St John the Evangelist parish church
|Population||15,769 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|• London||72.4 miles (116.5 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Website||Carterton Community Website|
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.
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 Orléans and the land passed to the Hungerford family. During the medieval 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 centre of Europe. In the 1770s the land was acquired by the Duke of Marlborough.
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.
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.
Carterton's later growth was closely related to the construction in 1937 of the nearby RAF Brize Norton airbase. This development profoundly altered the settlement's character as Brize Norton became the Royal Air Force's largest operating base. 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. 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. 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. A reduced scheme for the town centre was launched in 1975 after repeated delays and controversy, and Upavon Way was opened soon after.
By 1976 over 2,000 houses had been built since the 1960s, those on the large 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.
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. 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.
The grandfather of Theo Walcott, Windell "Joe" Walcott (1926-2018), was council chairman between 2002 and 2006 and mayor of Carterton from 2000 to 2002. He was awarded an MBE in 2006 for his services to the community in Carterton and West Oxfordshire.
Carterton has five primary schools:
St. John the Evangelist and St. Joseph's are voluntary controlled schools. Carterton Community College is the town's secondary school.
Carterton has shops, four public houses. There is a public lending library in the town centre. it also has local shops as well as an Asda, Morrisons and Aldi.
Carterton has a Non-League football team Carterton F.C. who play at Kilkenny Lane. There is also a squash club, and a bowls club.