Ashford is a town in the
Ashford in Kent, England.
2005 it was voted the fourth best place to live in the United
Kingdom. It lies on the River Great
, M20 motorway
, South Eastern Main Line
and High Speed 1
railways. Its agricultural market
is one of the most important in the county. Ashford is a relatively
common English placename: it goes back to Old English
, indicating a ford
near a clump
The motto for Ashford is "With stronger faith"
from, To Lucasta,
Going to the Warres
, a poem by the 17th century poet
from the borough,
the relevant verse being
As a market town, Ashford has for centuries been a local
communications hub for surroundingvillages and has stood at the centre of
five railway lines, (Ashford to
Ramsgate line, Swanley to
Ashford Line, South Eastern
Main Line, Kent Coast Line and
the Marshlink Line) since the 19th
century and with the opening of the International
Passenger Station is now an important European communications centre,
with new lines running between London and the
Tunnel (via High Speed
Ashford lies on the eastern edge of the ancient forest of
"Andredsweald" or "Anderida". This originally
stretched as far west as Hampshire and
formed the basis from which the Weald is
likely that the town originates from an original settlement
established in 893AD by inhabitants escaping a Danish Viking raid
on the nearby ancient village of Great Chart (Seleberhtes Cert in
762AD), although a Roman road passed
through here from the iron
making area to Canterbury.
It is listed in the Domesday Book
, compiled in 1086, as having a
church, two mills and a value of 150 shillings
, under its original Saxon
name of "Essetesford" (or
"Eshetisford," "Esselesford", "Asshatisforde", "Essheford"). The
manor was owned by Hugh de Montford, Constable of England at the
time. Writer Philpot believed Essetesford stood for "ash trees
growing near a ford", while Lampard, a 16th century local
historian, suggested that it meant "a ford over the river Eshe or
Eshet", which was the old name for the tributary
of the River Stour
between Lenham and
Its closeness to London has always made Kent a strong influence on
the capital, and vice versa.Thus by the end of the 16th century
(of Cade’s Rebellion) was credited by
in Henry VI, part 2
as being from Ashford. The
play includes an Ashford butcher called "Dick" who looks forward to
removing officialdom after the rebellion and says: first thing,
let’s kill all the lawyers.
Ashford’s importance as a growing agricultural and market town was
confirmed in 1243 when it was incorporated, and by the end of the
16th century it had risen to become an important market town,
primarily for livestock. The market was held in the High Street
until 1856 when local farmers and businessmen relocated to
and formed a market company that claims to be
the oldest surviving registered company in England and Wales. There
is still a regular street market in the town, although the market
company has relocated outside the town and is used by some 5,000
Parts of the parish church date from the 13th century but was
substantially restored in the 15th century with many alterations
since. In 1638 a free grammar school
was founded here, it was built on the churchyard’s west side, and
remained there until 1846, now used as a museum.
During World War II Ashford's importance as a transportation
(railway) hub and its location between the Continent and London
made it a target for bombing by the Luftwaffe.
The Joint Services
School of Intelligence
was based at Templar Barracks
in Ashford, until the barracks were decommissioned in 1997 and then
demolished to make way for High Speed 1. In 1982, Prince Andrew, Duke of York
involved with the "School".
lies in a valley at the confluence of the Rivers Upper Great
Stour and East Stour,
where the River Great Stour is
formed and turns northwards to go through the Stour Gap in the
Downs towards Canterbury, Sandwich, and the English Channel. To the south lies the Weald.
The original town of Ashford, in common with most such towns, has
outgrown its original size and has combined with smaller villages
in a conurbation
. These villages include
Bockhanger, Kennington, Sevington, Singleton, and Willesborough. In addition, housing estates have been built
in the open spaces amongst Bybrook, Godinton, Kingsnorth, Park
Farm, and Stanhope.
Essentially a modern town, little is left of the old Ashford town
centre, apart from some mediaeval half-timbered
buildings in Middle Row and
around the churchyard in the town centre. A number of old buildings
were removed to make way for the controversial ring road around the
centre, built in the early 1970s. Three modern shopping centres are located
in the town: Park Mall, County Square, and the new Designer Outlet.
Bank Street and High Street are
traffic-free shopping thoroughfares.
The increase in the town's commercial importance, as well as its
strategic location, is witnessed by the number of industry,
business, and retail parks in the town. These include
Waterbrook, a 740,000-m² (183-acre) site for production, storage
and distribution with a freight clearance facility; Eureka Science
and Business Park, including manufacturing sites and prestige
office complexes; the 570,000-m² (141-acres) Orbital Park; the
Designer Outlet shopping centre, which has won a design award; and
fourteen other business parks and industrial estates.
is also a factory of Campbell Soup
producing Batchelor's Soup
earthquake, which registered 4.3 on the Richter scale, was felt in Ashford, though its
effects were greatest in Folkestone.
in the area is highly influenced by the North Downs and the High Weald.
the summer (June to September) the rainfall is more showery,
falling over shorter periods and is normally more intense than in
the winter (November to February), where it comes along with
low pressure area frontal
systems and falls over longer periods
|Average min. temperature
Source: Met Office
Insofar as roads
are concerned, Ashford was one of
the towns in Kent to become a hub when the roads were turnpiked
in the second half of the 18th century.
roads later became the A20 road
from London to the Channel ports; and the A28 connecting Canterbury with Hastings.
Junctions 9 and 10 on the M20 motorway
town. Additionally the A251 links the town with Faversham and the A2070 links the
town with Romney Marsh and Rye.
Stack on the M20, usually implemented in response to
industrial action in Calais, brings Ashford to a halt several times
each year .
The A292 Ashford Ring Road was created in the 1970s around the town
centre in an attempt to relieve congestion along the previous main
thoroughfare in the town centre, the narrow East Hill. The Ring
Road has recently been converted to two-way traffic again, to
minimise the "race track" feel and help bring the isolated town
centre back into the rest of the area. There are plans for a fast
public transport link between the town centre and the suburbs and
main amenities, called "SMARTLINK
". See also Fastrak)
railway came to Ashford when the South Eastern Railway's London to
Dover main line opened between 1842 and 1844, and the company
established its locomotive works here.
The railway community had its own
shops, schools, pubs and bathhouse, and much of the area retains
the look of a "railway town"; the works closed in 1981.
became a junction when the line to Margate was opened in 1846; in 1851 today's Marshlink Line to Hastings was opened, and on 1 July
1884 the final connection, from Maidstone, was made.
Ashford International station opened with the Channel Tunnel in 1994. It now serves Eurostar trains on High
Speed 1, with trains to London, Lille and Paris and
connections to the rest of Europe.
November 2007 direct services to Brussels were withdrawn and the
frequency of trains to Paris was reduced to three per day when
Ebbsfleet International railway
Local firms, residents and
politicians were amongst those seeking a less drastic change in the
Eurostar timetable. With the introduction of domestic train
services in 2009 along the new High Speed One line to St
Pancras and Stratford in East London, travel time from Ashford to London will be reduced
from 83 to about 37 minutes (Currently there are off peak
services to London that take 63 minutes and 60 minutes from London
to Ashford.) .
A limited preview service for
the high speed trains began in July 2009, and the full service will
launch in December 2009.
was formerly served by Lympne Airport, commercial services ceased in 1974.
airport at Lydd, designated
Ashford Airport and approximately 17 miles (27
km) from Ashford, has regular flights to Le
Touquet, France by Lydd Air. London Gatwick Airport, the nearest fully international airport is 58
miles (94 km) from
Walk also follows the main river, connecting with other
such long distance footpaths in
this part of Kent, including the North Downs Way.
Harvey Hospital, named after the
doctor who discovered the blood circulatory system, is in
It is the district general hospital, and
was commissioned in 1977.
- See complete list of schools at List of schools in Kent
Ashford is home to nineteen primary
(One including St.Teresa's) and six secondary schools
. There are also two
colleges of Further education
three of the secondary schools have Sixth Form education
The John Wesley School for primary education, built on the junction
of Chart Road/Cuckoo Lane
, Singleton, opened in September
In June 2006, because of there being 1,007 empty school places in
Ashford, Kent County Council discussed the Kent Primary
proposing merging Ashford South Primary School and
Oak Tree Primary School, also suggested for amalgamation are Beaver
Green Infant and Hopewell Junior schools No further information is
forthcoming (January 2008).
Now, 2008, Beaver Green Infants and Hopewell Juniors have joined to
form Beaver Green Community Primary School, the head teacher being
Future development of the town
Ashford is one of the fastest growing areas in England, with rapid
growth in the population and the infrastructure needed to support
the town. (For the development of the M20 motorway around Ashford,
Junction 10 and the new Junction 10a see the M20 development
article). In 2004
for Ashford set out plans to deliver over 13,000 homes by 2016
. Overall, the
area has the capacity to deliver a total of 31,000 new homes and
28,000 new jobs by 2031. New housing estates are planned, in
particular the area of Cheeseman's Green, to the east of the town.
The town's ring
road, with the town centre sitting as an island, was converted back
into a two-way operation in 2007, after 30 years as a one way
system, at a cost of £10m. This will allow the town centre to
expand and accommodate the increasing population. The new two-way
route incorporates the first shared
scheme in the country . An integral arts program, Lost O,
curated by the artist Michael Pinsky, was developed as part of this
scheme but has been highly controversial and has now been removed
from the road to avoid confusion by the passing drivers.The main
shopping centre, County Square, has been expanded and opened mid
2008. It is twice the size of the original and houses many
well-known stores. In addition a new Waitrose
store is set to open in 2009. The
nightclub M20, is to be rebuilt on a new site on Eureka Leisure
Park. The new train line High Speed One will access London in 37
minutes. Preview services launched in July 2009, and the full
service is due December 2009.
Within the town there are some tourist attractions, among them
being Ashford Borough Museum
, Godinton House
and Gardens and the Willesborough Windmill
. In addition
to the main library
in the town there are
some local, smaller libraries. A First
World War Mk. IV tank
built in Lincoln was presented to the
town on 1 July 1919
is still displayed in the town, a rare survivor.
Green Corridor is a linear park alongside the two main rivers
through the town.
Ashford is twinned
- Bad Münstereifel in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, (population 19,007) twinned since 1964.
(See the German language page for Bad Münstereifel and the town's
location on Multimap.)
- Fougères in Brittany, France,
(population 21,779) twinned since 1984. (See the French
language page for Fougères and the
town's location on Multimap)
- Hopewell, Virginia, USA,
(population 22,354) twinned since 1994. (See the town's
location on Multimap)
Ashford has one local commercial radio station, KMFM Ashford
. The Ashford studios also host
programmes for other KMFM stations in East Kent. The town is also
served by county wide stations BBC Radio
, Heart Kent
There are three local newspapers in Ashford - the Kentish Express
, published by the
by KOS Media
; and the Ashford
, published by Kent Regional News and Media. This
started publication in 2009, replacing the Ashford Adscene.
- Ashford Town Football
Club formed around 1880 as Ashford United and has changed names
to Ashford Railway and Ashford FC before settling on the current
"Town". The club's highest league position was 18th in the Southern League, Premier Division,
1987-88 and best FA Cup performance was the
2nd round in the 1962-63, 1966-67 and 1995-96 seasons.
- Ashford Hockey Club is based at Ball Lane,
Kennington and were formed in 1898.
- Ashford Town Swimming Club
- Ashford Rugby Club, based in Kennington. The club has
a thriving junior section: Ashford
Rugby Under 15s. The Club organises an annual beer festival: a
3 day event, held each August, featuring real ale, music and
- The Julie Rose Stadium is in Willesborough: it is an athletics
stadium and home to Ashford Athletics Club.
- Ashford Archers
- Luke Southern junior golf champion
Ashford has housed many musicians, from skiffle
founder, Ray Dorset
Chart-topping pop-punk band Dum Dums
founder Josh Doyle
to the organists
and Sir Malcolm Sargent
. Roger Dean
the artist featured on
' album covers, Frederick Forsyth
Day of the Jackal
, a writer
, were born in the town.
, Patsy Byrne
in the sitcom
) and Mark Rylance
were born in the area, with other
personalities from the town including satirist John
from That Was
The Week That Was
, a television
. Ben Mills also lived in Kent and was third on the
X-Factor third series. Leon Camier
hails from Ashford. Comedians Paul O'Grady and Julian Clary are
local residents, as well as Shooting Stars presenters 'Vic and Bob'
who live in the surrounding area.Tom Nicolls PornStar
Notable people of the area from the past
lived in the town.
Weil also lived here; upon contracting tuberculosis she was moved to a sanatorium at Kennington, and declared the town "a beautiful
place to die", later being recognised by the town's council naming
a road after her.
Dr John Wallis
the internationally recognised mathematician
Ashford has recently produced many sporting athletes, from Asafa Powell
athletics event winner) to Jamie Staff
World Champion and Track cycling
multi medal winner).
- International Civic Heraldry
- 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Kings College, London
- BBC weather
- The Rural Landscape of Kent, S.G.McRae &
C.P.Burnham, Wye College,1973
- Kent County Council
- Kent & Medway Hospitals
- 2 August 2006
- Government Office for the South East
- BBC.co.uk 9 June 2006
- Shared Space
- BBC.co.uk 9 July 2007
- Ashford best placed in Britain
- Godinton House and Gardens
- History of Ashford