Carterton, Oxfordshire

Carterton is the second-largest town in West Oxfordshire and is 2 miles (3 km) south of the A40 road and 4 miles (6.4 km) south-west of Witney. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 15,769.[1]


St John the Evangelist parish church
Location within Oxfordshire
Population15,769 (2011 Census)
OS grid referenceSP2806
 London72.4 miles (116.5 km)
Civil parish
  • Carterton
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townCarterton
Postcode districtOX18
Dialling code01993
PoliceThames Valley
AmbulanceSouth Central
EU ParliamentSouth East England
UK Parliament
WebsiteCarterton Community Website


Much of what is now the northern part of the town was held by the Moleyns family from at least 1369, but in 1429 William Lord Moleyns was killed at the siege of Orleans and the land passed to the Hungerford family.[2] During the mediaeval period the main road through Carterton was one of the most important in the country, taking trains of packhorses laden with Cotswold wool over Radcot Bridge and on to Southampton for export to the weaving centres of Europe.[2]

In the 1770s the land was acquired by the Duke of Marlborough.[2]

The pattern of the present settlement dates from 1894 when part of the estate was sold to Homesteads Limited whose director was William Carter. The land was divided into plots of 6 acres and sold for £20 an acre with bungalows costing from £120. Many of the settlers were retired soldiers and people moving from the towns. Carterton soon made its name in the market gardening world. Black grapes from Frenchester Nurseries and the famous Carterton tomatoes were sold at Covent Garden Market.[2]

Carterton, which by the late 20th century was one of the largest towns in Oxfordshire, was founded soon after 1900 as a colony of smallholders, on agricultural land in the northern part of Black Bourton parish. The founder was William Carter of Branksome (Dorset), a speculator who, through his company Homesteads Ltd of London, bought estates in several counties, in order to establish smallholdings and attract people back to the land. In Oxfordshire he acquired from W. C. Arkell, in 1900, the 740-a. Rock farm north of Black Bourton village, part of an estate sold by the duke of Marlborough in 1894. By late 1902 there were 16 houses, and the following year the new settlement, already called Carterton, was included in a local trades directory.

Development from the Second World War

Carterton's later growth was closely related to the expansion of Brize Norton airbase, and profoundly altered the settlement's character. A small group of substantial two-storey houses for RAF personnel, called Brizewood, was built east of Swinbrook Road about 1938, and in the 1950s was expanded with uniform bungalows for American servicemen. By 1953 Carterton was a "busy and expanding village", and its rapid population increase was creating severe housing problems: in 1962 the plight of significant numbers of caravan dwellers prompted an article in the Lancet, though many residents took exception to the town's portrayal, and denied that the picture was typical. By then there were claimed to be more civilians than servicemen living in mobile homes, some of them single women, and the "shack-like houses of the early settlers", their "meagre appearance [bearing] eloquen" elsewhere on the "busy village main street". A few scattered "Robin" hangars, hastily built during the Second World War to allow aircraft to be housed away from the airfield itself, were converted to other uses during the same period, one on Alvescot Road surviving in the early 21st century as part of a motor repair garage.

In 1967 an ambitious scheme was launched for controlled expansion and for regeneration of the town centre, with a ring road (Upavon Way) to serve new housing, to divert traffic from the centre, and to contain future expansion. New RAF housing was to provide over 1,450 dwellings and private enterprise another 300, while local authorities were to provide shops and other much needed facilities around the central crossroads. By 1976 over 2,000 houses had been built since the 1960s, those on the large RAF estates in the north-east mostly of uniform appearance with concrete exteriors, and 850 more were planned. Settlement by then spilled over the parish boundary into Brize Norton, though on the north there was no expansion beyond the parish boundary, and expansion south of Milestone Road was constrained by the airfield perimeter. A large transit hotel within the airfield precinct was built by the RAF in 1970 to serve military personnel and their families. The number of people in mobile homes still caused controversy in 1980, when there were almost 250 permanent or temporary pitches distributed among several sites, and in the early 1980s some sites were closed and replaced by council houses. Expansion in the town's eastern part, chiefly for housing, continued in the mid 1980s.

A reduced scheme for the town centre was launched in 1975 after repeated delays and controversy, and Upavon Way was opened soon after. By 1997 the town centre had been transformed: shops in a variety of styles lined the four broad main streets, interspersed with a few older buildings such as the Beehive Hotel and the former Emporium, and the crossroads was dominated by a tall domed tower built in 1996, surmounting new shops and offices. A large Co-operative Society supermarket of flamboyant design, on the site of the earlier building on Black Bourton Road, was erected in 1998, and in 2000 work began on a major expansion programme on the town's eastern edge, to include another 1,200 houses, a shopping centre, leisure facilities, and a new access road. Rock Farm and its converted agricultural buildings, all stone-built, survived as a small group at the intersection of Lawton and Arkell Avenues, with William Wilkinson's pair of model labourers' cottages set back from the Alvescot road between modern housing. A variety of early settlers' houses also survived scattered among the modern buildings, though by 2004 several had been recently demolished or were semiderelict and under threat from developers, prompting mounting local controversy.

Public buildings and social provision

Early institutional buildings included a Methodist chapel (1907), a Roman Catholic church (1914), an Anglican mission church (c. 1915), and a school (1928), all initially on Burford Road. A post office was opened south of Brize Norton Road before 1907, moving in the 1920s to a single-storey corrugated-iron building at the crossroads, later to premises on Black Bourton Road, and in the 1980s to Brize Norton Road. It became a money order and telegraph office about 1930. In 1970 another post office opened in the town's north-eastern part, but the postal service was thought inadequate and there were repeated requests for a Crown Post Office. A branch of the London and Midland (later Midland) Bank opened before 1924, and a branch of Barclays Bank before 1928;, both were still open in the 1990s. A two-storey police house was built north-east of the crossroads around 1916 on land owned by Oxfordshire County Council, and Carterton had a resident police constable thereafter. In the late 1960s a new police station was built on Burford Road for a staff of eight, together with six police houses, and the original police house was demolished. A war memorial erected at the crossroads about 1920 was moved to the new town hall on Alvescot Road in the early 1980s.

The Emporium included an upstairs room for meetings and social events, and a large, corrugated-iron Women's Institute hall on Brize Norton Road, erected in 1926 and still in use in 2004, hosted lectures, meetings, and dances. (fn. 56) A reading room mentioned in 1917 was succeeded by a small library also in part of the former Emporium. (fn. 57) Refreshment rooms were mentioned in 1924, the Beehive Hotel on Burford Road was opened in 1932, and the Golden Eagle (renamed the Olde Aviator in 1996) was opened in the former Emporium in 1954. Land for a recreation ground north of Alvescot Road was given by Carter in 1906, and football, cricket, tennis, and bowls clubs were formed around 1920, together with a choral society. From 1904 to the 1920s there was a resident physician, and in 1928 a solicitor visited once a week.

After the Second World War social and leisure provision failed to keep pace with Carterton's rapid expansion: in 1962 there was a midwife but no doctor, chemist, or health visitor, (fn. 61) and in the mid 1970s, when there were only three public houses and wholly inadequate shops, public spaces, and playing fields, Carterton was dismissed by one resident as not a town but a "collection of people with no facilities". (fn. 62) New buildings erected between 1967 and the 1980s, besides schools, included a social centre north of Alvescot Road, built in 1968 on land given two years earlier for a village hall, a health centre, and, in 1986, a branch library. A swimming pool was built east of Swinbrook Road in 1974, and in 1981 a football club house was built between Swinbrook and Shilton Roads. (fn. 63) A youth centre was established in Allandale House by the county council about 1968, and accommodated several community groups in the late 1970s. (fn. 64) A town hall was built south of Alvescot Road in 1982–3 following adoption of town status a few years earlier, and a new leisure centre and swimming pool was opened in 2003, though more sports and leisure facilities were still felt to be needed.

¶By the late 1970s such initiatives were said to be fostering an increased sense of communal identity. An annual carnival and outdoor Christmas festivities were attended by several thousand, and annual St George's day celebrations were introduced in 1985. (fn. 67) Relations between civilians and the RAF, on which the town continued to depend economically, remained less close, encouraging perceptions of two separate communities. Nevertheless there were occasional joint activities and some joint societies, the RAF allowing civilians to use some of its leisure and shopping facilities, and cooperating with the chamber of commerce.

In summer 1974 an outdoor swimming pool opened in Swinbrook Road; it closed in summer 2003 as it was uneconomic and the new leisure Centre was to open in November 2003.

Construction work on RAF Brize Norton began in 1935. Wartime saw the rapid growth of the base. An air raid destroyed 46 aircraft; the remainder were then dispersed round the village and one hangar which is now an Aldi supermarket on the Alvescot Road. From 1950 to 1965 the camp was to be the home of the USAF bomber wings. The RAF returned in 1965 and undertook a large building programme, making RAF Brize Norton its main air transport base in the country.[2]

With the growth of the village, the small mission church at the central crossroads was replaced in 1963 by the church of St John the Evangelist. The link with the mother church of St. Mary's at Black Bourton was kept alive by the donation of one of the bells from the tower. This was made by H. Knight of Reading and is dated 1619.[2]

In the first decade of the 21st century, the new Shilton Park development in Northeast Carterton was built, providing a mix of housing for private ownership and social letting. The new St. John's Church of England primary school has been built at Shilton Park and construction of a local shopping centre is now complete.

The oldest school is Carterton Primary School which has been in Burford Road since 1926 and the Carterton Community College opened in 1971

Since the 1980s the North east side of Carterton has been developed with three new housing estates, Glenmore park, Shilton Park and Swinbrook Park of which development commenced in 2014 and will be completed in 2019.

Military repatriations

A new Memorial Garden has been built near the town to continue the public mourning seen at Royal Wootton Bassett as military repatriations for dead service personnel have now been routed to Brize Norton.[3]


Carterton has five primary schools:

  • Carterton Primary School,[4]
  • Edith Moorhouse Primary School,[5]
  • The Gateway Primary School,[6]
  • St John the Evangelist Church of England Primary School[7] and
  • St Joseph's Catholic Primary School.[8]

St. John the Evangelist and St. Joseph's are voluntary controlled schools.

Carterton Community College is the town's secondary school.[9]


Carterton has three public houses:

The Siege Of Orleans, The Golden Eagle[10] and the Beehive.[11]

Carterton bowls club

Carterton has 7 hairdressers in the town

There is a public lending library in the town centre.[12]

Sport and leisure

Carterton has a Non-League football team Carterton F.C. who play at Kilkenny Lane.

Carterton has a squash club, with two heated courts, changing rooms and a bar/social area.


There are a number of shops, and supermarket chains Asda, Morrisons and Aldi have stores with car parking in the town centre. There are plans to improve and expand the retail space in the centre and create more car parking. As a result, new chains such as The Original Factory Shop have recently opened in the town. West Oxfordshire Retail Park and a new business park are being built in the town. The Countryside Agency has awarded Carterton Beacon Status for the work that the Fast Forward team is undertaking on the regeneration of the town centre.


The town of Carterton has a varied mix of housing. The new development of Shilton Park has added many more houses to the current stock.

Carterton has three housing estates. Shilton Park is the biggest which was built on an old burial ground which was rumoured to be strewn with people who were buried alive having contracted scurvy in the 16th century. Remains were found early on in the excavation process.


The grandfather of Theo Walcott was the boi of Carterton from 2001–2004. Windell "Joe" Walcott was awarded an MBE in 2006 for his services to the community in Carterton and West Oxfordshire.

Nearby places




Black Bourton







Further reading

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