Area Guide: The Garston area of Watford explored
PUBLISHED: 11:07 23 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:16 23 August 2019
Once a village in its own right, Garston has become a suburb of Watford. Despite this, it retains its personal identity along with its parade of local shops. Annabel Freer found out more about it.
Garston's streets are lined mostly with a mix of 1930s semis, terraced houses and flats.
Homes currently on the market include a four-bed terraced house on Hemming Way for £510,000 and a two-bed flat on Bucknalls Lane for £380,000.
Garston is a more affordable area than those around it, according to Rightmove. With an overall average price of £378,460 last year, Garston properties were cheaper than those in nearby Abbots Langley (£433,132), Bricket Wood (£563,658) and Watford (£410,408).
Garston is renowned for its outstanding secondary schools, Parmiter's in High Elms Lane being one of the most oversubscribed in Hertfordshire.
Originally based in East London before moving to Herts in 1977, Parmiter's is a partially selective co-educational state comprehensive with sixth form. It was rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted at its last inspection.
Another 'outstanding' school is St Michael's Catholic High School, a comprehensive with pupils between 11 and 18 years of age. also on High Elms Lane.
Francis Combe Academy on Horseshoe Lane opened in 2009, replacing Francis Combe School and Community College. It was found to require improvement by Ofsted at its most recent inspection in March.
Garston has excellent transport links, boasting its own railway station, which is the third stop on the Abbey Line, after Watford Junction and Watford North. Mainline train services from London Euston also go through Watford.
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Garston is also within easy reach of the M1, M25 and A41, has its own bus station and is within 60 miles of all main London airports.
Food and drink
Chain restaurants can be found at Woodside Leisure Park in Garston, including a Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito. Elsewhere, you can eat at McDonald's, TGI Friday's and Papa John's.
There are a few independent food outlets, for example Wok Express Chinese and Indian/Mexican restaurant The Spice Brasserie, while Village Pizza also serves kebabs, burgers and Indian food.
Other popular Indian restaurants in Garston are New Shapla and Indian Sizzler, which stand next door to each other on Longspring. There is a Harvester on North Orbital Road that can provide all your family-friendly favourites, including burgers, steaks and ice cream sundaes.
The nicest nearby pub is The Dome Bar on St Albans Road - they serve food and have sport on the big screen as well as live music.
Sport and leisure
A major attraction is Garston Park, half of which is a nature reserve. The park itself covers 6.4 hectares, including woodland, grassland and wetland, and is inhabited by wildlife such as red foxes, woodpeckers and butterflies.
There is a playground for children, as well as exercise spots and mown grass areas that are ideal for running.
Woodside Leisure Centre on Horseshoe Lane has two pools, a gym, an exercise studio, a squash court and a hall offering table tennis, badminton and five-a-side football. There's also an on-site crèche.
At the Woodside Leisure Park there is a Vue cinema and Hollywood Bowl which has 10-pin bowling, plus a bar, café and arcade.
Another great place to take the kids is Gambado, a children's soft play centre with climbing equipment, indoor dodgem cars, a café and computer room for parents with free WiFi access. They hold autism-friendly sessions and there's usually a Halloween disco event during the last weekend of October.
As well as a petrol station, crematorium and churches of several denominations in the vilage, there is Garston Park Parade shopping centre and other shops on the Meriden and Kingswood estates.