Earth : Europe : Britain and Ireland : United Kingdom : England : South East England : Kent : Ashford (England)
It is thought that Ashford originates from an original settlement established around 893AD, which became large enough to have a mention in the doomsday book, listed with a church and two mills under the name "Essetesford" in 1086. Ashford officially became a market town in 1243 and by 1600 had risen to become an important market town, primarily for livestock.
Ashford is in the center of Kent, and was one of the first towns in Kent that drastically changed into a highly developed town with modern standards. Ashford International was opened on 28 February 1996 and first operated trains from France terminating at Waterloo, London. Now trains terminate at St Pancras International in London. The town also has an airport with regular flights to France. The towns name derives from the combination of two words. Ash from Ash Tree. and Ford from ford (river crossing).
The main roads into Ashford are the M20, which runs from the M25 via Maidstone and on to Folkestone, and the A2070, which connects Ashford with Hastings in the south and the A28 to Canterbury in the north.
Eurostar  high-speed trains running from Paris (Gare du Nord), Lille (Europe), Calais (Fréthun) and Brussels (Zuid-Midi) stop at Ashford International station . Passengers travelling by Eurostar to the UK from Paris (Gare du Nord), Lille (Europe), Calais (Fréthun) and Brussels (Zuid-Midi) stations undergo UK passport/identity card checks in France/Belgium before boarding, rather than on arrival in the UK. The UK passport checks take place after the French/Belgian passport/identity card exit checks in the stations. However, UK customs checks take place on arrival in the UK.
Passengers travelling to France/Belgium from Ashford International go through French passport/identity card checks in the station before boarding the train, whilst selective customs checks take place on arrival in France/Belgium following disembarkation.
Ashford International is also served by domestic trains from several major London stations (see below). Ashford International station was re-opened on 28 February 1996 and first operated international trains departing from Waterloo, London. The station was the first stop in England on the Channel Tunnel rail link, allowing trains to link from the UK directly to France and Belgium via the Channel Tunnel.
In 2007 a new high-speed rail line was installed at Ashford International called High Speed 1. All International trains now depart from St Pancras International railway station in London, which was reopened in 2007 to replace all services previously operating from Waterloo, London. In 2009 Ashford International train station further improved its domestic train services with the launch of Britain's first high-speed domestic trains to St Pancras International, London and Ebbsfleet International, Kent.
In 2007 St Pancras International reopened and replaced all services previously operating from Waterloo, London. Trains operate each hour direct from St Pancras International via Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International stations, operating frequent train services to Brussels, Calais, Paris, Disneyland Paris, Moutiers, Avignon, Lille and Bourg St Maurice.
Domestic trains are operated by SouthEastern Railway  and Southern Railway to London St Pancras to Ebbsfleet (typical journey time 35 - 37 minutes), London Cannon Street, London Charing Cross, London Victoria and coast bound Dover Priory, Canterbury West, Ramsgate, Margate. By 2010 trains from Ashford International  and Stratford International  will run to Ebbsfleet International  railway station. As of 2009 the new high-speed trains on the St Pancras International  - Ashford route will have a full timetable.
Ashford International has onsite car parking for over 1000 vehicles. Fare and timetable information is available from South East Trains , tel. +44 845 748 4950.
Ashford is soon set to have its own airport 'London Ashford Airport' situated in Lydd, which is set to open in 2009 and is said to handle over 2 million passengers a year. For the time being, the closest major international airport is London Gatwick, approxiamately a 45 to 50 minute drive away up the M20, M23 and M26.
Most services are actually run by Stagecoach and timetables can be found on their website. http://www.stagecoachbus.com/eastkent/ A hire car is a good investment to explore the surrounding country. For example Canterbury is only a few pleasant miles away and the "Park and Ride "bus service to the center of Canterbury is tremendous and saves many hassles parking.
By Mini Coaches & Minibuses
Ashford Mini Coaches http://www.ashford-minicoaches.co.uk
Kent Minibus Hire - Nova Travel http://www.kent-minibuses.co.uk
Crosskeys Coaches http://www.crosskeys.uk.com
Minibus & Coach Hire in Ashford http://www.novabussing.co.uk
Ashford is a hotspot in the southeast for shopping, having over 200 stores across the town. Over 100 in the main town centre, and 100 in the modern designer outlet.
Ashford is well served by many different restaurants. A short walk around the town centre will find most varieties of cuisine.
Further out of town, pubs offer good food at reasonable prices. Wye also has some good restaurants.
Locally produced Biddenden wine and cider are high quality. The cider at 8% ABV is only sold by the half pint in some pubs. There is no shortage of good pubs and bars although the best tend to be in the villages around the town.
There are many good pubs around the town.
A nightclub based in the Flourmills 5 minutes walk downhill from the town centre. 'Life' plays cheesy music from 70's, 80' and nineties, 'Liquid' opts for dance orientated music and R&B.
Over 21's, Smart Shoes and Collar on Saturdays.