Thames Valley Area Guide: Swallowfield

The Thames Valley area is rich with many thousands of small communities that are often unknown to many of us, even on our own back doorstep. With this in mind, we’ve decided to take a closer look at some of the gems in our area with our focus this week being on Swallowfield in Berkshire.

Swallowfield: A Snapshot

Swallowfield is a small parish to the south of Reading and is a part of the Wokingham unitary authority. Although the parish boundaries include other villages such as Riseley and Farley Hill, Swallowfield itself is a village of under 700 people.

It is regarded as a rural community and although it enjoys a convenient position close to Reading and Wokingham, there are few public transport services running directly to Swallowfield.

Residents can use the village shop, Swallowfield Post Office and Parish Stores, for daily convenience as well as accessing a centrally located pub, The Crown.

There are a couple of locations of interest in the parish including the nature reserve, Swallowfield Meadow. Just 1.8 acres large, the meadows were a former coal yard but reverted to the parish in the 1990s after a new development of houses was begun. It has a small population of water vole as well as native flora. Along the river is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI), so designated due to the presence of some rare aquatic plants.

blackwater river swallowfield area guide

Benefiting from beautiful countryside, Swallowfield sits on the River Blackwater. Image via Geograph.

In addition, the village is the site for Swallowfield Park, a 17th century former stately home that was split into private residences in 2003.

Though a quiet and picturesque Berkshire village with no real commuter traffic, Swallowfield throws open its doors once a year for their annual summer show. A huge event and held in the grounds of Swallowfield Park, the event attracts thousands of people over the August bank holiday and boasts a huge range of activities, exhibitors and stalls including crafts, food and drink as well as horticultural.

Swallowfield: The Detail

So, where exactly is Swallowfield, what are the residents like and what kind of facilities can you find here?

Location

Swallowfield is well situated for easy access to both the A33 and the M4 (Junction 11) however it doesn’t have its own railway station and has very few scheduled buses.

The closest British Rail station can be found at Mortimer which is 4.5 miles to the west and is situated on the GWR Reading to Basingstoke line. To the north-east lies the Winnersh station which is served by the SWR Reading-Waterloo line.

Swallowfield offers easy commuter access (by car) to Reading, Basingstoke, Bracknell and Wokingham as well as their surrounding villages and towns.

Although a Berkshire village, Swallowfield is just one mile north of the boundary with Hampshire.

Demographics and Stats of Swallowfield

A small community of just 656 people, Swallowfield itself is deemed a village surrounded by inhabited countryside. The typical resident is categorised by the UK Census (2011) as being Prospering Suburbs: Prospering Older Families and Countryside: Village Life.

swallowfield village area guide

Swallowfield is a quintessentially peaceful Berkshire village. Image via Geograph.

The average age of residents is a median 45.5 years old with the majority of those in employment having professional occupations or are managers, directors or senior officials (45.75%).

The village proper incorporates just 237 households and is centred around a dozen or so postcodes.

Extending to include the other small villages such as Riseley and Farley Hill, Swallowfield still only incorporates around 2000 residents.

The crime rate in the village is moderate compared to residential areas of surrounding towns like Wokingham and low when compared to Reading and Basingstoke.

Superfast broadband is available in Swallowfield with the current maximum download speeds being around 66 Mb/s.

Education

Swallowfield has no schools within the village itself but is served by the surrounding communities.

Primary provision is located at:

  • Lambs Lane Primary School, Back Lane, Spencers Wood, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 1JB
  • Shinfield St Mary’s CofE Junior School, Chestnut Crescent, Shinfield, Reading, Berkshire, RG2 9EJ
  • Shinfield Infant and Nursery School, School Green, Shinfield, Reading, Berkshire, RG2 9EH
  • Farley Hill Primary School, Church Road, Farley Hill, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 1UB
  • Grazeley Parochial Church of England Aided Primary School, Mereoak Lane, Grazeley, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 1JY

With the exception of Lambs Lane which needs improvement, Ofsted has awarded each of the school’s as being ‘Good’.

Secondary provision is a littler further afield with the main schools being either in Wokingham or Reading. The new Bohunt School at Arborfield is the closest in terms of distance. Other options for secondary schools include:

  • Oakbank, Hyde End Lane, Ryeish Green, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 1ER
  • Maiden Erlegh School, Silverdale Road, Earley, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 7HS
  • The Bulmershe School, Woodlands Avenue, Woodley, Reading, Berkshire, RG5 3EU
  • The Emmbrook School, Emmbrook Road, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG41 1JP
  • St Crispin’s School, London Road, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 1SS
  • Waingels, Waingels Road, Woodley, Reading, Berkshire, RG5 4RF
  • The Piggott School, Twyford Road, Wargrave, Reading, Berkshire, RG10 8DS

All of these schools have been rated by Ofsted as ‘Good’.

There are two same-sex education schools in Wokingham, The Forest School for boys which, according to the latest Ofsted inspection, needs improvement and The Holt School which is rates by Ofsted as ‘Outstanding’.

Our best picks for…

…a traditional pub welcome.

The George & Dragon on Church Road is a relaxed country pub that has a great reputation for its food, drink and ambience. A Grade 2 Listed property, the building dates back to 17th century and was a coach house until the turn of the 20th century. Since then it has been a popular drinking holes for locals as well as passing visitors and continues to receive exceptional praise across tourism sites like Trip Advisor. With open fires, wooden beams and cosy seating the pub is dog-friendly and is ideally situated to be the start or end of a great country walk around the area.

george and dragon best pub swallowfield

The George & Dragon is a homely and traditional English pub. Image via Geograph.

…a riverside walk.

Swallowfield sits on the Blackwater River which is a tributary of the River Loddon and there are a couple of lovely walks to take advantage of this great location. In fact, the George and Dragon’s website has the details of a lovely circular 4-mile walk which takes in the riverside setting.

If you are interested in fishing, then the Swallowfield Fishing Club manages this section of the river. It has a good reputation for its management and is recognised as a high quality fishery for specimen sized coarse fish including barbel but also brown trout.

…some vintage delights.

Situated in Sheepbridge Court Farms, the treasure trove that is Alex Vintage Furniture hides some real gems of upcycled and retro home décor. From creatively reimagined utility items to some bold statement pieces, the showroom is manned by a friendly team of artistic staff who are on hand to take commissions or give some advice on their workmanship. A real gem of a shop.

Housing in Swallowfield

Properties do tend to come to market quite rarely in Swallowfield with only 16 transactions being recorded in the last year. Most of these were terraced properties which fetched an average of £320,286; compared to neighbouring Wokingham where the average terraced house is £316,358, prices are 1.24% higher for this type of accommodation.

house prices swallowfield

House prices in Swallowfield are higher than in surrounding areas as there are fewer houses and even less new homes. Image via Geograph.

The average price for a semi-detached home is not dissimilar to that of a terraced property at £352,200 which is much lower than in Wokingham (12.41%). However, a detached home will cost on average £721,400 or 13.87% more than in Wokingham.

The overall average house price in the area equates to £435,313 which is 2.53% higher than in Wokingham and a similar margin above the surrounding districts of Three Mile Cross, Spencer’s Wood and Shinfield.

If you are considering a house purchase in and around the Swallowfield area and would like to know more about your options then contact Property Assistant. We like to make sure that buyers know as much about an area as possible before making a decision on their new home.

Featured image via Geograph.

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Thames Valley Area Guide: Ascot

Principally known for being the home of the Royal Ascot Racecourse, Ascot is a small town in East Berkshire. It also has a reputation for being one of the most expensive places in the UK, both to rent or buy a property.

In this guide, we take a close look at what Ascot has to offer its residents as well as focus on the demographics, facilities and our top picks for things to do in the town.

Ascot: A Snapshot

Life, and the facilities, in Ascot tends to be focused around the racecourse with the main high street running parallel to the course itself. You can find all of the essential services including a supermarket (Tesco Express), banks, library, police station, cafes and small independent shops.

explore the ascot area

Ascot is a commuter town with a small high street. Image via Geograph.

The town is also the site of the local NHS hospital, Heatherwood. Though it has no emergency facilities, it is the closest facility for minor injuries to the surrounding area of Bracknell, Sunninghill and Bagshot.

Notable residents of Ascot include Chris Evans and Marti Pellow as well as being the home of both Ringo Starr and John Lennon for a time.

Of course, the face of this small commuter town changes entirely during Royal Ascot Week when the racecourse plays host to the world’s most famous horse race meeting. Dating back to 1711, the event (and the build-up) has a huge impact on local services including trains, traffic and businesses.

Ascot: The Detail

Part of the civil parish of Sunninghill and Ascot, administration of the town itself is split between Bracknell Forest Borough Council and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead unitary authority.

It has long been a part of the Crown Estate and the racecourse is still technically owned by the Queen. The history of Ascot and its racecourse can be dated to the early 18th century when Queen Anne noted the open heathland was an ideal place to gallop. Not five miles from Windsor Castle, she founded the racecourse and the first meeting was held in 1711 to contest for Her Majesty’s Plate.

Location

Ascot is situated 10 miles to the east of Bracknell and south of Windsor. Like Bracknell, Ascot is well located for the M3, M25 and M4, being just a ten-minute drive from the former.

Ascot is also on the main Reading-Waterloo line being under an hour from London Waterloo. You can also change at Ascot for services to Aldershot, Guildford and Bagshot.

thames valley area guide asoct

Ascot is less than an hour by train to London Waterloo. Image via Wikimedia.

Demographics of Ascot

Categorised by the Office for National Statistics as being a commuter suburb, Ascot is part of Bracknell Forest Borough Council.

At the last census report, a total of 5,753 residents were recorded in a total of 2,228 households, being split as follows:

  • Detached house or bungalow: 718
  • Semi-detached house or bungalow: 1011
  • Terraced house or bungalow: 185
  • Flat, maisonette or apartment: 297
  • Caravan or other mobile or temporary structure: 17

The occupations of residents in Ascot is varied but the majority are employed in professional or senior roles:

  • Managers, directors and senior officials: 16.6197%
  • Professional occupations: 22.2183%
  • Associate professional and technical occupations: 17.0775%
  • Administrative and secretarial occupations: 11.5845%
  • Skilled trades occupations: 8.9789%
  • Caring, leisure and other service occupations: 8.9437%
  • Sales and customer service occupations: 5.1761%
  • Process, plant and machine operatives: 2.7465%
  • Elementary occupations : 6.6549%

The vast majority of resident are either in very good or good health (87.6%) with just 0.49% being in very bad health.

27% of the population are under the age of 18 with 16% over the age of 65, the median age is 40 years old.

Education

Ascot itself has a couple of primary schools with South Ascot Village Primary School and St Francis Catholic Primary School, classed as being ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ respectively in their latest Ofsted reports.

There are also several independent schools including Heathfield School, the LVS and Papplewick as well as St George’s School, The Marist Preparatory School, and St Mary’s in neighbouring Sunninghill and Cheapside. St George’s has the prestige of being attended by Princess Beatrice of York; St Mary’s was the school of choice for Caroline, Princess of Hanover.

Secondary education is provided by the Charters School in Sunninghill which is an ‘Outstanding’ school.

Our best picks for…

…eating out.

La Sorrentina on Sunninghill High Street has a great reputation for its Italian food including seafood, steaks and classic pasta dishes. It’s a modern restaurant but is far from pretentious and doesn’t have a price tag to suit the local property prices.

eating out ascot

Reviews for La Sorrentina are excellent. Image via website.

…live music.

Jagz is situated right outside the train station and has a reputation for incorporating several entertainment venues in one. It offers a nightclub, bar and live music platform. During the summer, the place can get exceptionally busy and during Royal Ascot Week there is always a big queue to get in.

However, off-season, there are plenty of events being run including Northern Soul, tribute acts and even cabaret nights. It’s a popular but intimate venue and offers membership if you want to be guaranteed entrance.

…picking up a gift.

Little Wishes on Ascot High Street is a cute little boutique gift shop offering an intriguing selection of toys and inspirational knick-knacks.

It’s quite small but stock changes all the time so it’s worth dropping in to see what’s new. Little ones can play with the train set play table whilst you enjoy a browse.

They are open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5.30pm.

…a sweet treat.

On the high street you can find a small bakery, Anne-Marie Patisseries that serves some wonderful cakes and bakes. It’s best to hit the shop as early as you can as most of the best treats are sold well before lunch. It’s a small shop but they often have a few tables outside on sunny days where you can get a coffee.

…horsing around.

Of course, no experience of Ascot would be complete without spending some time at the racecourse. Whilst the main event of Royal Ascot Week is certainly worth attending, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the facilities on offer at this landmark location. As well as other racing events, you can also experience open air cinema, fine-dining plus some great events.

They regularly hold the festival of Food and Wine, Beer Festival and fireworks spectaculars. See their website for details.

ascot area guide

Ascot wouldn’t be Ascot without the racecourse. Image via Flickr.

Housing in Ascot

The overall average house price in Ascot is a whopping £871,508 which is 45.49% more than nearby Sunningdale and 83% more than Winkfield Row.

The majority of houses that have been sold over the last few decades have been detached where the average house price is £1,449,697. A semi-detached property is priced at around £530,936 with flats being £595,703.

House prices over the last 12 months have increased by 8% and by 22% since 2014.

ascot house prices

House prices in Ascot are among the highest in the UK. Image via RightMove.

If you are considering a move to Ascot or looking to sell your home then we would love to hear from you. We think it’s important that you know all you can about an area before you buy property and, as trusted local estate agents, we think we are well placed to give you all the information you need.

Property Assistant is an independent, family-run estate agent serving clients across the Thames Valley specialising in property sales and lettings. Contact us today on 0118 912 2370 to discuss your plans for your next move.

Featured image via Geograph.

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Cost of Living: Wokingham Compared

Often ranked as one of the best places to live in the UK, Wokingham is a popular commuter town for people working in cities like London, Winchester and Oxford or commercial towns like Reading, Bracknell and Basingstoke.

You can find a more comprehensive guide about why Wokingham is so popular in either our Thames Valley Area Guide or Wokingham: The Happiest Place to Live. But, in this guide, we wanted to look at the cost of living in this popular market town.

Cost of Living: Wokingham vs London

No-one will be surprised that the cost of living in Wokingham is lower when compared to the nation’s capital. London has a reputation for being an expensive place to live and, in January 2018, was ranked the highest cost for property rents in Europe for the third year running. But, how does the overall cost of living in Wokingham compare to the capital?

cost of living wokingham

A Wokingham is a popular commuter town for people working in London. Image via Wikimedia.

According to the global crowd-sourcing database, Numbeo, you would need around £3,388 in Wokingham to maintain the same standard of living that you can achieve on average in the capital. This is based on a figure of £4,400 per month for living and renting in London.

This is made up of the following differences in the following important indices:

  • Consumer prices (excluding rent) are 13.87% lower.
  • Consumer prices (including rent) are 24.71% lower.
  • Rent prices are 38.68% lower.
  • Restaurant prices are 4.04% lower.
  • Grocery prices are 16.15% lower.
  • Local purchasing power is 57.67% higher.

Restaurants (Wokingham vs London)

There is little difference in the cost of restaurant prices between London and Wokingham with the main difference being in the cost of alcohol.

  London Wokingham Difference
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant  £    15.00  £    15.00      0.00 %
Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course  £    50.00  £    47.50      -5.00 %
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal)  £       5.50  £       5.00      -9.09 %
Domestic Beer (0.5 litre draught)  £       4.50  £       3.80      -15.56 %
Imported Beer (0.33 litre bottle)  £       4.50  £       3.60      -20.00 %
Cappuccino (regular)  £       2.68  £       2.60      -3.14 %
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle)  £       1.22  £       1.21      -1.24 %
Water (0.33 litre bottle)  £       0.95  £       0.98      +3.12 %

 

Markets (Wokingham vs London)

The cost of groceries in Wokingham are all cheaper than in London with the only exception being rice and water from a standardised list of items used to compare shopping costs.

  London Wokingham Difference
Milk (regular), (1 litre)  £       0.92  £ 0.85      -7.37 %
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g)  £       1.07  £ 0.90      -15.42 %
Rice (white), (1kg)  £       1.46  £ 1.50      +2.72 %
Eggs (regular) (12)  £       2.15  £ 1.90      -11.80 %
Local Cheese (1kg)  £       5.77  £ 4.70      -18.53 %
Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (1kg)  £       6.69  £ 5.25      -21.48 %
Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat)  £       8.61  £ 7.00      -18.66 %
Apples (1kg)  £       2.03  £ 1.98      -2.45 %
Banana (1kg)  £       1.06  £ 0.89      -16.15 %
Oranges (1kg)  £       1.74  £ 1.20      -31.01 %
Tomato (1kg)  £       2.36  £ 2.20      -6.87 %
Potato (1kg)  £       1.36  £ 1.00      -26.38 %
Onion (1kg)  £       1.17  £ 1.00      -14.36 %
Lettuce (1 head)  £       0.81  £ 0.59      -26.10 %
Water (1.5 litre bottle)  £       1.02  £ 1.05      +2.97 %
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)  £       8.00  £ 7.00      -12.50 %
Domestic Beer (0.5 litre bottle)  £       1.63  £ 0.88      -46.37 %
Imported Beer (0.33 litre bottle)  £       2.07  £ 1.23      -40.35 %
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro)  £    10.00  £ 8.50      -15.00 %
wokingham cost of living

The average cost of a weekly shop is lower in Wokingham than in London. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Transportation (Wokingham vs London)

Surprisingly, whilst the overall costs of transportation in Wokingham are lower, it is local transport which is more expensive. This will be no surprise to regular bus and train users and just validates the good value that Transport for London offers its users.

  London Wokingham Difference
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)  £           2.50  £           4.50      +80.00 %
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)  £      132.00  £         65.00      -50.76 %
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)  £           3.45  £           3.90      +13.04 %
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff)  £           3.00  £           1.50      -50.00 %
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff)  £         30.00  £         10.00      -66.67 %
Gasoline (1 litre)  £           1.21  £           1.14      -5.79 %
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 (Or Equivalent New Car)  £20,000.00  £ 18,000.00      -10.00 %
Toyota Corolla 1.6l (Or Equivalent New Car)  £20,336.93  £ 23,000.00      +13.09 %

 

Utilities (Wokingham vs London)

The cost of gas, electricity and water were all higher in Wokingham than in London though internet and mobile charges are lower.

  London Wokingham Difference
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment  £  135.61  £155.25      +14.48 %
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans)  £       0.11  £     0.10      -7.53 %
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)  £     28.89  £   27.50      -4.81 %

 

Sports & Leisure (Wokingham vs London)

Reflecting the higher rental and business rates, entertainment and leisure facilities in London are much higher than in Wokingham.

  London Wokingham Difference
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult  £    48.08  £   30.00      -37.61 %
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend)  £     11.33  £   10.00      -11.76 %
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat  £     12.00  £   10.00      -16.67 %

 

Childcare (Wokingham vs London)

Comparing the cost for childcare, Wokingham is also significantly cheaper than the capital.

  London Wokingham Difference
Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child  £   1,125.75  £    766.67      -31.90 %
International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child  £15,852.94  £6,000.00      -62.15 %
childcare costs wokingham

Childcare costs are lower in Wokingham than in London. Image via Flickr.

Rent (Wokingham vs London)

Though property rental prices in Wokingham are higher than the national average, compared to London, they are much lower.

  London Wokingham Difference
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre  £         1,628.35  £1,250.00      -23.23 %
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre  £         1,181.22  £    850.00      -28.04 %
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre  £        2,984.96  £1,400.00      -53.10 %
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre  £         1,975.19  £1,275.00      -35.45 %

 

Property Prices (Wokingham vs London)

The overall average price of a house in London was £619,181 compared to £473,331 in Wokingham; that’s a difference of 23.56%.

Salaries & Financing (Wokingham vs London)

Though the average salary is lower than in London, the cost of a mortgage is cheaper.

  London Wokingham Difference
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) £2,358.74 £2,800.00      +18.71 %
Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly, for 20 Years Fixed-Rate 3.15 2.9      -7.69 %

 

Cost of Living: Wokingham vs Reading

Compared to Reading, Wokingham is, surprisingly for some, cheaper when it comes to achieving the same standard of living. In fact, you would need £3,511.32 to maintain the same lifestyle in Reading as you would in Wokingham.

This is broken down as follows:

  • Consumer Prices in Reading are 10.67% higher than in Wokingham
  • Consumer Prices Including Rent in Reading are 3.27% higher than in Wokingham
  • Rent Prices in Reading are 10.11% lower than in Wokingham
  • Restaurant Prices in Reading are 3.12% higher than in Wokingham
  • Groceries Prices in Reading are 24.51% higher than in Wokingham
  • Local Purchasing Power in Reading is 17.53% lower than in Wokingham
reading vs wokingham compared

Reading is more expensive to live than Wokingham. Image via Flickr.

Cost of Living: Wokingham vs UK National Average

Compared to the rest of the UK, the cost of living in Wokingham is higher with costs in each of the following key areas breaking down as follows:

Restaurants

 UK National  Wokingham  Difference
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant  £            12.00  £           15.00 20.00%
Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course  £           45.00  £           47.50 5.26%
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal)  £              5.00  £             5.00 0.00%
Domestic Beer (0.5 litre draught)  £              3.50  £             3.80 7.89%
Imported Beer (0.33 litre bottle)  £              3.50  £             3.60 2.78%
Cappuccino (regular)  £              2.55  £             2.60 1.92%
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle)  £               1.17  £             1.21 3.31%
Water (0.33 litre bottle)  £             0.88  £             0.98 10.20%

 

Markets

 UK National  Wokingham  Difference
Milk (regular), (1 liter)  £              0.89  £             0.85 -4.71%
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g)  £              0.95  £             0.90 -5.56%
Rice (white), (1kg)  £               1.21  £             1.50 19.33%
Eggs (regular) (12)  £              1.86  £             1.90 2.11%
Local Cheese (1kg)  £              5.33  £             4.70 -13.40%
Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (1kg)  £              5.82  £             5.25 -10.86%
Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat)  £              7.66  £             7.00 -9.43%
Apples (1kg)  £              1.82  £             1.98 8.08%
Banana (1kg)  £              1.00  £             0.89 -12.36%
Oranges (1kg)  £               1.64  £             1.20 -36.67%
Tomato (1kg)  £              1.80  £             2.20 18.18%
Potato (1kg)  £               1.17  £             1.00 -17.00%
Onion (1kg)  £              0.93  £             1.00 7.00%
Lettuce (1 head)  £              0.73  £             0.59 -23.73%
Water (1.5 liter bottle)  £              1.00  £             1.05 4.76%
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)  £              7.00  £             7.00 0.00%
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle)  £               1.56  £             0.88 -77.27%
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle)  £               1.71  £             1.23 -39.02%
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro)  £               9.30  £             8.50 -9.41%

 

Transportation

 UK National  Wokingham  Difference
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)  £               2.40  £             4.50 46.67%
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)  £             60.00  £           65.00 7.69%
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)  £               3.00  £             3.90 23.08%
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff)  £               1.55  £             1.50 -3.33%
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff)  £             20.00  £           10.00 -100.00%
Gasoline (1 liter)  £               1.17  £             1.14 -2.63%
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car)  £     18,000.00  £   18,000.00 0.00%
Toyota Corolla 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car)  £     18,107.19  £   23,000.00 21.27%
local transport wokingham

Overall, transport costs in Wokingham are higher than the UK national average. Image via Wikimedia.

Utilities

 UK National  Wokingham  Difference
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment  £           140.47  £         155.25 9.52%
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans)  £               0.14  £             0.10 -40.00%
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)  £             26.05  £           27.50 5.27%

 

Sports & Leisure

 UK National  Wokingham  Difference
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult  £             31.32  £           30.00 -4.40%
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend)  £               9.66  £           10.00 3.40%
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat  £             10.00  £           10.00 0.00%

 

Childcare

 UK National  Wokingham  Difference
Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child  £           846.37  £         766.67 -10.40%
International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child  £     12,863.14  £     6,000.00 -114.39%

 

Rent

 UK National  Wokingham  Difference
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre  £           752.57  £     1,250.00 39.79%
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre  £           601.66  £         850.00 29.22%
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre  £       1,204.02  £     1,400.00 14.00%
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre  £           928.29  £     1,275.00 27.19%

 

Property Prices

The average UK house price is currently £211,625 compared to £473,311 which makes house prices in Wokingham a staggering 124% higher.

Salaries & Financing

 UK National  Wokingham  Difference
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax)  £       1,795.04  £     2,800.00 35.89%
Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly, for 20 Years Fixed-Rate  £               3.23  £             2.90 -11.38%

 

Property Assistant Wokingham are local estate agents working in the Keller Williams Network. We offer a refreshing change from many people’s perception of property agents. A family run business with a focus on offering a professional but personable service, we pride ourselves on telling our clients what they need to know, not what they want to hear.

If you are considering a move, in or around the Thames Valley area, then we’d love to hear from you; renting, buying, selling or downsizing, we call help you find your perfect home today.

Featured image via Geograph.

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Thames Valley Area Guide: Binfield

With a population of around 9000 people, the village of Binfield is a small Berkshire parish occupying land between Warfield, Shurlock Row, Bracknell and Wokingham. A part of the Bracknell Forest District Council, it is classed as an urban town but enjoys a rural feel with plenty of its own facilities yet enjoying easy access to some great transport links.

In the latest in our series of Thames Valley Area Guides, we take a closer look at the parish of Binfield including some historic information, facts and figures as well as offering our suggestions on the best the village has to offer.

Binfield: A Snapshot

The history of the village of Binfield dates back to the 14th century when the area formed part of the royal hunting grounds of the Old Windsor Forest. The parish’s oldest pub is though to have been the headquarters for the Royal gamekeepers and marked the centre of the hunting grounds. Certainly the building was used for lodging royal guests as well as harbouring parliamentarian soldiers during the civil war.

stag and hounds binfield pub

The Stag and Hounds is an important historic building. Image via Geograph.

As the surrounding woodland was cleared after the Enclosure Act of 1813, the village grew around local farms with agricultural workers and landowners settling in the area. Private dwellings and small communities grew around the existing landmarks of Binfield Manor (built in 1754), All Saints Church (7th and mid-19th century) and Binfield House (built in 1776).

As well as agriculture, the area was once known for its brickmaking with the Brick & Tile Works once occupying the site of the John Nike Leisure Centre. It was from this venue that bricks were used to build the Royal Albert Hall.

For a small parish, Binfield has plenty of great facilities including a community social club (Binfield Club) local post office, bakery, village shop and pharmacy. You can also find a local Co-Op, Chinese takeaway, barbers and hair salon, florist, fish & chip shop, coffee shop, boutique charity shop and nail and beauty parlour.

Binfield: The Detail

Location

Situated to the north east of Wokingham and the north west of Bracknell, the boundaries of Binfield village have slowly become blurred over the years. Once enjoying rural isolation, the area actually extends far beyond the central village which most people associate with this small parish. Stretching north to the M4 at Shurlock Row and south, beyond the A329 to Peacock’s Farm and the new Jennett’s Park development, Binfield effectively joins the two towns of Bracknell and Wokingham, east to west.

Enjoying the same great transports links as its neighbours, the village is well located for access to the M4, M3 and M25 as well as the A30. It is a popular commuter town for Bracknell, Reading and London as well as Windsor, Staines and Slough.

Both Bracknell and Wokingham have great rail links, both being situated on the Reading-Waterloo line with the latter also offering direct access to Gatwick and Guildford.

newbold college binfield

Newbold College, Binfield. Image via Wikimedia.

Demographics of Binfield

Binfield actually shares a ward with Warfield and the census data and statistics are shared across both parishes.

  • 22% of the population are aged under 17, 63% are aged between 18 and 64 with the remaining 15% being of retirement age.
  • The ethnic diversity of Binfield is predominantly white (88%)
  • The unemployment and long-term unemployment rates are below the mean average for the district.
  • 10.2% of the residents have no qualifications.
  • 58% of the population are in very good health, 31.8% in good health, 7.8% in fair health, 1.9% in bad health and 0.5% in very bad health.

Of the 18 wards which make up Bracknell Forest, Binfield with Warfield have the 15th most deprived population with 7.2% of children at risk of living in poverty. This is lower than the overall average of 11.7% for the district.

Education

Binfield has no secondary schools of its own but does have a primary school which feeds students into either St Crispin’s in Wokingham or one of the schools in Bracknell like Garth Hill, Brackenhale or Easthampstead Park.

The Binfield Church of England Primary School was last inspected by Oftsed in 2018 whereupon it received a ‘Good’ rating. The report maintained the previous assessment of ‘Good’ from 2013 with the report demonstrating positive developments in leadership and management, safety, behaviour and quality of teaching. The school has a positive spirit and a strong ethos ‘to make learning utterly irresistible for all pupils and staff’.

The village also has a pre-school and an independent day school, the Seventh Day Adventist Newbold School for ages 2-11.

Our best picks for…

…eating out.

Binfield is home to a fine dining Indian & Bangladeshi restaurant, the Daruchini Brasserie. A newly opened establishment, the restaurant is situated on St. Mark’s Road and has been receiving some excellent reviews. Running a takeaway service and a Sunday buffet, the menu covers some well-known and popular dishes as well as some speciality chef’s recommendations and Bangladeshi specials.

eating out binfield daruchini brasserie

Serving a cracking curry and some interesting dishes, Daruchini in Binfield. Image via website.

…getting a pint.

You are spoiled for choice in the small village of Binfield with some excellent traditional English pubs in the immediate vicinity. There are three good pubs in Binfield:

The Jack O’Newbury is a Freehouse and is well-known in the area for its excellent range of real ales. It is a popular pub in the summer with a large beer garden in addition to its indoor skittle alley, great menu and friendly welcome. In winter months, a real open fire is yet another temptation to stop in for a cosy evening.

The Victoria Arms can offer you more of the same with a lovely traditional interior complete with log fire, well kept gardens and a nice selection of ales and food. At present, the pub is part of the Fullers Brewery but the place has a homely feel to it with lots of personal touches. Fleeces are on hand for customers to use if they get chilly sitting outside in the evenings and dog biscuits are given out for ‘well-behaved owners’. There is always a good social scene here and you can find live sports as well as quiz nights and other community events.

Located between Binfield and Warfield, The Stag & Hounds is the oldest pub in Binfield with parts of the historic building dating back to the 14th century. Once used as a hunting lodge for Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, the pub is reportedly the site of the centre of the old Windsor Forest. They have a modern dining menu and excellent choice of beer. It gets very busy in the summer so if you visit on a hot sunny day, be prepared to wait a while.

…a bit of the countryside on your doorstep.

Pope’s Meadow in Binfield is a small area of parkland which offers a little respite for locals. Sized at around 13 acres, this local wildlife site has a toddlers playground, orienteering course and kickabout area. There is a small pond with picnic benches and it is a popular place for cyclists, dog walkers and ramblers (the meadow is part of the wider Bracknell Forest Ramblers Route). Holding a Green Flag award, Pope’s Meadow is named after one time resident of the adjoining manor the 18th century poet, Alexander Pope.

…Some Alpine Fun.

Binfield is home to one of Bracknell’s most popular leisure venues, the John Nike Leisuresport Complex. The home venue for the Bracknell Bees Ice Hockey Team, the facility incorporates a Permasnow ski-slope, ice-skating rink, hotel, spa and nightclub.

Not only can you enjoy skiing, snow-boarding and skating but snow-tubing as well. The Alpine Lodge Bar and Restaurant is a great place to recover from an exhilarating experience whilst you watch others on the slopes.

john nike ski centre binfield

The dry ski slopes at the John Nike centre have been a dominant feature since it was built in 1985. Image via Geograph.

Housing in Binfield

According to data recorded by the Land Registry, the average house price in Binfield is currently £462,959 which is broken down as follows:

  • Terraced houses – £425,064
  • Semi-detached houses – £488,049
  • Detached houses – £645,541

The average price of a residential property in Binfield is similar to Warfield (£462,959) and Wokingham (£473,331) but more expensive than Bracknell (£350,905).

Year on year, house prices in Binfield have risen by 4% and 17% versus 2015.

Building stock in Binfield ranges from period properties to modern homes, however there is predominantly a large supply of family-sized houses as opposed to starter homes.

Almost 50% of the total 3625 dwellings in Binfield with Warfield are detached.

If you are considering a move to the Binfield area and would like to know more about local amenities, house prices or anything else that might affect a relocation then we’d love to help. Property Assistant Wokingham is a local estate agent offering a range of personal but professional services designed to make your next house move an easy one. Contact us today on 0118 912 2370 to discuss your plans.

Featured image via Geograph.

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Shopping Local: A Guide to Independent Traders in the Thames Valley

Reading has the Oracle, Bracknell has the Lexicon and Basingstoke has Festival Place. They are all great places to shop and offer the convenience of centralised mall parking with access to popular retail chains like Next, HMV and Waterstones.

However, independent traders are a vital component of a diverse high-street experience, often offering unique products and personal service, we ignore them at our peril. Small local businesses face the threat of closure every day as rents and rates increase but footfall is being lost to online retailers and national chain stores.

We think that independent traders are an essential part of the towns and communities in which we live. Though their prices may not always be the cheapest, you are almost always guaranteed a service that is second to none. I cannot recall the number of times that shopkeepers have provided with help to locate an item for me and it has always been worth that extra time and effort.

In this feature, we take you through best independent traders in the Thames Valley, all of whom rely on our custom to keep them in business. So, if you are tired of being treated like just another customer or are sick of battling with queues, crowds and unhelpful sales assistants then we urge you to visit your local independent traders instead.

Wokingham

With the ongoing regeneration works expected to last throughout 2018, the impact of a drop in footfall to Wokingham Town Centre could be devasting to independent traders. The town has suffered several closures of key shops over the last few years including the pet store on Peach Street, Cara, Bookends and John Wood Sports.

We are fortunate to still have some excellent shops in the town, but they will only survive if we continue to patronise them. Whilst some offer a specialist service, others offer the convenience of a drop in closer to home, but all are owned and run by local businesspeople who need our support.

Parking at the Paddocks is free after 3pm so do head into town when you can.

Our choice of the best independent shops in Wokingham include:

Antique Rose and Maison Rustic

Bush Walk, Market Place, Wokingham RG40 1AT

www.antiquerose.co.uk & www.maisonrustic.co.uk

For a great selection of homewares, gifts and interior design, this boutique has some really unique items on offer. Handpicked by the owner, you can find a great selection of jewellery, personalised items and furniture.

antique rose maison rouge wokingham

It’s worth taking a trip up Bush Walk to discover what Antique Rose has to offer. Image via website.

Wokingham Decor

56 Peach St, Wokingham RG40 1XG

www.facebook.com/wokinghamdecor

This family run business has been providing hardware and decorating supplies for the residents of Wokingham for decades. Current owner, Michael Flint is a friendly and helpful trader with excellent professional knowledge. A traditional ironmongers, they stock a reasonable selection of tools and hardware but they can often order in exactly what you need for collection the following day.

Kaanaanmaa

22 Denmark St, Wokingham RG40 2BB

www.kaanaanmaa.co.uk

Often overlooked due to its unassuming corner spot on Denmark Street, Kaanaanmaa is more than just a retail jewellers. A specialist designer and maker of fine jewellery, the staff here are traditional craftsmen who can bring your ideas for a unique gift to life. The shop has been operating for over forty years and has been a Fairtrade jeweller since 2011 using only ethically sourced gemstones and gold.

Other Independent Shops in Wokingham

Don’t forget to drop in on these other traders whilst you are in town:

  • Stitchery Do, 31-35 Denmark Street, Wokingham, RG40 2AY (Haberdashers and knitting supplier).
  • Stefan’s Butchers, 4 Denmark St, Wokingham RG40 2BB (Artisan meats and locally sourced produce).
  • Angelo’s Deli, 4 Central Walk, Wokingham RG40 1AJ (Great selection of fish, meat, cheese and wine).
  • Oslar Coffee, 2-2A Denmark St, Wokingham RG40 2BB (Unique coffee blends in a cosy atmosphere).
  • Rococo, Bush Walk, Market Place, Wokingham RG40 1AT (Innovative and contemporary jewellery designs).
  • The Station Furniture Co, 46 Station Rd, Wokingham RG40 2AE (Established in 1969, unique range of home furnishings, lighting and wall clocks).
stitchery do wokingham independent shops

The small and cosy interior of Stitchery Do houses a huge stock of knitting, sewing, quilting and embroidery supplies. Image via website.

Reading

Despite the opening of the Oracle in 1999, many of Reading’s independent traders have continued to survive and there are plenty of great shops in the town which all offer something a little different and worth stopping in for.

Since the closure of Jackson’s department store in 2013, after 138 years of trading, the fate of all independent shops continues to hang in the balance

Our choice of the best independent shops in Reading include:

Eclectic Games

5 Union St, Reading RG1 1EU

www.eclecticgames.co.uk

Winner of the Retailer of the Year 2014 in the Reading Retail Awards, Eclectic Games is a niche shop supplying a huge range of party, board and roleplaying games. The staff are very knowledgeable and very friendly making every visit a real experience. They stay open late on 5 nights a week to host gaming events.

Just Imagination Memorabilia & AT Collectables

14, Harris Arcade, Station Rd, Reading RG1 1LG

www.collectorscentrereading.co.uk

Two shops trading under the same name, you can find some truly unique gifts including vintage comics, toys, books and vinyl as well as militaria, antiques and collectables. Both shops are a retro return to the way second hand stores used to be. The owners are very helpful if you are looking for something specific but browsing here is a real delight.

Hickies

153 Friar Street, RG1 1HE

www.hickies.co.uk

Hickies has been running since 1864 and sells, services, repairs and rents a good range of musical instruments. As well as guitars, drums and keyboards you can also pick up orchestral instruments including brass, string and woodwind.

hickies music shop reading independent shops thames valley

Hickies has been in business for over 150 years. Image via Geograph.

Staff are very friendly, knowledgeable and you can browse at leisure with no pressure or commitment. They are a popular shop in Berkshire particularly due to their ‘Rent to Buy’ scheme; a great (and affordable) idea for keeping up with the ever-changing demands of children who want to learn to play an instrument.

Other Independent Shops in Reading

These shops are all owned by small businesses and have a good reputation for excellent service and quality:

  • Aldridges, 90-91 Friar Street, RG1 1EN (Established in 1879, this specialist luggage shop sells a great selection of suitcases, computer bags and briefcases. They also supply replacement Samsonite parts as well as provide repairs).
  • Creative Crafts & Workshops, Station Road 1ND, Harris Arcade, Reading RG1 1DN (The brainchild of local artist, Adriana Fernandes-Bowyer, this niche craft shop stocks a good range of art supplies as well as running regular events).
  • Delikatesy Smaczek, 1 St Mary’s Butts, Reading RG1 2LN (A polish delicatessen, Delikatesy Smaczek is an exciting place to try some Eastern European fare).
  • Drews the Ironmongers, 71-73 Caversham Road, RG1 8JA (A specialist hardware store with exceptionally knowledgeable staff and a great range of supplies in stock, all at competitive prices).
  • But Is It Art?, 7-9 Queen Victoria St, City Centre, Reading RG1 1SY (Unusual gifts and cards as well as novelty items, quirky art and kitsch homeware).

Henley on Thames

Henley has long had a reputation for being home to many independent shops and the tradition continues with more local traders than high-street chains. It’s a great town to find some really unusual items and you can feel good about supporting local businesses as well as coming away with unique purchases.

Our choice of the best independent traders in Henley include:

  • AH Interiors, 42 Bell Street Henley on Thames RG9 2BG – Home furnishings, accessories and lighting.
  • In The Groove, 14 Reading Road Henley on Thames RG9 1AG – Rare and vintage vinyl
  • Gabriel Machin, 7 Market Place Henley on Thames RG9 2AA – Award winning butchers with their own smokehouse.
  • Boatique, 5 Friday Street Henley on Thames RG9 2AU – Nautical themed shop with all things boating inspired from gifts to accessories and even furniture.
  • Jonkers Rare Books, 24 Hart Street Henley on Thames RG9 2AU- Specialist dealer in antique, rare and collectable books including some first editions.
  • Tudor House Antiques, 49 Duke St, Henley-on-Thames RG9 1UR – An emporium, hung to the rafters with an eclectic range of vintage and antique items.
  • Bagatelle Toys, Bell Street Henley on Thames RG9 2BA- A traditional toy store the way you will remember them from your childhood.
  • Asquiths Teddy Bear Shop, 2-4 New Street Henley on Thames RG9 2BT – An extraordinary range of traditional, and world famous, teddy bears.
asquiths famous teddy bears shop independent shops thames valley

The World Famous Teddy Bear Shop, Asquiths, sells and makes luxury bears. Image via website.

Other Independent Shops in Thames Valley

Of course, the Thames Valley has plenty of other towns and villages where supporting independent traders is important.

However, our favourite places in the area are:

  • Abingdon Clockwork Dragon, 42 Bath Street, Abingdon (Steampunk Victoriana, fantasy gifts and TV/Film memorabilia).
  • EtonEton Antique Bookshop, 88 High Street, Eton, SL4 6AF (Prints, maps and books in this old-fashioned second-hand book shop).
  • GoringBarbara’s Antique & Bric-a-Brac Shop, Wheel Orchard Car Park, Station Rd, Goring, Reading RG8 9HB (a great range of vintage, retro and antique goods from a range of traders).
  • Maidenhead Craft Coop, 79 Queens Walk, Maidenhead, SL6 1LB – (A co-operative store stocked with gifts and art produced by local artists).
  • Twyford Berkshire Dollshouse & Model Shop, 9 Wargrave Rd, Twyford, Reading RG10 9NY (Specialist model and doll’s house supplier).
  • WindsorA Vida, 49 Peascod St, Windsor SL4 1DE – (High-end women’s designer fashion boutique)
antiques shop goring independent traders

Buying independent often means buying unique and unusual goods. Image via Barbara’s Antiques Facebook.

Supporting local businesses is an essential way to develop sustainable communities and keep the local economy thriving. We would urge as many of you as possible to try something new and get out into the local towns to see what makes these shops unique.

You can find out more about the Thames Valley Area by catching up on our area guides or by contacting Property Assistant. A local estate agent with its finger on the pulse, we set ourselves apart from the competition by staying in touch. Make sure you do the same by signing up for our newsletter.

Featured image via Google Earth.

Wokingham: The Happiest Place to Live?

Want to know where the happiest place to live in England is?

According to recent results from the Thriving Places Index, Wokingham scores second as the happiest place to live in the country. The assessment is based on three key areas; equality, local conditions and sustainability. Within these categories, 48 individual indicators (including education, work and health) are all evaluated to determine just how well councils are performing to create the ideal conditions required for communities to thrive.

Powered by the Happy City charity, the Thriving Places Index is a social compass measuring equitable and sustainable well-being with the results for 2017 now in.

happiest place to live wokingham

How well does Wokingham score on the Thriving Places Index?

Wokingham: The Happiest Place to Live?

Wokingham scored highly in several areas, but the report also identified some specific factors which require improvement.

In summary, Wokingham compares to its neighbours as follows:

Element Wokingham Bracknell Forest Reading West Berks
Equality 5.45 5.80 4.86 4.19
Local Conditions 6.79 6.11 5.04 6.20
Sustainability 4.29 5.12 4.91 4.76
Total Score 16.53 17.03 14.81 15.15

The best areas for equality in England were seen in Shropshire and Devon with Oxfordshire and Dorset scoring highly for sustainability. Overall, local conditions were ranked most highly in Wokingham.

So, what about the detail? What put Wokingham ahead of the pack for living conditions and what needs to be improved for 2018?

Local Conditions

There are 17 indicators used on the Thriving Places Index to assess local conditions and Wokingham scored highly in all but four of these and ranked as the top authority in the country:

  • Local environment (average)
  • Transport (below average)
  • Adult education (average)
  • Culture (well below average)

Areas like housing, safety, mental health, employment and community cohesion were all assessed as being excellent.

Place & Environment

Wokingham came 5th in the country for this sub-category with the Wirral topping the charts. Bracknell Forest came in at the number two spot followed by Central Bedfordshire and Thurrock.

Despite scoring highly for safety and housing, the index was skewed by poor results for transport and the local environment. Wokingham was ranked as 19th from bottom for its poor transport assessment.

thriving places index wokingham transport

Only 17% of Wokingham is deemed rural but transport is a big issue on the index. Image via Google Earth.

Work and Local Economy

Wokingham topped the charts in this sub-category with low unemployment figures, a high proportion of good jobs available and low levels of deprivation.

There is strong correlation between Work and the Local Economy with Mental & Physical Health and Wokingham scores well on both

Mental & Physical Health

Wokingham ranked second highest for this sub-category behind Richmond Upon Thames. The category takes into account a large number of factors, including:

  • Mortality
  • Life expectancy
  • Obesity levels
  • Overall health status
  • Underage pregnancies
  • Prevalence of depression, anxiety and suicide
  • Physical activity

All aspects of these categories were ranked well in Wokingham.

People and Community

Wokingham scored one of the highest scores in the country for community participation at 9.81 out of 10. This is based on volunteering and voting and, combined with the cohesion scores, suggests a healthy community spirit in Wokingham which ranks it as the 4th highest rating in the country. Only Herefordshire, North Yorkshire and Cornwall ranked higher in the People and Community section.

However, Wokingham’s culture score is very low at 3.06, ranked as 13th from bottom. Wokingham could only really improve its standing in this assessment by climbing the RSA Heritage Index.

Education and Learning

Ranking 15th for Education and Learning which takes into account both adult and children’s education, Wokingham achieved an average score for this indicator.

The split between the two sectors was quite stark with Children’s Education ranking very highly with a score of 7.66 but with a very average rating of 5.42 for adult education. An increase in the number of adults who participate in training and education could improve this rating for 2018.

wokingham adult education

Few adults in Wokingham are enrolled for training and education courses. Image via Bracknell & Wokingham College.

Equality

Split into three categories, the Thriving Places Index assessed the following to judge the happiest place to live in each of England’s local authorities, namely:

  • Health Equality
  • Income Equality
  • Wellbeing Equality

Wokingham scored 7.87 for wellbeing, 5.96 for health and just 2.52 for income.

Produced by the Office of National Statistics, the Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings showed a marked discrepancy in hours worked vs weekly earnings showing a significant inequality in the incomes of households across the borough.

Sustainability

Wokingham scored worst in the sustainability category which judges CO2 emissions, household recycling and energy consumption per capita. The latter two factors were judged to be below average and CO2 emissions average.

wokingham recycling

Despite new schemes to increase household recycling the borough still has low rates nationally.

The borough scored lower than neighbouring authorities of Bracknell Forest, Reading and West Berkshire for all three aspects.

The low recycling rates in Wokingham have long been a point of consternation for many council tax payers and the borough as introduced new measures in 2018 which should see these figures improved.

What’s the point of the Thriving Places Index

On the release of the 2017 figures, the founding director of the Happy City charity, said:

We are ten years on from an economic crisis that highlighted fatal flaws at the heart of our economy, yet we haven’t seen the systemic changes needed to tackle them.

Rising inequality and climate chaos are clear alarm bells that tell us the current system is no longer fit for purpose, so we decided to take matters into our own hands and come up with a model that measures what matters.

The Index is a practical tool, that can be used right now, to help leaders who want to ensure the sum of their efforts – in every sector – is a better quality of life for people now and in the future.

wokingham happiest place to live

Chief Executive of Happy City, Liz Zeidler, on how the index is designed to help tackle inequality. Image via YouTube.

The index highlights those areas that are key to supporting healthy and happy communities that enjoy equality in all aspects of life and local conditions. Since the reports were first produced in 2015, the index has identified both an urban/rural and a North/South divide.

It is hoped that the reports will help inform local authorities as to those areas where funding is best employed to deliver social, cultural and environmental equality.

Property Assistant, based in Wokingham, is a local estate agency providing first-class services for anyone currently living in, or looking to move to, the area. If you’d like to know more about whether Wokingham is the happiest place to live or are looking at moving to any town or city in the Thames Valley then contact us today for more information on our relocation services.

Featured image via Google Earth.

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Education Focus: Wokingham Secondary Schools

Wokingham secondary schools have some of the best reputations in the UK with three performing well above average and ranked in the top 12% of schools nationally.

Allocation of placements for secondary schools for the 2018/2019 academic year are due to be sent out nationally on 1st March 2018 with many parents (and students) anxiously awaiting confirmation of their preferred school choice.

In this guide, we take a look at the secondary schools of the Wokingham Borough and see how they fared in the 2018 School League Tables. If your child doesn’t get the placement they wanted then you might be interested in considering the alternatives to decide whether you would prefer to remain on the waiting list.

This information may also be useful to anyone moving to the area who has children of a secondary school age.

wokingham schools league tables

National league tables are based on examination results as well as progress from KS2 to KS4. Image via Flickr.

Wokingham Secondary Schools: Latest Performance Information

The Bohunt School

Sheerlands Road, Wokingham, RG2 9GB

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Academy Sponsor Led Mainstream

No of Pupils at KS4: n/a

Last Ofsted: None published

2018 League Table Results

No data available as the school opened in September 2016 to a rolling admission programme. Year 7 and 8 only.

The Bulmershe School

Woodlands Avenue, Reading, RG5 3EU

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Maintained School

No of Pupils at KS4: 148

Last Ofsted: Good (November 2017)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in the middle 40% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.2 (above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 46.9

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 43%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 27%

Entering EBacc: 76%

The Emmbrook School

Emmbrook Road, Wokingham, RG41 1JP

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Maintained School

No of Pupils at KS4: 168

Last Ofsted: Good (March 2017)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in the middle 40% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.06 (above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 45.9

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 40%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 21%

Entering EBacc: 49%

The Forest School

Robin Hood Lane, Wokingham, RG41 5NE

Gender: Boys

Type of School: Academy (Converter Mainstream)

No of Pupils at KS4: 174

Last Ofsted: Requires Improvement (February 2016)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in lower 30% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: -0.32 (below average)

Attainment 8 Score: 47.4

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 54%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 20%

Entering EBacc: 26%

High Close School

Wiltshire Road, Wokingham, RG40 1TT

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Non-maintained Special School

No of Pupils at KS4: 10

Last Ofsted: Inadequate (July 2017)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in bottom 12% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: -2.03 (well below average)

Attainment 8 Score: 5.9

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 0%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 0%

Entering EBacc: 0%

The Holt School

Holt Lane, Wokingham, RG41 1EE

Gender: Girls

Type of School: Academy (Converter Mainstream)

No of Pupils at KS4: 194

Last Ofsted: Outstanding (June 2008)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in top 12% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.64 (well above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 60.6

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 70%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 57%

Entering EBacc: 67%

Maiden Erlegh School

Silverdale Road, Reading, RG6 7HS

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Academy (Converter Mainstream)

No of Pupils at KS4: 277

Last Ofsted: Good (March 2015)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in top 12% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.64 (well above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 55.5

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 62%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 37%

Entering EBacc: 63%

Oakbank School

Hyde End Lane, Reading, RG7 1ER

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Freeschool Mainstream Academy

No of Pupils at KS4: 62

Last Ofsted: Good (June 2016)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in lower 30% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: -0.37 (below average)

Attainment 8 Score: 38.4

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 32%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 13%

Entering EBacc: 39%

The Piggot Church of England School

Twyford Road, Reading, RG10 8DS

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Academy (Converter Mainstream)

No of Pupils at KS4: 192

Last Ofsted: Good (January 2014)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in top 12% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.94 (well above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 58.9

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 69%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 40%

Entering EBacc: 60%

St Crispins School

London Road, Wokingham, RG40 1SS

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Academy (Converter Mainstream)

No of Pupils at KS4: 180

Last Ofsted: Good (March 2017)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in top 30% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.48 (above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 55.5

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 61%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 31%

Entering EBacc: 44%

Waingels College

Waingels Road, Reading, RG5 4RF

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Academy (Converter Mainstream)

No of Pupils at KS4: 222

Last Ofsted: Good (April 2013)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in top 30% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.34 (above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 50.3

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 50%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 39%

Entering EBacc: 69%

wokingham independent schools

Formerly Bearwood College, Reddham House is a popular private school in Wokingham. Image via Geograph.

Independent Schools

Wokingham has a good selection of independent schools that provide excellent private educations. Details for the performances of each school can be found on their websites

  • Crosfields School, Shinfield, Reading, RG2 9BL (mixed gender, age 3 to 13)
  • Dolphin School, Waltham Rd, Reading, RG10 0FR (mixed gender, age 3 to 13)
  • Holme Grange School, Heathlands Road, Wokingham, RG40 3AL (mixed gender, age 2 to 16)
  • Luckley House School, Luckley Road, Wokingham, RG40 3EU (mixed gender, age 11 to 18)
  • Ludgrove School, Ludgrove, Wokingham, RG40 3AB (boys, age 8 to 13)
  • Reddam House, Bearwood Road, Wokingham, RG41 5BG (mixed, age 0 to 19)

2019-2020 Academic School Year

If you have a child who is currently in Year 5 of primary school (going in to Year 6 in September 2017) then you will be asked to submit an application for your preferred choice of schools in September this year. Open days and open evenings are usually held in September and October with a deadline of 31st October for your applications.

Based in Wokingham, Property Assistant is a local estate agent with all the information you need on the Thames Valley Area. We’ve covered many of the areas towns and villages in our local area guides. Stay up to date with our newsletter or contact us on 0118 912 2370 with any questions on moving to the area.

Featured image via Geograph.

Thames Valley Area Guide: Earley

Do you want to know more about Earley?

A diverse parish which incorporates historical rural settlements with a vast 20th century housing development, Earley bridges the two towns of Reading and Wokingham.

Incorporating the 1970s development of Lower Earley, the Whiteknights complex of the University of Reading and the Suttons Business Park, Earley covers a large area with plenty of great facilities and a wide-ranging mix of housing.

In this guide, we take a look at the parish of Earley to find out more about its history, housing and facilities.

Earley: A Snapshot

A suburb of Reading, the civil parish of Earley is situated to the north west of Wokingham and has a population of around 31,000 people (not including subordinate conurbations).

Sometimes referred to as ‘Erleigh’, the area incorporates Lower Earley, Whiteknights and Maiden Erleigh.

Often overlooked as just another part of Reading, parts of Earley are actually within the Wokingham Unitary Authority.

Though the majority of its architectural features, including housing, are 19th and 20th century, there are some hidden historic gems, including some English Heritage listed properties including the Sindlesham Mill and the adjoining 19th century bridge.

sindlesham mill earley

Situated on the boundary of Winnersh,, Sindlesham and Lower Earley, the Sindlesham Mill is a listed building. Image via Geograph.

Lower Earley is the biggest conurbation within Earley and is often considered a town in its own right. The development started in the late 1970s to accommodate population growth in the area and continued through the 1980s and 1990s with new properties still being added.

At the time of the initial development, Lower Earley was the largest housing estate in Europe. Located on the site of farmland, forest and pastures, Lower Earley still retains some links to its country heritage with Pearmans Copse and Maiden Erleigh Lake forming part of the development.

Sol Joel Park off the Wokingham Road and part of the River Loddon also form part of the Earley Parish providing some additional greenery in this largely urbanised part of Berkshire

Earley: The Detail

Earley has a long history and is recorded in the Domesday book as ‘Herlei’ though a settlement is thought to have existed on the location of the parish since the Palaeolithic age. Like Reading, artefacts discovered across the parish support the commonly held view that a settlement has existed across the area for many thousands of years.

Facilities

The expansion of housing to form the Lower Earley housing development also produced a micro-town environment with the area having a large supermarket (ASDA) along with a Toby Carvery, retail outlets (M&S, Iceland, Sainsbury’s Local) plus parades of convenience stores around the estate.

asda lower earley facilities

The Asda supercentre in Lower Earley is open 24 hours. Image via Google Earth.

The area has a range of independent shops from a specialist party supplies shop on the Wokingham Road to  the Three Tuns junction where there is also a music shop, cycle shop and Co-Operative store.

Lower Earley also has a large leisure centre with swimming pool, sports hall and gymnasium.

There is also the Showcase cinema which sits on the border of Winnersh, Woodley and Earley.

Location

The parish of Earley stretches to the River Thames at its northern perimeter where the Kennet joins at the Sutton Business Park and is bounded by the M4 at Shinfield and Sindlesham its southern edge. To the east lies Woodley and to the west, Reading.

It lies directly between junctions 10 and 11 of the M4 with easy access to the A33 and Basingstoke. The M3 junction at Lightwater is just 15 miles away.

Earley has its own railway station which lies on the mainline between Reading and London Waterloo; the former is just one stop and takes a couple of minutes whilst the latter is an hour by South Western Rail.

earley transport links

Both Earley and lower Earley are well connected and have good bus links to Reading and Wokingham. Image via Wikimedia.

Demographics of Earley

The census data for Earley is mixed as the northern edge of the parish falls into Reading’s jurisdiction whilst the majority of wards falls under the Wokingham Unitary Authority.

Most of Earley is classified as being commuter suburbs with the following characteristics in terms of the overall demographic:

  • Education levels of residents are higher than the national average.
  • Levels of general health in the population are generally better than the average.
  • The area has a higher than average number of residents in the UK with low levels of immigration.
  • The median age of the population is marginally more than the national average.
  • Home ownership rates are high.
  • Twice as many households in the area are from the AB social grade than the national average.

Overall, the Earley area is an affluent one reflecting the general trends in the surrounding areas of a community that is largely made up of ABC1 individuals on a higher than average income who enjoy good health and who come from an educated background.

Education

There are several schools in the Earley area with Lower Earley benefitting from purpose built schools set in the estate.

The principle primary schools are:

School Address OFSTED Rating
Earley St Peters C of E Church Road, Earley, Reading RG6 1EY Good
Hawkedon Hawkedon Way, Lower Earley, Reading RG6 3AP Good
Aldryngton Silverdale Rd, Earley, Reading RG6 7HR Outstanding
Radstock Radstock Lane, Reading RG6 5UZ Good
Whiteknights Fair Lawn Green, Earley, Reading RG2 8EP Good
Loddon Silverdale Road, Earley, Reading RG6 7LR Good

The only secondary school based solely in Earley is the Maiden Erleigh School which is mixed community academy. Located at Silverdale Rd, Earley, Reading RG6 7HS, the academy was last inspected by OFSTED in 2015 and judged to be a ‘Good’ school.

Children from the area who reach secondary education age can be in catchment for other Wokingham schools including The Piggott (Woodley), The Emmbrook, The Holt and The Forest.

Our best picks for…

With so many great retail outlets and restaurants in the surrounding areas of Reading. Bracknell and Wokingham, Earley can often be overlooked but we’ve got some suggestions for some hidden treats:

…a pint

The George is a Chef & Brewer chain pub which sits astride the River Loddon at the border of  Winnersh and Woodley with Earley and Lower Earley.

Despite being situated along the main road, the rear garden enjoys a riverbank setting which is, curiously, hidden from the neighbouring plot of the Showcase Cinema.

the george earley

An old fashioned welcome awaits you at The George, Earley. Image via Geograph.

The building is on the site of an old toll house and dates back to the 18th century although it has had several extensions since.

It’s a traditional style pub with a modern menu and serves a good pint. A great spot to hit in the summer for a pre-movie drink.

…the great outdoors.

Something of a local gem, the Maiden Erleigh Nature Reserve covers 12 hectares of land and incorporates a picturesque lake at its heart. Used by fisherman during the fishing season, it is a surprising tranquil space which is popular with dog-walkers and families looking to connect with nature.

The site is also home to the Annual Green Fair, held in August.

If you haven’t discovered this lovely rural space, we’d urge you to head down to enjoy the wildlife or, even better, contact the Earley Environmental Group to find out more about volunteering with conservation activities.

…somewhere to eat out.

Kei’s is a smart Chinese restaurant in Lower Earley serving a Peking-style menu. It has a contemporary setting and the staff are exceptionally friendly but, above all, the food is excellent.

Housing in Earley

Housing across Earley is predominantly 19th and 20th century with those properties in Lower Earley largely being built from 1977 onwards.

There is a good mix of Victorian terraced properties, mid-20th century semi-detached and detached properties on estates with both modern and period detached homes also available.

Some areas around Beech Lane have older properties including a handful of listed buildings.

House Prices in Earley

House prices in Earley are more expensive than in Reading but cheaper than Wokingham with an average price of £386,388. House specifically in Lower Earley were a similar price, being £372,670

This can be broken down by house type as follows:

House Type Earley Lower Earley
Terraced £315,505 £312,349
Semi Detached £419,809 £350,690
Detached £525,375 £500,763
lower earley area guide

Houses on the Lower Earley development are all post-1970s in design. Image via Wikimedia.

Property Assistant provide clients with all the information they need to make a decision on the right property for them, wherever that may be. We believe that getting the right information is essential in buying a home which is why we offer free advice to anyone searching for a home in the area. Having lived and worked here for longer than we’d like to admit, we feel we are the best placed estate agents in the Thames Valley to give you the knowledge to empower your decisions for your next home.

To find out more about our services, contact us today on 0118 912 2370.

Featured image via Wikimedia.

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Celebrity Spotting in the Thames Valley

Celebrity spotting in Berkshire?

The Thames Valley might not have the glitter and glamour of Hollywood but the area does have many links to the stars.

In this guide, we take a whirlwind tour of the celebrity links to the area in our ‘map’ of the stars.

Actors

Though originally born in Belfast, BAFTA and Academy Award winning actor, Kenneth Branagh was raised in Tilehurst in Reading and still lives in Berkshire. A former pupil of the Meadway School, Branagh is one of many celebrities who call (or have called) this area home.

kenneth branagh

Kenneth Branagh. Image via Flickr.

Marking the Year of Culture in Reading, A list celebrity, Kate Winslett was honoured with a Pride of Reading Award in 2016. She and her siblings were all born and raised in the town. She studied at the Redroof’s Theatre School and has always been proud of her Berkshire heritage,

Also born in Reading is TV actress, Lucy Benjamin, best known for her role as Lisa Fowler in the BBC soap opera, Eastenders. She trained at Redroof’s Theatre School in Maidenhead but now lives in London with her husband and two children.

Starring opposite Hugh Grant in the 2002 film About a Boy, Nicholas Hoult was a Wokingham lad going to school at the Coombes Primary School in Arborfield and then the Ranelagh. He has gone on to star in some Hollywood films including the recent X Men series and Mad Max: Fury Road.

nicholas hoult wokingham boy

Nicholas Hoult. Image via Flickr.

Star of the hit CBBC series, Tracy Beaker, Dani Harmer was born and raised in Bracknell.

George Clooney owns a house at Sonning Eye. The 17th century mansion was redeveloped at a cost of £20 million and includes a 12 seat private cinema, AstroTurf covered tennis courts and 60’ swimming pool. The private Thameside hideaway is where Clooney and his wife, Amal, raise their twin; it is one of five international homes.

Writers

Born in Newbury, creator of the popular children’s classic Michael Bond was a Berkshire boy. He was educated at Presentation College in Reading and survived a catastrophic air raid in the town which killed 41 of his colleagues.

Author of the Water Babies, Rev. Charles Kingsley is buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s in Eversley. As rector from 1844-1875, he was influential in the area as a reformist and writer. The inspiration for the young chimney sweep ‘Tom’ in the book was taken from a boy living in Wokingham, James Seward.

TV Celebrities

Comedian, writer and actor, Ricky Gervais was born in Reading and has famously parodied his upbringing in the area with his film, Cemetery Junction. Born in the Battle Hospital which was closed in 2005, Gervais once worked at the University of Reading as a gardener.

Journalist and TV satirist, Charlie Brooker was also born in Reading though he was raised in Oxford.

The TV celebrity, Chris Tarrant was born in Reading and remains a big fan of the Royals where he can sometimes be seen supporting the team. He still lives in the area and is a regular ‘spot’.

One of Berkshire’s long-standing residents, Uri Geller, called Sonning his home until 2015 when he returned home to Israel. The £15 million mansion was a hot property for curious locals with a meditation pyramid, panic room and L shaped swimming pool.

Before their divorce, comedians Lenny Henry and Dawn French lived in Spencer’s Wood. French has famously relocated to Cornwall and Henry is settled in London.

Sarah Beany was born in Reading and went to the Luckley Oakfield School in Wokingham before launching her property business which has gone on to earn her celebrity fame. She now lives in East Riding of Yorkshire.

Kate Humble was raised in Bray and went to school in Reading at The Abbey School.

Kate humble berkshire

Kate Humble. Image via Wikimedia.

Political Celebrity

Former Prime Minister David Cameron grew up in the small village of Peasemore, north of Newbury. He went to school in Winkfield (near Ascot) and latterly to Eton College. The family home is still in Berkshire.

The Prime Minister, Theresa May also has a home in Sonning though, of course, she spends more of her time at No 10 Downing Street.

Sporting Figures

Sporting celebrity and former champion race jockey, A P McCoy lives in Lambourn with his wife Chanelle.

Northern Ireland international football player, Lawrie Sanchez was a one time resident of Reading being educated at Presentation College

Royals

Catherine (or Kate), Duchess of Cambridge was born in the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and as future Queen Consort she is perhaps our most famous living claim to fame. She grew up with her sister, Pippa (now married to former racing driver, James Matthews) and her younger brother James, in Chapel Row (near Newbury).

kate middleton duchess of cambridge berkshire

Image via Wikimedia.

Not as current but both still just as royal, King Edward III and Henry VI were both born in Windsor Castle; the former is regarded as the most successful English monarchs of the Middle Ages.

King Henry I not only founded Reading Abbey but is also buried here. In what is becoming a habit of long-dead monarchs, his remains were thought to have been found beneath the tarmac of a car park on the site of what was once Reading Gaol.

Singers

Pop icon, Elton John, has one of his lavish residences in Old Windsor. Though far from being a recluse, it is unlikely that you will spot the singer as he splits his time between other homes in Venice, Nice, Atlanta and London.

Runner up (but arguably more successful than the winner) of the BBC’s Pop Idol in 2001, Will Young was born in Wokingham, raised in Hungerford but went to school at Wellington College in Crowthorne.

The 1990s one hit wonder and pop sensation, Chesney Hawkes was born in Windsor and went to school at Charters School in Sunningdale. His 1991 single ‘The One and Only’ spent five weeks at number one.

The 60s singing celebrity, Marianne Faithfull, grew up in Reading on Millman Road. There is evidence that shows Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger visiting her at her terraced home.

Historic Figures

Founder and joint owner of the famous Huntley and Palmer biscuit dynasty, Joseph Huntley was a resident of Reading in the early 19th century. Originally selling his biscuits to travellers passing through the town, his idea to tin them to keep them fresh led to the creation of the town’s biscuit factory business. One of the first global brands, Huntley & Palmers was the Coca Cola of the 19th century and tins were shipped across the British Empire in their famously elaborate tins. Employing huge swathes of the towns workforce, the factory eventually closed in 1976 but production of the iconic biscuits recommenced in Suffolk in 2006 under license to a New Zealand firm.

Though more of a sight in London, Irish poet, playwright and author Oscar Wilde was once one of Reading’s more famous citizens. Albeit his address was at Reading Gaol, the writer served a prison sentence of two years before exiling himself to France before his death in 1900.

oscar wilde reading prison

Oscar Wilde famously wrote the ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol’ during his time as an inmate. Image via Wikimedia.

It’s unsurprising that so many famous faces call the Thames Valley home; great commuter links combined with swathes of unspoiled countryside there are some amazing towns and villages in this area. If you’d like to find out more about the area then you can find some interesting local and historical information in our Thames Valley Area Guides or you can contact us directly on 0118 912 2370.

Featured image via Wikimedia.

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Arborfield: Thames Valley Area Guide

Arborfield is a civil parish of the Wokingham district and is a small village many people simply drive through on their way to work. Well located for local amenities and boasting some hidden gems of its own, this quiet area benefits from lower housing than neighbouring Barkham, Swallowfield and Winnersh.

In this guide, we take a little look at what Arborfield has to offer.

Arborfield: A Snapshot

The area we refer to as Arborfield is actually made up of two sister villages; Arborfield Cross and Arborfield Village. With no boundaries, the two have merged over the years and, with the exception of postcode purists, are collectively known as Arborfield.

Situated around 4 miles west of Wokingham and 4.5 miles to the south east of Reading, the village is situated on the A327 road which links Reading to Farnborough.

the coombes arborfield

A rural community with great commuting links, Arborfield lies on the edge of the Coombes woodland. Image via Geograph.

A small sleeper (or commuter) village, Arborfield is characterised by its association with the British Army. To the south of Arborfield lies the garrison site which was used by the armed forces between 1904 and 2015 when it was vacated. The site is now under development to provide an estate of around 3500 new homes accompanied by a new secondary school and retail units.

The garrison was originally opened as a remount depot supplying horses for ceremonial and operational purposes and continued its operation until 1937. The purpose of the site was then changed to provide technical schooling for army apprentices and maintained this important training function being the depot of the REME (The Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers). During the Second World War, reservists were trained at the site and the garrison also hosted the Royal Artillery on the run up to the D-Day operation.

The site was also home to the REME Museum from 1958 to 2015.

arborfield garrison

Now closed, the garrison was home to the British Army’s REME. Image via Geograph.

The village benefits from a popular primary school, new secondary school, a village convenience store,  three pubs, two garden centres and two great farm shops. One of the pubs, The Swan is currently closed but there is talk that this 17th century coach house may once again reopen as a community pub. There is also a great recreation ground with play facilities and some lovely woodland walks that join the parish to neighbouring Barkham. Bordered to the west by the River Loddon, the parish extends to join Farley Hill and Swallowfield in the south and Sindlesham in the north. Made up of Arborfield and Newland, the boundaries include the Bear Wood Lake and Golf Course

Arborfield: The Detail

Location

Arborfield benefits from being 10 miles from junction 4a of the M3, 4 miles from junction 11 of the M4 and on a main road to Reading, Farnborough and Wokingham. Basingstoke, Bracknell and Camberley are all within a 30 minute commute and mainline train services to London being accessible from the neighbouring stations of Earley, Winnersh, Wokingham and Reading.

Demographics of Arborfield

At the 2011 census, Arborfield had a population of 3,115 people and was classified by the Office of National Statistics as being:

  • A prospering suburb
  • A village surrounded by inhabited countryside
  • A blue collar community: Older Blue Collar

Education

The Coombes Primary School was last inspected by Ofsted in  May 2016 and was issued with an overall effectiveness rating of ‘Inadequate’. The school has since closed and become an academy with leaders and managers praised in May 2017 for “…taking effective action to bring the school out of special measures”.

Bohunt is a brand new secondary school opening to service the increased capacity for schooling requirements with the planned redevelopment of the old garrison site. Opened in September 2016 to Year 7s, the school will eventually reach a capacity of 1500 pupils. The facility is managed by the internationally acclaimed Bohunt Educational Trust who run the Bohunt School in Liphook (winner of the 2014 TES Overall School of the Year).

bohunt school arborfield

Bohunt is now in its second year and the school already has a great reputation. Image via website.

Arborfield Towns and Villages

Our best picks for…

…eating out.

Not to be confused with The Bull at Barkham, the Bull Inn (at Arborfield Cross) is a traditional English pub offering a great menu by resident restaurant professionals Nadege, Bruno and Pio. A family run business, the trio have experience working in Michelin starred restaurants and offer a great a la carte menu as well as a cracking Sunday roast. They also serve real ales and are very friendly but it’s definitely the food that will get you coming back. Do book in advance to avoid disappointment as they can get pretty busy.

…a bit of retail therapy.

Though Arborfield is pretty small, there are three great places to stop in on and we can’t decide between them so forgive us for being on the fence.

Our first pick is Lockey Farm; a great family run new farm which opened in 2002. The farm shop includes an on-site butcher and a delicatessen with a whole range of locally produced produce. Fourth generation farmers, The Adams family expanded the business in 2012 by opening a coffee shop and crazy golf course as well as a children’s play area. You can even feed and pet the animals on site. It’s a lovely place to spend an hour with the kids and you will always come away with something delicious and/or unusual to eat.

lockey farm arborfield

The farm shop at Lockey is a hit with locals and offers some great treats. Image via website.

Our second and third picks are for Henry Street Garden Centre plus Pudding Lane Nursery. The former stocks a huge range of plants (specialising in roses) and garden equipment and has a lovely café whilst the latter is a specialist nursery. Formerly part of the Newlands farm, Pudding Lane is a little small holding

…a bit of the countryside on your doorstep.

The Coombes is an important woodland area which separates Barkham and Arborfield and is recognised as being a diverse habitat for local wildlife. It offers a lovely range of circular walks taking in views across Bear Wood Lake and is popular with dog walkers, ramblers and families. It is home to several geocaches and has recently become a great hideaway for ‘Wokingham Rocks’; a Facebook group where members decorate and hide stones around the area for children to share and collect.

We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to recommend another local farm shop, Wysipigs. Situated in the heart of the Coombes and accessed up a dirt track off Mole Road, the farm shop sells tea, cakes and pork products as well as ice creams in the summer.

…Something for the Mind, Body and Soul.

Local business Oh So Yoga provide an excellent service offering a variety of classes from their garden studio. As well as Ashtanga, YIN and Yoga Flow, they also run pregnancy yoga sessions. Run by a really friendly and well-qualified instructor, classes are suitable for beginners and well-seasoned fans of yoga.

Housing in Arborfield

Housing in Arborfield is quite diverse and includes some large detached properties with good sized plots as well as 1950s and 1960s homes plus in filling with more recent additions. There is also the new development of homes at the old garrison which incorporates new buildings and refurbished army housing. The main road features a mix of 1970s and 1980s semi-detached and detached houses as well as bungalows. To sum up, whilst the housing stock may be small (but growing) there is huge diversity.

The average price paid for property in Arborfield for the last 12 months was £398,716 which is significantly lower than the same metric for Wokingham which averaged £480,552.

If you are considering a house purchase in and around the Arborfield area and would like to know more about your options then contact Property Assistant. We like to make sure that homeowners know as much about an area as possible before making a decision on a new property. For more Thames Valley Area Guides, see the rest of our blog.

Featured image via Geograph.