Didcot is 'most normal town in England', researchers claim

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Didcot Power StationImage source, Hedley Thorne
Image caption,
The cooling towers of Didcot Power Station are part of the town's skyline

Didcot is an unassuming place, perhaps best known for its power and railway stations, but apparently it represents England more than any other.

The Oxfordshire town has been crowned the most normal in the country by a group of number-crunching statisticians.

Ten of its streets were a particularly close match to the national average lifestyle, opinions and experiences.

Mayor Steve Connel called the findings "tremendous".

Didcot came closest to the statistical median when taking into account things like age, ethnicity, marital status, property ownership, employment, Euroscepticism, the 2015 Election vote share, income, and house prices.

The study was inspired by the 1947 James Stewart movie Magic Town, in which a pollster finds a place he believes perfectly represents national opinion.

Image source, Jaggery
Image caption,
If you live in Hagbourne Road in Didcot you're probably normal

Top 5 most normal places in England

1. Didcot, Oxfordshire

2. Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire

3. Bath Road area, Worcester

4. Southwick, West Sussex

5. East Leake, Nottinghamshire

Image source, P L Chadwick
Image caption,
Bath Road, Worcester: Very normal

Didcot's most recognisable feature is the coal-fired Didcot A Power Station, which was turned off in 2013 after 43 years in service.

Part of its boiler house collapsed in February last year, killing four workers.

Several main line services utilise Didcot Parkway Station, while the nearby Didcot Railway Centre museum has featured in major Hollywood films.

Didcot is also surrounded by science parks and developments, though Mr Connel said the streets studied were primarily in the older part of the town.

He said: "We have a very diverse group within Didcot. We have a large retired population, working professionals who commute, a scientific community, and a large grass roots working community.

"You can look at every aspect of British life and it's there somewhere within Didcot, and that's probably why we've been named the most normal town - statistically anyway."

He described residents as "people who work hard, get on with their lives, and do everything they can to advance their community, and if the spirit represented in Didcot is considered normal across Britain, then I think we're in tremendous shape".

Media caption,

'Most normal town' residents react to news

Extraordinary facts about an ordinary town

  • William Bradbery (1776 - 1860) was born in Didcot and was the first person in England to cultivate and sell watercress
  • Other notable people from the town include comedian Matt Richardson and artist Rodney Gladwell (1928 - 1979).
  • Ricky Gervais' David Brent also mentions Didcot in his song Lady Gypsy
  • Almost as noteworthy, Radiohead recorded some of OK Computer in a converted Didcot shed called Canned Applause
  • Many films have been shot at Didcot Railway Centre, including Anna Karenina, The Elephant Man, and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Jeanette Howse, who organises street fairs in the town, and works at Tourism South East, said the findings showed that Didcot was a "balanced" town.

"It's also a very vibrant town with lots going on," she added.

"A shopping centre which is about to be expanded and is thriving, a railway centre celebrating 50 years this year, lots of clubs, groups and activities... now everyone will want to live here."

Marc Warner, chief executive of ASI Data Science, said: "Most people live in a bubble whereby their experiences in life are heavily influenced by the area they live in and the people they interact with.

"Our study allows researchers and decision makers to better understand a 'normal' life experience."

Data was gathered from the Office for National Statistics and the 2011 Census records. It used a sample of 1,700 people from each area.

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