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The Broadway, Thatcham - - 725456.jpg
The Broadway, Thatcham
Thatcham is located in Berkshire
 Thatcham shown within Berkshire
Population 22,824 (Parish, 2001)
OS grid reference SU511676
Civil parish Thatcham
Unitary authority West Berkshire
Ceremonial county Berkshire
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town THATCHAM
Postcode district RG18 and RG19
Dialling code 01635
Police Thames Valley
Fire Royal Berkshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Newbury
List of places

Coordinates: 51°24′18″N 1°15′52″W / 51.4050°N 1.2645°W / 51.4050; -1.2645

Thatcham is a town in Berkshire, England 3 miles (5 km) east of Newbury and 15 miles (24 km) west of Reading. It covers about 8.75 square miles (23 km²) and has a population of 23,000 people (2003). This number has grown rapidly over recent decades from 5,000 in 1951 and 7,500 in 1961.

It lies on the River Kennet, the Kennet and Avon Canal, the A4 and the course of a Roman road. It is served by Thatcham railway station on the line between Newbury and Reading. Employment is provided at a number of light industrial units .


The area has evidence of occupation dating from prehistoric times[1] and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the strongest claimant to being the oldest continuously inhabited place in Britain. The well-preserved remains of a Mesolithic settlements dating from 7,700 BC[1] have been found in its vicinity. There is also evidence of Bronze and Iron Age settlements and of a Roman town.

The name may have been derived from that of a Saxon chief called Tace (or perhaps Tac or Tec), who established a village in around 500.[2][3] The settlement was known as Taceham - ham meaning village in Saxon. It is also possible that the name may have come from the Saxon thaec (thatch). Wherever it came from, the name Taceham persisted until after the Norman Conquest in 1066 before going through several minor changes until the current one was adopted in the 16th century.

Chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr was erected around 1304

The town had a period of great prosperity around 1304[4] when the Chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr on the A4, now called the Old Bluecoat School, was constructed. At this time the population was larger than Newbury's[2] but declined as a result of the Black Death which decimated the area in 1348. There is a Norman parish church of St. Mary which was largely reconstructed in 1857. This is believed to be built on the same site as an earlier Saxon church. It was also previously known as St. Luke's. A local attraction is the Nature Discovery Centre situated at Thatcham Lake, a flooded gravel quarry.

In 1121 King Henry I founded the great Abbey of Reading and endowed it with many gifts of land, including the Manor of Thatcham. At the same time Thatcham Hundred ceased to exist, the western party being transferred to Faircross Hundred, and the remainder to the Hundred of Reading.

In 1141 Thatcham Church, previously the property of the Diocese of Salisbury, was granted to Reading Abbey by the Empress Mathilda, who at the same time confirmed her father's gift of the manor to the Abbey.

Thatcham ratings[edit]

To many people in the UK, the name "Thatcham" is most strongly associated with the approval ratings for car security systems issued by the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre near the town (see link below). For instance, "Thatcham Cat 1" (or just "Cat 1" is the approval for a combined car alarm and immobiliser, "Thatcham Cat 2" is for a standalone immobiliser and "Thatcham Cat 3" is for additional physical security devices such as steering wheel locks.

July 2007 flooding[edit]

Railway station during flooding

On July 20, 2007, parts of Thatcham were flooded during a period of sustained heavy rain, during which 3 times the average July monthly rainfall hit the town in just 24 hours. While the rivers did not burst, the quantity of water flowing down the hills from Cold Ash and Bucklebury made many roads impassable and stranded hundreds of pupils at Kennet School who tried to wade with rope across Stoney Lane. Approximately 1100 properties were affected in this period, with many residents being forced to move out into mobile homes.[5]

Town twinning[edit]

Thatcham is twinned with:

See also[edit]


External links[edit]