was unique because of only having shops on one side of the road, although I cannot find the source. Regardless, I look forward to the fleeting blossom across from the shops every year. There are also newly planted fruit trees by the Civic Hall, so hopefully they’ll put on a similar display on future years.
9. Orchard Centre
I’m not really one for shopping but I do appreciate the shops, cinema and eating opportunities we now have in Didcot town centre. Primarily as it saves me a trip into Oxford or Reading!
10. Didcot community groups
There are so many groups and organisations in Didcot, there really is something for everyone. A small flavour of what’s available…. Sustainable Didcot, U3A, Girlguiding, Parkrun, Scouts, Phoenix Drama, Didcot Bowls, Army and Air Cadets, Phoenix Cycling Club, Didcot Choral Society….
So, how about you? What are your favourite things in Didcot?