Living in Eastleigh
What is life like in Eastleigh
Eastleigh is a railway town located between Southampton and Winchester, making it the ideal base for people who work in almost any part of Hampshire.
It is a key town in the wider south Hampshire conurbation, which also includes settlements such as Botley, Hamble-le-Rice and Chandler's Ford. It is home not only to the railway but also Southampton International Airport, ensuring many business and employment opportunities exist in the area.
The town is known as an industrial centre and is home to a large number of businesses. It means Eastleigh is popular both with people who work in the town and those who commute to Southampton or further afield.
Eastleigh itself boasts an attractive town centre with many of the UK's largest retailers operating a store there. It is also surrounded by beautiful countryside, making it easy for residents to escape urban life and instead relax in some of the most magnificent rural areas in the south.
Eastleigh began to grow at a rapid rate in the middle of the 19th century when the railway first came to the town. Although there is evidence of people living in the area before the end of the first millennium, it was not until trains began to run in 1839 that it really rose to prominence.
The first station was built close to the village of Barton by the London and South Western Railway Company, providing the very first rail connection with the wider world. When the organisation decided to move its carriage and wagon works from London in 1891, Eastleigh's status as a rail hub was cemented.
Charlotte Yonge also played a key role in the development of the town, as she made a large donation to build a new church that symbolised the merging of the villages of Barton and Eastley. In return, she was asked to name the new town and chose to stick with Eastley, although she modernised its spelling to Eastleigh.
Through the late-19th and 20th centuries, Eastleigh continued to expand and slowly became the industrial centre for Hampshire it is today. Its local airport was developed and is now Southampton International Airport, which also provides many jobs and business opportunities to locals.
A small number of famous people have links to Eastleigh, including comedian Benny Hill, who lived in the town as a youngster. He was born in nearby Southampton and spent some time in Eastleigh, during which he took his first job in the local Woolworths store.
Christabel Leighton-Porter, who was the model for the famous World War II cartoon character Jane, was also from the town.
Entertainment, sport and days out
Eastleigh is a fun place to be and nowhere is this illustrated better than at the Point Theatre, which hosts a busy programme of shows and events. From comedy to theatre, dance and music, residents with all tastes will be catered for at the venue.
The Swan Shopping Centre houses a multiplex cinema, giving Eastleigh residents the chance to catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster. There is also a bowling complex in the same location, ensuring excellent entertainment options.
Locals of all ages will enjoy the Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Railway, which is open on weekends throughout the year and during the school holidays and provides a chance to travel on a classic miniature steam locomotive as well as learn more about their past. Eastleigh Museum is a similarly educational attraction where people can enjoy exhibits related to the town's history.
Itchen Valley Country Park is another wonderful destination for a day out, with a visitor centre, walking trails and play areas among the facilities.
Eastleigh FC are the town's premier sports team, competing in the fifth tier of English football. They play home games at their Ten Acres ground, which is just a short distance from the town centre, close to the M27.
Those who prefer to play rather than watch can make use of the facilities available at Fleming Park Leisure Centre. These include a swimming pool, fully equipped gym and various workout classes and sessions.
Eating, drinking & shopping
A good number of pubs and bars are spread throughout Eastleigh town centre, providing suitable watering holes for all residents. The Fisher's Pond, the Litten Tree and the Queens Head are just a few of the options available.
Eating in Eastleigh is also a treat, with Badi Mirchi, La Fenice, the Great Moghul and the Peking Phoenix among the most highly rated restaurants in the area.
The Swan Shopping Centre is the heart of Eastleigh's retail offering, with many of the UK's largest high street names present there. It includes Argos, H Samuel, Dorothy Perkins, Next and Tesco stores among many others.
Away from the town centre, there is the large Channon Retail Park, which contains Halfords, Matalan and Comet outlets.
Schools & healthcare
There are dozens of education institutions in the town and surrounding area, catering for children of all ages. Whether families require nurseries or colleges, they will find everything they need in Eastleigh, making it the ideal base for those with young children.
Eastleigh College offers a range of courses to those aged between 14 and 18 and is one of the country's few Beacon Colleges, meaning it has been recognised for its high standards of teaching and achievement. It is in the top ten per cent of colleges nationally and promises high-quality tuition and support.
Several medical facilities are available to people in Eastleigh, including Eastleigh Health Centre in the town centre. There is also the Wessex Nuffield Hospital in nearby Chandler's Ford. Southampton General Hospital is the largest institution in the region and is capable of dealing with all major incidents and cases of severe ill health.
As a railway town, it will come as no surprise to find Eastleigh has excellent train links with the rest of the south coast and London. It takes less than 15 minutes to reach Southampton, while London is approximately 80 minutes away.
Eastleigh is similarly well served by roads, lying close to where the M27 meets the M3. The M27 runs west to east, connecting the town with destinations such as Bournemouth, the New Forest, Portsmouth and Brighton, while the M3 runs north to London.
Within the town, there is a comprehensive bus service operated by Bluestar, while a number of taxi companies also offer vehicles in the area.