Area Guide: The busy Hertfordshire town of Hemel Hempstead

The Riverside shopping centre, Hemel Hempstead. Picture: Danny Loo

The Riverside shopping centre, Hemel Hempstead. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

From its historic Old Town high street to the more modern Magic Roundabout and Jarman Park, there's lots to see and do in Hemel Hempstead. We found out all the info... 

Hemel has existed as a settlement since the 8th century, and was granted its town charter in 1539 by King Henry VIII.

It was declared a New Town in 1947, with expansion plans put in place to accommodate Londoners moving out of slum housing or homes that had been bombed during the war. The first residents moved into their homes in Adeyfield in 1950.

Hemel Hempstead has a wide range of shops on offer. Picture: Danny Loo

Hemel Hempstead has a wide range of shops on offer. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

The Old Town high street remains a pretty and vibrant place to visit, with Tudor, Georgian and Victorian buildings housing shops selling everything from antiques to angling supplies. There are also many popular pubs, cafes and restaurants in the area, with a wide range of cuisine, including Indian, Italian and Thai.

Property

According to Rightmove, properties in Hemel had an overall average price of £422,019 over the last year, a huge annual increase of 9 per cent. 

Some of the period properties on High Street in Hemel Hempstead's Old Town. 

Some of the period properties on High Street in Hemel's Old Town. - Credit: Google Street View

Homes currently on the market in Hemel include a three-bed Grade II five-bed character property in the Old Town for £850,000 and a one-bed apartment near the Magic Roundabout for £230,000. 

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Amenities

The Marlowes is home to many high street stores. Picture: Danny Loo

The Marlowes is home to many high street stores. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

The Marlowes is a modern shopping centre in the heart of Hemel. With a range of popular chain stores, including New Look, Greggs and M&S, it provides for a wide variety of shopping needs.

The other main area for high street shopping is the pleasant Riverside complex, which houses a Premier Inn as well as the likes of Pizza Express, Next and Waterstones.

The Riverside shopping centre, Hemel Hempstead. Picture: Danny Loo

The Riverside shopping centre, Hemel Hempstead. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town high street has more independent shops and is well served for pubs and restaurants. Popular eateries include the Turkish restaurant, Opuz Kitchen, and Mazza Indian restaurant.

There are many supermarkets including ASDA, Sainsbury’s, ALDI and Tesco.

Transport

Hemel is famous for its Magic Roundabout, an interchange at the end of the town centre where traffic from six routes meets. Vehicles circulate in both directions around a central ‘roundabout’. It was the first such system in Britain.

The Plough Roundabout, aka 'the Magic Roundabout' in Hemel Hempstead, as seen from the A4146. Picture: Google Street View

The Plough Roundabout, aka 'the Magic Roundabout' in Hemel Hempstead, as seen from the A4146. Picture: Google Street View - Credit: Archant

The town has easy access to both the M1 and the M25 and fast rail links to London Euston; a journey can take less than half an hour.

Schools

Hemel Hempstead has numerous primary schools, including George Street Primary, Lime Walk and The Reddings, which all received a ‘good’ Ofsted ranking at their last inspection.

Secondary options include John F Kennedy Catholic School, The Hemel Hempstead School, and Longdean School, all of which are rated ‘good’.

Private schools include Abbot’s Hill, an independent girls’ school for ages four to 16, and Lockers Park, a boys’ prep school with a boarding option which takes girls up to Year Two.

Sport and leisure

Jarman Park, near the centre of the town, boasts an ice rink, a gym, a soft play centre, and a variety of chain restaurants.

Also in Jarman Park is XC, an activity centre offering climbing walls, skateboarding and indoor caving.

XC, Jarman Park, Hemel Hempstead. Picture: Danny Loo

XC, Jarman Park, Hemel Hempstead. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

The Snow Centre has a 160m indoor real-snow slope for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding – the largest learner slope in the UK.

Hemel Hempstead Leisure Centre has a gym and swimming pool, as well as squash and basketball courts.

Sapphire Gymnastics has two popular sites in the town, offering recreational classes for all ages.

Hemel is also home to several substantial green spaces, including Jellicoe Water Gardens, which were designed as an integral part of the New Town and are now viewed as one of Dacorum's most important post-war heritage sites.

Pretty Gadebridge Park, with its splash park, skate park and play area, offers entertainment and ample green space, making it perfect for any family outing. 

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden...

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden (www.frosts.co.uk/branches) - Credit: Archant