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Living in Alton: the local area guide

Alton is a pretty, ancient market town at the source of the River Wey in East Hampshire, England.

It has been inhabited since at least the Iron Age, and was recorded in 1086 in the Domesday Book as having the most valuable market in the country. It was a commercial hub for a range of goods, first of which was beer. Hops and barley were commonly grown in the surrounding area and several breweries were set up in the town. Through the industrial revolution it was known for manufacturing paper and textiles, and these days the economy mostly relies on the retail and service sectors. There are now four main industrial areas: Mill Lane, Caker Stream, Omega Park and Newman Lane.

Alton is a site of much classical English beauty in its architecture and surrounding countryside, but it still has plenty of modern amenities and conveniences to attract people to live in the area. The local community has put together several large events, the most well-known of which is WordFest.


A little under 18,000 people live in Alton, making it one of the larger towns in the area.

The region is marked by its overall affluence. The most common forms of occupation in East Hampshire are in Higher or Intermediate managerial, administrative, or professional or technical roles. The overall percentage of individuals occupying these types of roles is typically higher than the rate for the rest of the country.

Nearly 75% of people own their own home and fewer than 10% rent privately, which compares to just over 15% for the rest of England. The area also has high rates of education - over a third have an undergraduate degree or greater.

The mean age is a little older than that for England as a whole, at 42, and the overall population tends towards middle age and retiree age. There are relatively few people between the ages of 18 and 29, and a large proportion are in the over 45 bracket.


There are two state secondary schools in Alton serving the locals: Eggar's School and Amery Hill School. There is also a catholic independent school, Alton Convent School. It takes boys up to the age of 11, and girls to 18.

The local 6th form college is Alton College, which has a very good reputation and was rated 'outstanding' under an Ofsted inspection.

Within easy reach are three universities - the University of Winchester, the University of Surrey, and the University of Southampton.


Alton has its own Railway Station which offers direct links to London Waterloo in around an hour and twenty minutes, making it just about within commuting distance. The station also acts as the terminus for the Mid Hants heritage steam railway, otherwise known as the Watercress Line.

There are bus services running in and around Alton by Stagecoach. For those who prefer to drive, it is well placed beside the A31, which reaches Winchester in less than half an hour, or the outskirts of London in around 45 minutes.

Amenities and shopping

Within Alton there are some small independent stores including a bakers, butchers and grocers, as well as some major brands. For everyday essentials, the local supermarkets are Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Iceland. Within the town there is also a WH Smith, Holland & Barret, Clarks, and Waterstones.

For an enjoyable meal out, there are some well-regarded pubs and restaurants in the area. Two particular favourites, which attract customers far and wide, are The Yew Tree and The George. Both of these establishments offer a great selection of food and drink.

More expansive shopping trips can be done in Winchester, which is famous for its antique and artisan stores. The Kings Walk Antique market, located in the centre of Winchester, is of note for its range of antiques at affordable prices. It has even been featured on the Antiques Roadshow.

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

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

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