“ Berkshire, England. „
Although I’m not Wokingham born and bred I do consider it to be my adopted hometown. We moved here when I was about 8 years old and over the past 13 years have lived in two different parts of the town. Most people it seems don’t actually know too much about Wokingham or even where it is so hopefully by the time you have read this you might be a little bit wiser. The town started live out as a very small village called Oakingham, deep in Windsor Great Park. That was until the turn of the last century, when a number of people from Woking (Surrey) moved to the village and changed the name. The new name Wokingham was taken from the Old Saxon farmer Wocca, with the new name meaning “Wocca’s Peoples Land”. The town used to be famous for the manufacture Wokingham Bells until the majority of manufacture moved to Reading. Now the only reminder of these works is Bell Foundry Lane as the rest has been replaced. Since these days the town has continued to grow, however many buildings are left over from the 16th Century, which dominate the towns centre. Wokingham is one of those places that seems to continue growing and has increased in size greatly over the last century. The town now encompasses many of the surrounding villages including Finchampstead, Woosehill and Emmbrook. When Berkshire was divided into separate unitary areas Wokingham District was formed. This area also covers Winnersh, Shinfield and Woodley, giving the district a large population. Although the Wokingham area is incredibly built up you can still be out in the countryside within minutes. This is one of the many factors that added to Wokingham being described as one of the most desirable places to live in Britain. Beaten only by a rural
Norfolk village. The centre of Wokingham consists of three main streets, Denmark Street, Peach Street and Broad Street. These three streets consist of the towns shopping are and all meet in one point at the Town Hall. Around this area you also have the market place. The centre has a direct access to the A329M motorway, which in turn its only a matter of minutes to the M4 and easy access to both London and Reading. This is one of the main factors that has made Wokingham such a popular place to live. You can be in Reading within 20 minutes driving or 15 by train. From Reading the train into Paddington only takes half an hour, or directly to Waterloo from Wokingham takes just under an hour. This adds to the towns appeal and draws in a high number of people who commute to London. Of course there is a lot of business locally as well with a couple of main industrial estates, where there are headquarters for several companies. The number of jobs locally also adds to the area and brings in a good mixture of commuters and locally employed people. This can be a pain in the morning; I’m just lucky I head the other way. The shopping in Wokingham isn’t the greatest. Although there are three main streets of shops they are largely taken up by one of three types of business. The main type being pubs & restaurants, followed closely behind by Estate Agents and then Charity Shops. If you looking for clothes there is only one shop where men can buy stuff and probably 3 or 4 for women. This is where Reading being so near by and accessible comes in very handy. The Oracle is easily reachable by car in around 20 minutes so it isn’t too much trouble. The planned redevelopment of a large section of the High street will hopefully add some var
iety to the shops in Wokingham but in all honesty for shopping it’s best to head for Reading. When it comes to eating and drinking that’s totally different matter. There was at one point more pubs to people ratio in Wokingham town centre than anywhere else in the country. Before I get onto the drinking establishments, I’ll concentrate on the food. There are a number of Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants scattered throughout the centre. The Sultan are Tony Blair’s preferred Chef’s if he ever wants an Indian he hires the chefs from here. The Chinese places are all takeaways with Haka probably being the best food wise. As for the Italian it would have to be Rossini’s. They do quite possibly the best Italian dishes I have ever had. As for the pubs I’ve already started cobbling together reviews on them but a few new ones have sprung up. In total I think around the town centre alone you have 15 different pubs that come to mind straight away. The best of these is probably the newly opened Lloyds No. 1 bar “The Gig House”, which is part of the old Tesco store redevelopment. Other than that I’d recommend The Raglan and The Ship. One pub that has a real locals only feel to it is the “V Bar”. Other than that the rest are very welcoming and usually not overly busy. There isn’t very much to do in Wokingham itself when it comes to touristy type things. So there aren’t that many hotels. But depending on your budget there are a couple. The more up market Cantley House Hotel and St Anne’s Manor will set you back quite a bit to stay in. If your looking for something a bit cheaper there are a few B&B’s dotted aroun
d the town, mostly centred near the train station. The town continues to grow as developers continue to find scraps of land to build on. Slowly with housing figures needing to be fulfilled it also adds a number of green field sites, which will no doubt be granted permission over the years. This has more to do with the extraordinary pull Wokingham seems to have on people. Of course that factor also influences the house prices, which in all honesty are ridiculous. If you’re looking for somewhere to come and have a lot of drinks then Wokingham is as good as any. Eating wise as well it’s well worth a night out for a meal, although most restaurants you will need to book in advance. The town still seems a million miles away from London despite the large number of people living here. It’s rare that the shops are so swamped you can’t get in and although the main streets are usually blocked with cars it isn’t normally too bad. If your thinking of a visit to Wokingham then I would encourage it, just don’t have high expectations of things to do in the ton itself. · This is an entry in the Home Towns challenge set by proxam: http://www.dooyoo.co.uk/internet/internet_sites/dooyoo_co_uk_in_general/_revie w/426988/
As there is only one other opinion on Dooyoo about Wokingham, and as it isn’t very complimentary, I decided to write this opinion. “Where is Wokingham?” I hear you ask. Well it is in between Reading and Bracknell, along the M4 corridor in the county of Berkshire. “What is special about Wokingham?” I hear you ask. Well it is an old market town dating back to the 13th Century. There are still some very attractive old buildings in the town, such as the 15th Century ‘Overhangs’ in Peach Street and Medieval houses in Rose Street. Therefore it is full of character. “And modern day Wokingham?” Well in more recent years Wokingham is more famed for its quantity of pubs, and according to surveys, being a very affluent town. The town has plenty of shops and amenities for its population of about 30,000. These include a Night-club, Wine Bars, Ten Pin Bowling Alley, Swimming Pool with Fitness Centre, Sports Centre, Golf Clubs and enough restaurants and pubs to fit all tastes. Wokingham is definitely alive at night, and it even has a web site dedicated to its many pubs! -http://www.wokinghampubs.co.uk. It also has its own Football Team. The town’s affluence comes from the high employment in this region. Wokingham is in the heart of the so-called “Silicon Valley” and also has an Industrial Estate. There are some good secondary schools also. Thanks to the Wokingham Round Table, every Christmas they put on a Winter Festival. The town is closed to traffic and there are loads of stalls, many of them craft stalls. Then there is a long procession of floats and Morris Dancers etc, followed by Father Christmas of course. This is followed by a Carol Concert under the Christmas tree to get you in the Christmas spirit. It is usually very popular and gets very crowded. This year it is being held on 3rd December. “And the worst things about Wokingham” you a
sk! It has grown far too quickly in the last 15 years. Loads of nice areas are being built on, and villages like Winnersh, Finchampstead, and Barkham are being swallowed up. Although the population has grown there have been NO new roads built in Wokingham for at least 30 years, so traffic problems have to on this list. There is also an annoying one way system around the town. Because of its popularity house prices are even higher than the already inflated prices in surrounding areas. But, all in all, this is a very pleasant town.
Wokingham (in Berkshire) is often a town confused with Woking (Surrey). In fact, just like the A329M which connects Bracknell and Reading and bypasses Wokingham – life and progress have tended to pass Wokingham by. So what, where and when is Wokingham? Well it’s the town after which Wokingham District Council is named. It’s a market town about 10 miles east of Reading and about 4 miles west of Bracknell. It has a population of about 30,000 people. If you think parts of Reading are expensive, you can add another 20% to a house price for the privilege of living in Wokingham. Its smack bang in the middle of the Thames (Silicon) Valley and it keeps cropping up in surveys as a healthy place to live and with a high proportion of houses with 2 or more bathrooms. It is for these sort of reasons that Wokingham District gets a relative poor level of financial support from Central Government compared with say Reading or Slough. If you happen to visit Wokingham, the first thing you notice is its odd one way system. It doesn’t have a ring road (there was an attempt to design one a number of years ago and it nearly ended in civil war) and so to get from say the west of the town to the east, you have to do a big loop. Wokingham is a market town, but its market today is a relatively small number of stalls next to Wokingham Town Hall. Compared with its bigger brothers Bracknell and Reading, Wokingham has relatively few facilities. It possesses a swimming pool, a sports centre, a number of schools (both private and state), and new library. It has few decent shops. Okay there is a small Woollies, and a Marks & Sparks food Hall, but other than these and a small Boots – there is little else apart from shoe shops, the odd bank and an Oddbins. There’s no castle, Georgian streets, river with swans – to make it stand out and want you to visit it for a day out. One facility that Wokingham does lack is an
Arts Centre/theatre. For a town of its size it does not possess a facility. Bracknell has the excellent Southill Park Arts Centre and Reading has the Hexagon - but Wokingham has nothing. What Wokingham does have are restaurants. It’s become a bit foody with a number of high-class restaurants. I would list a few if I visited the town enough - but as I don't want/need to - I will leave this to those in the know. From a political point of view, Wokingham is quite interesting in that it doesn’t have a County Council. Berkshire was abolished in 1998 and Wokingham is a unitary authority which means it provides all council functions including education, social services and highways. Many see Wokingham District Council as being too small and feel that it should be chopped up and swallowed by Reading and Bracknell Borough Council. In fact Wokingham wasn't going to exist as a Unitary at all - it was considered too small. Only the intervention of its MP John Redwood made it happen. There is a railway station in the town on the Reading to Waterloo and Gatwick airport lines. I wouldn’t recommend the train to Waterloo. It takes about an hour and stops at most stations on the way. It runs to a 1937 timetable and takes as long as the trains did before the war (seriously). Train services to Waterloo are provided by South West Trains and they still have those draughty slam door electric stock. The Gatwick Service is provided by Thames Trains. When I first wrote this opinion, I must admit I did it in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion. And okay I used the word 'posh' a great deal which annoyed a few people. Let me for once be deadly serious. Wokingham is okay - its not poor nor is it memorable. It doesn't have that much going for it that you would visit the town especially for the shopping or the sights. It is a smallish town stuck in the middle of Reading (to the west) and Bracknell (to
the east). It is bypassed by the A329M. Wokingham is also surrounded by a number of picturesque villages e.g. Hurst, Wargrave, and Arborfield. The other big towns are Earley and Woodley to the west on the Reading boundary. Having re-written this and removed a few 'posh' words - do I feel any different ? NO - affluent town - yes, nice place to live - of course, interesting - not really.