Chelmsford (England)

Chelmsford is in Essex, England

Chelmsford Cathedral

Understand

World Famous for being the birthplace of radio, Chelmsford is county town and recently became the first city in of Essex, England. It lies 30 miles (48.5 km) northeast of Liverpool Street 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 city, 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 city its 800th anniversary in 1999. Chelmsford was officially made a city on the Queen's diamond jubilee in March 2012.

Climate

Summer

Being in the south east of England, the city 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 city 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

By plane

By train

Chelmsford Station is a fairly busy train station for through passengers; so the service and regularity is very good. London's Liverpool Street is 35 minutes away, where the line terminates. Trains to London run every 12 minutes, while northbound services run to Braintree, Colchester, Ipswich and beyond. There's an hourly intercity service to Norwich (90 minutes). Like many major stations near London, you need a ticket to enter/exit the platforms as there are automatic barriers by the platform entrance. As the station is elevated there's only 2 platforms - all southbound services go to London but if heading north several trains going to different destinations will arrive within minutes of each other so keep an eye on the information screens and PA announcements to make sure you don't board the wrong train. This situation becomes worse if there's delays as there is only 2 tracks through the station and trains will easily become backlogged. The station has a WHSmith convenience store on the lower level and a couple of cafes on the upper (platform) level.

By bus

Chelmsford's new bus station is located on Duke Street adjacent to the rail station and is a hub for both urban and interurban bus services which connect to most towns within Essex as well as a frequent shuttle service to Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock, and non-stop coach services to Stansted Airport. The station has real-time departure information screens so finding your bus is relatively easy. Facilities include toilets, ATMs, a pharmacy, a Subway sandwich shop and a Tesco Express convenience store. There's currently 2 Park&Ride services, one serving a car park in Sandon, just off the A12 south of Chelmsford, and the other, called Chelmer Valley which opened in April. This is situated to the north of the town on the A130. This service is especially convenient for those going to Anglia Ruskin university as the bus passes right through the campus.

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 plenty 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 pleasant enough and nearly all have seats. Average bus prices are between £1 and £3 for a return inside of the town. Almost all local services use small midi-buses which can only seat around 25 passengers so they can become crowded. If heading for a destination along one of the main arterial roads it's usually more comfortable (and sometimes cheaper) to take an interurban bus as they'll follow a more direct route, have larger (often double-deck) buses and charge lower fares; although they're less frequent. Fares are charged by distance and the driver usually can provide change for smaller bills. Return fares are generally better value than single fares, but are not transferable between operators e.g. a return ticket on a First service cannot be used on a Regal Busways service. Bus services can also take travellers as far as Stansted Airport and Colchester, although services are very slow and infrequent. There is even a direct service to Lakeside Shopping Centre called service 100 which calls via Billericay, Basildon, Stanford-Le-Hope and Grays. Service 100 buses come every 20 minutes on Monday to Saturday (No Sunday service), but the journey between Chelmsford and Lakeside does take around 2 hours.

By taxi

There are many taxi firms available in the town and all are clearly marked, so never accept a ride from one that isn't. 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! Cycling is prohibited in the high street itself and will result in a fine if you are over the age of 16, however there are many cycle routes too and from the town. Council initiatives have lead to more and more cycle racks installed in the town.

See

Do

Events

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, Currys Digital, Next and GAP. The 'Quadrant' located just over the stone bridge, is Chelmsford's only independent department store. It has three floors and sells fashions for the 30+ customer including East, Kalico, Jane Shilton and Brook Taverner for men. It is also the only store in the town centre stocking leading furniture brands.

Shopping centres

Chelmsford is also served by two 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.

Italian

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.

Pub Lunch

Most of the pubs and bars in the town offer some sort of food menu.

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 hygiene, its not great. China China on Moulsham Street, is one of the most favored takeaways in Chelmsford, meals there are of the cheapest and teamed with great quality food, what more can you ask for?! 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 McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Starbucks etc. can be found on the High Street. On Saturdays, the market on the High Street also serves fast food.

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 which 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.

A 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 standing at the bar next to Scooby Doo at some point!

Sleep

There are a number of hotels and bed and breakfasts in and around the town.

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. While violent crime is fairly low, walking the streets at night should be done with great caution, and it is ill-advised to confront gangs of youths however insulting they may be.

Central Park and West Park should be avoided at night - it is big, dark, fairly deserted and the only other people around will probably be the sort you don't want to meet 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 should be avoided at night on foot and its pubs should be avoided all together by non-locals (they get very rough) 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.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.