Witney

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Coordinates: 51°47′N 1°29′W / 51.78°N 1.49°W / 51.78; -1.49

Witney
St Mary the Virgin Church, Church Green, Witney - geograph.org.uk - 247742.jpg
St Mary the Virgin parish church
Witney is located in Oxfordshire
Witney
Witney
 Witney shown within Oxfordshire
Population 22,765 (2001 census)[1]
OS grid reference SP3509
Civil parish Witney
District West Oxfordshire
Shire county Oxfordshire
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Witney
Postcode district OX28
Dialling code 01993
Police Thames Valley
Fire Oxfordshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Witney
Website Witney Town Council
List of places
UK
England
Oxfordshire

Witney is a town on the River Windrush, 12 miles (19 km) west of Oxford in Oxfordshire, England.

The place-name 'Witney' is first attested in a Saxon charter of 969 as 'Wyttannige'; it appears as 'Witenie' in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name means 'Witta's island'.[2]

Notable buildings[edit]

The Church of England parish church of St Mary the Virgin was originally Norman. The north porch and north aisle were added in this style late in the 12th century, and survived a major rebuilding in about 1243. In this rebuilding the present chancel, transepts, tower and spire were added and the nave was remodelled, all in the Early English style. In the 14th century a number of side chapels and some of the present windows were added in the Decorated style. In the 15th century the south transept was extended and the present west window of the nave were added in the Perpendicular style.[3] The tower has a peal of eight bells.[4]

Holy Trinity parish church in Wood Green was built in 1849 in the Early English style. Both St. Mary the Virgin and Holy Trinity are now members of a single team parish.[5]

Witney Market began in the Middle Ages. Thursday is the traditional market day but there is also a market on Saturday. The buttercross in the market square is so called because people from neighbouring towns would gather there to buy butter and eggs. It was built in about 1600 and its clock was added in 1683.[6]

The town hall is 18th-century. A local legend holds that it was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, but there is little evidence to support this claim.

Witney has long been an important crossing over the River Windrush. The architect Thomas Wyatt rebuilt the bridge in Bridge Street in 1822.[7]

The Friends Meeting House in Wood Green was built in the 18th century. Since 1997 Quakers in Witney have met at the corn exchange.[8] The Methodist church in High Street was built in 1850.[9] It is now one of five Methodist churches and chapels in Witney.[10] The Roman Catholic parish of Our Lady and Saint Hugh was founded in 1913.[11] It originally used a chapel in West End built in 1881[6] but now has its own modern building.[12] The old chapel in West End is now Elim Christian Fellowship.[13]

West End, part of the road to Hailey, is one of Britain's best-preserved streets[citation needed] and inspired the song Just an Old Fashioned House in an Old Fashioned Street.[citation needed] Although it is called West End, it is actually on the northern side of the town and gets its name from when it was not actually in Witney parish but at the west end of the adjacent Hailey parish.

Witney Workhouse was on Razor Hill (now Tower Hill). It was built in 1835–36 by the architect George Wilkinson. It had four wings radiating from an octagonal central building, similar to Chipping Norton workhouse, which also was built by Wilkinson. His younger brother William Wilkinson added a separate chapel to Witney Workhouse in 1860.[14][15] During the First World War the workhouse contained prisoners of war. In 1940 it became Crawford Collets[16] engineering factory under the direction of Leonard Frank Eve. The chapel became the factory canteen. In 1979 Crawford Collets demolished the main buildings and replaced them with a modern factory but preserved the entrance gate and former chapel. In 2004 the modern factory was demolished for redevelopment. The gate and chapel have again been preserved but the chapel is in a poor state of repair.[17]

Industry[edit]

Witney has been famous for its woollen blankets since the Middle Ages.[18] The water for the production of these blankets is drawn from the River Windrush, which was believed to be the secret of Witney's high quality blankets. The Blanket Hall in High Street was built in 1721 for weighing and measuring blankets.[6] At one time there were five blanket factories in the town but with the closure of the largest blanket maker, in 2002, Early's, the town's blanket industry completely ceased production. Early's factory, once a vital and important part of the town's history, has now been demolished, and is the site of several new housing estates. Witney United FC retains its nickname "The Blanketmen" from the town's traditional trade.

For many years Witney had its own brewery and maltings: J.W. Clinch and Co, which founded the Eagle Maltings in 1841. Courage took over Clinch's and closed it down, but since 1983 Refresh UK's Wychwood Brewery has brewed real ales in the Eagle Maltings. In 2002 Refresh UK contracted to produce ales for W.H. Brakspear, who had sold their former brewery in Henley-upon-Thames for redevelopment. Refresh UK also brews ale for the Prince of Wales' Duchy Originals company.

The Witney Railway opened Witney's first station in 1861, linking the town to Yarnton where the line joined the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway. In 1873 the East Gloucestershire Railway opened from a new station, linking Witney with Lechlade and Fairford. The Great Western Railway operated services on both lines and eventually took them over. In 1962 British Railways closed the EGR completely and withdrew passenger services from the Witney Railway. In 1970 British Railways closed the Witney Railway completely and it was dismantled.

Museums[edit]

Witney has three museums. Cogges Manor Farm Museum, in the 13th-century manor house[14] and farm of Cogges, represents farming and countryside history. The Witney and District Museum has many artefacts and documents representing the history of the town. the Wychwood Brewery has a museum open at weekends.

Education[edit]

Witney has three county secondary schools: Henry Box School, Wood Green School and Springfield School. In 1660 Henry Box founded Witney Grammar School. In 1968 it became the comprehensive Henry Box School.[19] In 1970 new school buildings were added to the original 17th-century premises beside Church Green.[7] Wood Green School[20] was founded in 1954 and is at the top of Woodstock Road. Springfield School[21] was founded in 1967 and is a special needs school for pupils with severe learning difficulties, Springfield School senior section is a self-contained unit, with some shared facilities, within the grounds of Wood Green School. Wood Green was substantially expanded from 2000 to 2004; an additional block with 15 teaching rooms was added, together with purpose-built sixth form centre, school restaurant and new AstroTurf pitch. 2009 saw part of the old Lower School being remodelled to provide new changing and shower facilities for the AstroTurf pitch and its many users from local community sports clubs.

The King's School is independent of Oxfordshire Local Education Authority. It was founded by Oxfordshire Community Churches,[22] an evangelical Christian organisation, in 1984.[23]

Cokethorpe School is an independent secondary school, founded in 1957.

St. Mary's School beside Church Green was established in 1813. It was a Church of England primary school but in 1953 it became a Church of England controlled School for Infant children, and the Junior children transferred to the Batt School premises.[24] Witney now has two Church of England primary schools: The Batt School[25] in Corn Street and The Blake School[26] in Cogges Hill Road.

Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic Primary School[27] is a Roman Catholic school founded in 1958.

Witney has five community primary schools: Madley Park Community Primary School,[28] Queen's Dyke Primary School,[29] Tower Hill Community Primary School,[30] West Witney Primary School[31] and Witney Community Primary School.[32]

The former Witney Technical College is now part of Abingdon and Witney College.[33] A complete rebuilding of its premises began in September 2008.

Sports[edit]

Witney United Football Club[34] first XI played in the Hellenic League Premier Division, until they dissolved during the 2012-2013 season.[35] Witney and District League[36] is a local association football league with about 32 clubs in five divisions. Witney Rugby Football Club[37] first XV plays in the RFU South West 1 East.[38] Wychwood Ladies Hockey Club, 1st play in the Trysport Hockey League Division 1 (http://www.trysportsleague.org.uk/default.aspx?id=9) & 2nd play in the Trysport League Division $ (http://www.trysportsleague.org.uk/default.aspx?id=12) And also Witney Hockey Club[39] men's first XI plays in the England Hockey Men's Conference East division[40] and its ladies' first XI plays in South Clubs' Women's Hockey League Division 3A.[41] Witney Swifts Cricket Club[42] first XI plays in Oxfordshire Cricket Association Division Three.[43] Witney Houstons Basketball Club plays in the Oxford and Chiltern League[44] Also known as the home of choice for the self-proclaimed 'bad boy' of golf, William Fox BscHons[45]

Witney was also the home of Toleman later Benetton Formula One team hq, until the team moved to its current base, Enstone in 1992 where the team is currently under the Lotus guise.

Politics[edit]

Witney is known as a Conservative safe seat, and as such has been the constituency for both Douglas Hurd and the current leader of the Conservative Party, and Prime Minister, David Cameron. This clear party preference led to controversy when Shaun Woodward was appointed to succeed the retiring Hurd as Conservative candidate. Woodward was elected in the 1997 General Election, but switched allegiance to the Labour Party in 1999. In the 2001 General Election Woodward stood as the Labour candidate for St Helens South and David Cameron retook Witney for the Conservatives. Witney MP David Cameron became Prime Minister following a Coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, May 2010.

Twinning[edit]

Road Sign for Witney

Witney is twinned with:

Floods[edit]

In July 2007 Witney saw its worst flooding in more than 50 years. Homes and businesses were evacuated and Bridge Street, a major road into the town and the only road across the Windrush, was closed. About 200 properties in central Witney were flooded, with areas around Bridge Street, Mill Street and West End the worst affected. The new and incomplete housing development Aquarius also suffered substantial flooding.

In 2008 further flooding contributed to the death of a 17-year-old boy who drowned in a culvert.[46]

Looking down a flooded Bridge Street, Witney towards West End, 22 July 2007

Climate[edit]

Witney has a maritime climate type typical to the British Isles, with evenly spread rainfall, a narrow temperature range, and comparatively low sunshine totals. The nearest official weather station is Brize Norton, just under 4 miles to the South West.

The absolute maximum recorded was 35.4c(95.7f)[47] during August 1990, although in a typical year the warmest day should only reach 29.5c(85.1f)[48] with an average of 14.6 days[49] reporting a maximum temperature of 25.1c(77.2f) or above.

The absolute minimum is −20.7c(−5.3f),[50] recorded in January 1982. In a more typical year the annual minimum temperature should be −8.1c(17.4f),[51] although a total of 47.1 nights[52] should report an air frost.

Rainfall averages slightly under 644mm[53] per year with over 1mm of rain falling on just under 115 days[54] of the year.

Climate data for Brize Norton, elevation 88m, 1971–2000, extremes 1901–
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.7
(58.5)
18.4
(65.1)
25.0
(77)
25.9
(78.6)
32.2
(90)
33.5
(92.3)
34.8
(94.6)
35.4
(95.7)
33.4
(92.1)
27.2
(81)
18.3
(64.9)
16.1
(61)
35.4
(95.7)
Average high °C (°F) 6.9
(44.4)
7.3
(45.1)
10.0
(50)
12.5
(54.5)
16.3
(61.3)
19.2
(66.6)
22.0
(71.6)
21.6
(70.9)
18.3
(64.9)
14.2
(57.6)
9.9
(49.8)
7.6
(45.7)
13.82
(56.87)
Average low °C (°F) 1.3
(34.3)
1.1
(34)
2.6
(36.7)
3.9
(39)
6.7
(44.1)
9.7
(49.5)
11.9
(53.4)
11.9
(53.4)
9.8
(49.6)
6.9
(44.4)
3.7
(38.7)
2.3
(36.1)
5.98
(42.77)
Record low °C (°F) −20.7
(−5.3)
−16.1
(3)
−11.1
(12)
−5.2
(22.6)
−1.7
(28.9)
−0.3
(31.5)
4.4
(39.9)
2.8
(37)
−0.5
(31.1)
−4
(25)
−9.6
(14.7)
−20.5
(−4.9)
−20.7
(−5.3)
Precipitation mm (inches) 59.84
(2.3559)
43.76
(1.7228)
49.75
(1.9587)
45.55
(1.7933)
54.96
(2.1638)
49.82
(1.9614)
41.82
(1.6465)
52.33
(2.0602)
59.64
(2.348)
61.67
(2.428)
57.57
(2.2665)
66.17
(2.6051)
643.76
(25.3449)
Source: KNMI[55]

Media[edit]

In May 2010, WitneyTV was launched as a non-profit online broadcaster with a weekly show that features local news and upcoming events within West Oxfordshire for the benefit of the community. An archive of videos featuring local attractions, clubs, organisations and previous shows is also available.

November 30th 2012 saw WitneyRadio launch. Providing hyper local news, music and current affairs to the people of Witney & West Oxfordshire.

Gallery[edit]

Famous people[edit]

Famous people associated with Witney include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Area: Witney CP (Parish): Parish Headcounts". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Eilert Ekwall, Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p. 528.
  3. ^ Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, pages 843–845
  4. ^ Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell ringers, Witney & Woodstock Branch
  5. ^ "Church of England Parish of Witney". Witneyteamparish.org.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, page 846
  7. ^ a b Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, p. 847
  8. ^ Burford Quakers[dead link]
  9. ^ "High Street Methodist Church". Witneymeth.org.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Oxfordshire Churches: Witney". Oxfordshirechurches.info. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  11. ^ 1&1 Website Builder. "The Parish of Our Lady & St. Hugh Catholic Church". Ourladyandsthugh.org.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  12. ^ "Oxfordshire Churches: Witney RC". Oxfordshirechurches.info. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  13. ^ "Find a Church". Find a Church. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  14. ^ a b Sherwood & Pevsner, 1974, page 851
  15. ^ The Workhouse: Witney[dead link]
  16. ^ "Crawford Collets". Crawford Collets. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  17. ^ "Witney Workhouse chapel". Oxfordshirechurches.info. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  18. ^ Clare Sumner. "history Witney Blanket Story – A brief history of the wool trade in the Witney area". Witneyblanketstory.org.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  19. ^ Henry Box School[dead link]
  20. ^ "Wood Green School". Woodgreen.oxon.sch.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  21. ^ "Springfield School". Springfield.oxon.sch.uk. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  22. ^ "Oxfordshire Community Churches". Occ.org.uk. 25 September 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  23. ^ "Education | Oxfordshire Community Churches". Occ.org.uk. 12 December 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  24. ^ "St. Mary's Infant School". St-marys-witney.oxon.sch.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  25. ^ "The Batt C of E Primary School". Thebattschool.org.uk. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  26. ^ The Blake School[dead link]
  27. ^ "Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic Primary School". Our-lady-of-lourdes.oxon.sch.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  28. ^ "Madley Park Community Primary School". Madleybrook.org. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  29. ^ Queen's Dyke Primary School[dead link]
  30. ^ "Tower Hill Community Primary School". Tower-hill.oxon.sch.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  31. ^ West Witney Primary School[dead link]
  32. ^ "Witney Community Primary School". Witney.oxon.sch.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  33. ^ "Abingdon & Witney College". Abingdon-witney.ac.uk. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  34. ^ "Witney United FC". Witneyunited.co.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  35. ^ Hellenic League Premier Division[dead link]
  36. ^ "Witney and District Football". Witneyfootball.com. 29 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  37. ^ "Witney Rugby Football Club". Witneyrfc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  38. ^ RFU Southern Counties North division
  39. ^ "Witney Hockey Club". Witneyhockey.org.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  40. ^ "England Hockey League Men's Conference East Division". Englandhockey.co.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  41. ^ South Clubs' Women's Hockey League[dead link]
  42. ^ "Witney Swifts Cricket Club". Witneyswifts.co.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  43. ^ "Oxfordshire Cricket Association". Oxfordshire Cricket Association. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  44. ^ Witney Houstons Basketball
  45. ^ "Peak Practice Behind the Scenes". YouTube. 28 August 2007. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  46. ^ "''Oxford Mail'', 4 June 2008". Oxfordmail.co.uk. 4 June 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  47. ^ "August 1990 Maximum". Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  48. ^ "Annual average maximum". Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  49. ^ ">25c Max Days". Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  50. ^ "January 1982 Minimum". Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  51. ^ "Annual average minimum". Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  52. ^ "1971-00 Frost average". Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  53. ^ "Annual average rainfall". Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  54. ^ "Annual average raindays". Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  55. ^ "Climate Normals 1971–2000". KNMI. Retrieved 28 Feb 2011. 

Sources & further reading[edit]

External links[edit]