The building of the Great Western Railway from London to the West Country sparked the growth of Didcot in the 19th century. It is now 160
years since the passing of the Act authorising construction of the line. Didcot
is still an important railway junction for North-South East-West traffic with
connections to Oxford and the North, London, Bristol and the South coast.
Originally a railway town, the local businesses have changed with the times with the atomic energy establishment at Harwell International Business
Centre a major employer as is National Power whose cooling towers can
be seen for miles around. It is a 2,000 megawatt coal-fired station with a 650ft chimney and six 325ft cooling towers.
In nearby Chilton the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory hosts the world's
most intense neutron source used for the study of the structure of materials,
an understanding of which is vital to UK industry in the 21st century.
Chilton also has the National Radiological Protection Board, and a laboratory of the Medical Research Council, as well as an 11th century
church with a unique nine sided font.
The highly successful Williams formula one motor racing team was based in Didcot but have now moved to Wantage.