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Things to do in Gaydon, Warwickshire

Lane by Gaydon Church
Lane by St Giles Church © David Stowell [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The village of Gaydon in Warwickshire is 10 miles south east of Leamington Spa and in 2001 it had a population of just 376 residents.

It is conveniently close to the M40, making it a popular place for London commuters to live. Plans to build a service station at Gaydon were scrapped just before the motorway was completed.

Gaydon Village Hall
Village Hall © Highways Agency via Flickr

During World War II, Gaydon was the location for a large RAF base just outside the village. It was where a number of Vulcan, Victor and Valiant bombers were stationed.

After the war was over, the airfield was used for operational bombers. After 1965 it was used for training squadrons until it closed in 1974.

The airfield was bought by British Leyland and it was used as a testing ground for its cars. Eventually it developed into the Gaydon Centre, home of Land Rover's headquarters and design centre.

Gaydon Motor Heritage Centre
Gaydon Motor Heritage Centre © Peter Black via Flickr

The Heritage Motor Centre was also started there. It has become a museum containing the world's most comprehensive collection of historic British cars.

St Giles Church
St Giles Church © Highways Agency via Flickr

The exclusive Aston Martin Lagonda car manufacturer also based its plant at Gaydon and occasionally one of their luxury sports cars can be seen being road tested.

Another interesting building near Gaydon is the National Archive of the British Film Institute.

It took over a disused military base to store its highly flammable nitrate film elements.

It is now the largest archive of film and television in the world, but is not open to the general public.

Present Day Gaydon

Gaydon stands on the crossroads of two minor roads.

The Kineton to Southam road runs north east-south west and is crossed by the Warwick to Banbury road, the B4100.

The Gaydon Inn Gaydon
The Gaydon Inn © Highways Agency via Flickr

The local Gaydon Inn stands right on the crossroads and the rest of the village is scattered to the south in a loop.

The inn was a notorious haunt of highwaymen in the 18th century.

The village also has another pub called the Malt Shovel.

Currently the village, under the guidance of the parish council, is re-establishing its historic roots and community spirit. This includes plans to revive the local allotments nad all the community feeling that goes with them.

The village has also established a local shop to serve the community with fresh local produce and necessities. It is staffed by volunteers and all profits are being ploughed back into the community.

Gaydon Village
Gaydon Village © David Stowell [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the major employers in the area is the Jaguar Land Rover headquarters and plant. Aston Martin also has its headquarters at the same site.

Converted Barns Gaydon
Converted Barns © Colin Craig [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Things to Do Around Gaydon

The Heritage Motor Centre is next door to the Land Rover factory and houses the largest collection of British vehicles in the world.

1908 Austin 100hp
1908 Austin 100hp © David Merrett via Flickr

Each car charts the progress of the automobile industry from the early 20th century to the present day. The museum offers free guided tours and is suitable for all ages.

The National Herb Centre is on the road to Banbury and makes a pleasant place to visit. As well as having an unusual plant centre it also has a gift shop, café/deli, children's play area and a nature trail.

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