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Basingstoke is a town in northeast Hampshire, England. It lies across a valley at the source of the River Loddon. It is southwest of Londonmarker, northeast of Southamptonmarker, southwest of Readingmarker, and northeast of the county town, Winchestermarker. In 2008 it had an estimated population of 82,913. It is part of the borough of Basingstoke and Deanemarker and part of the parliamentary constituency of Basingstokemarker. Basingstoke is often nicknamed "Doughnut City" or "Roundabout City" due to the number of roundabouts.

Often mistaken for a new town, Basingstoke is an old market town expanded in the 1960s as part of a tripartite agreement between London County Council, Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke Borough Council. It was developed rapidly, along with Andovermarker and Tadleymarker, to accommodate part of the London 'overspill' as perceived under the Greater London Plan, 1944.

Basingstoke market was mentioned in the Domesday Book and Basingstoke remained a small market town until the 1950s. It still has a regular market, but is now bigger than Hampshire County Council's definition of a market town.

Basingstoke is a prosperous town, with an above-average standard of living and low unemployment. It is an economic centre, and the location of the UK headquarters of Sun Life Financial of Canada, The Automobile Association, ST Ericsson, GAME, Motorola and Sony Professional Solutions (Europe). Other industries include drug manufacture, IT, communications, insurance and electronics.

Geography and administration

Situated in a valley through the North Downsmarker, Basingstoke is a major interchange between Readingmarker, Newburymarker, Andovermarker, Winchestermarker, and Altonmarker, and lies on the natural trade route between the southwest of England and Londonmarker.

Politics

The Basingstoke parliamentary constituencymarker was formed under the 1885 Act and is currently served by Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Mrs Maria Miller, who was elected in the 2005 general election.

Basingstoke and Deanemarker Borough Council, which has its offices in the town, is a Conservative-led council, having 33 Conservative, 14 Liberal Democrat, 9 Labour, two Independent councillors and two former Conservatives who formed a Basingstoke First Community Party at the beginning of 2009 after the expulsion of one of them from the Conservative Party for conduct not befitting a member.

Basingstoke is part of a two-tier local government structure and returns county councillors to Hampshire County Council. When the cities of Southampton and Portsmouthmarker attained unitary authority status in 1998, Basingstoke became Hampshire's largest settlement.

Physical geography/geology

The precise size and shape of Basingstoke today are difficult to identify, as it has no single official boundary that encompasses all the areas contiguous to its development. The unparished area of the town represents its bulk, but several areas that might be considered part of the town are separate parishes, namely Chinehammarker, Rooksdownmarker, and Lychpitmarker. The unparished area includes Worting, which was previously a separate village and parish,extending beyond Roman Road and Old Kempshott Lane, which might otherwise be considered the town’s ‘natural’ western extremity. The ward boundaries within the parliamentary constituency are not ( ) coterminous with the parish boundaries.

Basingstoke is situated on a bed of cretaceous upper chalk with small areas of clayey and loamy soil, inset with combined clay and flint patches. Loam and alluvium recent and pleistocene sediments line the bed of the river Loddon. A narrow line of tertiary Reading beds run diagonally from the northwest to the southeast along a line from Sherborne St Johnmarker through Popley, Daneshill and the north part of Basingmarker. To the north of this line, encompassing the areas of Chineham and Pyotts Hill, is London clay.

Divisions and suburbs

Basingstoke's expansion has absorbed much surrounding farmland and scattered housing, transforming it into housing estates or local districts. Many of these new estates are designed as almost self-contained communities, such as Lychpitmarker, Chinehammarker, Popley, Winkleburymarker, Oakridgemarker, Kempshottmarker, Brighton Hill, South Hammarker, Black Dam and Hatch Warrenmarker. The M3 acts as a buffer zone to the south of the town, and the South Western Main Line constrains the western expansion, with a green belt to the north and north-east, making Basingstoke shaped almost like a kite. As a result, the villages of Cliddesdenmarker, Dummermarker, Sherborne St Johnmarker and Oakleymarker, although being very close to the town limits, are considered distinct entities. Popley, Hatch Warren and Beggarwood are seeing rapid growth in housing.

Nearby towns: Hookmarker, Tadleymarker, Whitchurchmarker,

Nearby villages: Aldermastonmarker, Baughurstmarker, Bramleymarker, Kingscleremarker, Oakleymarker, Old Basingmarker, Overtonmarker, Ramsdellmarker, Silchestermarker, Sherfield-On-Loddon.

History

Early settlements

The hillfort at Winkleburymarker (2 miles (3 km) west of the town centre), known locally as Winklebury Camp or Winklebury Ring dates from the Iron age and there are remains of several other earthworks around Basingstoke including a long barrow near Down Grange. Nearby, to the west, Roman Road and Kempshott Lane mark the course of a Roman road that ran from Winchestermarker to Silchestermarker. Further to the east, another Roman road ran from Chichestermarker through the outlaying villages of Upton Greymarker and Mapledurwellmarker. The Harrow Way is an ancient route that runs to the south of the town.

Etymology

The name Basingstoke (A.D 990; Embasinga stocæ, Domesday; Basingestoches) is believed to have been derived from the town's position as the outlying, western settlement of Basa's people. Basing, now Old Basingmarker, a village a few miles to the east, is thought to have the same etymology, but is considered by some to be the older settlement.

Market town



Basingstoke is recorded as being a market site in the Domesday Book, and has held a regular Wednesday market since 1214.During the Civil War, and the siege of Basing Housemarker between 1643 and 1645, the town played host to large numbers of Parliamentarians. During this time, St. Michael's Churchmarker was damaged whilst being used as an explosive store and lead was stripped from the roof of the Chapel of the Holy Trinity leading to its eventual ruin. Cromwell is believed to have stayed in the town towards the end of the siege and wrote a letter to the Speaker of the House of Commonsmarker addressed from Basingstoke.

The cloth industry appears to have been important in the development of the town until the 17th century along with malting.

Brewing became important during the 18th and 19th centuries, and the oldest and most successful was May's Brewery, established by Thomas and William May in 1750 in Brook Street.

Victorian history

The London and South Western Railway arrived in 1839 from London, and within a year it was connected to Winchester and Southampton. in 1848 a rival company, Sponsored by the Great Western Railway built a branch from Reading, and in 1854 a line was built to Salisburymarker. In the 19th century Basingstoke began to move into industrial manufacture, Wallis and Haslam (later Wallis & Steevens), began producing agricultural equipment including threshing machines in the 1850s, moving into the production of stationary steam engines in the 1860s and then traction engines in the 1870s.

Two traders who opened their first shops within a year of each other in the town, went on to become household names nationally: Thomas Burberry in 1856 and Alfred Milward in 1857. Burberry became famous after he invented Gabardine and Milward founded the Milwards chain of shoe shops, which could be found on almost every high street until the 1980s.

London Street includes a variety of architecture from the 17th to the 20th century
Ordinary citizens were said to be shocked by the emotive, evangelical tactics of the Salvation Army when they arrived in the town in 1880, but the reaction from those employed by the breweries or within the Licence trade quickly grew more openly hostile. Violent clashes became a regular occurrence culminating on Sunday 27 March 1881 with troops being called upon to break up the conflict after the Mayor had read the Riot Act. The riot and its causes led to questions in Parliamentmarker and a period of notoriety for the town.

In 1898 John Isaac Thornycroft began production of steam-powered lorries in the town and Thornycroft’s quickly grew to become the town’s largest employer.

Recent history

Basingstoke was among the towns and cities targeted during the Second World War, and suffered bomb damage including St Michael's Church. After the war, it had a population of 25,000.

As part of the London Overspill plan, Basingstoke was rapidly developed in the late 1960s as an 'expanded town', along with places such as Harlowmarker and Swindonmarker. Basingstoke town centre was completely rebuilt. At this time many buildings of historic interest were replaced by a large red brick shopping centre and concrete multi-storey car park. Many office blocks and large estates were built, including a ring road.

The shopping centre, following money issues, was built in phases. The first phase was completed by the 1970s and was later covered in the 1980s, and was known as The Walks. The second phase was completed by the early 1980s, and became The Malls. The third phase was abandoned and the site was later used to build The Anvilmarker concert hall.
The new shopping centre Festival Place


In 2003 Basingstoke was voted ninth in the Crap Towns survey, a humorous, but unscientific guide to the worst places to live in Britain though was not in the top ten of the 2004 survey.

Later that year, the Basingstoke Gazette launched its "Basingstoke – A Place to be Proud of" campaign, aimed at changing people’s perception of the town. The campaign is ongoing ( ) and marked by the presentation of annual awards to individuals, organisations or businesses nominated by the public for commendable local achievement.

The central part of the shopping centre was rebuilt in 2002 and reopened as Festival Placemarker. This has bought a dramatic improvement to shoppers opinions of the town centre, but it is unclear if it has softened the towns overall image.

Further work to improve the image of the town continues with the latest Central Basingstoke Vision project coordinated by the Borough Council.

In the mid 1990s, numerous reports described sightings of the Beast of Basingstoke, a big cat believed to be a lion or a puma, possibly two. Local legend suggests the animal was shot and killed, although no official news sources document any capture or killing of the beast.

Demographics

Year Population
1801 2,589
1841 4,066
1871 5,574
1891 7,960
1911 11,259
1921 12,415
1931 13,865
1951 16,978
1961 25,980
1971 52,608


Basingstoke & Deane Compared
2001 UK census Basingstoke and Deane South East England England
Total population 152,573 8,000,645 49,138,831
Population density 2.41 4.20 3.77
White British 96.6% 95.1% 90.9%
Asian 1.2% 2.3% 4.6%
Mixed race 1.0% 1.1% 1.3%
Christian 74.0% 72.8% 71.7%
No religion 17.0% 16.5% 14.6%
Good health 74.3% 71.5% 68.8%
Employed full time 51.0% 43.2% 40.8%
Owner Occupier with mortgage or loan 48.7% 41.9% 38.9%
Travelling less than 10 km to work 64.2% 63.0% 67.5%


The borough of Basingstoke was merged with other local districts in 1974 to form the borough of Basingstoke and Deanemarker. Since then most census data has been for the larger area: before 1974, census information was published for the town as a separate entity.

Figures published for the most recent UK census in 2001 for the Borough of Basingstoke and Deane, give a population of 152,573 and a population density of 2.41 persons per hectare. The number of women at 50.48% slightly exceeded that of men.96.56% of the population were White British, 1.22% Asian or Asian British, 1.02% mixed race, 0.58% Black or Black British and 0.61% Chinese or other ethnic group. With regard to religion, 74.02% of the population were Christian, 16.98% had no religion and 7.22% did not respond. Other religions in total accounting for less than 2%. Amongst other findings were that 74.33% felt they were in good health, 50.98% were economically active full time employees (over 10% higher than the National Average) and 48.73% were buying their property with a mortgage or loan (almost 10% higher than the national average).Amongst the working population, 64.2% travelled less than 10 km to work. The biggest percentage of employees, 17.67% worked in real estate, renting and business activities.

Facilities

View of The Malls from Basingstoke Train Station
Festival Placemarker, a new shopping centre, opened in autumn 2002, adding a huge boost to the town centre, transforming the former The Walks Shopping Centre and the New Market Square. Aside from a wide range of shops, there is also a range of cafés and restaurants as well as a large multiple-screen Vue cinema (formerly Ster Century until their takeover in 2005).

Central Basingstoke has two further shopping areas: The Mallsmarker and the Top of Town. The Malls area has declined since the opening of Festival Place and the closure of its Alldersmarker department store, though it is still home to several major retailers. The leasehold was purchased in 2004 by the St Modwen development group in partnership with the Kuwait property investment company Salhia Real Estate, with provision for redevelopment and a 55,000 square metre Primark store opened on the previous Allders site, in the Malls shopping centre, in March 2008. The store, which employs 204 people, is in the top 25 largest Primark stores in the country.
The Top of Town is the historic heart of Basingstoke, housing the town's Willis Museum in the former Town Hall building and the Haymarket Theatre in the former Corn exchange. There are also several locally run shops, as well as the post office, and the market place.

The town's nightlife is split between the new Festival Square, and the traditional hostelries at the Top of Town, with a few local community pubs outside the central area. The town has four nightclubs, two in the town itself, one on the east side and one 2 miles (3 km) out to the west.

In Portchester Square is the Basingstoke Sports Centre which has a subterranean swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi and steam room. Above ground there is a gym, aerobics studios, squash courts and main hall. There is also a playden for young children. Basingstoke town centre is also home to a modern concert hall, The Anvilmarker.

Sports and leisure

Outside the town centre, there is a leisure park featuring the Aquadrome swimming pool , which opened in May 2002. The park also includes an ice rink, Bowling Alley, Bingo club and a ten screen cinema, as well as a restaurant and fast food outlets. The leisure park is also home to the Milestones Museummarker which contains a network of streets and buildings based on the history of Hampshire.

Basingstoke has its own football team, Basingstoke Town Football Club who play in the Blue Square Conference South. The Basingstoke Rugby Football Club play in Rugby Football Union's Powergen South West League 1, and the Basingstoke Bison ice hockey team play in the Elite Ice Hockey League until the end of 2008/2009 season. From the 2009/2010 season, the team will play in the English Premier Ice Hockey League. Basingstoke also has a swimming team, known as the Basingstoke Bluefins. The diversity of sporting activity in the area is illustrated by organisations such as Basingstoke Demons Floorball Club and Basingstoke Bulls Korfball Club. The home ground of Basingstoke & North Hants Cricket Club, Mays Bounty was until 2000 used once a season by Hampshire County Cricket Club. Players such as Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar as well as Ashes winners Michael Vaughan, Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard have graced the ground It was also where celebrated commentator and playwright John Arlott watched his first match. In August 2008 County Cricket returned to May’s Bounty with Hampshire County Cricket Club defeating eventual County Champions Durham County Cricket Club.[43640].


Plans have recently been announced for a new multi-million pound sports facility at Down Grange, which would be suitable for many sports. Proposals include a stadium for Basingstoke Town FC and Basingstoke RFC which would be up to the standard of the Football League, a new 8 lane athletics track and hockey pitch, as well as a gym, swimming pool, hotel and conference facilities.

Media

Basingstoke has its own radio station: Kestrel FM. Heart Berkshire, broadcast from Readingmarker also provides local radio coverage. The town also has good coverage from digital radio; the BBC, Independent National and Now Reading multiplexes can be received in the town,and the outskirts can receive London and South Hampshire stations as well.

There are three local newspapers: the Basingstoke Gazette, Basingstoke Observer and the Basingstoke Independent. The town is also covered by the Hampshire Chronicle.

Education

Education in Basingstoke is co-ordinated by Hampshire County Council. Each neighbourhood in the town has at least one Primary school, while Secondary schools are distributed around the town on larger campuses.

Basingstoke has two large further education colleges: a sixth form college, Queen Mary's Collegemarker (QMC) and Basingstoke College of Technologymarker (BCOT).

Universities

The University of Winchester has a Campus in Basingstoke (Chute House Campus). Chute House Campus delivers full-time and part-time university courses for those who have otherwise busy lives and want a flexible approach to studying. Located in the centre of Basingstoke, many courses are run in the evening to meet the growing demand for this type of flexible study. The qualifications on offer range from foundation degrees, bachelor degrees, PGCE and MBA. Subjects include childhood studies, various management pathways, community development and creative industries.

Basingstoke is within 30 miles (48 km) of six universities, namely Thames Valley University (TVU), the University of Winchester, the University of Reading, the University of Southamptonmarker, Southampton Solent University and Surrey Institute of Art & Design, University Collegemarker in Farnhammarker.

Transport

Road

Basingstoke is at Junction 6 and Junction 7 of the M3 motorway, which skirts the town's southern edge, linking the town to London and to Southampton and the south-west. The central area of the town is encircled by a ring road constructed in the 1960s named The Ringway and bisected from east to west by the A3010, Churchill Way. Major roads radiate from the Ringway like spokes from a hub. The A33 runs north east to Reading and the M4 Motorway and south west to Winchester. The A30 runs east to Hook and west to Salisbury. The A303 begins a few miles south west of Basingstoke to head west towards Wiltshiremarker and the West Country, sharing the first few miles with the A30. The A339 runs south east to Alton and north west to Newbury. Basingstoke has a reputation for having a large density of roundabouts.

Rail

The South Western Main Line railway runs east and west through the centre of the town and Basingstoke railway stationmarker linking it to the South West of England, London Waterloomarker (the fastest train Basingstoke to London takes 45 minutes), Winchester, Southampton and Bournemouth, and via the Eastleigh to Fareham Line and West Coastway Line to Portsmouth and Brighton. The West of England Main Line to Salisbury and Exeter diverges at Worting Junction, to the west. The Basingstoke Branch runs north-east to Readingmarker, providing services to Oxford, Birmingham, the north of England and Scotland. The town was also the terminus of the defunct Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway. Current rail services from Basingstoke are operated by South West Trains, Crosscountry and First Great Western.

Bus

Most bus services in the town operate from Basingstoke Bus Station. The majority are provided by the Stagecoach Group through their Stagecoach in Hampshire sub-division. Newbury Buses also operate over individual routes and cango operate a service linking villages between Basingstoke and Alton.A Park and Ride service provided by Courtney Coaches links Basingstoke leisure park with Basing View, via Basingstoke Railway Station. This service uses distinctive purple and green Alexander Dennis Enviro 200 buses,(previously using Optare Solo), and provides a daytime service at roughly 10-minute intervals throughout the week. The buses on this service being provided by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. Currently (2007), a complimentary peak time service is also provided by MEPC Coaches between Chineham Business Park and the railway station. National Express offers direct coach services to London and Southampton from the bus station.

Cycle

Separate provision for cyclists from other road traffic was not part of the remit of the 1960s town redevelopment, and until recently provision for cyclists was very poor. A Basingstoke Area Cycling Strategy was developed in 1999 and subsequently an extensive cycle network has been developed mainly utilising on-road routes or off-road routes that run parallel with and directly alongside roads. Basingstoke was linked to Reading on the National Cycle Network route 23 in May 2003 and the route was extended south to Alton and Alresford in April 2006. A Basingstoke Bicycle Users Group meets quarterly to discuss local cycling issues.

Air

The closest international airport to Basingstoke is Southamptonmarker, about 25 miles (40 km) away. Blackbushemarker (9 miles (14 km)) and Farnboroughmarker (11 miles (18 km)) have Civil Aviation Authority Ordinary Licences, allowing for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. Other General Aviation airfields in the area are at Popham, (7 miles (11 km)) and Lashammarker (5 miles (8 km)). Prior Permission Required (PPR) sites are near Brimptonmarker and Hook. Lasham is particularly well known for its gliding school.

Canal

Though there are no navigable waterways within the immediate area, plans to reconnect the town with the surviving section of the Basingstoke Canalmarker have been mooted several times in the past and this remains a long term aim of the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society. The Basingstoke Canal Heritage Footpath follows the canal route for 2 miles (3 km) from Festival Placemarker to Basing Housemarker.

Nearest places

Cultural references

In the 1887 Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera Ruddigore, the word "Basingstoke" is used as a code word by Sir Despard Murgatroyd to soothe his new wife, Mad Margaret, when she seems in danger of relapsing into madness. Margaret suggests this course of action herself:
Well, then, when I am lying awake at night, and the pale moonlight streams through the latticed casement, strange fancies crowd upon my poor mad brain, and I sometimes think that if we could hit upon some word for you to use whenever I am about to relapse—some word that teems with hidden meaning—like "Basingstoke"—it might recall me to my saner self.


First published in 1895, Thomas Hardy referred to Basingstoke as "Stoke Barehills" in Jude the Obscure – Part Fifth, Chapter 5

"There is in Upper Wessexmarker an old town of nine or ten thousand souls; the town may be called Stoke-Barehills. It stands with its gaunt, unattractive, ancient church, and its new red brick suburb".
"The most familiar object in Stoke-Barehills nowadays is its cemetery, standing among some picturesque mediaeval ruins beside the railway; the modern chapels, modern tombs, and modern shrubs having a look of intrusiveness amid the crumbling and ivy-covered decay of the ancient walls."


Carl Barât, co-founder of The Libertines rock band, was born in Basingstoke and responded to a request for a description of the town with the question: "Have you seen The Office?".

In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, just after Ford Prefect has explained to Arthur Dent that they hitched a lift on a spaceship Arthur replies: "Are you trying to tell me that we just stuck out our thumbs and some green bug-eyed monster stuck his head out and said, Hi fellas, hop right in. I can take you as far as the Basingstoke roundabout?".

The character Rodney Trotter in the sitcom Only Fools And Horses studied at an art college in Basingstoke.

Basingstoke is mentioned in a skit from Episode 42 of Monty Python's Flying Circus as the site of a World War I battle. When the General (sitting as president of a court martial) asks "Basingstoke, Hampshire?" he is told no, the battle occurred in Basingstoke, Westphalia (which can only be located on a map produced by Cole Porter).

Recorded in Hunter Davies' contempary biography of The Beatles, Paul McCartney offers John Lennon "some amazing cake from Basingstoke."

Filmography

The 1998 film Get Real was filmed at various locations around the town.

The British sitcom Blessed referred to Basingstoke in an episode that aired during the last quarter of 2005. When the main character met an upper-class couple who had named their children "India" and "Ireland" to reflect their supposed mystical natures, he ironically replied that he had named his own children "Basingstoke" and "Milton Keynesmarker".

Basingstoke’s North Hampshire Hospitalmarker was one of two hospitals used for the filming of Channel 4's hit comedy Green Wing.

An episode of Top Gear was filmed in Festival Place in November 2008. The episode was broadcast on BBC2 at 8:00pm on 7 December. Jeremy Clarkson was testing the new Ford Fiesta in the town in the early hours of the morning.

Basingstoke was referenced to in the second series of Skins, where Chris' father claims to have relatives as far as Basingstoke attending his son's funeral.

In the first series of Ultimate Force, episode 2 "Just a Target", the assassination attempt towards the end of the episode was set in Basingstoke.

See also



Notes

a. Population figure is an estimate for mid 2008, and includes only the town of Basingstoke (Unparished area) — not the surrounding area.

b. The List of generic forms in British place names shows a toponomic interpretation of the various Old English elements within the names Basing and Basingstoke. ‘’Bas’’ is taken as a personal name, ‘’ingas’’ as 'people of' and ‘’stoc’’ as 'dependent farmstead' or 'secondary settlement'.

c. In summarising to Magistrates at the trial of those members of the public said to have rioted against the Salvationists, defence counsel stated that ‘’Until this body known as the Salvation Army was formed here, the number of summonses which had come before the Magistrates was comparatively unknown. They now had a large number of assault cases to hear.’’ ‘’The army perfectly well knew that their conduct was leading to disturbances in the town’’. The case against the defendants was dismissed.


References

  1. The Beatles, Hunter Davies, 1968
  2. Hampshire News: TV stars hit top gear in shopping centre.


External links




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