Witney grew up as the result of deliberate planning on the part of successive Bishops of Winchester, a spacious, wedge-shaped market area being laid out parallel to the river Windrush. The whole area was surrounded by a drainage ditch known as Emma's Dyke. By the end of the Middle Ages it had grown into a populous market town with a developing blanket industry, and 1800 there were five textile mills in and around the town. In 1951 Smiths Industries established a large factory on Witney Aerodrome, so the local economy was no longer dependent upon the woollen industry. But the town remained famous as a centre of the blanket manufacturing industry until the closure of the last mill in 2002. This fully illustrated narrative brings the fascinating history of Witney to life and will be enjoyed by all those keen to know this Cotswold town a little better.
Stanley C. Jenkins, who was educated at Witney Grammar School, the University of Lancaster and the University of Leicester, has written over 20 books and some 750 articles on local, transport and regional history. Having worked as an English Language teacher at Oxford Air Training School for several years, he returned to Leicester University to retrain as a museum curator in 1986, and was subsequently employed by English Heritage as the Regional Curator for South Western England. He is Curatorial Advisor to the Witney & District Museum, and is also working as a curator for the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust, which is at present building a military museum at Woodstock.