In the wake of World War II, Bracknell underwent a transformation and became one of London’s surrounding new towns. Before this time, Bracknell was little more than a sleepy village in the heart of Berkshire woodland.
Although it’s hard to imagine now, signs of its former past are always present. Large neighbourhoods and housing developments are never too far from rural greenery. The new town was designed to reflect its country village past, with expansive open spaces and public parks. It provides the convenience of urban living with the outdoor lifestyle found in more remote areas of the south-east.
Surrounded by Bracknell Forest, the town offers plenty of opportunities for a scenic stroll and other outdoor leisure activities. In the burgeoning town centre, ongoing regeneration projects deliver impressive attractions such as The Lexicon shopping centre, which is due to open in Spring 2017. This contemporary shopping destination will showcase all the major brands alongside an outstanding choice of eateries. For now though, visitors can make use of two existing shopping complexes: Princess Square and Charles Square.
Other major attractions include Bracknell Ski Slope & Ice Rink, Coral Reef Waterworld (due to reopen in 2017 following refurbishment) and the weekly farmers’ market, which showcases local produce. With something to suit all generations, Bracknell is ideal for those looking to relocate and find their perfect home.
Bracknell is situated close to the M3 and M4 motorways. As such, it provides easy access for those commuting by car to London or travelling to other major cities across the UK. Heathrow Airport is also conveniently located, just over 30 minutes by car via the M4 corridor.
As a commuter hub, Bracknell is served by two train stations – Bracknell and Martins Heron – both of which run services every 30 minutes to London Waterloo, with an approximate journey time of an hour. Alternatively, travelling eastwards towards Reading takes as little as 20 minutes.
Bracknell boasts an impressive selection of educational establishments, not to mention the nearby schools of Reading.
For children aged five to 11, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School is one of three located in and around Bracknell town centre. It has been judged outstanding by Ofsted. At the secondary level, options include Easthampstead Park School, Brakenhale Academy and the renowned Ranelagh School, which has been named one of the south-east’s top state and independent schools by the Sunday Times.
In terms of further education, Bracknell and Wokingham College offers a range of full and part-time courses. Alternatively, the Royal Holloway College is easily reached via train or car, as is the highly esteemed University of Reading.
Although most commonly known as a post-World War II New Town, Bracknell’s history actually dates back thousands of years. While visitors can still explore the sight of a Bronze Age burial mound at Bill Hill, it wasn’t until the 14th century that Bracknell gained prominence as a Royal hangout. During this time, a hunting lodge was built at Easthampstead Park for King Edward III. This also happened to house the banished Catherine of Aragon following her divorce from Henry VIII.
During the Victorian era, Bracknell transitioned into a fully-fledged county town complete with local shopkeepers and a weekly cattle market. Victorian brickyards were also established with the famed Thomas Lawrence & Sons producing bricks for Westminster Cathedral and the Albert Hall.
Bracknell town underwent its most notable development after the housing crisis of the Second World War. Staying true to its county town origins, new neighbourhoods were designed with local community areas and green, open spaces. Although a business park and modern industries now flourish, Bracknell still retains the rural charm of its past.
Places of Interest
There are heaps of attractions in Bracknell, from some of Berkshire’s most expansive parksto family-friendly entertainment. Some of the highlights include:
South Hill Park Arts Centre
Lily Hill Park
Go Ape Bracknell
John Nike Leisuresport Complex
Bracknell Shopping Centre
Casey’s Drive In
The Vintage Pavilion
Dinton Pastures Country Park
Coral Reef Water World (reopening in 2017 after renovation)
How to get here
By road: Take Junction 10 of the M4 or Junction 3 of the M3 and continue onto the A329(M) following signs for Bracknell. Dependent on traffic, travelling by car from Reading town centre and Slough takes 20 minutes and 25 minutes respectively.
By rail: Bracknell railway station sits on the London Waterloo to Reading line with services running frequently and covering all the surrounding towns in the area. The central bus station is also situated just outside the station.
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