Basingstoke is a town in Hampshire. It has been around as a market town since the Domesday Book, but was developed as a 'new town', one of several constructed in the 1950s to accommodate overspill population from London. Throughout the 70's and 80's it was often considered a joke 'dull' town with nothing to offer and had very little to entertain any visitors unless they were into trainspotting or roundabouts (it is alleged that Basingstoke has the highest number of roundabouts per head population of any UK town - but its probably no longer true!).
Recent redevelopment of the town center has seen the growth of a huge shopping area, lots of restaurants and new cinemas and theatre. Basingstoke - it seems -has grown up!
Basingstoke has a station on the main line from London to Southampton. There is also a line to Reading. Train times can be found on the National Rail Planner or by calling 0845-748-4950 from anywhere in the UK. It takes around forty minutes to get to Basingstoke from London Waterloo station. The station is situated at the edge of the town center and is only a minute's walk from the shops.
Alternatively the town is conveniently situated for the M3 motorway (US English: freeway) also from London to Southampton and is about one hours drive from both. The A33 links the town with Reading and the M4.
Basingstoke has a decently-sized town centre including a shopping centre, cinema and variety of pubs and restaurants all walking distance from the train or bus station. Furthermore, there is a leisure park on the western side of town including including an ice rink and cinema that's also walking distance, albeit crossing a few busy main roads.
Basingstoke is well served by buses. The central bus station is situated in the town center and most buses stop at the station. The buses are regular and serve most outlying areas of the town. Indeed the buses are efficient and the bus stops clearly marked
Basingstoke is easy to drive around and the town center does not suffer from much congestion (except for at peak times). There is ample parking in both 'Top of Town' and Festival Place and the town's ring road (called 'Ringway') makes it easy to access any part of Basingstoke without much trouble.
The Park and Ride facility is served by three Centre Shuttle buses, see National Park and Ride Directory
- Basing House, Redbridge Lane, Old Basing (1 mile east of Basingstoke), ☎ +44 1256 467294. Open Apr-Sep W-Su 2PM-6PM. Once a major Tudor palace and castle rivalling Hampton Court, Basing House was destroyed in a civil war siege. Now an attractive set of ruins, with an explanatory exhibition. Car parking is very difficult in Old Basing village; instead follow the signs to Basing House car park and get the bonus of a very attractive walk along the crystal clear River Loddon to the house. Alternatively bus line 8 runs once an hour from Basingstoke bus station stopping outside Basing House main entrance. £1-2.
- Silchester Roman Town, Silchester (5 miles north of Basingstoke). Known to the Romans as Calleva Atrebatum, Silchester was abandoned after the Roman era which means that much of the archeology remains. All that is left on the surface now are a complete ring of city walls, the amphitheater and an little medieval church. Away from the rivers that have dictated the area demographics, Silchester is about as isolated a place as you will find in south-east England; on a spring weekday you are likely to find yourself sharing the ruins only with cows. Open every day sunrise-sunset. Free.
- Milestones Museum, Leisure Park, Churchill Way West, ☎ +44 1256 477766. Open Tu-F 10AM-5PM; Sa-Su 11AM-5PM; M closed. A living history museum, with reconstructed street scenes and buildings from the Victorian era. £3.50-6.50.
- Wote Street Willy, Wote Street, town centre. The largest statue of a penis on public display in Britain. The image of a mother and child is carved into the side of the sculpture, and its phallic appearance was apparently overlooked by planners until its erection.
- L'Arc Sculpture, Alençon Link, Town Centre. Marvel at the similarities between this sculpture and the Iran-Iraq war monument in Baghdad
- Viables Roundabout, home to Britain's shortest piece of gauge railway track.
- Crockford Lane Roundabout, or 'The Chineham Wave' displays a ribbon of around 100 red steel human silhouettes.
- Mike Reddaway's Ancestral Home
- Fyffes Banana Ripening Factory, Winklebury. The largest Banana Ripening Factory in Europe.
- Conference South Football at The Camrose, Western Way.
- Basingstoke Blues Club, 20 Churchill Way, RG21 7QU. Listen to live Quality Blues Bands once a month.
The Basingstoke area has many restaurants of different types and costs and it clearly isn't possible to list them all here.
- The Millstone Pub, Bartons Lane, Lychpit, (adjacent to Basing House car park), tel 331153. This pub, situated by the delightful River Loddon, was until recently a fantastic authentic rustic pub. It has now been 'renovated' so lost some of its character but now does bar food. Thankfully it still has a good range of real ales. A good place to eat before or after visiting Basing House (see 'See'). £6-10.
- Station Kebabs, Railway Station. Kebab Van. Burger Sauce available.
Michael Meredith's House pub
The following is a selection of larger hotels in Basingstoke:
- Apollo Hotel, Aldermarston Roundabout, ☎ +44 1256 796700.
- Audley's Wood Hotel, Alton Road (follow the A339 Southbound), ☎ +44 845 072 7405.
Basingstoke's area code (for landline numbers) is 01256 when dialed from within the UK or +44 1256 from outside the UK.
- Farnborough, birthplace of flying in the United Kingdom.
- Winchester, a nearby ancient cathedral city with lots to see.