Rebranded and a bit of all right
What’s going for it? Has a town ever before been driven to rebrand by the relentless taking of the Michael by a fictional rude boy? Staines, as was, was. And the newly rechristened Staines-upon-Thames (love that “upon”: no cheap old Staines-on-Thames for this town!) was at once ribbed for its pretensions. As one naysayer put it, there’s something rather Hyacinth Bucket about it all. Thing is, though, Staines is all right. I mean, it’s not amazing. But it has lovely parks tumbling on to the Thames and a thriving local culture, if you’re into footie and messing about on a river. There is a lovely scrap of an old town. It’s surrounded by reservoirs, has a Waitrose. Even its property market is relatively affordable for a place with Chertsey, Virginia Water and the Queen for neighbours. Aha. That’s the rub. Staines feels the touch of Feltham, when it wants to nuzzle Egham.
The case against Ideas above its station: even its sports centre is the Matthew Arnold Sports Centre (I’m picturing the Victorian writer in a spin class). The cruddy Elmsleigh Centre; worse, the Two Rivers retail park. Needs more than a new name to stop its slide; encourage some independence and chutzpah!
Well connected? Very much: cornered by the M3 and M25, just outside town, with Heathrow on the northern outskirts. Trains to Reading (47 mins, twice hourly), Windsor (14 mins, twice hourly), London Waterloo (35-41 mins, four or so an hour).
Schools Primaries: Hythe and Our Lady of the Rosary RC stick out as “good”, Ofsted says. Secondaries: Magna Carta is “good and improving”; Matthew Arnold is “satisfactory” but “pays outstanding attention to the care of individual students”.
Where to buy Start with the little heart of an old town, around St Mary’s church, Clarence and Church Streets: lovely old gems. The money, of course, is on the riverside: Chertsey Lane on the west bank, especially Egham Hythe and south to Penton Hook Marina; on the east, west of Staines and Laleham Roads. Pretty riverside Laleham village, too, and nice Victorian avenues between Kingston Road and the bypass.
Market values Large detacheds, £600,000-£1.5m; smaller, £300,000-£600,000. Semis, £250,000-£525,000. Terraces, £220,000-£380,000. Rents: three-bed house, £1,000-£1,700 pcm; two-bed flats, £900-£1,450.
Bargain of the week Three-bedroom cottage with garden, near the town centre, £227,500, with Gregory Brown.
From the streets
Sally-Ann Fawcett “The riverside is one of my favourite spots in the world. In winter, it provides a wide, straight path for a warming brisk walk; in summer, the water glitters as we amble up the lock. It’s a beautiful stretch of the Thames and a million miles away from the dreary, soulless, concrete Staines portrayed in the media.”
Fiona McBride “Korean restaurant Ko Gu Ryo has amazing food and fantastic service. Definitely worth a visit.”
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