St Matthew's C of E parish church
Church Road in Ashford
|Area||6.71 km2 (2.59 sq mi)|
|Population||27,382 (2011 census)|
|• Density||4,081/km2 (10,570/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
Ashford is a town almost wholly in the Borough of Spelthorne, Surrey, with a small area contained within the boundaries of the London Borough of Hounslow, approximately 14 mi (23 km) west-southwest of central London.[n 1] Its name derives from a crossing point of the River Ash, a distributary of the River Colne. Historically part of Middlesex, the town's wards have been part of Surrey County Council since 1965. Ashford consists of relatively low density low- and medium-rise buildings, none of them being high rise. If excluding apartments (at the last census 27% of the housing stock) most houses are semi-detached.
A leading gymnastics club, HMP Bronzefield and one of the sites of Brooklands College are in the town. Ashford Hospital, which began as a workhouse, is to the north of the town centre. Ashford Common has a parade of shops and is a more residential ward that includes part of Queen Mary Reservoir and all of its related water treatment works. The town is surrounded by some areas of green space including The Princes Club, Bedfont Lakes and Shortwood Common.
Ashford is in the almost flat alluvial plain formed by the historic courses of the River Thames on fairly fertile but gravelly soil in centuries past covered by deciduous forest for wood gathering, with clearings of meadow for pasture and to a lesser extent arable farming to supply the London market; sheep grazing continues today around the reservoirs. In common with western fringes of Greater London, gravel commences often within a metre of the surface which has led to 20th-century gravel extraction,[n 2] which has formed the lakes to the north of the railway line. The extreme west is Shortwood Common, partly converted to a recreation ground, Ashford Park School, a cemetery.
North of this is the pair of Staines Reservoirs, the other green buffer is The Princes Club, Bedfont Lakes, spanning the northeast border; these areas constitute Metropolitan Green Belt buffers to the country's largest city. The area includes postally much of Queen Mary Reservoir (which covered most of the parish to the south of Littleton and almost none of historic Ashford) named after the wife of George V, Mary of Teck.
Most of the land is devoted to suburban and low-rise urban housing – as well as recreational areas, green belt in part of the Bedfont/Feltham fringe exists in the form of meadows used for walking, horse grazing and equestrianism around Feltham Young Offenders' Institution. A few parks such as the Ashford Reservoirs or Spelthorne Park are remnants of Ashford Common which give the eastern part of the town a reminder of its past status as a grazing common; these include recreation grounds such as Thames Water-sponsored Spelthorne Sports Club and the BP recreation ground.
In The Clumps, 37 houses in the Ashford post town, which has the postcode TW15, are in the London Borough of Hounslow, Greater London, alongside the Princes Club watersports lakes partly in Ashford post town but mostly in East Bedfont, Feltham post town, London. The other road with this status is the western half of Challenge Road, which has only business addresses.
Bronze Age artefacts have been found in Ashford (at 51.432708N, 0.485174W) giving rise to the name Bronzefield and a henge may have been present in that period. The settlement as indicated by its name but small assets[clarification needed][in Domesday Book?] just after the Norman Conquest was part[clarification needed][what was the rest?] agricultural settlement in Saxon times.
Ashford appears on the Middlesex Domesday map as Exeforde, held by Robert, Count of Mortain. Its Domesday assets were: 1 plough, meadow for 1 plough; a separate manor in 1066, it was part of the manor of Kempton in 1086. It rendered (in total) 14s 0d. Throughout the early medieval period the place was also referred to as Echelford.
A stone bridge was built over the ford in 1789 by the Hampton and Staines Turnpike Trust, part of which[part of the original bridge?] is used as the rather scenic Fordbridge roundabout with its large weeping willow trees at the centre.
Ashford Manor Golf Club was established in 1902 at the property which was the Manor Farm House but the large manorial estate and manor house that were held by Solomon Abraham Hart from 1870 to 1882[n 3] had before 1902 been broken up among many small owners, and all trace of the manor house was lost.[n 4]However the title of Lord of the Manor was acquired by Scott Freeman in 1890, and after passing to another partner of the solicitors Horne, Engall Freeman the title passed in more recent times to Russell Grant.
The Welsh School (later St David's School) was founded in 1857. Its building north of Ashford railway station is Gothic Revival, designed by Henry Clutton. St David's School is now defunct, but in 2010 its buildings and playing fields were the premises of St James Senior Boys School.
Ashford County Grammar School was founded in 1911. It became Ashford Sixth Form College in 1975 and Spelthorne College later. In 2007 it merged with Brooklands College. A property developer, Inland Homes plc, has since acquired the former grammar school buildings in Church Road. In 2017 it started to demolish the buildings without planning permission. The developer stopped the work at the request of Spelthorne Borough Council after demolition had started, but later continued the demolition, having received planning permission to build 357 new homes on the site.
In 1894, under the Local Government Act 1894, Ashford became part of the Staines Rural District of Middlesex. In 1930 the rural district was abolished and joined Staines Urban District. In 1965, under the London Government Act 1963, Middlesex County Council was abolished and the urban district was transferred to Surrey. In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, Staines Urban District was abolished and its area combined with that of Sunbury-on-Thames Urban District to create the present borough of Spelthorne.
The present Church of England parish church of St Matthew in Church Road was built in 1856–58 with financial help from the Welsh School. It was sited some yards west of Ashford's earlier parish church of St Michael, parts of which were Norman. St Michael's was demolished, but internal monuments and a 12th-century arch from it were incorporated into St Matthew's. William Butterfield designed St Matthew's in a Gothic Revival style. The tower was not completed until 1865.
St Hilda's parish church at the junction of Stanwell and Woodthorpe Roads was founded as a daughter church of St Matthew's to serve the rapidly expanding community around the railway station. Construction started in 1912 and most of the church was built in the first few years, but the chancel and some other parts were not completed until 1928. St Hilda's original design included a spire that would have been one of the most significant landmarks in the area, but it was never built. St Hilda's was initially a conventual district of St Matthew's parish, but is now a separate ecclesiastical parish. The easternmost parts of Ashford Common are in the parish of St Saviour's, Sunbury.
The Roman Catholic Church of St Michael in Fordbridge Road was begun in 1927 and the uncompleted building was consecrated in 1928. It was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in a Romanesque Revival style. Building continued in 1938, but the tower was not completed until 1960.
The main street, Church Road, has local businesses, including Co-op, Tesco Express, Costa Coffee, Sainsbury's, several estate agents including Gregory Brown, three funeral directors, and several places to eat. Church Road is also home to the Ashford campus of Brooklands College (formerly Spelthorne College), Ashford Library and a prominent World War I memorial.
Ashford, in common with most of London suburbia, has very low unemployment rates. A great deal of local employment is directly related to Heathrow Airport. BP International is another major employer. Many other residents work in London or in the Thames Valley. Main dealers of Ford, Citroën and formerly Suzuki are along the town's outlying dual carriageway roads.
Ashford is on the Waterloo to Reading Line, with South Western Railway stopping services from London Waterloo on two of its three routes, those to Windsor & Eton Riverside and to Weybridge on the South West Main Line via the Chertsey Line. These two routes split after Staines. The third route forms the second main line run by the company, with quicker trains available from the next stations east and west.[clarification needed] The station is referred to in timetables as either Ashford (Surrey) or Ashford (Middlesex), in order to avoid confusion with Ashford International station in Kent.
Not far north of the station is the A30 dual carriageway, which marks much of Ashford's northern border. It follows the old route from London to Devon and Cornwall. The alignment of this road is WSW–ENE.
A straight relief road, roughly WNW–ESE, was built by the Hampton and Staines Turnpike Trust. Now the A308, it has become a dual carriageway from Sunbury Cross to the junction with the A30 at Staines. This road marks some of the town's southern border. Ashford is close to the M25, M3 and A3 roads.
The town is on Hallmark Connections route 555 from Heathrow Airport to Walton-on-Thames, on three Transport for London routes, the 117, 216 and 290, also serving Isleworth, Kingston upon Thames and Twickenham respectively, and more occasional routes, including special school services run other operators.
- St Michael's Roman Catholic Primary School (4th best on benchmark of English and mathematics in the county)
- Ashford Church of England Primary School
- Echelford Primary School
- Spelthorne Junior School
- Ashford Park Primary School
- Ashford Infants School
- Spelthorne Infant and Nursery School
- Clarendon primary school and children centre
In addition, three secondary schools were established in Sunbury-on-Thames, including the borough's religiously denominated senior schools, The Bishop Wand Church of England School and St Paul's Catholic College.
Ashford's further education college, Spelthorne College, became a Brooklands College Campus in 2007. It serves 16 to 18 year olds from a wide area of Surrey.
Active sports clubs in Ashford competitive at many levels are: Ashford Town F.C., Ashford Casuals F.C. and Ashford Cricket Club. Clubs exist for hockey, tennis, table Tennis, aikido, karate, golf and bowls, with leading clubs in acrobatic gymnastics and sailing which offer professional coaching from Olympic-level coaches.
Ashford Manor Golf Club is described above, a golf course that has 18 holes; one other is in the borough, Sunbury Golf Course in Charlton. In 1921, the golf course was the site of the murder of British spy Vincent Fovargue by the IRA.
Spelthorne Atoms (previously known as Ashford Atoms) are one of the best youth basketball teams in the country having been to the national finals on a number of occasions.
Spelthorne Gymnastics club is one of the World's premier clubs for acrobatic gymnastics, having won eight World championship gold medals.
Ashford has one river, the River Ash, one of the six distributaries of the River Colne which runs in line with the Staines bypass under the Fordbridge roundabout at the far end of Fordbridge Road, its upper reach being the traditional border with Staines and then entering Laleham, passing close to the other side of the Queen Mary Reservoir.
The Staines Reservoirs Aqueduct (built 1902) flows from west to east across Ashford. It carries water from the Staines Reservoirs and King George VI Reservoir to Hampton water treatment works via Sunbury and Kempton Park.
In Surrey County Council, 4 of the 81 councillors are elected by Ashford in whole or in part: Ashford is represented by a Conservative councillor, as is Staines South and Ashford West; Sunbury Common and Ashford Common is also represented by a Conservative councillor, and part of north Ashford is in the division of Stanwell and Stanwell Moor, represented by Robert Evans, a Labour Councillor.
|Member||Ward||Current party (if changed)|
|Marion Bushnell||Ashford Common||Spelthorne Independent Party|
|Nick Gething||Ashford Common|
|Frank Ayers||Ashford Common||Spelthorne Independent Party|
|Asif Ayub||Ashford East|
|Chris Frazer||Ashford East|
|Tony Mitchell||Ashford East|
|Marian Rough||Ashford North and Stanwell South|
|Joanne Sexton||Ashford North and Stanwell South|
|Sam Budd||Ashford North and Stanwell South||Spelthorne Independent Party|
|Gerald Forsbrey||Ashford Town||Spelthorne Independent Party|
|Denise Grant||Ashford Town||Spelthorne Independent Party|
|Caroline Spencer (Independent)||Ashford Town||Spelthorne Independent Party|
Demography and housing
|Output area||Detached||Semi-detached||Terraced||Flats and apartments||Caravans/temporary/mobile homes||Shared between households|
|Spelthorne 3,5 and 6||2,388||4,380||1,672||2,618||7||0|
The average level of accommodation in the region composed of detached houses was 28%, the average that was apartments was 22.6%.
|Output area||Population||Households||% Owned outright||% Owned with a loan||hectares|
|Spelthorne 3, 5 and 6||27,382||11,065||29.0%||33.9%||671|
The proportion of households in the settlement who owned their home outright compares to the regional average of 35.1%. The proportion who owned their home with a loan compares to the regional average of 32.5%. The remaining % is made up of rented dwellings (plus a negligible % of households living rent-free).
- Sarah Ayton, Olympic gold medallist in the Yngling sailing class, 2004 and 2008
- Nicholas Bond-Owen, child actor in George and Mildred
- Anthony Burgess, novelist and Lord of Ashford, 1973–75
- Christopher Coleman, cricketer
- Bobby Davro, born Robert Nankeville, TV impressionist and actor
- Ray Dorset, singer-songwriter with Mungo Jerry
- Robert Evans, politician, Labour MEP 1994–2009
- Russell Grant, astrologer and stage actor, bought the title of Lord of the Manor of Ashford in 1996
- Roger Johnson, footballer
- James Lincoln, cricketer
- Scott Rendell, footballer currently playing for League Two team Wycombe Wanderers
- Toby Roland-Jones, England cricketer
- Greg Searle, Gold medallist in the coxless fours in rowing, 1992 Summer Olympics, two other Olympic medals, 1993 Coxed Pairs world champion
- Spelbound, acrobatic group, 2010 Britain's Got Talent winners
- Anthony Watson, England rugby union player
- Sarah Webb, Olympic gold medallist in the Yngling sailing class, 2004 and 2008
- Norman Willis, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) 1984–92 and president of the European Trade Union Confederation 1991–93
- Ruth Wilson, Actress, Golden Globe winning actress for The Affair and two time Laurence Olivier Award winner.
- Phil Younghusband, footballer, all-time high scorer for the Philippines national football team
Notes and references
- Two side roads in Ashford post town (Challenge Road and The Clumps) are in the London Borough of Hounslow. See Google maps: 'TW15', Royal Mail Postcode Finder free service, Spelthorne Borough Council maps, cited below.
- Page wrote in 1911: There are 1,401½ acres in the parish, and of these 495¼ acres are arable, and 398¼ acres are grass. The principal crops are oats, wheat, barley, turnips, and peas. The soil is gravelly, and the subsoil gravel.
- who died in 1887 aged in the Holborn district of London (General Register Office ref: 1b 538)
- See the source book, where in 1911, the name of the club was at that point the Ashford Manor Farm Golf Club
- William Page stated
in Page, William, ed. (1911). "Spelthorne Hundred: Ashford". A History of the County of Middlesex. Victoria County History. Vol. II. Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co. pp. 306–309.
The aspect of the whole parish is rapidly changing. Until a few years ago it was almost completely rural
- Key Statistics; Quick Statistics: Population Density Archived 11 February 2003 at the Wayback Machine United Kingdom Census 2011 Office for National Statistics Ashford makes up 2011 lower output areas Spelthorne 003, 005 and 006. Note: the towns and villages in Spelthorne have one ward each which covers part of a neighbouring town or village. For example, Ashford is two wards and part of a third ward (see Government). Retrieved 21 November 2013
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- Archbishops' Council. "St Matthew Ashford, Ashford". A Church Near You. Church of England. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
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- Historic England. "Church of St Hilda (Grade II) (1187067)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
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- Historic England. "Roman Catholic Church of St Michael, including boundary wall and entrance screen (Grade II) (1428691)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- Ashford Methodist Church[permanent dead link]
- Ashford Common Methodist Church Archived 5 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Ashford Congregational Church". Archived from the original on 12 April 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- "Staines". The Salvation Army. Archived from the original on 19 March 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
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