Abingdon-on-Thames, known just as Abingdon between 1974 and 2012, is a historic market town and civil parish in the ceremonial county of Oxfordshire, England, on the River Thames. Historically the county town of Berkshire, since 1974 Abingdon has been administered by the Vale of White Horse district within Oxfordshire.
The area was occupied from the early to middle Iron Age and the remains of a late Iron Age and Roman defensive enclosure lies below the town centre. Abingdon Abbey was founded around 676, giving its name to the emerging town. In the 13th and 14th centuries, Abingdon was an agricultural centre with an extensive trade in wool, alongside weaving and the manufacture of clothing. Charters for the holding of markets and fairs were granted by various monarchs, from Edward I to George II. The town survived the dissolution of the abbey in 1538, and by the 18th and 19th centuries, with the building of Abingdon Lock in 1790, and Wilts & Berks Canal in 1810, was a key link between major industrial centres such as Bristol, London, Birmingham and the Black Country. A voluntary trust is now working to restore and re-open The Wilts & Berks Canal.
Abingdon is near several major scientific employers: the UKAEA at Culham (including the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion research project), Harwell Laboratory, the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the new Diamond Light Source synchrotron, which is the largest UK-funded scientific facility to be built for over 40 years. Many inhabitants work in Oxford or commute by rail to London, from nearby Didcot. The Army now occupies Dalton Barracks, which, prior to 1993, was the Royal Air Force station RAF Abingdon.
Abingdon has a business park which has offices for several local, national and international companies including, until recently, Vodafone (acquired as part of its takeover of Mannesmann in 2000) and Northern Rock bank. The Science Park includes the global headquarters of Sophos, an anti-virus company. RM, an educational computing supplier, with their HQ in nearby Milton Park. Penlon Ltd, a medical equipment company, have their premises on the outskirts of Abingdon. Another major employer is the British head office of the German appliance company Miele.
The headquarters of the MG Car Club, founded in 1930, is at 11 & 12 Cemetery Road, next to the old factory offices. The rock band Radiohead formed in 1985 when studying at Abingdon School. A craft brewery, Loose Cannon is situated in the town at the Drayton Road Industrial Estate and sells its beers locally, including on draught at some local pubs.
Abingdon has a population of over 33,130 people.