Area Guide: The popular Southdown area of Harpenden
- Credit: Archant
Southdown sits on the edge of Harpenden, tucked away between the busy train station and vast Common. We found out more about it...
With a thriving selection of independent shops at its heart, Southdown is a community in its own right – though the centre of Harpenden is only a mile away.
The ribbed skew arch Midland Railway bridge is Southdown’s iconic tribute to Victorian railway engineers. It is famous for its extreme skew angle of approximately 65 degrees, but also features an old ad for the Herts Advertiser painted on one side. Local gastropub, The Skew Bridge on Southdown Road, is named after this impressive landmark.
Some fine examples of post-war architecture can be found in Southdown, set amid numerous 19th century brick houses and pretty green spaces. Generally speaking, property is slightly cheaper here than it is in the heart of Harpenden.
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Homes currently on the market include a three-bed detached house on Tarrant Drive for £525,000 and a three-bed Edwardian semi on Coleswood Road for £600,000.
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The Grove Infant and Nursery School is a popular three-form entry school, accommodating around 340 children when full. Rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, it shares its grounds with The Grove Junior School (rated ‘good’). Another ‘outstanding’ option is St Dominic Catholic Primary School, which was founded in 1920.
Securing a local high school place has proved difficult for some Southdown children in recent years. While there are three ‘outstanding’ state secondaries in Harpenden - Roundwood Park, Sir John Lawes and St George’s – they’re oversubscribed, and Southdown students sometimes miss out. It’s hoped that the new Katherine Warington School, which is due to open on Lower Luton Road in September, will change all that.
Sports and leisure
A whole host of recreational activities are available to visitors and residents alike. You can feed the ducks on the Common at Southdown Ponds, have a picnic in Hay Field and then explore the old clay mines at Brickle Dells. Golf is a popular sport in the area and there is an 18-hole course on the edge of Harpenden, accessible to private members and visitors on arrangement.
Southdown sits between the M1 and the A1(M), and the M25 is immediately south of neighbouring St Albans. Harpenden station offers fast rail links into London St Pancras, and there are regular buses to St Albans and Luton.
Luton Airport is a 15-minute drive away.
Southdown is home to a thriving selection of independent businesses, including a hardware store, a butchers, a laundrette and a dental surgery. There is also a public hall, a pharmacy, a hairdressers and a Co-op supermarket, among other amenities.
For families, Big Space indoor soft play area on Southdown Industrial Estate is the ideal place to spend a rainy day. The site offers 300 square metres of play equipment, including a drop slide and bouncy castle, as well as a café serving meals and snacks.
The Engineer on St John’s Road is a dog-friendly local offering pub grub – including a Sunday roast – craft beers, cocktails and televised sport.
Christians are well catered for here, with Southdown Methodist Church and the Anglican St John’s Church, known locally known as ‘the Church on the Common’ each offering regular opportunities to worship.