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63213.  Sat Apr 01, 2006 4:48 am Reply with quote


This is intended to initiate a general discussion about tedious people or things.


Who or what is the subject of a book called The Long Years of Obscurity?




It begins with 'D'.


Didcot. The Long Years of Obscurity (1979), the first of a trilogy by local historian Brian Lingham, sweeps you from prehistory till 1841 in 140 pages. The second volume The Railway Comes to Didcot covers the years 1839 to 1918 and is ranked 1,153,231 on Amazon. The third installment (1918-45) is called A Poor, Struggling Little Town.

The Winston Churchill oeuvre you may have been thinking of is called The Wilderness Years - Vol. 4: The Long Tide Of Surrender.


Didcot (pop.25,000), now the largest town in South Oxfordshire, was, for most of history, the tiny hamlet of Dudcotte, Berkshire. The ‘cot’ bit is Old English for a sheep-shelter*. People have lived in the Didcot area since the iron age, when it was a ridge sticking out of a marsh. The name is not mentioned in the Domesday Book; the area is referred to as Wibaldeston or ‘Wigbald’s Farm’.

Nothing interesting is known to have happened in Didcot until 1605 when Robert Wintour, one of the conspirators of the Gunpowder plot, who had a mortgage on the manor, was executed and Didcot was forfeit to the Crown.

That aside, Didcot (more usually spelled Dudcot or Dudcote), is barely mentioned in any historical documents for hundreds of years until the building of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Western Railway Paddington to Bristol line through the town beginning in 1839.

In 1841, the population of Didcot was 203.

The station followed in 1844 and it was only then, with the erection of the station signs, that the spelling of the name became fixed.

A section of pipe which can be seen in Didcot Railway Centre is what’s left of Brunel’s idea to extend the Great Western Railway from Exeter to Plymouth, using vacuum tunnels to transport trains using nothing but air pressure. The prototype broke down seven times in the first eleven months of operation. The whole caper lost roughly £500,000.

The Sun’s “squidgygate” exposé of Princess Diana and James Gilby began in the car park of Didcot railway station. It was here that Cyril Reenan first met the Sun’s reporters and played them the tape which allegedly contained personal conversations between the two.

No bombs fell on Didcot during the Second World War**.

Ed Vaizey, aka The Hon. Edward Henry Butler Vaizey, Conservative MP for Didcot and Wantage, is the son of the economist and Labour life peer, Professor Lord Vaizey of Greenwich. Lord Vaizey was awarded his peerage by James Callaghan in June, 1976, the same month as Lew Grade, Bernard Delfont, George Weidenfeld and Joseph Kagan. Like Churchill, Ed Vaizey’s mother (Marina) is an American. She is an art critic. The name Vaizey comes from the de Vassy family. According to Ed Vaizey, it is a French name meaning ‘playful’. The brothers Robert and Ivo de Vassy fought with William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings and were rewarded with nineteen Lordships in Northamptonshire.

The Williams Formula 1 teams’ first factory was in Didcot. It originally employed just 17 people. They won 5 of their 7 world drivers championships from here.

The Baptist Union of Great Britain is based in Didcot, as is the central office of The Girls’ Brigade.

Didcot claims the second oldest yew tree in the country, at 1600 years old. Amazingly, it has not lost the will to live.

The small, oddly-shaped bit of card which a ticket inspector cuts out of a ticket with his clipper for no apparent reason. It is a little known fact that the confetti at Princess Margaret's wedding was made up of thousands of didcots collected by inspectors on the Royal Train.
The Meaning of Liff


For £6.99 we could purchase the book advertised here, if Sarah would authorize it:


*The 'dud' bit is thought to be from Dudda, a local Abbot.

**This despite the fact that there has been a large army base there since 1918. Housing the troops was the real start of the town's expansion.


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Last edited by JumpingJack on Sat Apr 01, 2006 8:01 pm; edited 3 times in total

63215.  Sat Apr 01, 2006 4:50 am Reply with quote

Many thanks to eggshaped for the wealth of riveting extra details, which I have incorporated above.

63223.  Sat Apr 01, 2006 5:17 am Reply with quote

No bombs fell on Didcot during the Second World War**.

Surely that's a pretty rare claim to fame, isn't it? There can't be many towns in Britain that didn't get at least one bomb.

63229.  Sat Apr 01, 2006 5:51 am Reply with quote

Yes, it's quite extraordinary.

Typical of Didcot that it's famous for a non-event...


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