Didcot's oaks and other notable trees
Broadway, Northbourne, Foxhall Road, Basil Hill Road, Purchas Road, Old Didcot, Loyd Park
BROADWAY AND NORTHBOURNE Starting at the Wantage Road roundabout, notice the plane tree next to the large oak, and another plane on the roundabout island. Continuing west, a diversion down Haydon Road leads soon to Orchard Close, which boasts Didcot's rarest trees - a dawn redwood (which is an endangered species), a blue cedar, a Deobar cedar and a smooth Arizona cypress. Unlike the New York avenue after which it is named, Broadway is one of only a few streets in the country with shops on only one side, the southern side being occupied by a number of elderly prunus trees which have pink blossom in the spring. In Broadway market place, on the north side, there used to be three horse chestnuts, only one of which still survives. On the south side, the attractive Baptist House building is fringed with a variety of mature trees. A little further west, and again on the south side, is Didcot Methodist Church, with a Corsican pine in front. Turning south up Mereland Road, and first left into Church Street (Conservation Area), the road soon leads to the Northbourne Centre, a former church, whose grounds contain a number of mature trees including a tall sequoia measuring (by trigonometry) about 25m (80 feet) high – possibly Didcot's tallest tree. The sequoia (also called Wellingtonia) is native to California.
FOXHALL ROAD AND NORTH Starting at the Wantage Road roundabout, with its large oak, notice first a row of limes beyond the turning circle in Glyn Avenue. Walking south down Foxhall Road leads past a distinctive old square building which formerly denoted the entrance to Old Didcot village (see below). After Manor Road is seen the former rectory, whose private grounds contain evergreen holm oaks. Opposite the entrance to Vauxhall Barracks, a diversion east can be taken along Vauxhall Barracks Way to a mature Robinia. This path would lead on to the station, but continuing instead on Foxhall Road leads to a roundabout where there is a row of mature limes and walnuts opposite. Over the railway bridge, past the entrance to the station car park and over another older bridge over the railway is the inaccessible Easton's Plantation, at the junction of Basil Hill Road and Oxfordshire bridleway 189/26. This wood used to extend much further to the west before it was deemed less important than commercial development, so all but a row of mature trees remain along Basil Hill Road westwards. Note the large ash on the south side. Over the next roundabout (A 4130 northern perimeter road) is Purchas Road – the entrance to the former Didcot A power station. Along this road there are several semi-mature oaks and a large horse chestnut.
UPDATE APRIL 2021: The former power station site, which includes Purchas Road, has planning permission for 400 new homes and businesses. The Purchas Road area is shown on the masterplan as a road and a public park – as it already is. However in early 2021, bulldozers moved in and flattened a large part of this area, including removal of the large horse chestnut and many other trees. Some of the remaining trees have been grotesquely pollarded. Over 50 years of biodiversity that had built up since the power station started operating in 1968 has been completely destroyed.
UPDATE APRIL 2021: The former Didcot A power station site, which includes Purchas Road, has planning permission for 400 new homes and businesses and a later approved planning permission for moving the alignment of Purchas Road southwards. Most of the power station development is in Vale of White Horse, including the row of three protected oaks north of Purchas Road. The area south of Purchas Road is in South Oxfordshire. In early 2021, bulldozers moved in and flattened a large part of this area – more than appears indicated on the plans – including removal of the large horse chestnut and many other trees. Some of the remaining trees in what the plans say will be a public park have been grotesquely pollarded. Over 50 years of biodiversity that had built up since Didcot A started operating in 1970 has been completely destroyed.
AROUND OLD DIDCOT At All Saints' Church there is an ancient yew tree, much damaged by vandalism and fire, but still thriving after 1,000 years. South from the church entrance and over the road, down a footpath, is The Nook, a thatched cottage dating from the early 17th Century. Manor Road is Didcot's oldest road, with parts of White Cottage (number 26) dating back to 1520. Note the four tall Scots Pines in this road. Continuing the southerly footpath soon leads to Smallbone Rec which features horse chestnuts and maturing silver birches, presided over by a lime in Britwell Road. Slightly further afield, down a footpath at the junction of Manor Road and Lydalls Road, is Cronshaw Close, where a row of mixed species borders another recreation field, making a pleasant route to the station.
BRASENOSE AND FREEMAN ROAD, AND DIDCOT GIRLS SCHOOL From the west end of Manor Road, crossing Foxhall Road and turning left into Brasenose Road leads to Loyd Rec, with distant views of a row of Lombardy poplars in the grounds of Didcot Girls School. Further on, near the west junction with Freeman Road is a triangle of land with mature trees once threatened by development - planning permission was refused and the trees are now protected by a TPO. Footpaths here link to the northern part of Great Western Park. Emerging at Wantage Road, the many protected trees and a small wood within the (inaccessible) grounds of Didcot Girls School are hard to spot but can be glimpsed from the adjoining roads (Oxford Crescent and Sherwood Road), or more easily from the footpath to Loyd Rec which runs just to the right of the school's Manor Crescent entrance.
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Public access Private / inaccessible
West from Wantage Road roundabout
South from Wantage Road roundabout
All Saints' Church, Manor Road and area
Brasenose road circular walk