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More than meets the eye
High Wycombe in General
Member Name: jfm_uk
High Wycombe in General
Date: 25/10/00, updated on 25/10/00 (285 review reads)
Advantages: Good Facilities,lots of history
Disadvantages: Steep Hills, urban Sprawl
Although at first there does not seem much to set apart High Wycombe from any other large town, it's unique history and attributes combine to form a lively and colourful place. I shall try to bring a little bit of High Wycombe to life for you.
High Wycombe is the largest town in the county of Buckinghamshire, although surprisingly it is not the administrative centre. Situated in the rolling hills of the Chilterns, the town is built upon steep slopes and deep valleys, which make for an interesting winter driving experience. The name Wycombe derives from two words. Wye is the name of the once grand river, which is now reduced to a stream which surfaces at various points through out the town. Combe is an old English word for valley. The river Wye runs into the nearby Thames.
The town grew up around the furniture industry (I'm talking chippendale not chipboard), in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was once the centre of the English furniture trade. Even today a few fine furniture manufacturers remain in High Wycombe, although their importance in the overall local economy is nothing near it's former scale.
In 1884, a handful of furniture trade workers decided to get together to lay football. The team they formed became Wycombe Wanderers, who are now a major force in the 2nd division. For those who are interested, www.wycombewanderers.co.uk is an excellent website.
A curious local custom is the annual ceremony of 'weighing - in the mayor' . In days past, the purpose of this activity was to ensure that the mayor was not getting fat on local tax money. Apparently if the mayor put on weight, he was expected to get the drinks in!
The town centre is built around the old market house. There are a couple of indoor shopping centres, and a multitude of shops on the various winding streets. Most of the usual highstreet names are represented along with a few individual shops. There is also a craft market. There are 3 or
4 supermarkets dotted about the town, including Asda and 2 tescos. There is a large John Lewis store at one end of town, but this particular branch does not sell clothes.
High Wycombe is well served with lesiure facilities. There is a multi screen Uci cinema, which is in a complex with some restaurants. There is a badminton centre, an all weather football pitch, and an excellent sports centre. The town centre has many pubs and high street restaurants, with a sprinkling of night clubs. This is also the home of the renowned Wycombe Swan theatre complex (01494 512000), which hosts among other things, pop music events, ballet, theatre, pantomimes and variety shows.
Transport wise, the town is situated on the M40 motorway, and is well served by buses, coaches and trains (London - Birmingham line). The train and bus station are centrally located.
The housing in High Wycombe is a mixture of old and new, with house prices being typical for a thriving South East town.
There are a number of industrial estates in the town, most of which are dedicated to light engineering and electronics.
It is also worth mentioning the Air park, which is 2 miles form the town. As well as being an airfield for light aircraft and gliders, this is also the home of the Blue Max museum. This is dedicated to historic flying machines, many of the exhibits have featured in films.
Just down the road, and worth a visit is West Wycombe, a tourist's dream. The village is owned by the national trust, and is home to a curious range of timber framed buildings which all seem to lean at their own particular angle. West Wycombe is also home to the infamous Hell Fire Caves (part natural, part man made), which were linked in times past to the Hell Fire Club. Tales of witchcraft abound.
So there you have it, in many ways High Wycombe is a typical town, but it also has it's own unique flavour if you look beneath the surface.