Amersham sits as a terminus on the North Western end of the Metropolitan line, very much in the fold of Buckinghamshire, and shares its station with Chiltern Railways with services running through to the West Midlands. I’d not been to Amersham before so I had little expectations, although I have vague childhood recollections of visiting family in nearby Little Chalfont many many years ago.
I also had an ulterior motive for visiting the town as I had arranged to meet Darren, a former work colleague who lives nearby, so plans to meet in one of the local hostelries seemed appropriate.
As the journey along the Metropolitan line passes en route through Wembley, Harrow and Pinner, the surrounding landscape quickly changes from urban to suburban and the Wembley Stadium arch soon fades into the distance, and as I arrive in Amersham, it’s very much a rural setting. Some prior preparation helped me to understand that Amersham is a town of two parts but what I hadn’t appreciated was that they are separated by a significant hill…just as well it stayed dry.
On exiting the station, I arrive at the new town which grew in response to the arrival of the station late in the 19th Century. The town has a rectangular shape with shops dominating two and a half sides, and the purpose built civic amenities dominating a larger part of the remainder.
My route was up Station Road, along Chesham Road and into Woodside Road as far as St John’s Methodist Church. Across the road is the Amersham branch of the Royal British Legion where I chat with Danny, a young gentleman who’s tidying up the grass verge and poppy display outside the Legion Hall in preparation for Armistice Day on Sunday. He explained his father, who is a committee member is out and about in the town selling poppies.
I return along the same route heading for the Old Town, and later on returning to the new town I make my way to the civic centre where I find the council offices, library, police station, law courts and Leisure Centre. However from both my tours around the town, I find little of architectural interest. Don’t get me wrong, this is a busy town with a blended mix of independent shops, charity shops, high street names and coffee/eateries, but I felt it was a little bland with only modest features: I expected more from the Old Town though.
Amersham Old Town
Heading for the old Town, there are two main roads; I choose Rectory Hill, a minor B Road with no footpath, so I tread carefully with Parsonage Wood to my left, which I later glean has several paths running through it so my passage to the Old Town could have been different. Nevertheless I still enjoy the splendour of the autumnal colours on display.
As I descend the hill, the old worldly charm and quaintness of this Old Market Town can be seen through the rooftops and my expectations aren’t disappointed as I browse through Rectory Lane and Church Street, poking my nose into some sympathetically redeveloped buildings at the former Weller’s Brewery (now Badminton Court) and Flint Barn Court (both now offices) and stroll around the grounds of St Mary’s Church.
Into the High Street, and I couldn’t miss the Old Market Hall which dominates the town centre with its Doomsday Book references helping to highlight the town’s age. Close by is the Museum but unfortunately I don’t have enough time to go in and enjoy their displays, but I’m drawn to explore The Broadway, Whielden Street, The Platt, and in the west as far as Mill Lane. The town is full of character with several coaching houses having survived as fashionable hotels, and other coach buildings having been converted into private dwelling but still keeping the coaching house characteristics.
My admiration is temporarily interrupted with a lunch interlude at the Elephant & Castle where I meet Darren for a bite to eat and of course an opportunity to sample the local ale. We discuss many things, but most importantly where and when to meet up next for a Christmas drink. With arrangements made, we say farewell and I continue with my Old Amersham tour before returning to the station via the appropriately named, but steep, Station Road.
Since 2009 (and probably before then), the Amersham community throughout has prided itself in creating interesting floral displays. So much so that their entries in Britain’s nationwide gardening competition, Britain in Bloom, has seen them achieve annual accolades from Regional Town Winner, to Silver Gilt recipients and in 2009 and since 2014, they’ve been the recipients of a Gold Award within the Thames and Chilterns Region. (recently announced by the RHS 14/11/2018, Amersham have won another Gold award for 2018).
Flower tubs and roundabouts awash with various displays and colours and the impressive Memorial Garden in Old Amersham is a ‘must see’ floral exhibitions. Have a look at the stunning video on their Facebook Page which captures the WW1 Commemoration display.
Some of my pictures which follow try to capture the essence, the effort and the creativity of all the volunteers involved in these creations.
Thank you Amersham for a snapshot into your community…
Picture of the Day
A few days before Armistice Day 2018, Amersham Old Town has excelled itself with an impressive WW1 Commemoration display as part of this year’s Britain in Bloom entry. This picture is taken within the Memorial Gardens and is one of many I could have picked for today’s PIcture of the Day.
This one, I believe, epitomises the scale, grandeur and colour of the town’s display with the large scale bi-plane models elevated in formation showing off a combination of design and gardening skills. Despite it being a drizzly day, which dampens the garden’s colour palette, there’s a hint of sunlight eeking through the low cloud base helping to lift the greenery.
Despite the weather conditions, there are several interested people walking through and enjoying the display. However, I’ve waited for them to pass as I didn’t want them to be a distraction from the bi-planes which I feel are the centrepiece of the picture.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ10; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO6400; Google Photo Filter – None
For more info, look up Amersham on Wikipedia