The Ultimate Guide To Newbury
Our in-depth guide to life in Newbury, with information about it’s history, the town centre, entertainment, countryside, amenities, shops and more.
A Brief History of Newbury
Newbury was founded as a new borough in the 11th Century, although there are records of settlements in the vicinity before this time. The town’s economic roots are historically in the cloth trade, with perhaps the most famous of all Newburians being one of the richest cloth merchants of the 16th Century, Jack O’Newbury. An influential patron of the town, the site of his house can still be found on Northbrook Street today and there are many references to him throughout Newbury’s history.
Newbury was the site of two battles in the 17th Century during the English Civil War, in 1643 and 1644. Much of the second battle took place in Speen, on the land which is now occupied by Donnington Grove Country Club, and led to the ruin of Donnington Castle.
The disturbance caused by the war left Newbury’s economy in pieces for some time afterwards, however trade picked up in the 18th Century when Bath became a popular tourist resort for well-off Londoners who would stop over in Newbury as part of their two day journey. Coaching inns sprung up all across the town, theatres and other forms of entertainment flourished, and the wealthy started building country homes in the surrounding area.
In the early 19th Century the River Kennet was turned into a canal, and the Great Western Railway was introduced in 1847 providing fast access to London. Despite this, the local economy was still largely reliant on agriculture and horse-racing.
In the early 1900s Newbury Town Centre was an unclean and undesirable place to be, but new infrastructure was introduced and the town once again became a popular venue, this time for wealthy Victorians, particularly on race day. During the Second World War, Greenham Common (just outside of Newbury) became home to a Royal Air Force base, and was also used by the US Air Force. Throughout the Cold War, RAF Greenham Common remained active, and in the 70s the government announced that the Americans would be storing nuclear weapons at the base. A hugely controversial subject, this culminated in a peace camp being established around the perimeter fence in protest. The camp lasted an astonishing 19 years and finally disbanded in 2000 when the area was returned to the heathland it once was.
In recent decades Newbury has become a hub for technology and research firms. Mobile network operator Vodafone was established here in the 70s and it continues to be home to their UK headquarters today. Software company Micro Focus are also headquartered in Newbury. Today the local economy is thriving, and with such good transportation links the future looks very prosperous indeed for this once quiet agricultural town.
The Town Centre
Newbury Town Centre is comprised of four main areas; Northbrook Street, Parkway, Bartholomew Street, and the Market Place. The northern part of Bartholomew Street, the Market Place and Northbrook Street are all pedestrianised from 10am until 5pm daily, giving Newbury that great British town feel. The recently constructed and thoroughly modern Parkway Shopping Centre is located between Northbrook Street and Victoria Park, and it is home to popular high street shops such as Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Debenhams and H&M.
Northbrook Street stretches from The Broadway at the northern end, to Bridge Street at the southern end, and sees a very high footfall year-round. There are a range of different establishments within Northbrook Street, including a number of banks and building societies, coffee shops, a selection of independent retailers, and of course the famous Camp Hopson – Newbury’s very own department store.
Newbury’s newest shopping development was opened in 2011, after development began in 2009. It is home to around 50 shops, cafes and restaurants. Access can be gained from Northbrook Street, West Street, or Park Way near Victoria Park, and there’s plenty of parking available for shoppers with 550 secure spaces. As well as shopping, Parkway is also home to around 150 conveniently located apartments, some with fantastic views of the town centre.
Heading towards the southern end of town, Bartholomew Street is a little quieter than it once was before the completion of Parkway. It stretches from Bridge Street at the northern end and merges into Newtown Road once it reaches the railway line at the southern end. It is home to a number of smaller independent businesses, including hairdressers, eateries and pubs. The northern section forms part of the one way system through the town centre, and provides access to Newbury’s other shopping centre, The Kennet Centre. The Kennet Centre is home to a number of well-known shops and restaurants, including Superdrug and Nandos, as well as Newbury’s seven screen cinema.
Perhaps the town’s most iconic area, the Market Place is in the heart of Newbury and offers an open pedestrianised area during the day, full of pubs, bars and restaurants, some of which offer idyllic views of the Kennet and Avon Canal to the rear. Whilst some areas of Newbury have been developed beyond recognition over the years, the Market Place has remained largely untouched since the 1800s, albeit with a whole host of new businesses thriving there. One of Newbury’s most well-known buildings, the Corn Exchange, is also located in the Market Place, although it’s been a long time since any corn was traded there. Nowadays it’s a thriving arts centre with a varied programme, including music, dance, drama and comedy, and also has a café serving drinks and delicious food.
The Retail Park on Pinchington Lane is a few minutes outside of Newbury town centre, and is home to a number of well-known retail outlets, including Argos, Next, New Look and Boots. TK Maxx, previously based in The Kennet Centre, has recently moved over to the Retail Park too.
There are six main supermarkets in Newbury. Both Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are located fairly close to the town centre, with Sainsbury’s situated on Hectors Way, and Waitrose at the northern end of town, on Oxford Road.
There are two Tesco stores, one near the retail park which is open 24 hours a day, and one located on the A4 heading towards Thatcham.
The discounters also have a presence in Newbury, with Aldi and Lidl located on opposite sides of the Robin Hood Roundabout.
Parking in Newbury can be expensive, but if you know where to look you’ll certainly be able to save some money in the long run.
The Kennet Centre and Northbrook multi-storeys, along with other off-road car parks and on-street parking in the town centre have set charges ranging from £1.30 for the first hour, up to £12 for the full day. However, if you start looking a little further out (and not by far), the charges reduce significantly. Goldwell Park and Northcroft Leisure Centre are just a couple of minutes’ walk from Northbrook Street, and have very reasonable rates. Northcroft Leisure Centre is free for the first three hours, and Goldwell Park is only £2 for anything over four hours!
Nature & Countryside
Newbury is a bustling town, but surrounding us is a world of tranquil countryside and wildlife to enjoy. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the town centre to experience it. The Kennet & Avon Canal, which links London with Bristol, runs through the heart of Newbury and people enjoy walking and cycling along the towpaths year-round. Wildlife is aplenty, with swans, geese and other river birds nesting along the banks, and narrowboats calmly moving between locks providing a picturesque town identity.
Alongside the canal and close to Parkway Shopping Centre is Victoria Park, a public open space including a tennis court, a boating lake, an outdoor gym, a play park and a bowls club. Victoria Park is home to a number of Newbury’s outdoor events, often with stalls and entertainment for a great day out with all the family. A little further along the canal you will come across Northcroft Park and Goldwell Park, two more open spaces close to the town centre to be enjoyed all year round. During the summer these parks are packed full of sun-bathers, joggers and dog walkers.
Just outside of town sits Greenham Common; a former Royal Air Force base and home to the US Air Force during the Cold War, where nuclear weapons were controversially stored. When the Americans left in the nineties it was restored to the heathland it once was, albeit with several reminders of the rich history that it holds. Nowadays it’s a vital habitat for rare birds, and home to cows and many species of invertebrate. The layout lends itself to walkers and joggers, and provides a great location for a summer’s day out.
Similarly, Snelsmore Common is a country park located 2.5 miles north of Newbury, which consists of heathland of heather, gorse, wet bog and small trees. It is home to several species of lizards, birds and small mammals and again provides a great opportunity for exploring some of Berkshire’s finest countryside. What’s more, just a short walk from Snelsmore are the picturesque ruins of Donnington Castle, with stunning views over the whole of Newbury.
If you’re after grand views of Newbury and the surrounding area, including Highclere Castle, you can’t beat Beacon Hill in Burghclere. It’s 856 feet high and offers incredible views of Newbury and the surrounding Berkshire and Hampshire countryside. It provides a habitat to some rare species of plant and animal including the Osmia bicolour bee, and has a hill fort on its slopes.
The Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham also offers a fantastic day out for all the family. There are a series of paths for short strolls, to longer routes for the more venturesome, many around the lake which provides the ideal setting to view a wide variety of wildlife. The visitor’s centre is also crammed full of wildlife and natural history displays, perfect for the kids.
This is just a taster of what the Newbury countryside has to offer, and if you’re into your fitness check out the Running & Cycling in Newbury article on our website for more ideas of how to explore your local area!
Public Transport & Road Links
Newbury Rail Connections
Newbury is well served for both local and national public transport connections. The town has two train stations, the main one is located in the town centre and provides a direct link to London Paddington with a journey time of approximately one hour. To the west the line allows travel to Exeter and other parts of Devon and Cornwall. The second station is located at Newbury Racecourse and is served by local services from Newbury to Reading, with extra trains on race days. Train timetables can be found on the National Rail website, or alternatively you can use thetrainline.com to check times and fares.
Newbury Bus Routes
Local bus routes include services from Newbury to Thatcham, Reading, Basingstoke and Hungerford to name a few. A great way to plan your journey is to use the route-planner on The Traveline website as recommended by West Berkshire Council, which will suggest the best way of getting from A to B using buses and trains. You can also find all of the local bus timetables and network maps on the West Berkshire Council website.
Newbury Road Connections
Newbury is located near to the intersection of the A34 and M4 arterial routes, meaning quick access to various major towns and cities including Swindon, Oxford, Reading and Southampton. Bristol and London are a little further away but still easily accessible, with Heathrow Airport being approximately one hour’s drive. The A339 is the main route through Newbury, which merges with the A34 in the north and continues to Basingstoke in the south. The A4 passes through Newbury and was previously the main route between London and Bath before the M4 was built. The A4 is now mainly for local traffic, and is a good alternative for getting to Reading if the M4 is busy. Despite its good national connections, unfortunately the local roads in Newbury do tend to get quite busy at peak times, particularly the A339 section between Newbury Train Station and the Robin Hood Roundabout. The main route through the town centre is Northbrook Street which is pedestrianised during the day, but is open to vehicles between 5pm and 10am to help with the volume of traffic. Just make sure you leave plenty of time to get to work in the morning if travelling by car!
Newbury offers its residents a wealth of entertainment to enjoy throughout the year. The centrepiece of the Newbury entertainment scene is The Corn Exchange, located in the town centre. Since 1993 it has offered a hugely varied programme, including music, dance, drama and comedy. As well as the 400 seat auditorium, the building includes a cinema and flourishing café serving drinks and delicious food.
Today many Newburians are actively engaged with the Corn Exchange. Whether they’re involved in one of the local amateur drama groups or simply enjoy watching the many exciting live events put on throughout the year, it really is a mainstay of the local community.
The Watermill Theatre is another flagship in the West Berkshire arts arena. Set in stunning grounds in Bagnor (a 10 minute drive from Newbury town centre), the theatre has a phenomenal reputation and produces award-winning performances that are recognised both nationally and internationally.
Newbury has a vibrant live music scene, with various pubs hosting live acts on a regular basis. Arlington Arts Centre, located to the north of Newbury town centre, also provides a great setting for live bands to perform, on top of their theatre, dance and comedy schedule.
If film is your thing, then you can rest assured that Newbury’s Vue Cinema will be showing all the latest releases. It’s located in the redeveloped section of the Kennet Centre, giving it a thoroughly modern and welcoming feel, and it holds seven screens with more than 970 seats.
On top of all this, there are plenty of regular outdoor events happening in Newbury all year round. The Corn Exchange and other organisations regularly put on performances in the Market Place and Northbrook Street, and there are also traditional annual events such as the Michaelmas Fair, Pancake Race and the Crafty Craft race. Crafty Craft is a home-made raft competition, where teams race from Kintbury all the way to Victoria Park. In 2016 MovedTo entered a team and finished… well and truly last!
All in all, you certainly won’t get bored living here! There’s always something happening and everyone is welcome to get involved. Sign up to our monthly newsletter if you’d like us to keep you updated on everything that’s happening in your local area:
Newbury is home to three very good secondary schools, all of which are independent academies. Park House School in Wash Common is a Specialist Sports College, judged by Ofsted in 2016 to be a ‘Good’ school, which offers a wide range of subjects up to A-Level (KS5). St Bartholomew’s School underwent significant redevelopment in recent years and enjoys outstanding facilities at its Andover Road site. Also judged by Ofsted to be a ‘Good’ school, the behaviour and safety of pupils at St Bart’s was singled out as outstanding. Trinity School and Performing Arts College in the Shaw area of Newbury is in the top 10% of schools in England for adding value to students’ achievements for GCSE, and for improving their results year on year. As another school deemed ‘Good’ by Ofsted, Trinity is home to a specialist ASD unit, which caters for pupils with autism, helping them to get the most from their education.
There are a number of excellent infant, junior and primary schools in Newbury and its surrounding villages, all of which are popular and well-subscribed. You can check which school catchment area your address falls into by visiting info.westberks.gov.uk/catchment, where you will also find school admissions guides for both primary and secondary.
Independent schools in and around Newbury include Brockhurst and Marlston House Schools, Cheam School, Horris Hill (for boys), St Gabriel’s School, and Downe House School (for girls).
There are several options for Sixth Form, further and higher education, with all three Newbury secondary schools offering options up to Key Stage 5, and Newbury College catering for 14-18 year olds, adult learners, apprentices and businesses.
The education provision in Newbury also includes The Castle School, catering for children from ages 3-19 with a variety of complex learning difficulties; Priors Court School, which supports young people aged 5-25 who are severely affected by autism; and Mary Hare School, a residential school for deaf children.
Council tax is a necessity for most as it’s used to pay for local services such as bin collections, schools, and street lighting. You’ll need to register as soon as you’ve moved in. To find out how much you’ll need to pay it’s a good idea to look up your council tax band, which is calculated based on the value of your property. Visit gov.uk/council-tax-bands to find out yours. You can then find out your council tax charges from the West Berkshire Council website. Westberks.gov.uk also provides ways to pay and information on how to set up a direct debit. If you need any further information on council tax, you can contact the Council Tax Team on 01635 519520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thames Water is likely to be your water provider, so you will need to tell them you are moving by completing the ‘moving home’ form at thameswater.co.uk.
Gas, Electricity, Phone & Broadband
There are of course gas, electricity and phone & broadband providers to consider too. With many companies offering differing rates, make sure you check out price comparison sites such as uswitch.com and comparethemarket.com to find the best deal for you.
Rubbish and recycling collection days vary across Newbury and the surrounding area so you’ll need to check the West Berkshire Council website to find out when yours will be picked up, and what to do if you’ve missed a bin collection.
You can also request a bin or recycling box if the house you’ve moved into doesn’t have them. West Berkshire Council will collect bulky items for you such as sofas, fridges or mattresses at a cost, but fixtures and fittings such as carpets or fitted wardrobes should be taken to the Recycling Centre on Newtown Road. You’ll need a permit to be able to use the recycling centre as only people living in West Berkshire are entitled to use it. You can request the permit online at westberks.gov.uk, or call 01635 519080 for more information.
Recycling collections from your home are made every two weeks. The list on the next page details what can and can’t be recycled.
Plastic Bottles & Cans
Please rinse all bottles. Remove lids and dispose of them in your rubbish bin.
Please wash and remove lids
Please put textiles (clothing and bed linen) out in a carrier bag on top of your green boxes, clearly labelled as ‘Textiles’
For more information about recycling or to order more recycling containers you can visit westberks.gov.uk/recycle.
Doctors & Dentists
Newbury has a wide range of doctors in the town and in the surrounding areas. To register at a surgery you’ll need to be living within their catchment area which can be checked by contacting them. Full details of each surgery can be found below.
There are also a large number of dentists covering Newbury and the surrounding area, some of which offer NHS appointments.
This is where we come in. Our website and social media pages are full of people just like you who have moved to Newbury and want to meet like-minded people. You don’t have to be part of a club or society, just come along and join us at one of our drinks evenings, coffee afternoons, or one of the many other activities that we get up to! What’s more, we understand that it can be daunting coming along to an event and not knowing anybody (we’ve been there too!), so if there’s anything you’re unsure of you can drop us a message through our Facebook page and we’ll do our best to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Trust us, it will be worth it!
Our group is made up of people of all ages and from all backgrounds, and we arrange events to cater for all. We tend to host two or three evening drinks socials per month at a pub or bar in Newbury town centre, and every so often we’ll do something a little more fun! Here are some of the things we’ve got up to over the last year or so.
What better to way to break the ice than over some relaxed drinks at Newbury’s finest establishments? These evenings form the basis of our group, and provide a great environment to get chatting to new people!
Now that summer is on the way, our coffee afternoons are a fantastic way of soaking up the rays and meeting like-minded coffee lovers.
It would be rude not to enjoy the fantastic countryside neighbouring Newbury, so we regularly head into the great outdoors!
We have a good number of active members who love an afternoon or evening of sports. We regularly team up with Nightingale Fitness (a Newbury-based personal trainer) to arrange great active days!
Our friends at Newbury Rugby Club hold a monthly quiz night which we love going along to! We usually have two or three teams competing.
It’s not just drinks, for food lovers we often head into town for an evening meal at some of Newbury’s finest restaurants!
Whether it be go-karting, trampolining, or even a weekend away camping, we offer something to suit everyone! We also explore the countryside across other local counties, with driving days organised every summer.
Are you a party animal wanting to meet some people to head into town with at the weekend? These are perfect for you! Every so often we’ll put on a themed evening at one of Newbury’s late night venues.
Something you like the look of here? Keep an eye on our website and social media for details of our upcoming socials and come along to the next one… it will be the best thing you’ve ever done! What’s more, if there’s something new you’d like to try, drop us a message and we’ll happily help set it up for you if there’s enough interest. You can even create your own socials on our Facebook group!
- Clubs & Societies
If you have a hobby that you’d like to continue here in Newbury, the chances are that there’s a club or society out there for you. Or it could be the perfect time to try something new, with endless opportunities to meet new friends whilst developing new skills.
Sports & Fitness
Newbury has a wealth of amateur sports and fitness clubs, with local football and netball leagues, men’s and women’s rugby teams, volleyball, tennis, fencing, hockey, cricket, badminton, swimming, bowls and snooker all available in the area.
If you’re a keen runner, free events include a weekly Parkrun at Greenham Common (9am every Saturday) and a monthly 2.1 mile Gun Run organised via the Newbury & Thatcham Running Page on Facebook. Newbury Athletic Club have their own track adjacent to Greenham Common, and Team Kennet caters for all levels of ability in the sports of Athletics and Triathlon.
There is also a great choice of martial arts clubs to join, with everything from karate and judo to Brazilian jiu-jitsu and kickboxing.
Add to this a fantastic choice of gyms and fitness centres, as well as excellent sports facilities in the town centre and surrounding areas, and you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice.
There is an abundance of amateur theatre groups in Newbury who are always happy to welcome new members. If musical theatre is your passion, Nomads Musical Theatre and Newbury Musical Theatre Society each produce two high quality shows a year, with members of all ages taking part both on and off stage. For those who prefer to act, New Era perform several shows a year at their own theatre in Wash Common; Newbury Dramatic Society usually stage two shows a year at various local venues; and Out The Box often produce touring productions throughout West Berkshire.
There are a number of choirs available to join in Newbury, including Newbury Choral Society, the Rock Choir, Three Rivers Community Choir, Incantata Ladies Choir, Sing The World Singing Group, and the Newbury Sing For Fun Community Choir.
For musicians, we have Newbury Symphony Orchestra, which is one of the oldest non-professional orchestras in England, and Southern Sinfonia, a professional chamber orchestra based in the area.
Whatever your favoured style of dancing, you’re likely to find a club to suit you, with local ones including Newbury Contemporary Dance Company, CD’s Corral Line Dance Club, Ceroc Newbury, Newbury and District Caledonian Society, and Red Hat Salsa.
Some of the most popular games clubs in the area include Newbury Bridge Club, Newbury Chess Club, and Newbury & Reading War Games.
Above is just a taster of the growing number of clubs and societies available in Newbury, with more being established all of the time.
- MovedTo VIP
Get the ultimate key to Newbury
Here at MovedTo we’ve been working hard to secure you discounts from some of your favourite local businesses. When you register on our site, all you need to do is select VIP membership and you’ll get access to all of these discounts with your VIP eCard, as well as a discount off all products on the MovedTo store.
What’s more, you can use your VIP eCard to get even more discounts at every other MovedTo location. As MovedTo keeps growing to new areas you will receive more discounts at no extra cost!
On our website you’ll find a list of all the discounts you can get currently with your VIP membership. And you can fully expect this list to continue growing!
Just visit movedto.com/register and select the VIP package to become a VIP member. You can also get 25% off using the code above!