Area Guide: Garston
PUBLISHED: 14:42 07 October 2016 | UPDATED: 13:46 12 October 2016
There's much more to Garston than great schools and Woodside Leisure Park.
Garston has a strong local identity, and is within the Stanborough, Meriden and Woodside wards of Watford borough.
Notable people who lived in the area include George Michael, Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice), Duran Duran lead singer Simon Le Bon and footballer turned actor Vinnie Jones. And movie scenes from coming-of-age comedy drama The History Boys (2006) were filmed just down the road at Watford Grammar School.
It has brilliant amenities for entertainment, leisure and eating at Woodside Leisure Park, on the A405 Kingsway road. It features a Vue Cinema, Hollywood Bowl and large indoor play activity centre for children Gambado – more of which below. There is ample free parking outside.
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.
Garston is home to a few secondary schools, which educate pupils living in the broader Watford area.
St Michael’s Catholic High School is a Roman Catholic academy status school, located in High Elms Lane. It serves children between 11 and 18 years of age and was rated by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’.
Parmiter’s School, also in High Elms Lane, is a co-educational state comprehensive with academy status. It is partially selective, although it does admit pupils of all abilities. It is also the most oversubscribed school in Hertfordshire and is recognised by the Department for Education and Skills as being one of the highest performing schools in the country. It was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted at its last inspection.
Francis Combe Academy, based in Horseshoe Lane, opened in 2009 and replaced Francis Combe School and Community College. Sponsored by West Herts College and the University of Hertfordshire, it specialises in English, art and media. Recently extending its cutting-edge facilities by developing a brand new £25m building, it was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted in 2015.
Garston has its own railway station and an Arriva bus garage. The train station is the third stop on the Abbey Line, after Watford Junction and Watford North. It is an unstaffed railway halt, which was opened by British Rail in 1966.
Garston is 20 miles from Central London, four miles from Watford and very close to the M1 and M25 junctions. Mainline train services fro London Euston go through Watford and all main London airports are within 60 miles.
Sport and leisure
Half of Garston Park is a local nature reserve. Owned and managed by the council, it is 6.4 hectares and includes woodland and areas of grassland and wetland. It is inhabited by muntjac deer, red foxes and pipistrelle bats, woodpeckers and several species of butterflies. There is an area of mown grass with a playground for children and exercise areas.
Commercial leisure opportunities include being able to catch all the latest films at Vue cinema – a large popular attraction with mouthwatering snacks, ice cream and sweets. Hollywood Bowl a few paces from the cinema, has many 10-pin bowling lanes, a licensed bar, café, an arcade and hosts kids’ parties.
Gambado is next door and comprises soft play areas for different ages, climbing equipment, indoor dodgem cars, a café and computer room for parents with free WiFi access. They hold autism-friendly sessions and there’s an exciting Halloween disco event, during the last weekend of October.
Food and drink
In Garston there is a McDonald’s with eat-in and drive-thru facilities, Frankie and Benny’s Italian restaurant, Chiquito Mexican grill and TGI Fridays.
Chinese food is available from Wok Express or New Oriental Chef and The Spice Brasserie is a popular Indian restaurant with friendly staff, authentic food and good-size portions.
For pizza, Village Pizza also serves Indian dishes, kebabs, chicken and burgers and delivers.
The Dome Bar, St Albans Road, is one of the nicest nearest pubs, with delicious Thai food, a pleasant atmosphere and it welcomes families.
And Harvester, North Orbital Road, is a simple child-friendly pub chain with grilled dishes, salads, burgers, steaks - and quite possibly the most tempting ice-cream sundaes in Hertfordshire.