By Dot Long of Didcot and District Archaeological and Historical Society

Almost every page of this brochure brought back a memory of an event, social club or personal experience of my early years.

However what fascinated me most of all was an article in the brochure about the joining up of Harwell and Didcot in the future. The article was written in 1953 as a futuristic possibility (2053). Incredibly it rings true now as we see the development of the housing estates, businesses, education establishments and the Harwell Campus and science opportunities. I have since discovered that the article, written as a story, was by a local reporter, Chick Fowler (who wrote under the name of “Brutus” if my sources are correct.) By coincidence, I met him when I was a member of the Barn Theatre Group in the late 1950’s.

It would be impossible to reproduce the whole piece here, however, I will choose a few paragraphs to give an idea of the author’s thoughts of the future.

One Hundred Years

From Now

By Brutus

It is the year 2053, and an old Didcot man, who was in his prime at the Coronation of Elizabeth ll, is approaching his 150th birthday. Like many other citizens he has reached this advanced age as a result of glandular treatment. It is an optional service under the 51st National Health Act. Fifty percent of the population, however, still do not want to live longer than what used to be the average.

The old gentleman is reclining in an easy chair in his sitting room at the top of a Glyn Skyscraper, an American-style building adopted in many parts of England where building land is scarce. He has just been woken up from one of his constant dozes by his great-granddaughter, Nasturtium.

There follows a conversation between them which includes such things as the time that Didcot became a city in 1994.

That Didcot Town were in the English League (Div.1) and were champions for two years. People had to go to Reading or Swindon if they wanted to see English League football.

“What was Didcot before it was a city? I thought it had been a city since 1066.”

“It was a one-horse town, according to the planning officer, and a valuable ploughed field according to the Ministry of Agriculture. It wasn’t even the capital of Berkshire until about the year 2000.”

“What’s that little field in the picture, Grandpappy?”

“That was once Edmonds Park. Now it’s the Preparatory School playing field.”

“How many schools were in Didcot then?”

“Only about half-a-dozen. That was long before we had the Technical College and the Public School and the three Grammar Schools. At the time of the Coronation, in 1953, boys and girls like you had to learn French and German and the cleverer ones also learned American. Then, as I was telling you, Universese, which is what we are talking now, became international law, and in time all other languages died a natural death. Ever since then there has been peace.”

“ Grandpappy. Where is Harwell?”

“There is no such place now. It was bulldozed and became part of Didcot.”

The old man drops into a fitful sleep and again dreams of Coronation Day, 1953…..

A quote at the end of the article…..”The future is not in the hands of Fate, but in ours.”--Jean Jusserand, French critic (1855-1932).