**This review is also on Ciao, under my username "MonsoonBaby88"**
I moved to Harlow with my fiance in August 2010. Before this, I had only occasionally popped up with him to visit his parents who have lived here for more than 22 years. The first time I visited Harlow, if I am being honest, my expectations were not very high. I had heard people talk about how horrible Harlow is, and this left me feeling a bit negative about visiting. However, I do not understand the criticism, Harlow is actually a pretty nice place!
The first thing I noticed about Harlow was the amount of greenery everywhere. Unlike my last residency in Romford, Harlow's streets are lined with trees, flowers are planted in the grass sections next to the pavements, and there are plenty of bins around, meaning that litter is sparse.
There are several areas of Harlow, including Staple Tye-a ground floor shopping centre which stores McDonalds, Subway, Chicago Pizza, a rather yummy Bakery, Blockbuster, newsagents, hairdressers, and Lidl. This is very convienient, and buses are quite frequent to this area. Old Harlow houses more of the older properties, but has quite a charm to it, Harlow Town Centre, The Stow.
The Town Centre is nicely laid out, and everything seems a bit spread out, which helps to combat overcrowding on the busier shopping times. First, there is the Harvey Centre, a shopping mall comprising of two floors of shops. There are plenty of stores to visit here, such as Tesco, Game, Early Learning Centre, Wilkinsons, Claires, H Samuel, Argos, Primark, Poundland and more. In other words, this centre is full of the typical stores you would expect to see in any shopping mall. The decor seems a little dated now, but the mall is spacious enough and caters for lots of different needs, so it doesn't matter all too much.
The Water Gardens branches off of the mall area, and is in the outdoors part of the Town Centre. The shops along here are situated around, as the name suggests, water gardens-comprising of water features, which you will often find quite a lot of ducks swimming around in. Here, you will find a few of Harlow's restaurants, including Nandos, a Chinese buffet and more. For your food shopping needs, a large Asda is also down this end, as well as stores like HMV, Peacocks and phone shops.
There are plenty of services in Harlow that you can visit. A few doctors surgeries are available, with Lister Medical House in Staple Tye being the most popular. The Prince Alexander Hospital will be where you can get your treatment if needed. The Civic Centre and Jobcentre are in the Town Centre to help you with benefit claims, job hunting and more. There is also Harlow Town Library which stocks hundreds of books for the bookworms. For those aiming to get a place in Harlow, there are plenty of estate agencies in the town centre, and Guardian Lettings is the biggest and is situated near the Post Office in the Market part of the town centre. The Harlow Museum is a good place to start from if you want to find out a bit more about the towns history. I was also highly surprised about the amount of schools in Harlow-there are plenty of Primary schools in particular, so you should not have a trouble getting your children into one if you are moving here.
Harlow, like everywhere, is going to have it's good and bad sides. Nothing can be perfect, and Harlow does have it's bad areas. There are certain estates in the town where trouble tends to kick off (I will not name them, in fear of annoying anyone who currently lives in them). However, this only makes up a tiny portion of the town, as the majority of it is rather lovely.
Unfortunately, the transport is pretty disappointing here. Harlow Train Station is at the end of the town, past the hospital, and can be a pain to get to. If you are like me and cannot drive, there are several buses that will take you to Harlow station, but sadly you will most definitely endure several changes before you make it there. Buses can also be quite infrequent, unless you are wanting a bus for the town centre or Staple Tye, you can have quite a long wait on your hands. The bus stop near my flat only ever runs one to two buses a day!
There are parts of the town centre that look a bit abandoned, and could do with some modernisation to fit in with the Water Gardens and Harvey Centre. These are the Market Place section, as especially when the stalls are not in place, looks incredibly empty and boring. The other section is just outside one of the exits of the Harvey Centre, where Lloyds Bank, Dominos, King Du Noodle Bar (which I highly recommend going to), some estate agents, and the Wetherspoons pub lies. There are hardly any stores in this section, and nobody is ever really around there. It's quiet, empty, and has an abandoned feeling, which is a shame, as it is worth visiting that section for the pub and the noodle bar. It'll be nice to inject some colour and life into it, and perhaps re-open the cinema there, so more people visit it.
So, is it worth visiting Harlow?:
For the most part, yes. I love it here, and flat-hunting has proved to me that there are really beautiful areas of Harlow. I managed to get a flat that backed onto acres of fields, and a forest, so I often hear a lot of nature at night time. The street I am on is lined with trees, and almost every house down the road has a lot of flowers planted in the front gardens. Even when you leave my road, the surrounding streets are set up the same, and there is a element of tranquility-it is so quiet here. Yes, there are negatives, including the transport having room for improvement, and certain housing areas could need a bit of a sprucing up, but on the whole, it's just as nice as any other place. There is plenty of greenery on most streets, and as far as I have seen, the litter is kept to a minimum, meaning Harlow looks rather clean.
Anywhere has its good AND bad points-nothing can be perfect! There is a lot of History in Harlow, and perhaps if you were aware of it, you'll appreciate it a lot more. For those of you who have visited Harlow many years ago, I suggest going back and having a look now. It's improved, they've spruced it up a bit, and yes, there are still things that need improving, but it's not a bad little town on the whole!
Well i moved to harlow approximately three years ago, having said i would never live here, but must say that now im here think its a great place to live.
Loads of shops **********
Its a lovely place to go and sit, when on your lunch breaks or just for a rest from shopping around the town.
There are some man made ponds, with the added bonus of fish inside to look at, and benches to sit on in the hot sunny days, there are little water features too.
The ponds, facing onto the Civic Centre, the Local Council Offices, a modern building. Next to :
A Nandos, a Chicken Resturant with loads of different strenth chicken dishes, and of course the famous peri peri sauces and dips, and the peri peri chips, and i must admit not too expensive.
Next to a Pizza Hut, i dont personally enjoy pizza too much, and a Chinese Buffet, which is a help yourself buffet type Chinese, with loads of different dishes to choose from: plus an assortment of deserts and fresh fruits too, all in all a great chinese resturant.
Also you can pick up the ingredients of your meal in their resturant and hand them to one of the chinese chefs to stir fry for you, in front of you, yummy.
Also there is a coffee shop at the end of the row of Resturants, which does lovely coffee nice for a treat and lovely pasteries too (quite expensive) though.
With a resturant thats not too badly priced, being a 24 hour Supermarket.
Matalans, and Next to name a few.
The New H S B C Bank, very modern in its new appearence too, with lots of automated machines, to save time in long queues.
Harlow has a population of approximately 90 thousand people, and was built originally for the overspill from London.
A Market square, not too big a market but very good, plus Harlow also has an indoor shopping centre, called the Harvey Centre, with too many shops to name, but has an excellent Poundland, also there are approximately four other pound shops in the town area.
Harlow dispite its reputation of being a concrete jungle, does have an excellent Park, which has a Pub in the middle of it, does well in the Summer Months, a Stage where various groups perform in the Summer months, plus a Pets Corner with both large and small animals too, free of charge.
Harlow hosts its circus, and fairs at the park, and its fireworks night is free and well organised.
Each section of Harlow Like for example Bush Fair, little communities, having local precents of shops, well fault out, Bakers, Mr Savers and Greggs plus a few Resturants and TakeAways so you dont have to venture into the town, if you didnt want to.
Arriva Buses at the cost of an all day ticket for 2.20 great value, with a good regular bus service, which not only goes around Harlow but also to surrounding villages.
Well having lived here, must say that its a great place to live, all large populations have their spots of trouble, which is normal. But on the whole its fine.
Harlow boasts a great range of Night Clubs too, and pubs.
Theres always loads to do here, still awaiting the new build swimming pool, and olympic training centre nearing completion.
A large library, Playhouse and as i have already mentioned home from home shopping, or a large town full of shops.
Give it a try.
Thanks for reading and rating my reviews. jan x
I have lived in Harlow on and off for around 7 years now and have seen quite a few changes over time.
Harlow has a few main areas such as The Stow, Staple Tye, Potter Street, Old Harlow & the main town centre. Each place has it's own shops, pubs etc and generally if you ask someone in Harlow where they come from it'll be "The Stow" or "near Potter St" rather than "blah blah street".
There are two main shopping areas in the Town Centre and these are the Harvey Centre & The Water Gardens both within two or three minutes walk of each other and hosting a variety of bars, cafes, restaurants etc and some of the big stores such as Primark, Next, M&S, Top Shop, Jane Norman, JD Sports, Burtons, etc and there are also Supermarkets in the form of Tesco & Asda. There are lots of stores to visit here and you can probably find pretty much everything in the town centre somewhere. The main store that I'd really like to see here is a Lush store but I don't think there are any plans for that at the moment which is such a shame as I adore Lush (in case you couldn't see from my reviews!).
There are lots of pubs in Harlow both in the town centre and dotted around but the only ones I tend to visit are actually in the main town centre (Wetherspoons, Liquid, Quattroz) but I don't have much of a desire to visit very often as I just don't like the trouble that normally ensues at the end of a night and people being sick etc everywhere.
I think Harlow has quite a bad reputation (like most areas in Essex no doubt) and probably about 80% of the people here do live up to that reputation. Wide boys with rubbish cars and girlfriends who look like they are off for a night out when they're going to sit in McDonalds car park or just generally girls on a night out who look like they're on the game.
I don't really know many people here except my family but my other half has some lovely friends who live here so I guess it goes to show that it's not everybody who has that Jeremy Kyle aura about them.
I would recommend visiting the town centre if you live in a smaller town or village as there are a lot of shops here but occasionally I like to go off to Chelmsford just for a change of scene (and Lush of course!).
There are quite a few nice places to eat in Harlow; Nandos, The Three Horseshoes, Harlow Tandoori. There are also quite a few good takeaways places here (and some bad of course) so it's not all bad!
Harlow also has a cinema and a shopping area on Edinburgh Way which has the larger electrical retailers Comet etc and there is a giant Tesco, B&Q, Homebase, Mothercare etc all located within about a mile of each other so there is a lot of choice for furnishing your home or dressing your baby etc.
Not everything is bad about Harlow, there are lots of nice fields and parks to walk in and there is the River Stort with a lovely path to follow, especially nice during the summer months. There are also a few nice pubs such as the Harlow Mill which is great for sitting by the river in summer. I am therefore rating Harlow 4/5. You can't help the kind of people that are here, you get them everywhere really these days (unfortunately!).
I live in Harlow town and have done all my life. And my goodness has it come under a lot of criticism recently in particular. But quite frankly I don't think all of this is warranted.
There are a number of positives about the town. For a start, although the Harvey Centre has deteriorated with the loss of shops such as Next and River Island, we have a new area called the Water Gardens that is a new fantastic place to shop. This is an outdoor area, slightly further down from the main shopping centre. This area includes various shops (River Island, Jane Norman, Next, Asda, Matalan, Clarks, Sports Soccer, Madhouse, Clarks, The Entertainer, Top Shop, Carphone Warehouse and TK Maxx) and restaurants such as the Water Margin (a Chinese buffet), Nandos and Pizza Hut. The Harvey Centre, although dropping in popularity still contains shops like Primark, H Samuel, Superdrug, Blue Inc, Wilkinsons and various others. The centre hours are 9 to half 5 whereas the Water Gardens operate starting from 10. There are plenty of car parks, so you'll never be short of somewhere to park. You also have the bowling alley in Harlow, something fun for all ages. And everything is in a close proximity, so its not far to walk from one place to another. You also have the retail park which is the other side of town which has the likes of B &Q, Halfords, and also the cinema.
Night life in Harlow is fairly good. You have a variety of bars like Wetherspoons, Yates and the Orange House where you can go for a drink with friends but also places like Liquid, Quatroz and Jumpin Jacks to go to if you want a bit of a dance. There's also loads of local pubs throughout the town, if that is more your kind of thing.
The disadvantages of living in Harlow is probably the fact that there are now a lot of rude people around, but to be honest, can you tell me anywhere that doesn't have this. If you do, count yourself very lucky. Also, during rush hour you do encounter a fair bit of traffic and can be sitting there for half and hour to forty-five minutes when really your journey should only take you 15. Slightly frustrating but that's life. Houses and property in the area are expensive but that is due to the good location being close to London and having easy access to the M11 motorway.
I was born and grew up in Harlow, I lived there for 25 years and by the time I could afford my own place I was pretty much desperate to leave. There's little more to say about the town apart from the fact its there, its functional, it does what it says on the tin. I wouldnt choose to live there again and unless the worst ever happened wouldnt move back.
The town has changed a fair bit in the 5 years since I moved away, I visited briefly last year and was surprised by the amount of building work going on with new homes springing up everywhere. The town was badly planned in my opinion, ok each section of the town has it's own amenities such as shops, medical facilities etc... but transport links are pretty poor, the towns stations are situated on the edge of the town which without a car are a sod to get to, from the part of town I lived in involved several bus changes to get to the station unless you fancied a 1.5hour walk!
The town centre has been spruced up in recent years with the old College building torn down to be replaced with a car park and an Asda, the rest of the centre has been left to rot though it seems with the market looking more and more sorry for itself. The shops are small in general staffed with surly teenagers who clearly dont want to be there.
I know I shouldnt slagg off my home town but to be honest the place is a dump! the arse end of Britain as my friends call it. My old school has been shut down too which pretty much sums up the place, oh yes good ole' Posh Spice has a gaffe just up the road in Sawbo and she is often seen in town shopping though she has been quoted in the local paper as hating the town and its residents, I have to see I agree with her on that one for a change.
If you ever think about visiting Harlow, unless you really to then dont!
I have not visited Harlow for a while and this is because on previous visits I have been so put off!
Although there is a wide variety of shops to choose from and so ideally should be a fantastic shopping centre, i have sadly been put off by the peolple of Harlow. Perhaps I am old fashioned but i try to treat others with courtesy and respect and this is something I am yet to receive from others when I have shopped here.
Many people here seem rude and sometimes abusive, which is not pleasant when you have small children with you. Shop staff are on the whole disheartened, dissillusioned and consequently the most unhelpful I have come across. When I stopped for coffee, the cafe was unclean and again, staff were surly.
I have heard that Harlow has been spruced up a bit and for this i am glad... I only hope t makes the residents of Harlow a little happier and then perhaps this will be reflected in the town atmosphere... but it will take a massive change in attitude to lure me back!
Well what can I say about Harlow well I've lived in Harlow for nineteen years and I've seen shop come and go but all in all Harlow is a good place to live. There are job going and there is a good nightlife so you can work hard and then go out on the town if you like all that anyway NEW THINgS GOING ON Well am the moment the Harlow town centre is being made up it is very big at the moment with 2 floors of shops and cafes and there is over 70 shops with lots of mobile phone stores but it is going to be as big as lakeside when it is all done by 2004 which is a bit off at the moment but something to look forward two. WHAT THERE IS TO DO By day there is the town centre where all the shop are open from 9am to 5.30pm then you have the night life there is lots of pubs, 2nightclubs, 3dinkeing bars and soon with have a new wither spoons opening in the town which will be good there is to cinemas in town two want else is there, well you can go bowling at first bowl. OTHER THINGs IN HARLOW Well there is a large indusial complex in Harlow with BNQ’s, PC WORLD, DIXON, MOTHER WORLD, TOYS ARE US, and lot more Well I like living in Harlow there is a lot to do and it is a good place to live in and I would say I love it here and I would not want to move anyway else Other Events In Essex Well one big thing that is going on in Essex is what is going on in Harlow town centre so I will tell you about it I live in Harlow and the town is being made bigger it is big at the moment but it is going to be as big as lakeside which will be very good for the people in Harlow as there will be a lot more jobs Other things going on in Harlow are in the town park with bands and other thing down in the park, which can be a good day out with your mates or family All in all Harlow is a place in the move And I must say I love living in Harlow and I would not want to move anywhere else
...so hold on to your brollies and take a comb everywhere with you. I was warned. When I arrived in Harlow, fresh-faced and tidy-haired, the first thing I was told about the place was: "It's very windy here." Six months on and I'm used to the howls and being swept off my feet (saves on the old legwork) but for some reason, Saturday mornings in Harlow are always sunny. Now, I'm a Cambridgeshire gal and I was a bit apprehensive about the place at first; I sat on a bench in the town centre and thought: "Where's the character?" I could have been anywhere; I was surrounded by rows of high street stores; the usual, you know; McDonalds (how I hate McDonalds), WH Smith, Virgin, Boots... It reminded me of Peterborough or Huntingdon... There are also a lot of roundabouts on the approach to the town centre; they all look the same which can prove very confusing... But I admit, it's grown on me. OK, Harlow can be like a ghost town on Sundays (I don't understand where everyone disappears to!) but everywhere is within walking distance which is very handy for me, as I don't drive. THE SHOPS The Harvey Centre gets my approval; it's a shopping mall with 2 floors of shops and cafes, including a Tesco. It's smack bang in the middle of everything and has over 60 shops (an abundance of mobile phone stores, for some reason). Then there's Little Walk, more of an 'arcade' with 'alternative' shops selling clubby clothes and cheap household goods, and the two cafes there both do lovely sandwiches (I rate the coronation chicken baguette!). There's a huge Sainsburys on the outskirts of town, and a large complex that has big warehouse style stores (PC World), chain 'restaurants' (McDonalds again, I'm afraid, Pizza Hut, Bella Pasta...) and UCI (?) cinema. THE RESTAURANTS Limited. There's a good
Chinese in the town centre and plenty of takeaway places and cafes ('Pie and Mash' anyone?) but if you want a curry you'll have to trek out of town to The Stow or Bush Fair (and Indian food happens to be my favourite so it's taxi time!). Pay a visit to Belash Tandoori in The Stow for great nans, Cobra beer and Captain Birdseye (that's what we call one of the waiters; well, he wears a white Captain Birdseye-style suit!). There's a Greek restaurant in the centre of town; I often walk past and hear laughing and loud Greek music; there's a closed circuit TV in the window where people on the street can watch the goings on in the restaurant (quite unusual!). THE CLUBS I'm shocked at Harlow. There are only 2 clubs (well, I think I picked up a flyer for a third but no-one talks about it; I think it's a tiny upstairs venue): Jumpin Jaks and Millenniums (app. Michael Barrymore has frequented the latter; he lives in nearby Roydon). I've been to Jumpin Jaks and it is pure cheese, with boys in builders hats and headdresses dancing to YMCA on stage with inflatable instruments! They've had some 'celebs' there recently; you could pay £2 and see Jason Donovan back in November, and the Vengeboys have played there. I think Bjorn Again and Chesney Hawkes were the last big names there. Perhaps they expect people to go to London for the clubs; it's only 40 mins on the train. THE BARS Well, Chicago Rock Cafe is an American diner that stays open till 1am (but closes on Wed. evenings - why?) and it serves food and has a dancefloor and DJ. I've had many a drunken night in there; I tried to smuggle a plastic skeleton head out of there on Hallowe'en night but only got away with 2 witches hats, a skeleton's bony cardboard leg, balloons and some 'fur' (?!). Thursday nights are fun; they play 80s music and yo
u can watch videos on the TVs in there; Kim Wilde; Michael Jackson; Madonna... THE PUBS Not as many as you'd expect. The small town I'm from has around a dozen pubs but Harlow has just two in the town centre (you hop from Yates to Chicagos), and Yates is always packed on a Friday night. Karoeke is a laugh on Wednesday nights there - esp. one night when someone mistook my college folder for the blue file containing the song list! There are other pubs hidden away; someone's rated the Hare (yes, that pub is something special; it's a quaint 'villagey' pub with Irish staff and a pool table. The landlord used to call me 'the lust of his night'!), then there's the Jean Harlow, the Garden Tiger, the Willlow, the Greyhound (another 'villagey' pub; close to the town park and bandstand)... CINEMAS Two; the Odeon (small but easily accessible; in town centre) and the UCI (or is it UCG?) on the way out of town. THEATRE The Playhouse is in the town centre (hurrah! See?) and it has a cafe, cinema and bar. MUSIC The Square; loads of local bands play here, and some big names too (though I've never seen any well-known artists advertised there). What else? Oh, there's a couple of sports centres (never been), a Mecca Bingo (ditto) and there's an abundance of recruitment agencies (v. handy for me!). The Harlow Star and the Harlow Citizen keep you informed of the goings on, and there are regular markets. Ooh! Speaking of markets, there is one thing I encountered in Harlow that I've never seen before; a French market came to town for 3 days. There were stalls selling baguettes, condiments, cheeses, everything! It was refreshing to hear French accents amongst the Essex... Well, that's my analysis of Harlow for your convenience - the rent's quite high (well, it is a 'suburb' of Lond
on) and from what I've observed on a Sat. it's a favourite with pensioners and teenagers plus everyone seems to slag the place off... but it's not so bad. Just calm the wind and conjure up some more central curry houses!