Newest Review: ... of an M & S store at the nearby Ventura Park which is far better than the town centre as a shopping area. Ventura does get rammed ... more
Tamworth: A summary
Tamworth in General
Member Name: hawkida
Tamworth in General
Date: 17/04/01, updated on 17/04/01 (236 review reads)
Advantages: plenty to do, modern facilities
Disadvantages: seemingly increasing crime rates
The centre of the town is awash with history. From the 16th century castle to the story of Sir Robert Peel (founder of the police force), Tamworth has more than enough to satisfy the average historian. The town centre is a decent size with the castle grounds at its heart (see my op on the castle itself for more detail on that aspect).
Known first as a small market town, Tamworth has grown over the last twenty odd years which have seen it play host to the overspill from Birmingham. The population is now reported to be around 75,000 and the ever expanding new estates such as Stoneydelph are offering more and more facilities to residents all the time. The Stoneydelph estate, for example, offers two primary schools built in the 1980s to a modern design, a central shopping area with a spacious modern church and community centre, a health centre and an in-shop cashpoint. Bus services into the town centre are regular (usually less than a 15 minute wait) and reasonably priced, and the buses themselves are up to date with facilities for wheelchair access and easy manouvering of pushchairs.
The town centre itself comprises just a few streets but the shops are varied. There are some long standing family run retail businesses such as the art shop and the pet shop, but the common newer chains such as WH Smiths, Argos and Iceland are present as well, mainly housed in the Ankerside indoor shopping centre where the main parking complex for the town is situated. For many years the town centre was the best place to visit for shopping excursions, but in recent years the Ventura Park retail development has been building up. This is an out of town shopping area that boasts huge branches of J
JB Sport, Asda, Pet Store and many more big name stores. This is within walking distance of the town centre, although it is best accessed by car.
In transport terms, Tamworth is well served. There are regular bus services from the town centre to Sutton Coldfield and Lichfield and buses run throughout the town outskirts and into Birmingham daily. The train station is on two main lines (the station is an unusual two level structure) and affords easy access to London Euston, Preston and Scotland with many stops along the way. Again, this is an easy way to reach Birmingham, be it for the National Exhibition centre or just to shop in the city centre.
For leisure, few towns can beat Tamworth in terms of quantity. Tamworth started to build its entertainment facilities in the late 80s with the introduction of one of the first UCI multi screen cinemas. This ten screen picture house replaced the smaller one in the centre of town which has now become a facility for residents to make use of editing facilities. To complement the cinema there are now a couple of restaurants just outside the building, including a Frankie and Bennie's. The castle grounds I already mentioned are well landscaped and maintained but they also offer a more exciting form of entertainment in the shape of a bowling alley. The bowling alley is set alongside a bowling green and a large adventure playground to keep children happy. Further along from here stands the huge green building known as the snowdome - the only indoor ski slope in the country to offer a slope made of real snow. Despite being termed a ski slope, the centre is also used for both snowboarding and tobogganing at various times.
Between these facilities lies a large area of grass suitable for kite flying or dog walking, and a small skaters half-pipe is situated here. Once a year, though, this becomes the site for a rock festival during the summer and visitors are treated to new bands playing live in the town cen
tre. At bank holidays the area often becomes home to a fairground.
Meanwhile, outside of the castle grounds, the town has a number of pubs and nightclubs, some newly opened, others old favourites of many residents. It is often a livelier place at night than during the day - and should the day be market day (Tuesdays or Saturdays) then that's saying something!
Although the town is always expanding it still sits in the middle of a decent expanse of countryside and near to some farm land. The sandyback pig, also known as the Tamworth pig is still bred in the area and has also given its name to some of the local pubs. A neighbouring village, Polesworth, also holds a massive regular bank holiday market that people travel miles to visit. The Coventry canal runs through parts of Tamworth and travelling by train or boat one of the first things to see of the town is the huge expanse of woodland and lakes around an enormous slag heap, all by products of a now dormant mining era.
Although the town has plenty going for it, it is not without its problems. There has been a growing crime trend over the last fifteen years or so, as is obvious from glancing at vandalised property, such as bus stops and underpasses. The Tamworth Herald, the local newspaper seems to have far more column inches devoted to stories of attacks and fights. Tamworth hit the national news last year when Heather Tell, a teenager from the town, was found strangled after a sexual assault; this week the headlines read "Pervert strikes twice in one week". That said, the perpetrator of the former crime is thought to have been caught and is awaiting trial, and the town centre has a reliable modern CCTV network which is aiding police in pursuing crime. The community spirit of Tamworth is evident in the pages of the same paper that reported the less savoury stories as the parents of the murder victim write to thank the local arts group for a show put on in memory of their daug
On the whole Tamworth offers more plus points than negative. It is a great alternative to Birmingham for a day out as it has more to offer visitors in a smaller space. For residents there are ample facilities, plenty of communication and a nice small town feel.