Infobox UK place
official_name= Witney
country= England
region= South East England
population= 24,765
latitude= 51.77858
longitude= -1.49409
constituency_westminster= Witney
shire_district= West Oxfordshire
shire_county= Oxfordshire

static_image_caption=High Street in Witney

Witney is a town (population: 23,765 — 2001 census) in Oxfordshire, England, 12 miles west of Oxford and just north of the A40 trunk road.


In recent years, the town has expanded rapidly (with the building of the Madley Park housing estate, developments off of the new Woodford Way, including new shopping complex, and soon to be constructed large West-Witney housing estate), but has still retained its charms as a market town on the edge of the Cotswolds. The market dates back to the Middle Ages, and the market square, at the top of the High Street, features one of the town's most distinctive landmarks: the "Buttercross", so called because people from neighbouring towns would gather there to buy butter and eggs. The building is medieval but features a clock that was added in 1683. Thursday is the traditional market day but Saturday also sees a market taking place. The other main landmark is the Parish Church of St Mary's which was built in the 13th century and is a fine example of one of several large churches in the area associated with the Medieval wool trade. The town also has a fine Methodist chapel which stands in the middle of the High Street.

The town hall dates from the 17th century and, according to local legend, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, although there is little evidence to support this claim. "West End", on the road to Hailey, is one of Britain's best preserved streets, and was the inspiration for the song "Just an Old Fashioned House in an Old Fashioned Street". Although it's called West End, it's actually on the northern side of the Town and gets its name from the days, many years ago, when it was not actually in Witney Parish but at the west end of the adjoining Hailey village church parish.


The small town has been famous for its blankets since the Middle Ages. 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. At one time, there were five blanket factories in the town but, with the closure of the largest blanket maker "Early's", a few years ago, the town's blanket industry has completely ceased to exist.

The '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.

The football team (WItney United) takes its nickname "The Blanketmen" for this reason.


For many years, Witney had a brewery — Clinch and Co., which was later taken over by Courage, who closed down the brewing operation. However, in recent years, on the site of the old brewery, brewing was revived by the establishment of a microbrewery now known as the Wychwood Brewery, whose most well-known beer, Hobgoblin, stands alongside their other speciality ales which can be found across Europe.


Witney has two museums — Cogges Manor Farm Museum, housed in the old manor house of Cogges, which is dedicated to farming and countryside history and the Witney and District Museum, which has many artifacts and documents covering the history of the town.


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, David Cameron. This clear party preference led to controversy when Shaun Woodward was appointed to replace the retiring Hurd as Conservative candidate. He was duly elected, but switched allegiance to the Labour Party on them winning the election. This resulted in Witney being a Labour seat until the next election, when Woodward stood as a Labour candidate in St Helens.


Nearby settlements include Abingdon, Bampton, Bicester, Burford, Carterton, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Cirencester, Faringdon, Oxford, Swindon, and Wantage.


Witney formerly had a railway station on a line that was intended to run from Oxford to Cheltenham, but which actually reached no further west than Fairford. Not being a through-line meant that the route could never rise above the status of a lengthy rambling branch, which in turn diminished its survivability prospects during the purges of the 1960s. It closed in 1962.

Local bus destinations from Witney can be found here [http://www.carlberry.co.uk/rfnshowl.asp?L1=WIT003] .


Witney has three secondary schools, — Henry Box School, Wood Green School and the Kings School (as part of the OCC).

The largest school in the town, The Henry Box School is next to Church Green, in the centre of Witney. It has been granted Specialist School status for Modern Languages. Having been the first school in Oxfordshire to be officially recognised by the DfES as a "High Performing Specialist School", Henry Box was awarded a second specialism from 2006; Science/Maths was chosen. [http://www.henrybox.oxon.sch.uk/specstatus/index.html]

Wood Green School is situated at the top of Woodstock Road, and was granted Specialist School status for Visual and Performing Arts in 2005. [http://www.woodgreen.oxon.sch.uk/pdfs/prospectus&inserts.pdf]

As well as the two county secondary schools, Witney has the Springfield county Special senior and junior schools. There are also a number of primary schools in Witney. These schools, along with some from outlying villages form the Witney schools partnership.

There is also the Witney campus of [http://www.abingdon-witney.ac.uk/ The Abingdon and Witney College] .


Witney is twinned with:
*flagicon|Germany Unterhaching, Germany
*flagicon|France Le Touquet, France

Witney Rugby Football Club

Located just outside witney on Hailey Road, Wintey RFC is a successful developing Rugby club, recently being awarded rugby club of the year. Run mainly by Dave Wicks the club itself is open most evening with teams training. There are 5 senior teams with the 1st xv currently competing in the Southern counties north League. Women's rugby is very popular too; the main women's team 'the angels' are one of the top teams in oxfordshire. Mini rugby also take place at Witney RFC. Mini Rugby was started at Witney in 1983-84. Mini and Junior rugby has become very popular after the world cup in 2003. Witney saw a huge increase in numbers and now you can expect hundreds aged 5-17 training or playing on Sunday mornings.


In July 2007 Witney saw its worst flooding in over 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 causing severe traffic problems.

An estimated 200 properties were flooded in the centre of Witney, with areas around Bridge Street, Mill Street and West End the worst affected. The new and incomplete housing development Aquarius also suffered substantial flooding.

David Cameron, Member of Parliament for Witney, visited the town to see the damage for himself.

Flooding in 2008 also resulted in the death of a 17 year old resident, who drowned in a culvert.

Famous people

Famous people associated with Witney include:

* David Cameron Conservative Leader, Member of Parliament (MP) representing Witney in Parliament
* Andrew Caton, the Swindon Town player was born in Witney and attended Henry Box school
* Simon King. Footballer, born in Witney and attended Henry Box
* Alan Dapre, writer on Children's TV shows: Brum, Boohbah, Blips & Tronji
* Douglas Hurd, ex-conservative MP for Witney
* Martin Jones, concerto pianist
* Graham Leonard, 130th Bishop of London, subsequently Prelate of Honour
* Robert Llewellyn, Red Dwarf actor, author; he attended Henry Box school but was expelled
* Andrew Logan, artist born in Witney.
* Gugu Mbatha-Raw, a TV actress, who attended Henry Box School.
* Shaun Woodward, Member of Parliament ex-Conservative then Labour MP for Witney, then MP for St Helens South

ee also

* West Oxfordshire District


External links

* [http://www.witney.net/ Witney] — the largest Witney-related website, including Witney attractions, history, accommodation and photographs
* [http://www.witney.net/floods Witney flood gallery] - Photos of the Witney flooding.
* [http://www.witneyphotos.com Witney Photos] - Photos of Witney and the surrounding area.
* [http://www.witneypedia.org/ Witneypedia] — Human edited Witney website similar in operation to Wikipedia
* [http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/WIL_YAK/WITNEY.html Witney] — 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
* [http://www.witneyblanketstory.org.uk/ Witney Blanket Story] - comprehensive site about the Witney blanket industry
* [http://www.witneyrfc.co.uk/ Witney Rugby Football Club] - news and information about Witney RFC
* [http://www.witneywebcam.co.uk Witney WebCam] Witney WebCam
* [http://www.witneyforum.net Witney Forum] Witney forum

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