South Woodham Ferrers

South Woodham Ferrers

infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= South Woodham Ferrers
latitude= 51.651
longitude= 0.6124

population= 16,629 approx.
shire_district= Chelmsford
shire_county = Essex
region= East of England

constituency_westminster= Rayleigh
post_town= CHELMSFORD
postcode_district= CM3
dial_code= 01245
os_grid_reference= TQ812970

South Woodham Ferrers is a civil parish in the borough of Chelmsford in Essex, England. It is approx 35 miles (56km) from London. It had a population of 16,629 according to the 2001 census. The town is to the east of Fenn Creek, and near where it meets the River Crouch. South Woodham Ferrers is part of the Rayleigh constituency represented by Mark Francois.


The railway station was originally built in the early 20th century to serve the smaller town of Woodham Ferrers, which lies a mile or so to the north of South Woodham Ferrers, above the valley where the railway runs. The town of South Woodham Ferrers itself grew up around the station, but underwent dramatic growth as part of a planned development in the late 1970s. The final phase of the town's development has occurred in the last two years with a new area of building near Fenn Creek.

Many street names in the southwestern part of the town, developed as part of the second wave of building in the 1980s, are taken from the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, with names such as Gandalf's Ride, Gimli Watch, Rivendell Vale, Celeborn Street, Hobbiton Hill and Arwen Drive.

National press

South Woodham Ferrers had the misfortune to appear in the 2003 publication "", in which it was ranked 33rd. UK towns were nominated for their 'crapness' via the Idler Website, with the results being published in The Idler and in the book.

The town's Asda store was opened in 1978. In 1981 HM Queen Elizabeth II opened the town square, which is named after her.

Celebrity Big Brother star "Michael Barrymore" was taken to South Woodham Ferrers Police Station in the summer of 2007 for questioning involving a previous charge. Eventually the star was released from the towns station and cleared of all charges.

Bushy Hill

Bushy Hill is known locally as "Radar Hill" due to having been visually dominated by a radar testing site. The site has been operated by a number of the former Marconi companies Alenia Marconi Systems to develop radar technology. The hill is technically part of South Woodham Ferrers and lies to the north of the town.


The main secondary school in the town is William de Ferrers School, the first intake of which was in 1982. The school is locally known as 'Willy De' After leading the school since it opened Mr. Parry left the school in July 2007. The new head is Russell Wayne Ayling.

South Woodham Ferrers is home to 6 primary schools; Chetwood, Collingwood, Elmwood, St. Josephs RC, Trinity St. Mary's C of E and Woodville.

Town Centre

The town centre consists of around 100 business units. Approximately 45% are retail premises, with the remainder being a combination of professional services (such as banks and estate agents) and dining locations such as cafes and restaurants.

The supermarket chain Asda is regarded as a key development partner for the town centre, opening a store in the town in late 1978 which made them the principal retailer in the town. In 2001 Essex County Council sold the freehold for the vast majority of the town to Asda, who in turn sold a package of land and property to SW Investments. As a result of these sales, Asda own the town's car parks, Queen Elizabeth II Square and approximately one third of the shop premises in the town centre. SW Investments owns most of the remaining areas in the town centre, including Market Square, with the remaining premises having a variety of private owners.

Because Asda is such a focus for the town centre many perceive it to be dominating the area. Sporadically the local newspapers carry letters from a small number of residents complaining about the situation, often accusing the company of charging excessive rents, abusing their position, and controlling the shops in the town. These letters often culminate in calls to boycott Asda, yet very few residents seem to take part. Despite these complaints a number of small businesses have existed in the town centre for significant periods, with a number closing for alternative reasons, the most commonly given being a lack of support from the local community.

Chelmsford Borough Council has recently entered a consultation period with a number of groups in the town, including the local business group, over the future development of the town centre.

The Village Hall

Home to the local football club and cricket team, the Village Hall is a well known area within the town. It offers special events such as monthly and weekly football and cricket matches.


In Summer 2006, South Woodham Ferrers elected its first town mayor, Councillor Ian Roberts.


South Woodham Ferrers has good road transport links: The A132 lies to the north of the town, which leads to the A130, a road linking Chelmsford to Canvey Island) and then into Wickford and to the A127 and A13 in Basildon. The B1012 road connects SWF with the Dengie peninsula, including the towns of Burnham and Maldon. The town is also served by South Woodham Ferrers railway station, (formally Woodham Ferrers station until May 2007) a station on the single track Crouch Valley Line which runs hourly trains between Wickford and Southminster. During rush hour however, trains continue on from Wickford to London Liverpool Street. The relative infrequency of the train service is due to the track being a single line over the entire distance to Wickford, meaning trains cannot pass each other. Notably, the branch line was more substantial in the past, operating a double line, but this was removed during the 'Beeching Axe' of British railways in the 1960s.

The town also has a circular bus service (No. 37) run by the bus company NIBS. There is also the No.36 bus which runs from South Woodham Ferrers to Chelmsford run by the First Essex, part of the First Group. There are many bus routes into surrounding towns:
* Basildon via Wickford - Bus 237
* Chelmsford via Danbury, Bicknacre and Great Baddow - Bus 36
* South Woodham Ferrers Circular - Bus 37There are also other buses into many of the towns in the Dengie Peninsula.

Due to the way the town is mapped out, it is very easy to walk or cycle from one side of town to the other, and there is also a Golden Jubilee Walk which was set in honour of Queen Elizabeth II for her Golden Anniversary in 2002.

Notable Residents

* Comedian and television presenter Terry Alderton
* Reading midfielder, James Harper
* "There's Something About Miriam" contestant, Aron Lane
* Barton Young, author of "Eden Slums"
* The Fallen, rock band
* Steve Tilson, manager of Southend United F.C.
* Barton Young, author of "Eden Slums"
* Magistrates, band

Places of interest

Places of interest include The William De Ferrers Sports College, Marsh Farm Country Park, Compass Gardens, Saltcoats Park and the Memorial Park.

Crouch Vale Brewery

South Woodham Ferrers is also home to the Crouch Vale Brewery, whose ale won the 2005 and 2006 Champion Beer of Britain at the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Great British Beer Festival.


* "Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places To Live In The UK" (ISBN 0-7522-1582-5)

External links

* [ South Woodham Ferrers Town Council Website]
* [ Tolkien street names]


* [ Chetwood School]
* [ Collingwood School]
* [ Woodville School]
* [ William de Ferrers school]

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