THE main road through Didcot is actually the Wallingford to Faringdon turnpike road or Kings Highway as written about in previous articles.

Through Didcot it was known as the Wantage Road or even Harwell Road (depending on which direction you were looking!) which was confusing, so in 1929 it was renamed the Broadway after the street in New York.

The coming of the railway to Didcot in 1844 saw a population increase but the nearest shops were in the old village in Manor Road.

Because of this population increase local Farmer Stephen Dixon took the initiative and built cottages in 1868 in the Lower Broadway road, leading towards the Marsh Railway Bridge.

Together with other properties nearby, the area gained the name of Newtown, North Hagbourne shortened today to Northbourne, with shops being opened to serve the new residents.

Further up the Lower Broadway Road was The White Hart Inn, built in 1846 by the Simmonds Brewery of Reading.

It was demolished in 1927 to make way for a new and larger property today called Broadways.

If you looked to the south of the Broadway, you would see a few farm buildings in fields leading down to the Hagbournes.

The arrival of the Army’s barracks and ordnance depot in 1914 meant yet another strain on the housing stock, as Didcot was transformed from a sleepy Berkshire village to a much larger conurbation.

In the 1920s, Wallingford Rural District Council built houses in Wessex and Kynaston Roads with three roads, namely Vicarage Rd, St Peters Rd and St Andrews Rd, leading down to the Broadway.

At the same time this house building prompted shops to be constructed on the opposite side of the road to meet the needs of the residents.

Some of the early shops to mention were Annie Barber’s General store and Hows.

By the mid 1930s, shops included Jenkins, Curries, Boots the Chemist and a Co-Op.

You would find Jane Grey’s women's clothing shop now an estate agents at the top of Haydon Road.

Champions the Ironmongers was on the corner of Edinburgh Drive.

Pengilleys parade of shops dates from the 1930s with Jenkins tobacconist Hedges the Bakers, The Westminster bank was built in 1928.

Across the road was the Methodist Church built in 1903 and, on the other corner, Barclays Bank took over the premises of Mr Cowling’s Chemist shop in the 1920s.

The increase in house building in the 1950s and 1960s saw the older Broadway shop premises demolished and replaced with modern buildings.

The new shops arrived in the 1960’s and 1970’s and the old shop premises owned by the Co-Op were demolished to make way for an International Stores Supermarket along with FW Woolworth and a Gas showroom, Milwards shoe shop and Paines the Ironmonger.

The Co Op owned a lot of these premises, with further demolition taking place to make way for the buildings we see today, including the Orchard Centre built in 2005, which transformed shopping in Didcot.