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Hemel Hempstead Area Guide

Lake Gadebridge, Hemel Hempstead Image courtesy of Flickr user Alan Winter

For a post-war new town that sits in London's commuter belt, Hemel Hempstead has got quite a lot going for it. It's the most populous town in the county of Hertfordshire, and just 24 miles northwest of London. There's a surprising amount of space and greenery to be enjoyed, albeit amidst the prefab and road systems of a rapidly developed settlement.

The town is famous for its 'Magic Roundabout' (six swirling roundabouts merged into one), an impressive line-up of celebrity residents and the BBC drama Pie in the Sky. 'Hemel' has an agricultural past but started becoming popular as a commuter town as far back as the late 19th Century.

During the Second World War, ninety big bombs were dropped on the town. Despite prolific local protests, Hemel Hempstead was chosen for 'New Town' development to absorb some of the population leaving London. Characteristic of similar developments, this means a collection of residential neighbourhoods with a 'village centre' and shops, pubs and amenities. The postwar plans were ambitious but never fully realised; in spite of this, Hemel has some really interesting modernist civic architecture and many locals praise the quality of life offered by modern mindful town planning.

Period buildings are to be found though- mostly because many of the small nearby villages were absorbed within the town's borders. Check out Bovingdon, Felden and Potten End.

To the north and west of the town you'll find more evidence of the area's agricultural past, with scattered farms and wooded hillsides of the beautiful Chiltern Hills. The town itself sits in a shallow valley next to the rivers Gade and Bulbourne.

Demographics

The population is around 89,000, with a large proportion of city commuters boosting the affluence of the area. For those working in the town, there's a mix of engineering companies and a lot of new IT and telecommunications businesses.

Transport

As you might expect, Hemel Hempstead is extremely well connected. The mainline railway has frequent services linking the town to London Euston in just 30 minutes. The M1, M25, and A41 dual carriageway connect into the heart of the UK's road system. The local bus service is reliable and also provides frequent direct services to Luton and Heathrow.

Education

Schooling is great and there are plenty of options. St Cuthbert Mayne Primary scored "very good" from Ofsted, only pipped to the post by "outstanding" Hammond. As for secondaries, Hemel Hempstead School earned itself a "very effective", while John F Kennedy School landed an "outstanding".

Amenities and Shopping

Until a few years ago, Hemel Hempstead had a poor reputation for shopping, although this is changing fast. The old town's high street boasts quaint tea shops, a delectable deli and several antique hideaways. The main shopping square was visited by and named after Queen Elizabeth when it was first built.

There are a few nice enough pubs and restaurants, but for a big night out many people take a train into Euston or make the trip to nearby Watford. The sports facilities deserve a special mention: there are several high quality sports' centres offering facilities for all, as well as highlights such as the skatepark and indoor Snow Centre. There are even a couple of 18-hole golf courses just beyond the town boundaries.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact editor@primelocation.com

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.