Living in Basingstoke
What is life like in Basingstoke?
Basingstoke is a town with plenty of history and character, with its earliest records dating back as far as a mention in the Domesday Book.
It is positioned on the River Loddon in north Hampshire, around 50 miles from London. In recent years, the town has become a business hub and is today home to several major companies, including Sun Life Canada and the AA. This has led to some excellent employment opportunities for the people living in the local area.
Basingstoke has undergone significant redevelopment since the turn of the century and is now much more than the traditional market town it once was.
Museums, theatres, nightclubs and shops all add to the above average quality of life enjoyed in Basingstoke. Life is relaxed and there are many facilities to be enjoyed, but there is also plenty of trade and industry to satisfy the ambitions of professionals.
The cloth, malting and brewing industries have all played an important part in the development of Basingstoke over several centuries. They allowed the population to grow as people were drawn to the area to work.
In 1839, the arrival of a railway from London marked major progress in the town's infrastructure and opened it up to new people.
World War II was a particularly bad time for Basingstoke, with the area badly damaged in bomb attacks. As a result of this, a major rebuilding job had to be carried out in the subsequent years and much of the architecture created in the 1950s and 1960s still stands.
Liz Hurley is arguably the most famous person to be born in Basingstoke, where she lived in her early years before going on to find fame in the world of film. Manchester United and England star Tom Cleverley is another who is proud to call the north Hampshire town home.
Sarah Ferguson, the former wife of Prince Andrew, was raised in the nearby town of Dummer, and Channel 4 news correspondent Alex Thompson was also born in Basingstoke.
Entertainment, sport and days out
The town centre houses a number of exciting attractions and facilities, largely based around Top of the Town and Festival Place.
These include the Willis Museum, which documents town and country life through the ages. The Haymarket Theatre is another venue that will excite all culture vultures in Basingstoke, offering a range of productions and events.
Among the other entertainment hotspots in Basingstoke are The Anvil, which puts on a selection of concerts, and the Aquadrome, where a number of activities can be enjoyed. These include ice skating, swimming and bowling, while there is also a cinema.
Basingstoke is a sporty town with its own football, rugby and hockey clubs and the Basingstoke Sports Centre provides a useful base for people of all ages and abilities to take part in their chosen pursuit.
The town's greatest success is undoubtedly its ice hockey team, which competes in the UK's Premier League. Indeed, the Basingstoke Bisons finished in second place in the division in the 2013-14 season.
Anyone who fancies a pleasant stroll and a spot of fresh air should take a walk on the footpath that runs alongside the Basingstoke Canal, which was built more than 225 years ago.
When it comes to enjoying a day away from Basingstoke, there are plenty of options. The South Downs and New Forest national parks are just a short drive away, while Marwell Zoo is another exceptional choice, particularly for kids.
Things to do in and around Basingstoke
Basingstoke has a good range of bars and restaurants, so there is no need for anyone to ever go hungry in the town. Festival Place area and Top of the Town are unsurprisingly among the best places to head towards.
Festival Street Kitchen, The Clock and Thyme and The Gamekeepers are among the venues that are the highest rated of all in Basingstoke with TripAdvisor users and could all be worth a try.
The Festival Place Shopping Centre is the heart of Basingstoke's retail sector and offers locals and visitors alike an opportunity to browse their favourite stores in comfort and style. Many of the country's major high street brands have outlets in the centre, including the likes of Apple, BHS, La Senza, Goldsmiths, Schuh and Debenhams.
Further retail areas can be found in The Malls and the Top of the Town, ensuring no shopper will go home empty-handed after a day in Basingstoke.
Schools and local education
As with any medium to large town, Basingstoke has a selection of primary and secondary schools within its boundaries. Among the most popular secondary institutions in the town are Bishop Challoner RC, Everest Community College, The Vyne Community School and The Clere School and Technology College.
Basingstoke houses a campus of the University of Winchester, while several other universities – such as those in Southampton and Reading – are within 30 miles of the town.
Expert medical care is available at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, and there are numerous surgeries to be found throughout the town.
Transport and getting around
Basingstoke is ideally placed for easy access to some of the most important and desirable parts of south-east England. It is located less than 30 miles north of Southampton, making trips to the south coast quick and appealing.
The M3, one of the UK's busiest motorways, is a few minutes from the town centre and provides a direct route into central London, while it is not too much further to the M4. Perhaps the easiest way to reach the capital is by rail, with train services straight to London Waterloo running on a regular basis and taking around 50 minutes.