Bracknell is a town and civil parish in Berkshire, England, the
westernmost area within the Greater London Urban Area and the
administrative centre of the
Bracknell Forest. It lies 11
miles (18 km) to the east of Reading, 9 miles (14 km) south
of Maidenhead, 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Windsor and 34 miles
(55 km) west of central London.
Originally a market village and part of the Windsor Great Forest,
Bracknell experienced a period of huge growth during the mid-20th
Century when it was declared a New Town. Planned at first for a
population of 25,000,
Bracknell New Town was further expanded in the
late 1960s to accommodate a population of 60,000. As part of this
Bracknell absorbed many of the surrounding hamlets
including Easthampstead, Ramslade and Old Bracknell. As of 2016,
Bracknell has an estimated population of around 83,000.
Bracknell is known for being a commercial centre and the UK
headquarters for several high-tech companies including Siemens,
Hewlett-Packard and 3M.
The town is surrounded, on the east and south, by
Swinley Woods and
Crowthorne Woods. The urban area has absorbed parts of many local
outlying areas including Ascot, Warfield,
Winkfield and Binfield.
1.1 New town
5 Local government
Bracknell bus services
9 Sport and leisure
11 See also
13 External links
Holy Trinity, built in 1851
Bracknell is first recorded in a
Winkfield Boundary Charter
of AD 942 as Braccan heal, and may mean "Nook of land belonging to a
man called Bracca", from the
Old English Braccan (genitive singular of
a personal name) + heal, healh (a corner, nook or secret place). An
early form of the town's name, Brakenhale, still survives as the name
of one of its schools. The town covers all of the old village of
Easthampstead (though not all of the old parish) and the hamlet of
There is a
Bronze Age round barrow at Bill Hill.
was a favoured royal hunting lodge in Windsor Forest and Catherine of
Aragon was banished there until her divorce was finalised. It was
later the home of the Trumbulls who were patrons of Alexander Pope
To the north-east of the town is to be found the Quelm Stone, a
standing stone, and to the south-west, just over the border in
Crowthorne, is Caesar's Camp, an
Iron Age hill fort.
One of the oldest buildings in the town is the 'Old Manor' public
house, a 17th-century brick manor house featuring a number of priest
holes. Next door once stood the 'Hind's Head' coaching inn, where
it is said
Dick Turpin used to drink. It is believed that there
were once underground tunnels between the two, along which the famous
highwayman could escape from the authorities. Other surviving old
pubs are the Red Lion and the Bull, all timber-framed and dating from
before the 18th century.
The oldest place of worship in the town is the parish church of St
Michael and St Mary Magdalene in Easthampstead. There has been a
church there since Saxon times, although the present building dates
from the mid 19th century, except for the lower portions of the Tudor
tower. Holy Trinity Church near the town centre was built in
Bracknell was designated a new town in 1949, in the aftermath of
the Second World War. The site was originally a village cum small town
in the civil parish of
Warfield in the
Easthampstead Rural District.
Very little of the original
Bracknell is left. The location was
preferred to White Waltham, which was also considered, because the
Bracknell site avoided encroaching on good quality agricultural land.
It also had the additional advantage of being on a railway line.
The new town was planned for 25,000 people; it was intended to occupy
over 1,000 hectares (about 6 square miles) of land in and around 'Old
Bracknell' in the area now occupied by Priestwood, Easthampstead,
Bullbrook and Harmans Water. The existing town centre and industrial
areas were to be retained with new industry brought in to provide
jobs. However, the town has since expanded far beyond its intended
size into farmland to the south, and major expansion is now, as of
2008, under way (Jennett's Park) to the west of the town at
Peacock Farm and The Parks on the site of the former RAF Staff
At the heart of most
Bracknell neighbourhoods is a church, a small
parade of shops, a primary school, a community centre and a pub. The
neighbourhoods varied in population from 3,000 to 9,000. The plans
included pedestrianisation, the construction of a ring road, and
segregation of industrial areas from residential areas.
A slightly confusing feature of some of the estates is that streets
only have names, not titles – in Birch Hill, Crown Wood, Great
Hollands and others there is no 'Road', 'Avenue', 'Street', just
'Frobisher', 'Jameston', 'Juniper', 'Jevington'. The residential
streets are, however, named in alphabetical order in Great Hollands
and Wildridings, with As, through Ds, such as Donnybrook, in Hanworth,
Js, such as 'Jameston', 'Juniper' and 'Jevington' in Birch Hill.
Because of Bracknell's age, it was decided that it should undergo
renovation. Designs and plans were submitted and rejected first time
round. The council went for a second attempt and were accepted, work
was due to commence early in 2008 but due to the global credit crises
plans were postponed. The cost is estimated at around £750 million.
It is hoped that the regeneration will provide brand new services, a
completely redeveloped town centre, 1,000 new homes and new police and
A major refurbishment of the town centre is taking place with the
Borough Council working in partnership with the
Limited Partnership a registered company in Jersey, Channel Islands
(Legal & General and Schroders) to regenerate the town centre with
new shops and facilities.
The first stage of the redevelopment began with the opening of a new
Waitrose store in December 2011. By June 2013 shops in the northern
part of the town in Broadway and Crossway had been vacated. Demolition
of this area then began in September 2013, and was completed in
December 2013. Construction of new shops, restaurants, and a Cineworld
cinema began in April 2015, and was opened on 7 September 2017.
On 4 September 2015 it was announced that the new development would be
known as The Lexicon
According to the 2011 Census.
Bracknell residents can speak English. The second language
being Nepalese, at 0.90%, followed by Polish at 0.70%,
Tagalog/Filipino at 0.30% and French and Spanish, both at 0.30%.
61% of residents identify themselves as Christian. The second most
common belief is 'none', with 35% of residents choosing this in the
census, in third place is Hinduism at 1.61%, followed by Islam at
1.13% and Buddhism at 0.73%.
Easthampstead Park Conference Centre
The town is home to companies such as Panasonic, Egnyte, Fujitsu
(formerly ICL), Dell, HP Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Brocade
Siemens (originally Nixdorf), Riverbed,
Honeywell, Intercall, Broadcom,
Avnet Technology Solutions, Novell,
Vodafone, Honda, Tracks Laser & Electronics and WorkForce
Software. The Royal Warrant Holders as chimney sweepers are based in
The Southern Industrial Area houses the head office of Waitrose.
The 70-acre (280,000 m2) site which houses the
office also houses the central distribution centre.
operated from the town since the 1970s, with a recently added
supermarket in the town centre in 2011.
Manufacturing industry has largely disappeared since the 1980s. Former
significant sites included Clifford's Dairy in Downshire Way and
British Aerospace (originally Sperry Gyroscope) now occupied by
Arlington Square, a 22-acre (8ha) business park of which the first
stage was completed in 1995. The Thomas Lawrence brickworks on the
north side of the town was famous for 'red rubber' bricks to be found
Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall and Westminster Cathedral, and in restoration
10 Downing Street
10 Downing Street and Hampton Court Palace.
In the town centre was the 12-storey Winchester House, formerly owned
by 3M who moved to new premises in
Farley Wood on the town's northern
edge in 2004. The building was demolished and is to be replaced with
blocks of flats The town was also the home of
Racal and Ferranti
Computer Systems Ltd. The
Met Office maintained a large presence in
the town until 2003, when it relocated to
Exeter in Devon; however,
the junction of the A329 and A3095 is still named the "Met Office
Roundabout". Many businesses are located on the town's three
Easthampstead Park in the southern suburb of
Easthampstead is now a
conference centre owned by
Bracknell was made a civil parish in its own right in 1955. Under the
Local Government Act 1972, the entire
Easthampstead Rural District
Bracknell District on 1 April 1974. In 1988, it was granted
borough status, and it changed its name to
Bracknell Forest. When
County Council was abolished on 1 April 1998 (and the
non-metropolitan county was reclassified as a ceremonial county),
Bracknell Forest became one of the six unitary authorities which
together make up Berkshire.
The town covers areas previously in the parishes of Easthampstead,
Binfield and Winkfield. The town's centre lies just north of
the railway station with completely pedestrianised and much undercover
shopping around Princess Square, Charles Square and the Broadway.
There are 'out-of-town' shops, a multiscreen cinema and ten pin
bowling complex at the Peel Centre. Just to the west are the Western
and Southern industrial estates, either side of the railway line.
There are many residential suburbs (see settlement table below) of
varying dates, the oldest being
Priestwood and, of course,
The former RAF Staff College buildings in Harmans Water, now closed,
was part of the Joint Services Command and Staff College. This site is
now, as of 2008, being redeveloped for housing by Wimpey, with an
estimated 730 houses on the college's former site. The south-western
corner of the town remains rural around
Easthampstead Park and the
wooded Yew Tree Corner. However, a new housing development called
Jennett's Park is currently being built (from 2007) at Peacock Farm
and on part of what was historically the grounds of Easthampstead
Park. There are large ponds at
Farley Wood and the
Great Hollands and Wildridings, and two lakes at South
Hill Park. The Bull Brook emerges above ground just within the bounds
of the suburb of Bullbrook.
South Hill Park
South Hill Park lies in
Bracknell and houses an arts centre
In the south of the town is South Hill Park, a mansion dating from
1760, although much rebuilt, that now houses a large arts centre. The
Wilde Theatre was opened in 1984, named after
Oscar Wilde who created
the character 'Lady Bracknell' in his play The Importance of Being
South Hill Park
South Hill Park has been home to a number of major music
festivals over the years:
1975 – 1990s
Bracknell Jazz Festival
1970s – 1980s
Bracknell Folk Festival ("The Handsome Mouldiwarp
1988 – Womad Festival
1980s – 1990s –
Bracknell Music Festival / South Hill Park
2000s – 2013 – Big Day Out festival, a free, annual World Music
and acoustic/folk festival
Bracknell has been used in the filming of many TV shows and films,
such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Martins Heron) and
Time Bandits (Birch Hill).
Bracknell is given the name 'Laxton' in
the TV detective series Pie in the Sky and Waterside Park was used for
the exterior of the police HQ in the same series.
Bracknell has also
featured in the 1991
Roger Daltrey film Buddy's Song.
The Offence (1972), a psychological thriller with
Sean Connery and Ian
Bannen, was filmed in Bracknell. There are scenes in the town centre,
on Broadway, Charles Square and Market Street. The flat for Connery's
character was filmed at the listed Point Royal, and the bulk of the
outdoor scenes were taken around Wildridings, specifically Arncliffe,
Crossfell, Mill Pond and Mill Lane.
The wages snatch scene in Villain (1971), a gangster film with Richard
Burton, was filmed in Ellesfield Avenue on the Southern Industrial
Estate outside the former Clark Eaton glass factory, with the ICL
tower block (under construction at the time) visible in the
background; after the robbery the gang make their getaway along
Peacock Lane nearby and hijack a car at the junction with the footpath
from Tarmans Copse (now Osprey Avenue on the
Jennett's Park estate).
Bracknell is featured in the PlayStation 3 title Resistance: Fall of
Man set in 1951, as the location at which power conduits travel deep
South East England
South East England to power the Chimeran fortresses. It
also featured in the sequel Resistance:2 with a similar role.
The BBC show
The Wrong Mans
The Wrong Mans is set almost entirely in Bracknell.
Tracy Beaker actress
Dani Harmer was brought up in Bracknell.
The town of
Bracknell has two railway stations,
Bracknell and Martins
Heron, both of which are on the Waterloo to Reading Line, built by the
London and South Western Railway
London and South Western Railway and now operated by South Western
Bracknell is a commuter centre with its residents travelling
in both directions (westwards to Reading and eastwards to London
The town has good road links and is situated at the end of the
A329(M), midway between Junction 3 of the M3 and Junction 10 of the M4
motorways. A proposed motorway link between the M3 and the M4 – to
be called the M31 – would have passed to the west of the town
centre, but only the section that is now the
A329(M) and the A3290 was
Bracknell bus services
Bracknell bus station serves the town of Bracknell. The bus station is
on The Ring in the Town Centre across the road from
station. The bus station consists of three long shelters each with
Bus services go from
Bracknell as far afield as Crowthorne, Camberley,
Wokingham, Reading, Windsor and Slough. Local bus services are
Courtney Buses and Reading Buses. There are coach services
provided by Green Line (to London Victoria), National Express and a
direct coach service to Luton Airport, named The Luton Flyer, provided
by Courtney Buses.
Sport and leisure
Bracknell Town F.C.
Bracknell Town F.C. are members of the Hellenic Football League
Premier Division, and play their home matches at Larges Lane. The
Bracknell Bees Ice Hockey Club are former national champions, who
currently play in the English Premier League. The
are the 2009 BBF National League champions. The town is also
represented by teams playing rugby,
Bracknell RFC hockey and
The town has a large leisure centre, which includes swimming and
athletics facilities, whilst there is also the Coral Reef Water Park,
the Downshire Golf Complex, the
Bracknell Lawn Tennis Club, and
Esporta, the Royal County of
Berkshire Club. There are 2,600 acres
(11 km2) of Crown Estate woodland at the Look Out Discovery
Centre. A number of organisations are active in the area. These
consist of an Army Cadet Force detachment(7 Platoon Bracknell) and
an Air Training Corps (2211 Squadron) which are both located on the
same site, Saint Johns Ambulance Cadets, other youth groups that
involve a younger crowd including several troops of Scouts and the
Bracknell Forest Lions Club, which was formed in 1968 to help those in
Ranelagh Church of
The area has various schools including St Joseph's Catholic Primary
School, Brakenhale Academy,
Easthampstead Park School, Garth Hill
College and Ranelagh Church of
Bracknell and Wokingham
College of further education is also based in the area.
Silwood Park campus of
Imperial College London
Imperial College London is 5 miles
(8.0 km) to the east of
Bracknell town centre. The University of
Reading is 8 miles (13 km) to the northwest, and Royal Holloway
College 8 miles (13 km) to the east.
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University Press, 1991.
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original on 19 June 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
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Bracknell News, "Archived copy". Archived
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Bracknell Lions Club Archived 23 January 2008 at the Wayback
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bracknell.
Bracknell Forest Council
Bracknell Town Council
Video of portion of town centre before its demolition in 2013,
focusing on Crossway House