infobox UK place

country = England
official_name= Thatcham
latitude= 51.4050

longitude= -1.2645

population= 22,824 (Parish, 2001)
civil_parish= Thatcham
unitary_england= West Berkshire
region= South East England

lieutenancy_england= Berkshire
constituency_westminster= Newbury
post_town= THATCHAM
postcode_district = RG18 and RG19
postcode_area= RG
dial_code= 01635
os_grid_reference= SU511676

Thatcham is a town in Berkshire, England 3 miles (5km) east of Newbury and 15 miles (24km) west of Reading. It covers about 8.75 square miles (23 km²) and has a population of 23,000 people (2003). This number has grown rapidly over the last few decades from 5,000 in 1951 and 7,500 in 1961.

It lies on the River Kennet, the Kennet and Avon Canal, the A4 road and the course of a Roman road. It is also served by Thatcham railway station on the line between Newbury and Reading. Employment is provided by a number of light industrial units .


The area has been occupied continuously from prehistoric times, and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest continuously inhabited place in England. The well-preserved remains of a Mesolithic village dating from 7700 BC has been found in its vicinity. There is also evidence of Bronze and Iron Age settlements and of a Roman town.

The name may have been derived from that of a Saxon chief called "Tace" (or perhaps "Tac" or "Tec"), who established a village in around 500. The settlement was known as "Taceham" - "ham" meaning village in Saxon. It is also possible that the name may have come from the Saxon "thaec" (thatch). Wherever it came from, the name "Taceham" persisted until after the Norman Conquest in 1066 before going through several minor changes until the current one was adopted in the sixteenth century.

The town had a period of great prosperity around 1304, when the Chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr on the A4, now called the Old Bluecoat School, was constructed. At this time the population was larger than Newbury's but declined as a result of the Black Death which decimated the area in 1348. There is a Norman parish church of St. Mary which was largely reconstructed in 1857. This is believed to be built on the same site as an earlier Saxon Church. It was also previously known as St. Luke's. A local attraction is the Nature Discovery Centre situated at Thatcham Lake, a flooded gravel quarry.

Thatcham ratings

To many people in the UK, the name "Thatcham" is most strongly associated with the approval ratings for car security systems issued by the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre near the town (see link below). For instance, "Thatcham Cat 1" (or just "Cat 1" is the approval for a combined car alarm and immobiliser, "Thatcham Cat 2" is for a standalone immobiliser and "Thatcham Cat 3" is for additional physical security devices such as steering wheel locks.

With vehicle crime escalating out of control in the late 1980s, the efforts of government and the British insurance industry led to the setting up of procedures to assess and improve the level of vehicle security provided by the vehicle manufacturers and from 'aftermarket' (that is, items fitted after the vehicle has left the production line) suppliers and installers.

The Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, or "Thatcham" as it is widely known (taken from its Berkshire location), was established in 1969 by British Insurers. It was given the job in 1992 of developing a set of guidelines aimed at improving the effectiveness and reliability of various forms of security devices, from steering wheel locks to audible car alarm systems.

Thatcham not only puts in place the "goal posts" in terms of the test guidelines and effectiveness each device (or vehicle) must be capable of achieving, it also carries out the actual testing of those devices and vehicles. This includes attack tests on the vehicle and laboratory tests on the vehicle security system's components. The attack tests include breaking into the vehicle through the boot, bonnet or doors, overcoming steering locks and trying to start the engine without the original vehicle keys. This results in a points score.

Thatcham's work is funded by charges made to the companies seeking to have their products tested and certified, and by the motor insurers. Its efforts were extended to include commercial vehicles in 1996/97 and motorcycles in 1999.

While best known for testing vehicle security systems, MIRRC also provides a large amount of the data that insurers use to define a car's insurance grouping.

Thatcham Car Security Categories and Installation CertificationThe simplest form of car security is the steering wheel lock. At best this provides a limited deterrent but the better ones have been categorised by Thatcham as Cat-3 devices (Category 3 - Mechanical Immobilisers). Wheel Locking Devices (locking wheel nuts/bolts) come under Category 4 (Cat-4).

Vehicle engine immobilisers are Cat-2 (Electronic/Electromechanical Immobilisers) and full alarm systems are Cat-1 (Electronic Alarm and Immobiliser combined).

As car security systems improved, the career thief found vehicles harder to steal and so moved towards theft using the vehicle's original keys stolen from homes and offices, briefcases and handbags. Vehicle tracking systems provide an effective way for vehicle recovery in the event of a theft and are categorised by Thatcham as Cat-5 devices.

To conform to these categories, the manufacturers are required to build their products to very stringent criteria. But with aftermarket devices, the product itself is only one half of the equation, with proven expert installation being a requirement.

Installation by a certified company must be proved. Unless these products are fitted by a certified installer, they are not recognised by the insurance companies. So even if you have a Cat-1, Cat-2 or Cat-5 device on your vehicle, you may find that your claim will fail if your car is broken into or stolen and you don't have the proper installation certificate.

Many alarm manufacturers put a small VSIB (Vehicle Systems Installation Board) certificate in the box. If these devices have been fitted by an unauthorised installer, the certificate will not have the proper embossed certified stamp and is thus worthless.

July 2007 flooding

In July 2007, Thatcham was flooded during a period of sustained heavy rain, during which 3 times the average July monthly rainfall hit the town in just 24 hours. While the rivers did not burst, the quantity of water flowing down the hills from Cold Ash and Bucklebury made many roads impassable and stranded hundreds of pupils at Kennet School on the last day of term. Many homes were completely flooded out in this period, with many being forced to move out.


The town is twinned with:
* Nideggen in Germany

Army Cadet Force

Thatcham has an Army Cadet unit known as 16 Platoon Thatcham, B Company, Berkshire ACF. The unit, like its Company is badged under 'The Rifles' light infantry. The unit parades on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 1930 to 2130. It is sited in the Kennet Heath estate which was previously an RLC base. The unit was there when the base was and has survived, but its future is unknown due to the council's need for houses, and the local residents who complain about the noise given off. However, the land has been and still is MoD land, and because the Army Cadet force is a major recruiting group for the Army it is very unlikely that it will be removed.

Update 2008

In 2006 the land was sold by the MOD to West Berkshire Council. The base and buildings were demolished and it is now the site of an large housing estate known as Kennet Heath.

ee also

* HMS Thatcham, a Ham class minesweeper

External links

* [ Thatcham Historical Society]
* [ Old Bluecoat School]
* [ Thatcham Town Council]
* [ Thatcham Vision]
* [ The Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre]
* [ Berkshire Army Cadet Force]
* [ Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre]
* [ Thatcham U3A]

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