Approaches and gateways to the town and parish

Screenshot - p06 Newbury Street - drawingAll approaches into the parish of Whitchurch are in rural surroundings with no clear definitions as to where the parish boundaries are. The six main road approaches into the town of Whitchurch, however, have quite clearly-defined gateways. Each of these six approaches and gateways has important design and scenic characteristics.

Northern road approach: Newbury Road

A concrete water tower and a line of trees and houses along Station Road and Bere Hill provide the clearly-defined town boundary. Here the southbound traveller sees the scenery change from the open fields of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to town streets and houses. A two-lane bridge over the railway cutting serves as a gateway to emphasise this change from country to town.

“To retain its character Whitchurch must remain a small country town.”
— Public Opinion Survey

Eastern road approach: London Road

This approach along the curving B3400 follows the river valley and plays hide-and-seek with the River Test and views beyond. It is a more gradual transition from rural to built environment as it passes through the hamlet of Wells in the Field, past the Gables on the hill and the entrance to Lynch Hill Park before beginning the descent of London Road, where Victorian and earlier terraced housing say you are in Whitchurch town.

Southeastern road approach: Micheldever Road

A single-track road emerges from rolling countryside at the top of a ridge, affording views of the town to the north, where houses in Micheldever Road mark the edge of the built development.

Southern road appraoch: Winchester Road

The escape from the busy elevated A34 bypass brings travellers onto the sweeping curve of the approach road to Whitchurch, then under the A34 past cottages, fields, the Millennium Meadow and the Whitchurch Silk Mill into the town centre.

From the A34, there are far reaching open views of the countryside, to be replaced by a fleeting glimpse through trees of roof-tops at the top of Micheldever Road and finally local views seen through abundant trees and hedgerows either side of the approach road into town.

Western road approach: Andover Road

Immediately after passing Hurstbourne Park estate, defined by its mellowed brick boundary walls and wrought iron gates, the traveller meets a mix of new and old in rapid succession. First met is the austere, concrete underpass for the A34, the soft edges of the town cemetery with mature box hedging and feature gate, a small commercial area and a car showroom/forecourt.

This is quickly followed by the round brick archway of the disused railway embankment that serves as a distinct and attractive gateway leading immediately into the historic part of the town.

Northwestern road approach: Bloswood Lane

The first gateway here is the bridge of the London to Exeter railway. After this comes the modern A34 bridge and an older brick disused railway underpass. These together make a distinctive double gateway to the town, this time with much new and old housing in between them. Like the western approach, the brick archway provides the more attractive final gateway into the centre of the town.

Rail approaches

Rail passengers travelling to Whitchurch and beyond on the London to Exeter line are treated to sweeping views of the town and parish because of the railway’s routing along the ridge overlooking the valley of the Test. To the north they see the fields and woods of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; to the south are the houses of the town and occasional views of distant hill ridges.

Leave a Reply