Area Guide: The busy Southdown area of Harpenden

PUBLISHED: 10:17 02 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:27 02 March 2020

Harpenden Cycles, Southdown Road. Picture: Danny Loo

Harpenden Cycles, Southdown Road. Picture: Danny Loo


While Southdown is very much a part of Harpenden, it’s also a community in its own right. We found more about this busy part of Herts.

Southdown has a lot to offer residents. Picture: Danny LooSouthdown has a lot to offer residents. Picture: Danny Loo

Under a mile from Harpenden's train station and moments from its vast Common, Southdown is a thriving residential area.

The ribbed skew arch Midland Railway bridge, famous for its extreme skew angle of approximately 65 degrees, is Southdown's iconic tribute to Victorian railway engineers.

Local gastropub, The Skew Bridge on Southdown Road, is named after this impressive landmark.

Welcome to Southdown. Picture: Danny LooWelcome to Southdown. Picture: Danny Loo


Southdown is centred on a busy selection of mostly 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.

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. Other popular options include the Plough & Harrow and The Carpenters Arms.

Southdown Road, Harpenden. Picture: Danny LooSouthdown Road, Harpenden. Picture: Danny Loo


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.

Homes currently on the market include a two-bed end terrace on Grove Road for £411,000 and a four-bed property on Coleswood Road for £670,000.

Southdown Road, Harpenden. Picture: Danny Loo.Southdown Road, Harpenden. Picture: Danny Loo.

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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 secondary school place has proved difficult for some Southdown children in recent years. While there are three 'outstanding' state options in Harpenden - Roundwood Park, Sir John Lawes and St George's - they're oversubscribed, and Southdown students sometimes miss out. The new Katherine Warington School, which opened on Lower Luton Road last September, has helped ease the pressure.

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

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.

Transport links

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 Luton Airport is a 15-minute drive away.


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.

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