Back to the future for Park Centre’s new name
Published on 7 June 2023
Following our Park wide consultations, work with our consultant team and a naming workshop… Signal Yard is the proposed new name for Park Centre – a place to relax, socialise, eat and drink.
The name Signal Yard is a nod to the past, but also a strong signal to the present and future of Milton Park.
A signal to the past
In the 1840s, railway tracks for the Great Western Main Line were built through the parish, connecting London and Reading to Bristol. This cemented Didcot as a lynchpin between London, Oxford and the South West – a crucial junction for logistics, goods and travel.
Ever since, the area has been synonymous with trains and industry – some of the soon-to-be Signal Yard buildings reminded the Milton Park team of railway carriages, as they are adjacent to the Great Western Railway line.
Not far from the present roundabout with the A34 there was an old signal box and level crossing (instead of the current day bridge) which played a key role in the moving of goods and ultimately, helped to power the second industrial revolution.
During WW1 (1914-18), Milton was requisitioned as the site for a storage depot for the Royal Air Force in 1916 and during the Second World War, Army and RAF ordnance units were built. The airmen’s billets and mess – a place to relax, rest and refuel – is now known as 11 Park House. Once again, this made Didcot station an important centre, but this time, for military logistics.
The Milton depot remained in military use until 1963 and was auctioned off to become the Milton Trading Estate.
A signal to the present
From a rural military depot and out of town trading estate, to a science, business and technology community… the Park has certainly undergone a big transformation in the intervening years.
Milton Park is now known for its inspiring and innovative companies and acts as one giant incubator due to its single ownership.
Signals are an important part of everyday life from a smile to a simple handshake. Signals also are the backbone of innovation, communicating with each other through brain signals with both analogue and digital signals producing new thoughts and ideas.
A signal to the future
A key part of the 2040 Vision is to create ‘spatial alchemy’ at Milton Park, sparking innovation through chance encounters and collaboration – a place where life and work connect.
We plan to achieve this at Signal Yard by:
- Extending the current amenity provision in buildings 5 and 6 to include buildings 7-10
- Removing the tent to increase the light to allow for planting and to stop the wind tunnel effect
- Increasing green space, undercover seating and creating an outdoor event space
- Improving the paths and walkways in and around Signal Yard
- Creating a place where people to come together at lunchtimes and into the evenings
Sharon Wallace, Brand Director at Object Space Place, who is part of the design and brand team for Signal Yard, said:
“The name Signal Yard came from wanting to create a unique and informal place that sits at the very heart of Milton Park. Signals are all around us in daily life and in nature and we love how diverse they can be – whether that’s as means of communication, a call to action, a way of giving and receiving information. We felt that this was very apt for the new ‘hub’ of Milton Park.
“It’ll be a place where collaboration and social connection is promoted – a place to hang out on a daily basis and gather for events. A Yard takes away any formality associated with a central hub and truly captures the independent spirit that we are instilling here.”