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Thatcham is a town in Berkshire, Englandmarker 3 miles (5 km) east of Newburymarker and 15 miles (24 km) west of Readingmarker. It covers about 8.75 square miles (23 kmĀ²) 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 Kennetmarker, the Kennet and Avon Canalmarker, the A4 roadmarker and the course of a Roman road. It is also served by Thatcham railway stationmarker on the line between Newbury and Reading. Employment is provided by a number of light industrial units .


The area has evidence of occupation dating from prehistoric times and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest continuously inhabited place in Britain. The well-preserved remains of a Mesolithic village dating from 7,700 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 16th 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 has one of the most important archaeological sites from the Iron Age. A site at Harts Hill, excavated in 2003 by Cotswoldmarker Archaeology, found iron working taking place. When carbon dating was performed, it was found to date to 1,000 BC, 250 years before the Iron Age was suppose to have started.

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.

July 2007 flooding

On July 23, 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 Ashmarker and Buckleburymarker made many roads impassable and stranded hundreds of pupils at Kennet Schoolmarker who tried to wade with rope across Stoney Lane with minor damage at Trinity Schoolmarker on the last day of term. Many homes were completely flooded out in this period, with many being forced to move out into mobile homes.


The Broadway forms part of the town centre
The town is twinned with:

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