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Situated on an exciting science and innovation campus nestled in the countryside between Oxford and Newbury, Harwell is a large village and civil parish in the county of Oxfordshire (formerly in Berkshire). It lies near The Ridgeway long-distance footpath, halfway between Abingdon, Oxfordshire and Newbury, Berkshire and two miles from Didcot.

Before 1946, Harwell was probably best known for its cherry orchards. In 1937, an airfield was built between Harwell and Chilton and named RAF Harwell. The airfield was used during World War II to launch glider-borne troops for the Normandy invasion.

In 1946, this airfield was taken over to become the new Atomic Energy Research Establishment, the main centre for atomic energy research in the UK, and became known as Harwell Laboratory. It was the site of Europe's first nuclear reactor in 1946, and once housed five nuclear reactors, all of which have been shut down. Two have been completely dismantled, and it is anticipated that the other three will be decommissioned by 2022.

Other parts of the airfield were later used for other scientific organizations, including the Science and Technology Facilities Council's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory which runs the ISIS neutron source and is part of the Diamond Light Source synchrotron joint venture. The Atomic Energy Research Establishment part of the airfield site is now officially called "Harwell International Business Centre"; locally it is referred to as the "Site". The former airfield site as a whole is now known as the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.