Newbury answers the call for commuters
Newbury in Berkshire, on the edge of the Thames Valley 60 miles from London, was founded by Norman knights, for its convenient position on major road routes and by the Middle Ages had become one of the most important textile industry towns in England. During Georgian times, Newbury flourished as the main stopping point for tourists on their way to Bath for the Spa.
Now the town council has just unveiled a blue plaque to commemorate the first public mobile telephone call made in the UK, which took place on 1 January 1985 in the offices then occupied by Vodafone in the centre of the town. Nearby Highclere Castle is the setting for Julian Fellowes' award winning drama Downton Abbey.
Newbury attracts London families working at one of the many telecommunications companies based there, which have created thousands of jobs over the last 30 years, or those looking for an easy commute into London via Paddington or the M4.
The pedestrianised high street has lots of cafés and restaurants and a good mix of well-known high street names and local independents, including the award winning Camp Hopson department store and John Lewis At Home. Parkway is an open street development with more than 50 shops that has turned Newbury into one of the best places to shop in central southern England.
Newbury Market is open each Thursday and Saturday between 9am and 4pm with fruit and veg, free-range eggs, fresh olives and deli, bakery, flowers, plants and books. In Northbrook Street homemade cupcakes, vintage clothing and handmade glass jewellery are on offer. Newbury’s Artisan Market is held on the last Sunday of every month selling quality produce, original art, designer crafts and sizzling street food.
Newbury Vue Cinema is in The Kennet Centre while The Corn Exchange hosts live events and films all year round. It also hosts up to 10 dance companies every year and houses a cinema and theatre space as well as a 120-seat studio space. The Arlington Arts Centre is a premier arts and conferencing centre with all profits going to Mary Hare a national charity for deaf children.
Northcroft Leisure Centre offers a 25m swimming pool, 72m outdoor swimming pool, 63 station gym, sports hall, two squash courts, and an onsite café.
Newbury Racecourse is one of the UK’s leading venues hosting the well-known Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup. The Royal County of Berkshire Show is held annually in September at Newbury Showground. The Kennet and Avon canal sits at the heart of Newbury and plays a big part in the town's outdoor activities.
There are numerous excellent state schools in and around Newbury including The Downs School a co-educational comprehensive at Compton. Private schools include St Gabriel's, Horris Hill, Park House, Cheam School and Bradfield College. Further afield is Marlborough College.
A monthly season ticket to London costs £514.60 from Newbury (£5,360 annually) with the fastest journey time between Newbury and London Paddington 51 minutes. Fast trains to Reading take 19 minutes (£160.20 monthly, £1,668 annually); Winchester takes 1hr 16 minutes (£406.70 monthly, £4,236 annually).
London is a 50-minute train journey from Newbury to Paddington. The 60-mile drive into central London on the M4 takes about 90 minutes. Heathrow is 47 miles and takes 45 minutes. Gatwick is 82 miles and takes 90 minutes. Winchester is just over half an hour and you can get to Reading, Swindon and Oxford in around 45 minutes.
Here’s a round-up of great new homes to buy in Newbury:
|Newbury Racecourse (David Wilson Homes) – These luxury homes are in a unique setting in one of the UK's premier horseracing venues. Offering the best of town and country, the development is a stone’s throw from the historic market town of Newbury, only an hour away from the heart of London by train. Prices from £875,000. Find more about Newbury Racecourse from David Wilson Homes|
|Green Acres (Charles Church Developments) - A select development of just 16 homes in the charming downland village of Compton not far from Newbury. The three-, four- and five-bedroom homes are convenient for schools and village amenities and access to M4 and A34. Prices from £375,000. Find out more about Green Acres from Charles Church|
Harwood Place (Bloor Homes) - Close to Newbury and rail links to London, this development of two-, four- and five-bedroom properties in Woolton Hill village with its huge number of community amenities gives house buyers the best of all worlds. Prices range from £332,000 to £850,000. For more details visit www.bloorhomes.com ; 01635 896290
Greenham Gardens (Bloor Homes) – The Kintbury at Greenham Gardens is a beautiful two-bedroom home in a fantastic location close to Newbury town centre. It features a stylish open-plan kitchen, dining room, with French doors to the rear garden, and separate lounge. The master bedroom has its own en suite shower room. Priced at £325,000. For more details go to www.bloorhomes.com ; 01635 896290
Lockside Place (BDZ Holdings Ltd) - A contemporary development of eight, two double bedroom, two-bathroom apartments each offering two car parking spaces located at the heart of Newbury overlooking the Kennet and Avon Canal. There is an open-plan kitchen/living area, separate utility and WC, two double bedrooms each with ensuites. Priced from £323,000. Find out more at www.bdzholdings.com