Hungerford has some 350 businesses of various size and diversity. The ‘Design & Build' industrial and commercial estate at Charnham Park provides ideal accommodation for those businesses which need new purpose-built premises, along with immediate access both to the main A4 and to the M4 Motorway Via Junction 14 four miles away In the town itself there is no shortage of business and office accommodation, and an essential role is played in the life of the town by its many long-established businesses including stone masonry, saddlery and agricultural engineering.
The town also has a thriving and expanding retail sector and most if not all day to day requirements are available in the wide range of traditional and specialist shops in and around the town centre. There is also a popular Wednesday Street Market and a varied choice of hotels, pubs, restaurants and other catering establishments.
Hungerford quality agricultural land which is farmed mostly by large estates along with a few remaining smaller family farms. Horticulture also plays a part, and on the western side of town at Highclose Farm. Nearby is a picnic area which, during the summer, is a very attractive site to while away an afternoon. On the Eastern side of the Town, also on the A4, there is the Hungerford Garden Centre. Also at Hungerford Newton, two miles north of the town on the A338, Little Hidden Farm offers 30 acres of very attractive wild flower meadow land with all year round public access.
Other places of interest and importance in the area include:
Leverton - a mile or so north of the town is the famous Victorian Walled Garden from the BBC television series, Also whilst visiting Leverton the Stocks are another interesting site. Nearby Is the Tudor mansion of Littlecote with its ornamental gardens and Civil War chapel.Crofton Pumping Station approximately six miles south west of the town near Great Bedwyn open Sundays between Easter and October for steam days.The nearby Kennet and Lambourn Valleys feature many attractive villages of interest to both the walker and the motorist. Lambourn Racehourse TRainers - two hour tours of top racing stables offer a rare insight into the world of racing To the south of the town, beyond the village of lnkpen lies Combe Gibbet a landmark situated upon Combe Hill, originaily erected in 1676 for the double hanging of a man and his mistress for the murder of his wife and son, Here and indeed all over the Hungerford district the network of public footpaths and byways offer superb walking country and views of the countryside.
Kennet and Avon Canal
The canal passes through Hungerford's town centre on its way from the Thames at Reading to Bath and Bristol, The canal was originally engineered by John Rennie and was opened to barges in 1810, stretching a total of 87,5 miles with 104 locks and a height of 410 feet. The canal passes through some of the most picturesque countryside in Wiltshire and Berkshire.One of the most famous lengths of the Kennet & Avon is at Devizes where there are 29 locks at Caen Hill. Crofton Pumping Station, at Crofton near Marlborough, is another favourite with visitors, housing the world's oldest working steam driven beam engines. Owing to neglect and decay, the canal was closed to users in 1950 but thanks to the unceasing efforts of the Kennet been restored to its former glory. Wildlife of all kinds is in abundance and public access is now available for fishing and navigation, and during the summer months (and also during the Christmas period) visitors to Hungerford can enjoy a narrow-boat trip along the canal.
Freeman's Marsh was first given to the citizens of Hungerford by John O'Gaunt in 1343. The land was used for grazing, fishing and hunting and these rights are still held by the residents of commoners' houses in the town. The area is of outstanding natural beauty and has a wide variety of wildlife. Look out for dabchicks diving in the trout streams and kingfishers darting among the bushes. The meadows are full of wild orchids and the hedgerows are full of sloes and blackberries. There are many ducks to be seen on the canal as well as moorhens and coots. A fifteen-minute walk along the towpath will take you into Hungerford. Hungerford Marsh is renowned for its water meadows, criss-crossed with streams and ditches and filled with wild flowers. These ancient pastures have always been managed without the use of fertilizers or weedkillers and consequently, during the spring and summer, they are jeweled with Marsh-marigolds and Ragged-Robin, with orchids and Bogbean. Over 300 species, some of them rare, are found on the site. The Marsh lies in the valley of the picturesque River Dun; the Kennet and Avon Canal runs throughout its length. As well as wet meadowland, the 40-hectare site includes other important and botanically interesting habitats - two reedbeds, patches of scrub and woodland, and several areas of drier chalk grassland. Visitors to the Marsh, whether walking, fishing or passing through on a canal-boat, will find an ideal companion in a new and beautifully illustrated publication which gives details of the flora of the site, together with accounts of its history and management.
The Victorian Extravaganza
Every year on the second Friday of December the Hungerford Victoria Extravaganza heralds the arrival of Christmas. The town, as though by magic is transformed into a wonderland of delights; the High Street filled with side shows. Helter Skelters, Big Wheel, Steam Engines, Fair Ground Organs and rides.
The day starts early; local dignitaries in Victorian garb, brave the elements, and eat a large breakfast on the steps of the Town Hall. Pedestrian barriers go up; the big Lorries start to arrive with all the equipment, shops do their last minute titivation to their Victorian window displays: excitement mounts. At 5pm the official opening takes place with the cutting of the tape and the bands start up. The Scottish Pipe Band, the Hungerford Town Band and the Phoenix Band, not forgetting the music of the Victorian Organs, bring the evening to life.
From the car parks the vintage double Decker buses bring in the crowds to see a bustling street scene; Punch and Judy shows, Stilt Walkers, Clowns, Jugglers and for the children, Father Christmas. Add the smells of roasting chestnuts and it completes the feeling of having gone back in time. The shops will be open with their staff in Victorian dress, some giving out mulled wine and mince pies. Many local charities will be there with a variety of stalls, tombolas and even hot soup.
At 7.30 the Grand Parade comes up the High Street with the mighty Steam Engines, the skirl of the Pipes, the triumphant blast of the Brass Bands, all the street performers; and, as a bonus, Father Christmas along with the years Carnival Queen. After this there follows the prize giving for the best dressed shop windows, the best dressed shop assistants, and the best dressed stall holders.
The evening comes to an end as the fire works and rockets hurtle into the air with a great bang.
This event is arranged every year by the Hungerford Chamber of Commerce
and attracts more than eight thousand enthusiastic visitors. It is all made possible by the generous sponsorship of the shopkeepers and business community.
For a full historical perspective, click here.