Newbury is the principal town in the west of the county, and is a historic market town. Thatcham is a dormitory town some three miles to the east, with little obvious boundary between the two towns.
Newbury has a population of about 35,000 and has become something of a booming company town recently as it houses the world headquarters of Vodafone, a major mobile phone operator with operations in many countries.
Newbury also attracted a lot of national and international coverage in the 1980s when it was the scene of the Greenham Common Peace camp in protest at the stationing of nuclear armed cruise missiles at a nearby air base, and in the 1990s when it hosted perhaps the most famous road protest against the Newbury bypass. The vast majority of the population probably did not appreciate either campaign.
Visitors may hear both the terms ‘Newbury District’ and ‘West Berkshire’ in use; these are effectively synonymous and refer to the town of Newbury and its surrounding rural area. They are also the old and new names for the local government which runs the area that includes Newbury and Thatcham.
Newbury and Thatcham have rail stations on the main line from London to Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance. Some through trains between those cities stop at Newbury Station, but these are relatively infrequent. Local trains stop at both stations and run from Reading approximately every half hour taking some 20 to 30 minutes for the journey; some local trains start their journeys in London. From London, travel from London Paddington Station and, if necessary, change at Reading. Train times (from any station) can be found on the National Rail Planner or by calling 0845-748-4950 from anywhere in the UK.
- 1 Newbury Railway Station, Station Approach, Newbury RG14 5DG.
(updated May 2017)
- 1 Thatcham Railway Station, Station Rd, Thatcham RG19 4PP.
(updated May 2017)