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Bracknell is a town in the Bracknell Forestmarker borough of Berkshire, Englandmarker. It lies to the south-east of Readingmarker, southwest of Windsormarker and west of Londonmarker.

The town is surrounded, on the east and south, by the vast expanse of Swinley Woodsmarker and Crowthornemarker Woods. The town has absorbed parts of many local outlying areas including Warfieldmarker, Winkfieldmarker and Binfieldmarker.

History

The town covers all of the old village of Easthampsteadmarker (though not all of the old parish) and the hamlet of Ramslademarker. Easthampstead has a very long history. There is a Bronze Age round barrow at Bill Hill. Easthampstead Parkmarker was a favoured Royal hunting lodge in Windsor Forest and Catherine of Aragon was banished there until her divorce was finalised. It was later the home of the Trumbulls who were patrons of Alexander Pope from Binfield.

To the north east of the town is to be found the Quelm Stone, a Standing Stone and to the South West is Caesar's Camp, an Iron Age Hillfort.

Bracknell is a modern corruption of the Saxon word 'Bracknhale' meaning 'Bracken-covered Hiding Place', which is now only used as a name for one of the schools. One of the oldest buildings in the town is the 'Old Manor' public house, a 17th century brick manor house featuring a number of priest holes. Next door once stood the 'Hind's Head' coaching inn, where it is said Dick Turpin used to drink. It is believed that there were once underground tunnels between the two, along which the famous highwayman could escape from the authorities. In 1723, the Grenadier Guards had a battle with the infamous bandits called the 'Wokinghammarker Blacks' near the town.

Oscar Wilde is said to have visited South Hill Parkmarker and subsequently named a character Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. He was also a regular visitor to the town with his wife, Constance.

Another prominent place of worship is the parish church of St Michael and St Mary Magdalenemarker in Easthampsteadmarker.

Image:bracknell-3m-building.jpg|Fire damaged former 3M BuildingImage:bracknell-marketplace-alley.jpg|Marketplace alleyImage:bracknell-office-building.jpg|Office building at sunsetimage:bracknell-broadway-02.jpg|Broadway

New town

Bracknell was designated a new town in 1949, in the aftermath of the Second World War. The site was originally a village-come-small-town in the civil parish of Warfieldmarker in the Easthampstead Rural Districtmarker. Very little of the original Bracknell is left. The location was chosen over White Walthammarker, an alternative possibility, because the Bracknell site avoided encroaching on good quality agricultural land. It had the additional advantage of being on a railway line.

The new town was planned for 25,000 people; it was intended to occupy over 1,000 hectares of land on and around 'Old Bracknell' in the area now covered by Priestwood, Easthampstead, Bullbrook and Harman's Water. The existing town centre and industrial areas were to be retained with new industry brought in to provide jobs. However, the town has since expanded far beyond its intended size into farmland to the south, and major expansion is now, as of 2008, under way to the west of the town at Peacock Farm, and on the site of the former RAF Staff College.

The town centre is a 1960s design, and considered by many to be in need of a major refurbishment. The Borough Council is therefore working in partnership with the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership (Legal & General and Schroders) to regenerate the town centre with new shops and facilities to be built.

At the heart of most Bracknell neighbourhoods is a church, a small parade of shops, a primary school, a community centre and a pub, there is a church in Crown Wood School (part of Easthampstead Baptist Church www.ebc-bracknell.org). The neighbourhoods varied in size from 3000 to 9000. Pedestrianisation was a key idea, as was the construction of a ring road, and segregation of industrial areas from residential areas.

A feature of a number of the estates that causes great confusion for outsiders and newcomers alike is the fact that streets only have names, not titles - in Birch Hill, Crown Wood, Great Hollands and others there is no 'Road', 'Avenue', 'Street', just 'Frobisher', 'Jameston', 'Juniper', 'Jevington'. The residential streets are, however, named in alphabetical order starting in Great Hollandsmarker, with As, through Ds, such as Donnybrook, in Hanworthmarker, Js, such as 'Jameston' and 'Jevington' in Birch Hillmarker, and beyond. The exceptions are streets in the Wimpey Homes area of the town, where street names such as Hornby Avenue and Pakenham Road can be found.

Regeneration

Because of Bracknell's age, it was decided that it should undergo renovation. Designs and plans were submitted and rejected first time round. The council went for a second attempt and were accepted, work was due to commence early in 2008 but due to the global credit crises it appears that plans have been postponed until a more suitable time, although in January 2009 it was still publicly stated as being planned. The cost is estimated at around £750 million. It is hoped that the regeneration will provide brand new services, a completely redeveloped town centre, 1,000 new homes and new police and bus stations.

Business

The town was successful in attracting high-tech industries, and has become home to companies such as Panasonic, Fujitsu (formerly ICL) and Fujitsu-Siemens Computers, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Siemens (originally Nixdorf), Honeywell, Cable and Wireless, Avnet Technology Solutionsmarker and Novell. Its success subsequently spread into the surrounding Thames Valleymarker or M4 corridormarker, attracting IT firms such as Cable and Wireless, DEC (subsequently Hewlett-Packard), Microsoft, Sharp Telecommunications, Oracle Corporation, Sun Microsystems and Cognos.

Bracknell is also home to the central Waitrose distribution centre and head office which is on a site on the Southern Industrial Estate. Waitrose has operated from the town since the 1970s. The town is also home to the UK headquarters of BMW Group.

Manufacturing industry has largely disappeared since the 1980s. Former significant sites included Clifford's Dairy in Downshire Way and British Aerospace (originally Sperry Gyroscope) now occupied by Arlington Square. The Thomas Lawrence brickworks on the north side of the town was famous for 'red rubber' bricks to be found in the Royal Albert Hallmarker and Westminster Cathedralmarker, and in restoration work at 10 Downing Streetmarker and Hampton Court Palacemarker.

The most visible landmark in the town centre is Winchester House, formerly owned by 3M and informally known as the "3M Building", as it had the 3M logo in large illuminated red letters in a prominent place at the top of the building. It is a twelve-storey structure and it can be seen from over a mile away. It used to house the company's UK headquarters before being abandoned in favour of new premises in Farley Woodmarker on the town's northern edge in 2004 – since then, the building has had the 3M logo removed and has been heavily vandalised inside. It is also due for demolition. The town was also the home of Racal and Ferranti Computer Systems Ltd. The Met Office maintained a large presence in the town until 2003, when it relocated to Exetermarker in Devon.

"Arlington Square", a 22 acre (8ha) business park (first stage completed in 1995), is home to several of the town's businesses. Others are on the Western and Southern industrial areas.

Local government

Bracknell was made a civil parish in its own right in 1955. It has a town council. Under the Local Government Act 1972, the entire Easthampstead Rural District became the Bracknell District on 1 April 1974. It was granted Borough status, when it changed its name to Bracknell Forestmarker in 1988. When Berkshire County Council was abolished on 1 April 1998 (and the non-metropolitan county was reclassified as a ceremonial county), Bracknell Forestmarker became one of the unitary authorities which together make up Berkshire.

Geography

The town covers areas previously in the parishes of Easthampsteadmarker, Warfieldmarker, Binfieldmarker and Winkfieldmarker. The town's centre lies just north of the Railway Stationmarker with completely pedestrianized and much undercover shopping around Princess Square, Charles Square and the Broadway. There are 'out-of-town' shops, a multiscreen cinema and ten pin bowling complex at the Peel Centre. Just to the west are the Western and Southern Industrial Estates, either side of the railway line. There are many residential suburbs (see settlement table below) of varying dates, the oldest being Priestwoodmarker and, of course, Easthampsteadmarker Village.

The former RAF Staff College buildings in Harmanswater, now closed, was part of the Joint Services Command and Staff Collegemarker. This site is now, as of 2008, being redeveloped for housing by Wimpey, with an estimated 730 houses on the college's former site. The south-western corner of the town remains rural around Easthampstead Park and the wooded Yew Tree Corner. Another new housing development called Jennett's Park is however being built nearby at Peacock Farm. There are large ponds at Farley Woodmarker and the Easthampstead Mill Pond between Great Hollandsmarker and Wildridingsmarker, and two lakes at South Hill Parkmarker. The Bull Brook emerges above ground just within the bounds of the suburb of Bullbrookmarker.

Arts

South Hill Park lies in Bracknell and houses an arts centre
In the south of the town is South Hill Parkmarker, a mansion dating from 1760, although much rebuilt, that now houses a large Arts Centre. The Wilde Theatre was opened in 1984, named after Oscar Wilde who created the character 'Lady Bracknell' in his play The Importance of Being Earnest. South Hill Park has been home to a number of major music festivals over the years:



Bracknell has been used in the filming of many TV shows and films, such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Martins Heronmarker) and Time Bandits (Birch Hillmarker).. Waterside Park was used for the exterior of the police HQ in TV detective series Pie in the Sky. Bracknell has also featured in the 1991 Roger Daltrey Film Buddy's Song. The Offence (1972), a psychological thriller with Sean Connery and Ian Bannen, was filmed in Bracknell. There are scenes in the town centre, on Broadway, Charles Square and Market Street. The flat for Connery's character was filmed at the listed Point Royal, and the bulk of the outdoor scenes were taken around Wild Ridings, specifically Arncliffe, Crossfell, Mill Pond and Mill Lane.

Bracknell is featured in the Playstation 3 title "Resistance: Fall of Man" set in 1951, as the location at which power conduits travel deep underground south-east England to power the Chimeran fortresses. It also featured in the sequel "Resistance:2" with a similar role as before

Tracy Beaker actress Dani Harmer was brought up in Bracknell.

Transport

Bracknell has two railway stations, Bracknellmarker and Martins Heronmarker, both of which are on the Waterloo to Reading Line, originally built by the London and South Western Railway and now operated by South West Trains. As a consequence of the frequent service on this line, Bracknell is now a major commuter centre with its residents travelling in both directions (westwards to Readingmarker and eastwards to London marker).

The town has good road links and is situated at the end of the A329, mid-way between Junction 3 of the M3 and Junction 10 of the M4 motorways. A proposed motorway link between the M3 and the M4 – to be called the M31 – would have passed to the west of the town centre, but only the section that is now the A329(M) and the A3290 was built.

Local bus services are provided by First Group and Courtney Coaches.

Sport and leisure

Bracknell Town Football Club are members of the Southern Football League Division One South & West, and play their home matches at Larges Lane. The Bracknell Bees Ice Hockey Club are former national champions, who currently play in the English Premier League. The Bracknell Blazers are the 2009 BBF National League champions. The town is also represented by teams playing rugby, hockey and cricket.

The town has a large leisure centre, which includes swimming and athletics facilities, whilst there is also the Coral Reef Water Park, the Downshire Golf Complex and Esporta, the Royal County of Berkshire Club. The John Nike Leisuresport Complex houses a dry ski slope and an ice rink, and there are of Crown Estate woodland at the Look Out Discovery Centre. A number of organisations are active in the area, including several troops of Scouts, and the Bracknell Forest Lions Club, which was formed in 1968 to help those in need.

Education

The area has various schools including Brakenhale School, Easthampstead Park School, Garth Hill Collegemarker, Ranelagh Church of England Schoolmarker, St Margaret Clitherow Primary School and St Joesphs Roman Catholic School. Bracknell and Wokingham Collegemarker of further education is also based in the area.

The University of Reading is only to the northwest.

References

  1. English Partnerships
  2. New Town Development Corporation
  3. The Parks, Bracknell
  4. New Town
  5. Neighbourhoods
  6. Boost for Revamp Welcomed, Bracknell News, http://www.bracknellnews.co.uk/articles/1/5161
  7. Plans for New Centre on Course, Bracknell News, http://www.bracknellnews.co.uk/articles/1/8545
  8. The Hawkwind Chronicles
  9. IMDB - Movie Database
  10. Proposed M31
  11. Bracknell Rugby Club
  12. Bracknell Hockey Club
  13. Bracknell Cricket Club
  14. Look Out Discovery Centre
  15. Bracknell Lions Club


External links





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