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A thriving market town in Suffolk

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      21.11.2003 13:01
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      Skip this first bit to be able to read the review with capital letters intact. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. Sudbury is a thriving market town in the county of Suffolk, situated on the A134 between Bury St Edmunds and Chelmsford, with a population of approximately 18000. My grandparents have lived in Sudbury for most of their lives, and still live in the same house that my Mother was raised in. Sudbury is our closest town, and I visit it at least three times a week, either to shop, or to attend the gym, or to visit friends and family. Sudbury is the birthplace of the famous painter, Thomas Gainsborough, and as well as there being a statue to mark this piece of history, in the centre of the town, a museum is also housed in the aptly named Gainsborough Street, which houses many of his works of art, as well as items pertaining to his life and times. SHOPS ****** Although Sudbury is a small town, it does have a good range of shops. The main shopping centre is North Street, and The Market Hill, although there are others in the precinct and Friars and Gainsborough Street. Tesco is situated on the outskirts of the town, but in the town itself, are Waitrose, Roys, and Somerfield, as well as Iceland. Tesco does seem to be the most popular as it is a large supermarket, whereas the others are on a smaller scale. There are also shops in town that sell groceries, but the prices will be higher here. Size Up has a branch in the town, which is ideal for the larger proportioned ladies. The shop sells clothes that range from size 14 up to a 30, and all at low prices. I have recently bought some leisure wear from the store, as I have started attending the gym, and these were purchased at a fraction of the normal price. It is notoriously difficult to be able to get a size 14 in the shop, so I do not shop there very often. If you prefer a slightly more well known clothes shops, there are also branches of Mackays, New Look and Dorothy Perkins also in the town. Mackays clothes have always been a bit old-fashioned for me, althou
      gh they do stock a nice range of lingerie, and also a substantial children?s clothes section, but only up to the age of ten years. New Look is a paradise for my daughter. Although I find the clothes quite badly made at times, they are fashionable, and also stock a lot of hair accessories, which my daughter loves. For the males, Burtons have a store in the town, and there are also shops such as Winch and Blatch and Peddars, who stock the more traditional clothing. A discount sports shop Sole 2 Sole, has recently opened in the town, owned by a friend of ours, who sell marked down sports goods. As I have two sons who play football, as well as other sports, this shops has become a lifeline for us. Woolworths have a branch in North Street, which has been on the same site for as long as I can remember. The store is large, and well laid out, but I do tend to find a lot of the staff stand around talking, with not much thought for the customers. The music counter is always understaffed, yet the kitchenware counter always has an abundance of staff and not many customers. There are a number of chemists in the town; the larger stores such as Boots and Superdrug are always extremely busy, particularly at weekends, but there is also another chemist at the top of North Street, which is well worth a look, as they do the most amazing semi-permanent hair colourings, as well as many other items, not usually for sale in the larger stores. Argos is also situated at the top of North Street, and is another shop that always seems to be bustling. With the approach of the festive season, now is not a good time to visit, as the staff always seem so stressed. The shop is large, and they have recently renovated the cash till section, supposedly to make queueing an easier experience. Tucked away in Gaol Lane, beside the Town Hall is a shop called Greens. They sell every item of school uniform you could possibly wish for, at very competitive prices. The staff a
      re extremely helpful, and take their time to measure and advise. Screen printing is also carried out at the shop, which is a family run business, and items of Brownie, Guide, Cub and Scout uniform can also be purchased from the store. Also in Gaol Lane is Toymaster, where we always seem to end our shopping trips. The shop is full to bursting with every toy and game you could possibly imagine, and after Christmas, the shop sells items at drastically reduced prices. If a quick snack is needed whilst shopping, ?Wimpy? provides either a takeaway or sit down service, as does ?The Bakers Oven? and ?Starburger?. McDonalds is situated further out of the town, on Chilton Industrial Estate, but this is a very busy restaurant, and I would not recommend it, as the restaurant is not particularly clean. ?Sylv?s Pie and Mash Shop? at the top of North Street seems to do a roaring trade, but it is one of the few eateries I have never visited in the town. There are also a host of fish and chip shops, and kebab and pizza eateries, as well as fried chicken shop. Most of the fish and chip shops in the town are pretty standard, but I would recommend Cross Street Fish and Chip Shop, for possibly the best chips in Sudbury. For a more formal meal, restaurants such as ?The Tarantella?, ?The Red Onion? and ?Huffers?, all of which offer extensive menus, and cater for vegetarians. THE STREETS *********** Sudbury is steeped in History, and some of the paths on the streets are very narrow, completely unchanged from days gone by. The local council has now given the go-ahead for the pavements to be widened along some of the roads, which will alleviate congestion, as on busy shopping days, people have to step into the road in order to pass. Along the streets are the most amazing old houses, many with exposed beams and the original window frames. Sudbury is full of old properties, and if architecture is of some interest to you, I would strongly suggest a visit.
      TRANSPORT ********** Sadly, this is the only thing that lets the town down. As in many rural areas, the bus service is lacking. The last bus leaves the bus station at 6pm in the evenings, after which time people have to rely on taxis or a lift. There is a small train station in the town, which provided a link with Colchester, where trains can be caught to travel into London. The journey takes approximately an hour and a half. I used this service every day when I worked in the City, but the smaller train from Sudbury is not particularly reliable, so it is better to drive to Colchester. EDUCATION ********** With the exception of one, the four primary schools in the town are either Church of England or Catholic run establishments. St Gregory?s seems to be the most popular choice for residents, and my niece is studying there at present. As the education system differs in Suffolk, children move to Middle School when they are nine, and again they are faced with a choice of school, All Saints Middle or Uplands. Not only do these schools serve the children of Sudbury, but also the surrounding villages, and of the two Uplands is the best at present. There is only one Secondary School in the town, Sudbury Upper School, which again serves the neighbouring villages, and although we live six miles away, my middle son will be starting his education here next year. Children spend three years at the school, unless they stay on to the sixth form. I attended the school myself, and although it is large, it does have a very good reputation. The School also has a roller skating rink and a ?Jungle Gym?, open at weekends and during the evenings, and many sports courses are run from the large Sports Hall or Gym. CHURCHES ********* The town has an amazing nine churches, which cover all the different religions, but St. Peters Church on the Market Hill, is no longer used, apart from shows and craft fairs. My
      parents were married in All Saints Church in Church Street, and my brother in The Baptist Church in the same road. We have attended numerous family weddings, christenings and funerals at the various churches, but I would have to say that my favourite is St. Gregory?s on the Croft, which is an interesting building, full of architectural history, and also some beautiful stained glass windows. SPORTS AND SOCIAL CLUBS *********************** The Kingfisher Leisure Centre in Station Road, is the most popular sports club in the town. As well as a large swimming pool, the centre offers a sauna room, Jacuzzi and gym, as well as offering swimming lessons for both the young and old. However, the gym is quite pretentious and I would strongly recommend Total Health and Fitness, which is situated in Ballingdon. The gym has no airs and graces, lycra and posing accessories are frowned upon, and the staff are friendly and cheerful. I have been a member for some time, and visit three mornings per week. Staff will give full instructions on the machinery and equipment, and will devise a programme for you after you have settled in. The tollet area is scrupulously clean, and towels are provided. The sauna and steam room can be used as part of the gym membership, which is £30 per year, and then there is an option to pay either £30 a month or £6 per session thereafter, depending on how many times you will visit during the course of a month. There is a large ten pin bowling centre on the outskirts of the town, which is a popular meeting place for young people, or families. The centre can be hired out for parties, and we have often visited for a cheap night out with the children. The town has a successful rugby club which has male, female and children?s teams, as well as running a number of courses aimed at schools or individuals, and also a number of football teams and a cricket club. My son is an avid supporter of AFC Sudbury, and goes to watch most of
      their home games. The club not only have a men?s team, but also a ladies side, and an Under 18?s. A full listing of the sports clubs in the town can be found at http://www.sudburysuffolk.com/ PARKS AND OPEN SPACES ********************** The town has many glorious walks, and the Common Lands is a very popular spot for walkers, canoeists and anglers. The fields stretch for miles, and the River Stour runs through the site, making it a picturesque place to visit. It is not uncommon to see cattle and sheep grazing on the fields, as well as a substantial amount of birdlife on the river. Bell Vue Park in the centre of the town has always been a popular place for young people and families. The park has a play area, as well as beautiful gardens, and during the Summer months, many activities are held here. The local council run a free art and craft theme during the months of August and September, and as well as various activities in which visitors may partake, there is also live music and attractions such as abseiling and rock climbing. The park also houses the skateboard park for the town, which is used by youngsters from the surrounding areas as well as those living in Sudbury, and also two tennis courts, and a roller skating rink, both very popular during the Summer months. Wild birds and small animals are also housed at the entrance to the park, making it a popular place for young children. NIGHT LIFE ********** The town had a cinema until the Eighties, which was fondly known as ?The Flea Pit?, but the regal building is now home to ?Vita?, one of the two night clubs in the town. The club hold evenings for 14-18 year olds, which always prove very popular, but ?Eastern?s?, commonly known as ?The Cattle Market? seems to be the mainstay of the night life. The club holds themed nights, and is open until the early hours. If clubbing is not on the agenda, there is a vast array of public houses in the
      town. Of course some are more lively, such as ?The Angel?, or ?The White Horse?, both of which seem to be the meeting place for club revellers, but is a quiet drink is more attractive, then head off to ?The Waggon and Horses? or ?The Bay Horse?, which are a more salubrious establishment. If, however you prefer to eat before you head off to the clubs, I would heartily recommend The Maldon Grey, a Hungry Horse Restaurant, who serve gigantic portions of beautifully cooked food. The pub is always busy, and booking is essential at weekends. HOTELS ******* For a comprehensive listing of hotels, it is advisable to call the Tourist Information Centre, sited in The Town Hall. There are a number of hotels in the town, some offering luxury accommodation, or just a bed and breakfast service. I would heartily recommend The Mill Hotel, situated off Cross Street, which has beautiful views over the Common Lands, and has the old mill wheel, still fully functionable, within its lounge. There is also a camping and caravanning site, situated on the Cornard road, if hotel prices are beyond reach, and of course a great deal of the public houses offer bed and breakfast. THE MARKET *********** Sudbury is well known locally as being ?the market town?. On Thursdays and Saturdays, the Market Hill positively bustles and is a hive of activity. Numerous stalls are erected on the hill, and traders advertising their wares can be heard all over the town. The majority of stalls sell fruit and vegetables, all locally grown, and we quite often buy on a Saturday. The prices are much cheaper than the supermarkets, and the produce is of a far superior quality. Of course, there are also clothing stalls, and those selling cheap food, but the fish man does a roaring trade, with his fresh fish from Lowestoft, and also the chest stall always has a queue. I would recommend any visitors to the area, to visit on a market day, where the true Sudbury can be seen. Local
      residents stop to chat whilst doing their shopping, and the stall holders are all friendly and know a lot of the shoppers by the first names. NEWSPAPERS *********** There are three local newspapers produced in the town. ?The Suffolk Free Press? is published each Thursday and is the favourite in our house. It?s mixture of local news, sport, and ?Let?s Go? section, detailing the attractions and events for the forthcoming weekend, are a welcome read each week. I write a small piece of village news for the paper on a sporadic basis, as well as ?The East Anglian Daily Times?. The EADT covers national as well as local news, but has a very comprehensive job listing each Wednesday. I find this newspaper to be rather more stuffy when compared to The Suffolk Free Press. I do have strong ties with the main two newspapers, as due to my job, as Clerk to the local Parish Council, I am often interviewed for articles to be published, and have formed a good working relationship with the main reporters for each of the publications. Both newspapers have websites, at www.sudburytoday.co.uk and www.eadt.co.uk. QUAY THEATRE ************* The Quay Theatre is a well established building, housed in an old maltings, off Friars Street. The Theatre offers varying programmes throughout the year, from shows and concerts, to childrens productions and pantomimes. The theatre also has a bar, which is popular with the locals, and costumes can be hired from here for fancy dress parties or the like. We have used this facility on many occasions, the most recent for a school trip, to a Victorian Day, on which I accompanied my daughter. The staff are wonderful, and nothing is too much trouble. Sudbury is a wonderful town, steeped in history, with many old buildings, restored to their original glory. The shops are plentiful, and the town seems to get busier each year. Car parking throughout the town is still free, and although there is a three hour waiting
      restriction on some of the car parks, the free car parking is one of the many reasons why I choose to shop in the town. If you ever have the chance to visit Suffolk, pop in to Sudbury, as I am sure you will be impressed. http://www.sudburysuffolk.com/ http://www.gainsborough.org/ ** This review is part of proxam's HOMETOWN challenge where members are asked to write about any aspect of their home town - or a town they'd like/not like to be their home town. **

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