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Chelmsford (England)

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Chelmsford is in England

Chelmsford Cathedral


Understand

World Famous for being the birthplace of radio, Chelmsford is the county town of Essex, England. It lies 30 miles (48.5 km) northeast of Charing Cross London, approximately halfway between there and Colchester. It is almost exactly in the centre of the county and it has been the county town of Essex since 1215. It is also the seat of the Borough of Chelmsford, which covers a wider area than the town, including the new (ca. 1970s) settlement of South Woodham Ferrers on the banks of the River Crouch. The Borough Council celebrated its centenary in 1988 (it had been incorporated as a municipal borough in 1888 under the Municipal Corporations Act 1882), and the town its 800th anniversary in 1999.

Climate

Summer

Being in the south east of England, the town enjoys a warmer climate than most of the United Kingdom and has some of the hottest summers in Britain; it is also one of the driest places in the country. Temperatures often reach 30°C in the summer. The hottest day on record in the town was on the U.K. wide temperature record breaking day of Sunday August 10 2003 when 35.2°C or 95.4°F was recorded. Thunderstorms mostly occur during July/August however they can occur anytime of the year.

Winter

During the winter the temperature rarely stays below 0°C during the day and even with night-time winter temperatures, it's extremely rare to fall below -5°C. Air and ground frost is very common from November through to March.

Snow is sometimes seen in the winter months because the town is near to the east coast where cold, moist air is brought in from the North Sea. In recent years there has been up to three inches of snow on days in January and February which has resulted in minor disruption to transport and caused some schools to close. However, the snow tends not to persist for a significant length of time in any noticeable quantity.

Get in

Plane

  • Heathrow Airport is about two hours drive via the M25 and the M4 (westbound) motorway. Alternatively the Heathrow express train service (running every 20 minutes) connects with Waterloo London to Heathrow Airport Terminals 1, 2 and 3.Connection can easily be made from Chelmsford via London Liverpool Street; expect the total journey to take slightly over two hours. Alternatively the National Express coach company run direct buses from Heathrow to Chelmsford bus station.
  • Gatwick Airport is about three hours drive away via the M25 (clockwise) and M4 (westbound) motorways. Alternatively a complicated rail and underground combination from Chelmsford connects with the main London to Gatwick rail service at London Liverpool Street station; expect the total journey to take slightly over two hours.
  • Stansted Airport is about half an hours drive away via the M11 (nothbound') motorway. By train you will need to catch a train to London Liverpool Street station, the tube to London Paddington station, then follow the directions on the link; expect the total journey to take around three hours, its not recommended as the bus service from Chelmsford Station is quicker and costs about £5 and can handle your luggage!.

Train

Chelmsford Station is the busiest train station in the country for through passengers; so the service and regularity is very good. London's Liverpool Street is 35 minutes away, where the line terminates. Journeys can continue from here to anywhere in the country and also connect via the underground to London Waterloo and the EuroStar service. Northbound trains can take the traveller to Witham, Colchester and Ipswich, where a change is required for the service to Norwich and beyond.

Bus

Chelmsford has a well organised internal bus service and in 2005 launched the new 'Park and Ride' service National Park and Ride Directory designed for commuters and shopers from out of town. This is located in just off the A12 at Junction 18. It runs from 7am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday with five bus stops around the town (one near High Chelmer for shopping) and charges £2.00 per adult and free for OAP's or people under the age of 14. It currently has a capacity of 1,200 cars. The new bus terminal is now open, comprising shops and apartments with a totally covered roof. This is used by the town's First Overground Buses which have many routes across the town.

Get around

By foot

The town centre is easily navigated on foot. The highstreet is fully pedestrianised and the two largest shopping malls have no vehicle access. Chelmsford benefits from being fairly flat and there are also good provisions for the disabled.

By car

Access into Chelmsford is very good although be prepared to wait in queues in the centre of town, particularly along Victoria Road and Parkway. Rush Hour is between 7-10AM and again from 4.30 - 7PM. The Park and Ride service has helped things, although on occasion it can take a while, especially in the late afternoon, to leave the town. There are pleanty of car parks, costing between £2 and £8 for a day, however be careful about parking in some areas as traffic wardens are notorious in the town. If in doubt ask a local the best areas to get free parking.

By bus

The internal Bus service is very good although schedules are rarely stuck too. Most of the stops have electronic displays to show when the next bus is due so it is best to just turn up and see how long the wait is. Bear in mind that inside the Town limits most locations can be walked to inside an hour, however most shelters are pleasent enough and nearly all have seats. Average bus prices are between £1 and £3 for a return inside of the Town. Bus services can also take travellers as far as Stanstead Airport and Colchester, although services are very slow and infrequent.

By taxi

There are many taxi firms available in the town and all are clearly marked, so never accept a ride from one that isnt. Nearly all are saloon cars although there are an increasing amount of black cabs available. Cars can be pre-booked or found at locations or 'ranks'. These are located at the station and along Market Road. In the evenings more surface, the most easily located being the Baddow Road rank, located outside Pizza Express at the bottom of the High Street. Cabs are rarely hailed from the street, as you are never too far from a rank and cars will generally be full if seen on the roads.

By bike

The Town Centre is not particularly bike-friendly and you will often be told of this by a local if you try and weave in and out of pedestrians! However there are many cycle routes too and from the town and council initiatives have lead to more and more cycle racks installed in the town.

See

Sport

  • Football Despite its standing as the County Town of Essex, Chelmsford does not have a professional football team. Chelmsford City F.C play in the Conference South and in 2007 narrowly missed out on promotion. They play at the newly built Athletic Stadium in Melbourne, around ten minutes from the centre of town, which was upgraded to international athletic standards in 2006 and can host around 5,000 people. Tickets to Chelmsford City F.C cost around £8, whereas athletics can be free, depending on the event.
  • Amateur Football For a more gritty, and often enjoyable, view of local sport, the park surrounding Melbourne Stadium plays host to the Chelmsford Sundal Social amateur league, where local teams battle it out in three divisions every Sunday afternoon. Barlows Park Rangers [www.bpr.webeden.co.uk] are currently the team to watch, gaining three successive promotions into the top league. Expect goals, fouls, arguments, and if the weather is good, BBQ's on the sidelines and beer between games. Locals can look a little intimidating, but teams always appreciate support, and cheering for the team that's winning seems a safe option. Admission is free and you might even be asked to play, so bring your boots!
  • Cricket Essex County Cricket Club play their games at the County Ground, located in highly prominent position off Parkway in the town centre. Stars such as Grahame Gooch, Nassar Hussain and Darren Gough have played their trade for the club, although those glory years seem a long way off. The stadium holds around 10,000 and was used in the 1997 cricket world cup for some of the group games, which saw an influx of Australians and South Africans for one colourful weekend. Tickets are around £10 for a day or evening 20-20 match, although the roof of the nearby multi-story car park may suit just fine. There is a wide amateur cricket scene in Chelmsford and numerous parks in and around the town have facilities to play, although you may need to head further afield to find organised matches.
  • Tennis There are no organised tournaments in Chelmsford, although numerous parks have courts for hire. Usual cost is around £5 an hour, although the best tip is to find an empty court and play until you are asked for money, rather than look to pay. Central park, off Parkway in the centre of the town has the only maintained grass courts.
  • Ice Hockey Chelmsford Cheiftans play their home matches at RiverSide Ice and Leisure Centre, off Victoria Road opposite the Staples retail park. Games are frantic and often violent, although at £6 you usually get your moneys worth - bring a coat as it gets cold by the ice!
  • Riverside Ice and Leisure Centre This rather ugly complex features Olympic sized and two smaller pools as well as Diving Facilities and provisions for indoor sports such as basketball, 5-a-side football, tennis, badminton and squash. Courts must be pre-booked and swimming is around £3 for a morning or afternoon session.
  • Dovedales Sports Centre Part of Chelmsford College, this centre is basically just one hall, although there is a free wieghts room available. 5-a-side football takes place on Wednesday and Sunday evenings and teams can sign up for a season in January and September for around £100.

Do

V Festival

The V Festival is an annual rock festival, the first to be held simultaneously at two sites - currently Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex and Weston Park in Staffordshire. Originally, the festival took the name of the current year, with the first festival "V96" including a Warrington leg. It discarded its year specific name in 2003 since it has been known as simply the V Festival.

The "V" represents the Virgin Group, and began as another means of promoting Richard Branson's companies. The event is sponsored by Virgin Mobile, with Virgin Radio the official radio station.

The festival generally takes place during the penultimate weekend of August. Its critics dislike its corporate sponsorship and reputation for being the most "posh" of the major British music festivals. However its weekend format, low queuing times and professional organisation have given it a loyal audience. The festival sold out in record time in 2006.

Although predominantly rock music, the festival books a wide range of music and is probably the most likely amongst UK festivals to book some pop acts each year. Mel C, Dido, and N.E.R.D. have all performed at the festival, and both Razorlight and Faithless performed in 2006. V showcases a mix of British and international musicians, from up-and-coming bands such as Coldplay in 2000 and the Kaiser Chiefs in 2003, and glam rockers El Presidente in 2005, to veteran crooner Tony Christie. Girls Aloud also performed at the 2006 show, and received rave reviews for their performance. Pop artist Sophie Ellis-Bextor will perform at the 2007 show.


The line-up for V Festival 2007 was revealed on Virgin Radio on Monday February 26th 2007. Tickets went on sale on the 1st of March and some tickets sold out quickly.

The line-up so far is as follows:

V Stage: Foo Fighters,The Killers, Kasabian, Snow Patrol, James, Pink_(singer), The Fratellis, Kanye West, KT Tunstall, Paolo Nutini, James Morrison, Editors, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Proclaimers, Just Jack

Channel 4 Stage: The Kooks, Manic Street Preachers, Lily Allen, Mika, Guillemots, Basement Jaxx, Amy Winehouse, The Coral, Babyshambles, Jet, The Fray, The Cribs

JJB/Puma Arena: Damien Rice, Corinne Bailey Rae, Primal Scream, Happy Mondays, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Jarvis Cocker, Ocean Colour Scene and Beverley Knight

Other confirmed artists include Willy Mason and The Wombats. Dizzee Rascal is also expected to play after a follow-up to his 2005 V Festival appearance. [2]


Chelmsford Cathedral

Located directly behind The Shire Hall. The church of St Mary the Virgin in Chelmsford was probably first built along with the town 800 years ago. It was rebuilt in the 15th and early 16th centuries, with walls of flint rubble, stone and brick. There is also a tower and spire with a ring of thirteen bells. The nave was again rebuilt in the early 19th century, after it had partially collapsed.

Enclosed in beautiful gardens which offer a haven for the local populace, especially summer lunchtimes, the Cathedral is open year-round and entry is free.


Hylands House and Park

Hylands House and Park just to the west of the town is a country house and parkland, saved from dereliction and purchased by the local council in 1966 after the death of the last private owner. Much damaged by fire and vandalism by the time of the sale, the house has now been completely restored by Chelmsford Borough Council. The house dates originally from 1730, and the park (currently 574 acres or 232 ha) was landscaped by Humphry Repton. Open to the public and used for a wide range of community events, it is also available for weddings and other private hires including conferences etc. The park has in recent years been the site of annual music festivals, such as the V Festival and the ill-fated Council-run Chelmsford Spectacular. It has been chosen as the site for the 21st World Scout Jamboree in 2007 and has already hosted Eurojam in the summer of 2005.

The Shire Hall

The Shire Hall Chelmsford.The Shire Hall is situated at the top of the High Street. Opened in July 1791 and built by local Architect and County Surveyor John Johnson which features a Portland Stone façade. One of the oldest and most prominent buildings in Chelmsford, it was built as a Court house, which it has remained to this day.

Buy

Chelmsford does not offer the traveller much in the way of unique gifts or products, but the town does feature enough for the passer through to stock up on essentials.

High Street

The high street is dominated by the Debenhams department store, which offers the latest fashion, fragrance and electronics. Opposite this is the Marks and Spencer store, offering food and fashion for the older generation. There are numerous other shops, most notably Waterstones Books, Jessop cameras, Comet Digital, Next and GAP.

Meadows

Meadows is the newest mall in the town and was completed in the late 1990's, it is built on ground floor level and includes Waterstones (another one), Boots, BHS department store, Burtons Menswear and many more. Despite its status as the newer and better mall, Chelmsford already had its fill of good retailers when it was built, and as such it is normally fairly quiet and serves best as a car park.

High Chelmer

The older of the two malls, retailers include HMV, River Island, Boots (a bigger one!), JJB Sports, Millets and many more. Expect a crush at Christmas time, and teens sitting outside HMV at all other times.

Chelmsford is also served by 2 large retail parks offering warehouse-style shopping and big car parking queues on bank holidays.

Eat

Chelmsford's situation means that there are not any foods considered 'local cuisine', however there are countless restaurants and food outlets from street vendors and take away shops to Michelin Star restaurants to satisfy any gastro-hungry traveller.

The Alma, off springfield Road currently has one Michelin Star and should satisfy all tastes, there is also a large garden and bar area which caters for unbooked guests to enjoy the extensive bar menue, where a steak and chips will set you back around £15, in the restaurant however this can be as much as £26.

Italian

Strada, part of the franchise, has recently opened in Baddow Road, meunes are relatively predictable, but a good carbonara should set you back under £10. Pizza Express, also on Baddow Road offeres a fine seletion of italian style pizza and pasta at good prices and far better quality than the nearby Pizza Hut. Expect to pay about £12 for a meal.

Indian

There are plenty of options for Indian in the town, again, most of these are located around Baddow Road towards the South of the Town Centre. TM2 is a good option, light, airy and with a good menu, expect to pay around £8-10 for a curry.

Pub Lunch

Most of the pubs and bars in the town offer some sort of food menu. The pick for quality is Baroosh, located on the high street where food is excellently prepared and presented, expect to pay around £12 for a burger and chips. The best for location is the Riverside Inn, located off Victoria Road next to Riverside Leasure Centre, were its waterside location makes for excellent outdoor dining in splendid gardens. Price-wise you cannot beat the all day breakfasts at the Rockin Bay Horse, on Moulsham Street, where enough food to sink a ship will be under £5, if you can stand the noise levels!

Chinese

The best restaurant is the Empire on Springfield Road, meals are rarely under £30 a head but the quality is worth it. Nearly all the other Chinese offerings are 'all you can eat' and the quality, and clientele are reflected by the £10 asking price. Be prepared to be asked for ID also, however old you claim to be!

Take Away

Chelmsford is overrun by takeaway options, from fish and chips to Chinese its all available late night and for pocket change. None of which can really be recommended as serious dining options, however, for after a night on the town, they are always a welcome sight. Mrs Cod on Moulsham Street does a roaring trade on Friday and Saturday night, but watch out for the hygine, its not great. Ming Ming's at 140 Springfield Road is a little off the beaten track, but serves good chinese food and is often open very late - although Mr Ming has been known to chase away customers with a broom if he is locking up early!

Fast Food

All the usual suspects such as MacDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Starbucks etc can be found on the High Street teeming with teenagers.

Drink

Chelmsford has a vibrant nightlife scene with many nightclubs, pubs, wine bars and restaurants in the town centre area, particularly in Duke Street and Moulsham Street. Its central Essex location and good public transport links make the town ideal for revellers to visit from surrounding areas. Though there is a wide range of bars and pubs in the town center, there is a large antisocial behavior problem as the only form of entertainment in Chelmsford is cheap drinks and loud music, resulting in the town center becoming a No-Go area after 10PM on the weekend.

Chelmsford lacks any form of alternative nightlife witch is seen as a problem, there is no longer an under 18 club night on the weekend, and no live music venue for touring bands. Many people have to travel out of Chelmsford to either southend/Colchester or Romford and on into London if they are to find any other form of entertainment outside of what is on offer in chelmsford. This includes even the cinema where people will drive to Romford or Braintree to see a film as it offers a higher level of comfort.

Chelmsford is split by the Parkway Ringroad, and as well as dividing prime and secondary retail, this road also divides the nightlife of the town.

South Parkway

South of parkway tends to attract a younger, trendier, and often more volatile crowd. You have the cheap chain bars, alcopops, girls in short skirts and guys out 'on the pull', all accompanied by a commercial 'pop' soundtrack and lengthy queues for a drink.

  • Dukes Nightclub(Duke Street/Victoria Road) is Chelmsford's largest late night venue with room for around 2,000 people. In truth this over-priced meat market should be avoided, as it's dark, crowded, hot and never really feels safe, but it does keep the youth of the town off the streets. Don't even try and enter if badly mixed commercial remixes of Justin Timberlake are not your thing, you'll soon be leaving; which might help the huge queues which often gather outside operating on a 'one in one out' policy. Beer is £3.60 a pint, a mixer around the £3 mark.
  • Decadance(Duke Street) is a smaller lounge bar located inside Dukes Nightclub, the queues are often far less busy here and the music takes on more of a tribal/chillout theme. There are pleanty of leather sofas to talk the night away with short-skirted jailbait, just don't expect her to return the call in the morning! Decadance opens before Dukes nightclub, so arriving early will often enable you to come and go between the two without paying the cover charge.
  • The Bassment (Railway Street) Is an underground rather alternative venue hidden away behind the train station. While not as glamorous as the 'trendy' clubs, there is a loyal client base and the attitude is far more relaxed. Throughout the week expect live jazz and Americana. The decor is not great and in the cold light of day perhaps you would think again, but at night there is usually a good vibe coming out of the place. Don't expect romantic jazz club tables and candels, its very much stand and watch but the performances are usually a good standard and £2 beer is also not to be sniffed at. On a Friday and Saturday there is an alternative club run which is sadly getting more commercial by the week, the DJ might still play thay Dire Straits song, but he'll need a bribe! Smart shoes are required and entrance is £5.

North Parkway

North of parkway attracts a more bohemian crowd and is littered with traditional pubs rather than the clubs and bars of the high street. You will rarely see the guy checking his hair or the girl in her makeup bag but there are possibly more fun options at this end of town for a relaxed drink or night out with friends.

The most popular destination is Moulsham Street, the former High Street of the Town but now more reliant on the nightlife than anything else. Hardcore revelers often attempt a 'pub crawl' of the entire length, usually called the 'Moulsham 9' although technically the 'Rising Sun' is on New London Road, and Moulsham Street carries on past Parkway, so there are several more pubs and bars on the other side. Often this pub crawl is attempted in fancy dress so don't be surprised to be stnding at the bar next to Scooby Doo at some point!

Generally everyone this side of town just wants to have fun so there is much less 'attitude' than in the town centre, just don't expect luxury bathrooms, Stella on tap or a roaring dance floor.

  • The Cricketers is normally the first stop for people attempting 'the 9', however this shouldnt put you off as most of the revelers have left by 8PM, leaving colourful locals and the fishman who enters about 10PM on a Friday and Saturday selling fresh catches of the day. The beer on tap is more of a traditional selection, although among the ales you will find a good selection of lagers, ciders and bottled brews from the four corners of the world. There is a little know lounge area to the rear and although empty and comfortable, is not as much fun as the front of house. Sky TV is in place and they show match of the day on Saturday nights, just don't slag off West Ham too much or the landlord will bar you!
  • The Anchor looks almost like an old country pub from the outside but sadly inside its dark and rather intimidating. The staff though are friendly and the whole place gives you the impression that its bark is worse than its bite. Possibly had the same carpet since 1750, but fine for a stop off, most of the customers will be on some sort of pub crawl.
  • The Star and Garter should definitely be paid a visit, in a rather sad homage to the bars of New York, pictures of all who have visited the bar are displayed all around. While the faces of John Pertwee and Frank Bruno are hardly movie stars, there will always be a collection of revellers deep in conversation about who is who on the walls, and more often and not shouts across the small bar of lookalikes seated across the room will echo before too long. Not a big place or huge drink selection but all good fun. Watch the step to the bathroom on the way in, and your head on the way out, the toilet door opens onto the dartboard!
  • The Black Horse seems to have a different owner each week and good evenings there seem to come with the tides. More of a locals pub, apart from a very random Reggae album in the jukebox it should probably be avoided until it's finally taken on by new owners.
  • Smith's offers Chelmsford's premier gay and lesbian location. If that isn't your thing ignore the taboo and you'll have a good night with modern design and friendly staff. If that is your thing then you'll be in luck as there is nowhere else this side of town to jive the night away. The Eurovision Song Contest party will be a hoot no matter your orientation, and its free! Slightly more expensive prices and occasional entry fee do occur on most nights though so bring an extra £10 to be sure.
  • The Rockin' Bay Horse is one of the oldest pubs in town this is now the premier alternative venue in town and there is always something going on. Every 1st Monday of the month is breaks night, where local DJ's spin their worths, so expect a big but friendly crowd. Every other Wednesday is open mike night where the stage can be yours for the night. If you are lucky a local group will have a feature slot, if you see "down in Maine" on the chalkboard its well worth a visit as this acoustic trio seem to know everyone and often invite other performers to play with them so there's guaranteed to be a good atmosphere. For a regular Saturday night expect crowds, heavy rock jukebox playing, piercings but no trouble, there is also a large car park on site.
  • O'Connors is just off Moulsham Street and is a roughly Irish-Theamed pub, expect wood floors, leather armchairs and high spirits. A good selection of beers and the only bottled Staranpramen in town make this a popular all night veune, particularly in the summer when the small but perfectly formed patio opens up. Sky TV is installed but don't expect volume after the match!

Sleep

Stay Safe

Out of all of the large towns in Essex, Chelmsford is probably the safest and easiest for the traveller to feel comfortable in. The majority of the locals will be helpful and happy to point out directions or places of interest. Unfortunately like many English towns a certain 'Yob Culture' has drifted in from other areas of the County. While violent crime is very low, and walking the streets at night is perfectly safe, it is ill-advised to confront youths however insulting they may be.

Central Park should be avoided at night, it is big and dark and fairly deserted so be weary of anyone hanging around, and also avoid any large groups. Since the pathways are fairly long and straight, these can easily be avoided by choosing an alternative route.

The Melbourne and Springfield areas of the town have got a bad reputation amongst locals, although perhaps, certainly with Springfield, it is a case of a few bad apples spoiling the crop. Melbourne and its pubs should be avoided by non-locals with the exception of the Athletic Stadium and Park, which surprisingly is safe at night, mainly due to the various sports clubs who use it for training.

Dukes Nightclub has seen increasing levels of violence over the past five years as its popularity has grown. Drink-fueled violence is by far the main problem here and violent crime is rare. Best advice is to stay with your group and avoid dancing with anyone's girl.

Get out

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