Basingstoke often gets a lot of stick for being a dump. A couple of years back it got voted 15th worst place in the UK!!! I've lived in Basingstoke for many years now and personally dont see what all the fuss is about. Of coursed like any place there are rough parts but generally i think the town has a lot to offer.
Basingstoke is huge, the size of a small city, and is an over spill for London. It has easy access to the M3 and A30. Reading in a 20min drive or train ride away and London takes 50mins by train.
Festival Place is the new shopping centre which was built about 8 years ago now. Modern in looks it offers a great day out shopping with the old part of town and new part offering loads of different shops. There are also loads of places to eat in town from italian, steaks, chinease, spanish...the list goes on. There is also a huge well kept Vue cinema.
In terms of nightlife in Basingtoke there is a Liquid nightclub which can be a bit rough sometimes but is allright and good priced for a night out. There are plenty of pubs in all the areas of Basingstoke each with a local pub offering quiz nights, kareoke and some with pool tables.
There is a large leisure centre witch offers bowling, ice skating, cinema, pizza place, swimming (inc. slides and flunes) and bingo. Next to the leisure centre is a golf park and holiday inn.
Basingstoke offers everything you would need. It has a nightlife, great shopping and plenty of leisure activities. There are a wide range of junior schools and secondary schools so it is a great place to raise children. There are plenty of parks and greens such as the war memorial and Eastrop Park (which has a paddling pool, boating lake and adventure playground). Basingtoke also hosts plenty of events such as a music festival in summer, a kite party and Balloons over Basingstoke where lots of hot air balloons take flight from the war memorial.
I live in Basingstoke. Well, someone has to!! I am not a native, but have lived here for the last 18 years. It is a large town, which is mostly known for being the butt of comedian's jokes. It even merited a little derogatory comment on that classic TV show "Only Fools and Horses"! In terms of derision it is probably second only to Milton Keynes. It is to towns what Skoda is to cars!! So, if it is so bad why do so many people choose to live here? Well, the answer is that it is really quite a good place to live. I came here almost by default eighteen years ago when I was expecting my third child. We had a rented house in Camberley and desperately wanted to buy. After trudging round the estate agents it became very clear that all we could afford was a one-bedroom house. With three children this was an absolute no-no. It was suggested that the housing was much cheaper in Reading and Basingstoke. Ironically, there is no difference today as Basingstoke's popularity soars. So we found ourselves moving to Basingstoke, a town about which we knew nothing until we moved in. We only came when we viewed the house ?a largish 3-bedroom house for the price of a one bedroom terraced in Camberley. We moved in and within the space of a few years Basingstoke became home, not just somewhere we lived. So, let me tell you a bit about it. Let's start with a bit of history, and I will try not to bore you! Basingstoke has many historical connections; It is situated in North Hampshire in the Loddon Valley. The area is often known as the Hampshire Borders. Basingstoke is an old market town, owing its early prosperity to the wool trade in the middle ages. There is evidence of Neolithic and Iron Age settlements and there have been many archaeological digs in the area. AD 43 The Romans conquered the area. AD 871 the Danes fought the Saxons at Basengum (Basing) and w
on! AD 990 Basingstoke was mentioned in a charter of lands given to Ethelwald by Ethelred the second. 1086 The Basingstoke entry stated that it was a Royal Manor and had not paid any taxes. Should it have done? Who knows! Things don't change; the council are currently still chasing poll -tax debtors!! The market was worth 30 shillings. For you youngsters who came along after decimalization that is £1.50. The area was the size of 28 ploughlands and the population was 8/9 people per square mile. 1256 Basingstoke's first charter was granted by Henry the third. 1295 Democracy! Two representatives were sent to Parliament. 1510 St. Michael's Church built. 1610 Elizabeth the First visited Basing. While she was there, there was a huge fire, which destroyed many houses. 1645 Basing House was seized by Cromwell's troops. It was held for three years. It is a wreck now, but you can visit it and sometimes there are re-enactments of the Battle of Basing. Time Team did one of there televised digs from there last year. It is an interesting place. 1730 The wool trade had started to decline. 1769 Work commenced on the building of the Basingstoke Canal. 1801 The first British Census! Basingstoke had a population of 2,589. 1839 The railwayline to London opened. 1868 Thomas Burberry opened a clothing factory and shop in the town. Yes, the mackintosh comes from Basingstoke!! 1914 Troops were billeted to Basingstoke. World War II Basingstoke was bombed and there was considerable damage. 1944 The film star George Formby filmed "She snoops to conquer" in the town. After the war satellite estates began to appear around the outskirts of the town culminating in the 1960's redevelopment of the town into a bit of a concrete jungle. Famous Basingstoke people include John Arlott (cricket) Elizabeth Hurley, Fa
lcon form Gladiators, Tanita Tikkeram, the Duchess of York and I believe it was a favourite hiding place of Dick Turpin the highwayman! So, what of more modern Basingstoke? It is a fast growing town. The 1961 census shows a population of just over 25,000. It is now at about 90,000 and predicted to rise to 800,000 by 2004. Much of its growth is due to Basingstoke having been chosen as a London overspill town in the 1960's. The borough covers an area of 250 square miles. It is a satellite town surrounded by villages and countryside. The access around the town is excellent. There is an efficient ringroad system, which skirts the town and accesses all the estates. You will not have encountered as many roundabouts, I?ll be bound! The tyre life of Basingstoke residents is significantly reduced by the vast quantity of roundabouts!The town is known as "Doughnut City" because of the many roundabouts. There are some lovely villages for those who prefer not to live in the town or on an estate. One village is Kingsclere, which was made famous by Richard Adams book "Watership Down". AMENITIES: The town is blessed with excellent amenities: We have a world class concert hall "The Anvil" which attracts major artists and musicians. We also have a professional theatre "The Haymarket" at which you can see some super productions. There is a brand new museum called "Milestones" which is about the history of transport. Basingstoke is known for transport being the home of Thorneycroft and Smith Aviation. If you are into more active recreation there is a sports centre with swimming pool in the town centre. On the West outskirts of the town is the Leisure Park. Here you will find an ice rink, bowling alley, lawn bowls club and 10 screen Warner cinema. There is also a swimming pool but it is shut for a while due to a no expenses spared upgrade. It will be an Olympic sized
pool and will have many water features, flumes etc.. If you are into ice hockey why not come to a match? The Basingstoke Bison are a league club of very high quality. There are also some retail parks on the outskirts which boast superstores such as PC world, Currys, Halfords, all that sort of thing. Pretty typical retail parks really, but handy if you don't want to go into town. ACCESSIBILITY: Roads: Basingstoke is in an ideal location for commuters, It is just off the M3 and is 47 miles from London and 32 miles from Southampton. It is also close to the M4, which provides links to Wales. The nearby A34 links the town to Oxford and the midlands. The A303 will take you to Cornwall. Yay!! TRAINS: The line takes you to Waterloo and there are three fast trains an hour. You can also get direct trains to the far south and as far north as Scotland (if you can bear Virgin trains!). There is also a local link to Reading. PORTS: Portsmouth and Southampton are about an hour away and it is easy to have a day trip to the Isle of Wight. THE TOWN ITSELF: The 1960's refurbishment just had to go! The combination of ugliness and concrete cancer pushed forward the idea of redeveloping the town to reflect its new importance and size. We are blessed here in having virtually 100% employment. Many large companies have their home here. The AA and Sunlife of Canada being two of them. The town is, therefore, currently undergoing a huge re-development. It is to be called "Festival Place". This will replace most of the concrete jungle - sorry, shopping centre! The station area has already been finished as the "Gateway" into town and as you approach the station you will see two bronze men, the guardians of the town. Grosvenor Estates who bought the town centre from the Prudential a few years ago are undertaking the Festival place develo
pment. The work is, thank goodness, being undertaken with very little disruption. This must take some doing, taking into account the size of the demolition programme. It has been done in stages and some of the new car park is now open. Festival Place is due to open in 2002. There will be 1,000,000 square feet of leisure and retail outlets right in the centre of town. The cost of the development? In excess of £300 million! Ouch!! I bet we will contribute to paying some of that off!! There will be 165 shops and over 80 brand new stores. About time, the existing ones are ok but there isn't a lot of choice! There will be a 10 screen Multiplex cinema. Now, this has caused a lot of negative feed back in that it will only be a mile from the other one and the people of the town do not feel that both will survive. There will also be 18 eating outlets- restaurants, cafes and bars. This will be welcomed, as we are a bit limited at the moment. Fine for burgers and snacks but not a lot else. There is shopmobility in the town for the less able. 01256 476066 is the number you need to book shopmobility. Why not take a look at the Festival Place website ? www.festivalplace.co.uk ? It tells you all about the new town and will even take you on a "Virtual Flythrough" through the malls. You need Real Player or something similar to view it. Isn't technology marvellous?! So folks, ignore those stinky old comedians! Basingstoke is a good town with excellent housing, schools, transport, employment opportunities and facilities. What more could you ask for? And as for all those lovely country pubs on the outskirts?. What are you waiting for? Come and see me!!
In many ways, I think Basingstoke is under rated. It's at the butt of every joke comedians make about 'bad' towns and that seems a little unfair... If you've visited Basingstoke, you may know it's not ALL that bad. OK, the shopping's not great and the whole look of the place is a little lacking generally in the town centre but I'm told it's all set to change with the new 'Festival Place' now coming and due for completion within the next year or so. This is going to attract new shops and maybe boosy Basingstoke's reputation! Town centre aside, Basingstoke has some great places. Two theatres - one featuring mainly plays and one specialising more with concerts and ballets. So it caters for all! Who could ask for anything more?! There's a selction of gym's for the fitness type ranging from more exclusive one like the Beechdown Club and Centre Court which is close to Chineham to the more casual one in the sports centre in town. There's a 10 screen cinema with a brand new multiplex opening with the new Festival Place. Next to the cinema, the swimming pools being refurbished to Olympic standard and there's an ice rink (not ALOT of towns can offer that can they?) which has a very good ice hockey team. Adjacent to that is a large bowling alley and a Bingo hall and indoor bowls centre and opposite THAT is a restaurant. Talking of restaurants brings me on to restaurants in the town. Nothing spectcular I'm afraid to say. Nothing particularly up market. There's your usually chains: Harvesters, Beefeaters and wine bars which offer food to the lunching business people. Then there's your fast food outlets, a couple of McDonalds etc. Pubs and clubs. Well, I say clubs but theres only a what I regard as a 'dodgy' over 25's club which leaves alot to be desired! There's a few pubs and the nightlife isn't terrible but is pretty close to it. What Basingstoke need
s is a good club. It would attract alot more people to the town and be good for all. Housing around Baingstoke is good. There's some nice areas, Kempshott and Chineham and then Oakley if you prefer a more village style life. Further afield yet still convinient to the town are quaint little places like Hannington and Overton. All in all, Basingstoke is an ideal place to live - especially for young families. It's in an excellent location. Beaches are not too far away and London can be accessed from the mainline station in Basingstoke and be reached in about 40 minutes. Everything's very close to hand. The hospital is close and there is a fire station opposite the leisure park. Taxi services are good but buses are still struggling a little. I have great belief in Basingstoke. There is alot of redevelopment happening which will really boost the town and in about a year, I'd highly recommend a visit.