Charlbury – Then and Now is an interesting new book by long-term resident Dr Geoffrey Walton, published by Down Stone Books and available locally. The book offers a detailed and fascinating exploration of the fabric and buildings of Charlbury from the early 1970s to the present day.
The book records – and explores reasons for – many of the changes visited upon Charlbury since the arrival of the author in the mid 1970s.
Copiously illustrated, Charlbury – Then and Now includes aerial view photos, a town map and a particular focus, using 10 interesting iconic pictures in the Foreword, showing a little of what was happening before and after the author came to the town. These include views from the church tower looking East, the old primary school, and indeed the cover image of animals being driven the “wrong way” along Market Street.
Of particular interest to the Local History enthusiast are the two sections which make up the substance of the author’s detailed research.
The first of these sections is a chapter which presents a logical tour of the town, sector-by-sector, with recent photographs of its many and various buildings. These currently might be shops, offices, pubs, or residential properties inter alia. Each building is described with its current use and the changes of use – and often, descriptions of the personalities involved – over time. It forms the substance of the “Now” of Charlbury.
The second of these sections of Local History interest is in a substantial appendix, which contains over 70 historic (pre-2020s) photographs which further illustrate the changes which have happened in the town. These photographs show mainly shops and businesses that since being closed and the buildings re-purposed. Among them are pictures of individual residents. And so here we have the “Then” of Charlbury, copiously illustrated.
By his own admission the author presents the book as a personal view of the main drivers of the developments illustrated in these two sections. He occasionally refers to his discussions of these drivers as a “polemic” and as such, readers can expect some forthright views which are certainly part of the debate around the benefits and drawbacks around national and local decision-making processes.
The book is on sale in Charlbury at Cotswold Frames (opposite the museum), at Chadlington Quality Foods in Chadlington and at Jaffe and Neal in Chipping Norton. It can be purchased direct from the author ( please Contact Us for details). The price is £15.