Chelmsford City is the County Town of Essex, home of Essex County Cricket Club. Channel 4’s “Location, Location, Location” rated Chelmsford as the 8th best place to live in the UK. The Guardian described it as having “bloomin’ good schools“.
This page provides some insights into the history of Chelmsford, its popular attractions, best places to eat and drink, accommodation, schools and other information of interest to visitors and residents alike.
Where to Live in and around Chelmsford
Chelmsford City is a relatively small town surrounded by countryside. There are many nice villages and smaller towns within a short distance. So, where are the best places to live in the Chelmsford area? Here is a quick round-up (with links to Google maps).
The best area within Chelmsford is Old Mousham – there are good schools, it is close to town and has some quite roads. Certainly one of the most expensive areas too. The streets around Mildmay Road, St. Johns Road and Lady Lane are very quiet and pretty. Parking can be a problem in some areas.
For larger modern houses Beaulieu Park is a favourite area. There are many grand houses on the north side of the town with good connections with the A12. However, the gardens are not very big and the area is undergoing more development in the future. There are many individual new houses being built all the time in the area, which usually have larger gardens.
Springfield is certainly worth a look. It is north of the town and has some older areas with a nice green. The north side of Springfield is best, as you go south it becomes more built up. The traffic through this area can be bad in rush hour. Very good location for the high school and grammar school.
Great Baddow is just to the south east of Chelmsford. It has some great benefits: it is close to some good schools, has a few pubs (not great pubs, but OK), a Chinese takeaway and restaurant, curry house, 2 banks, a co-op, a farm shop, butchers, bakers, green grocers, hair dressers, nice restaurant (Russells), good MOT garage, is close to countryside, and a 30 minute walk to town (45 to rail station). And lots of buses to town. Tip – for Baddow Hall Infant and Primary school do not go beyond Vicarage Lane to avoid falling in Larkrise catchment (boundaries subject to change). Learn more here: Greatbaddow.org.uk.
Galleywood has some very nice areas and some rural parts. The Horse and Groom and the Running Mare pubs are both pleasant. Overall it is a good area but be aware of the areas around the old council flats which can be noisier in the evening.
Leaving Chelmsford – Surround Villages
Little Baddow is a pleasant village, famous for its big expensive houses with lots of green areas. It developed as a commuter village. It has some good country pubs and traditional shops. Danbury is right next to Little Baddow, another good village with an excellent primary school and lots of big houses up secluded driveways.
There are a lot of nice villages around to to the North like Little and Great Waltham, the Chignalls. Certainly worth a look.
Ingatestone – nice little town out of Chelmsford. Mainline rail. Very popular small town, and house prices reflect the demand to live in a quiet town that has (almost) everything.
One place I like is Writtle. Nice village near Chelmsford. A similar distance to Baddow but over the other side, but very villagey – a green with duck pond, pubs etc. The one thing IMO that lets Baddow down is that it is not villagey enough – there is no central village green.
Less Good areas in Chelmsford
Melbourne Estate – more or less that whole area between the A1060, Chignal Road and Broomfield Road. The housing here is denser and busier than the rest of town with many old council houses in the area. Just east on the other side of Broomfield road are Springfield and Chelmer Village which are nicer areas. Chelmer Village is a newer Estate with an Asda.
Meadgate Avenue – especially the top end is not a great area. But by time you get to Longmead Avenue around Tabors Avenue (SE towards Baddow) it is nice, with some very nice houses and side roads.
Just to the north, other side of Beehive Lane really, is where the Moulsham Lodge estate is – less good. Old council housing in some areas, but there are some nice quiet streets and prices are a little cheaper here.
Chelmsford has some excellent schools, both state and independent.
Chelmsford has had several of its primary schools rated as “Outstanding” by Ofsted:
- Newlands Spring – Dickens Place, Newlands Spring, Chelmsford. CM1 4UU. Tel: 01245 60 7664
- Barnes Farm – Henniker Gate, Chelmer Village, Chelmsford, CM2 6QH. Tel: 01245 467973
- The Tyrrells – Tavistock Road, Springfield, Chelmsford, CM1 6JN. Tel: 01245 355226
Also, the following independent primary schools are in high demand, with long waiting lists:
- St Annes Preparatoy School – 154 New London Rd Chelmsford, Essex CM2 0AW. Tel: 01245 353488
- St Cedd’s School – 178 New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 0AR. Tel: 01245 392810
Two of these have been classed as “outstanding” by Ofsted – Kegs, the High School for Girls, and Ofsted has praised Boswells for some outstanding features.
- King Edward VI Grammar School – better known as Kegs, a boys grammar school with an excellent reputation. In 2012 they were ranked 3rd in England for A Level results by The Telegraph. Broomfield Road, Chelmsford, CM1 3SX. Tel. 01245 353510
- Chelmsford County High School for Girls – One of the best girls schools in all of Essex. In 2012 they were ranked 16th in England for A level results, also by the Telegraph. Broomfield Road, CM1 1RW. Tel: 01245 352592
- New Hall School – an independent school just to the north of Chelmsford. Has received 100% pass rate for A levels, and up to 75% for grades A and B. Strong on sports and performing arts too.
- Chelmer Valley – Was praised in the local press in 2012. Good track record with engineering and also has a successful gymnastics team. Court Road, Broomfield Chelmsford, Essex CM1 7ER. Tel: 01245 440232
- Great Baddow High School – a Specialist sports college with a good basketball team and also has has excellent A level results in recent years. Duffield Road, Chelmsford, CM2 9RZ. Tel: 01245 265821
- The Boswells School – academy status school. Burnham Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 6LY. Tel: 01245 264451
- The Sandon School – with a catchment that extends away from Great Baddow towards Danbury, the Hanngingfields. Molrams Lane, Chelmsford, CM2 7AQ. Tel: 01245 473611
- St John Payne Catholic School – a Roman Catholic faith school. Excellent A level results and well funded sports and arts departments. Patching Hall Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 4BS. Tel: 01245 25603
Chelmsford’s schools consistently perform well, and as theGuardian said, Chelmsford has “bloomin’ good schools“.
While Chelmsford is not a popular tourist destination, it does have a good selection of B&Bs and hotels in the town. In the surrounding parishes there are some very nice hotels too which can make an excellent weekend break.
- Best Western Atlantic Hotel – Brook Street, Chelmsford CM1 1PP. Tel: 01245 268168
- Miami Hotel & Conference Centre – Princes Road, Chelmsford, CM2 9AJ. Tel: 01245 269603.
- Riverside Inn – Victoria Rd, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6LJ. Tel: 01245 266881 . Nice pub with good food.
- Saracens Head – 4 High Street, Chelmsford. Tel: 01245 262368
- South Lodge Hotel – 196 New London Road, Chelmsford, CM2 0AR. Tel: 01245 264 564
- Travelodge – The Army & Navy, 128-136 Parkway, Chelmsford. Tel: 0871 984 6379
- The County Hotel – 29 Rainsford Rd, Chelmsford. Tel: 01245 455700
Out of Town
- Pontlands Park Hotel – West Hanningfield Road, Great Baddow, Chelmsford. Tel: 01245 476444 – Has a spa and swimming pool.
- Channels Lodge – Belsteads Farm Lane, nr Little Waltham, CM3 3PT. Tel: 01245 441 547 – Has a golf course.
- The Lion Inn – Main Road, Boreham, CM3 3JA. Tel: 01245 394900. Great food too.
Chelmsford has many places to eat. It is started to develop a more European feel with more places to eat outdoors (see below). It also has a very good selection of international restaurants, with Indian, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Thai restaurants. Finally the areas along the river banks are starting to be developed too. Here is our pick of the best;
- Back-Inn Time – Chelmsford’s first American theme restaurant. It is small but serves big portions of great American food, with burgers, steaks, ribs and barbecue chicken being the most popular dishes. Victoria Rd Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1NY. Tel: 01245 269983
- Loch Fyne – A seafood restaurant in the town centre by the river, near the Riverside Leisure centre. 109-111 Bond St Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1GD. Tel: 01245 293620
- Olio – An Italian restaurant which has had some great reviews. 37 New London Road, Chelmsford CM2 0ND, England. Tel: 01245 269174
- Russells – Russells is in Great Baddow, just to th south of Chelmsford. Excellent food, friendly atmosphere. Bell Street, Great Baddow, Chelmsford. Tel: 01245 478484
- Siam Cottage – The finest Thai restaurant in Chelmsford. Excellent food, great service, am authentic thai dining experience. 44 Moulsham St Chelmsford CM2 0HY. Tel: 01245 352245
Chelmsford has changed so much in recent years and alfresco dining is now the norm along Chelmsford High Street. From Pizza Express and Cafe Rouge at the top of Moulsham Street to the Saracens Head and Caffe Nero at the end of the High Street, alfresco dining is all the rage in Chelmsford.
Cafe Rouge is at the top of the High Street, technically on Moulsham Street, on the town side of Parkway, so most people call this area the High Street. Cafe Rouge is a pleasant restaurant. However the food is generally not as exciting as you would expect from a “French” restaurant. Sometimes a bit overpriced too.
King’s Coffee House
Cafe Rouge is opposite one of Chelmsford’s first alfresco cafes, King’s Coffee House. King’s Cafe is a proper cafe, serving cooked breakfasts, chips, mugs of tea and all you would expect from a little English cafe.
Pizza Express is next door to Cafe Rouge on the corner of Moulsham Street and Baddow Road. Just like all other Pizza Express restaurants, the food is generally of a high standard and good value for money. They often do 2 for 1 vouchers, so do a search on the Internet before going out. No need to book, but busy at lunchtimes at the weekends, so expect to wait unless you get there early.
Just up from the Moulsham Street cafes we come to High Street proper. There are now several options for a bit of alfresco, including Pizza Hut, Bar7Seven, Baroosh, plus the old tables outside the fish and chip shop.
Nearby, just along Baddow Road, there is more alfresco action at Pintos that serves up some Spanish tapas with cool beer. The Nags Head even has some tables outside now. Alfresco in Chelmsford is really heating up.
Recess by Stonebridge
Back to the High Street, we come to Stone Bridge. Not a lot here, but just up on the left is Recess, a great little coffee shop with table service (OK, you order at the bar, but they bring it to you when ready). The coffee is good, and there is a good selection of sandwiches. At Christmas they usually have some tasty panetones that make good presents for family.
Cafes around Meadows Shopping Centre
Over the opposite side of the Stone Bridge is Baskin Robins on the edge of the Meadows Shopping Centre. Their slightly dubious claim of “the best coffee in town” is still present. Costa, Starbucks and Nero have all now established several coffee shops in Chelmsford. Not the best location for some alfresco, but OK for a coffee.
Opposite Meadows Shopping Centre is The, a trendy youngsters bar, which has some tables by the River Can. A very pleasant spot for alfresco on a sunny afternoon.
Over the other side of Meadows is where the alfresco really starts to get hot, along by the river on the Springfield Road side. This may be where the whole alfresco experience really started. Costa is well established, and soon having a makeover. There is also the tapas bar, La Tasca, which servers light snacks, meals and beer. Also is the relatively new Creperie that is tucked away on the right as you leave Meadows. Lovely seats outside by the River Chelmer, quiet location, and crepes!
Springfield Road Bars and Cafes
On the opposite side of Springfield Road is Edwards, which is another trendy sports bar, but has outside dining with burgers and other pub grub. Not far up going out of town we now have Que Pasa, which sounds very Spanish, but is really just another trendy and often loud bar. The final alfresco on this stretch is just opposite Tesco. In the last few years it has changed hands about 10 times, and after having a go at a Brazilian restaurant, then a coffee shop of sorts, it is now another sports bar. So the same old trendy, bland, loud and expensive bar.
The High Street
Back to the High Street now, there is Starbucks on the corner of Springfield Road. A few metal tables and chairs outside, but good coffee and cakes. A prime spot to watch the Chelmsford shoppers walk by, plus all the kids that hang around outside McDonalds (which surprisingly has not jumped on the alfresco band wagon). Further up Chelmsford High Street we come to Caffe Nero, which has only recently extended its seating to outside on the pavement of the High Street. Just opposite Nero is Saracens Bar and Eaterie, which has an enclosed outside area for eating and drinking, and is now one of the busiest lunchtime spots of Chelmsford’s workers.
Tindal Square to the Market
Strolling around the corner leads to Gerrados, which offers alfresco drinks and snacks on the street (although close to the traffic). The market has a few options too, the best being Lek’s Thai food, which does excellent Thai meals for a very reasonable price (about £4 for chicken curry and rice). Market Square Cafe provides some good wholesome grub, cooked breakfasts, teas and coffees, and is a pleasant spot to rest your legs after some serious shopping.
Moulsham Street, Springfield Road
Chelmsford has many other little bars and cafes tucked away further out of town, with places like The Two Brewers and Riverside Inn up Springfield Road. Along Moulsham Street is Murray’s Cafe & Sandwich Bar with a couple of tables outside.
Moulsham Street used to have some nice pubs with tables out the front, such as the Bay Horse, but these have closed. The Queens Head still has a quiet courtyard out the back for an alfresco beer!
If you want to head out of Chelmsford, then The Glass House at the Vineyards shopping parade in Great Baddow is a nice spot.
Chelmsford has some great curry houses with a good selection of Indian, Bangladeshi and Thai curry restaurants. The Baddow Road area is a hotspot for curry with TM2 (previously The Taj Mahal) as well as many other old favourites.
There are many excellent curry houses on the outskirts of Chelmsford too. Yasmin, which is a little further up Baddow Road as you leave Chelmsford, is another excellent restaurant in what was previously the Carpenters Arms pub.
The Sitar is a great Indian restaurant just up Springfield Road and an old favourite. Service and food is always good.
- 171 Springfield Rd, Chelmsford
- 01245 266 582
- Web: http://www.thesitarchelmsford.co.uk/
TM2 (previously Taj Mahal)
This was once one of the most traditionally decorated Indian restaurants in Chelmsford. Now it is possibly the most modern. Food has been consistently good for decades.
- 6 Baddow Rd, Chelmsford, CM2 0DG
- Tel: 01245 259618
Gulshan Indian Restaurant
The Gulshan Indian restaurant on New Street is the best curry house near Chelmsford railways station.
- 32-33 New Street, Chelmsford, Essex
- 01245 259 017
Siam Cottage is a Thai restaurant on Moulsham Street. Excellent food and service from a traditional Thai restaurant that serves excellent Thai curries.
- 44 Moulsham St, Chelmsford CM2 0HY
- 01245 352 245
- Baddow Road, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 7QE
- Tel: 01245 299188
- Web: http://www.yasminbrasserie.com/
The newest Indian restaurant in the Chelmsford area (as of July 2012), Baddow Tandoori offers dining and takeaways.
- Church Street, Great Baddow, Chelmsford
- Tel. 01245 478884 / 471100
- EssexPortal page.
Chelmsford has some excellent pubs, including several which have won CAMRA awards over the years.
- The Woolpack. Nice little one bar town pub. Excellent beers, hosts beer festivals. 23 Mildmay Road, Chelmsford, 01245 259 295
- The Queen’s Head. Excellent beers from Crouch Vale plus guest beers. Close to town, with a front bar popular with locals, a saloon section and conservatory for eating at rear. Paved beer garden at the back. 30 Lower Anchor Street Chelmsford, CM2 0AS. 01245 265181
- The Orange Tree. Just up the road from the Queens Head, The Orange Tree is another well established drinking pub in Chelmsford with regular beers such Mighty Oak’s Oscar Wilde Mild, Dark Star’s Hop Head and Black Sheep’s Best Bitter. 6 Lower Anchor Street Chelmsford, Essex CM2 0AS. 01245 262 664.
Real ale fans are also treat to 2 major beer festivals each year in Chelmsford. The summer beer festival is now held in Admirals Park and is one of the biggest non-music events of the year.
While Chelmsford it is certainly in the shadow of London it does have a good music scene and several theatres – so much so that we have dedicated a page just to live music in Chelmsford. Several pubs have regular band nights. The Golden Fleece is the rock pub, The Loop has monthly blues nights and several pubs in the area have regular folk nights. Evoke and the Chelmsford theatres sometimes have some larger bands on.
Chelmsford has also hosted a V Festival at Hylands Park every year since 1996 where some of the country’s top bands play. In fact, in 2013 Beyonce agreed to play, opening the Chelmsford V Festival up to a march larger audience in the region.
However, Chelmsford used to have a much better music scene. During the 1960’s and 1970’s bands such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who and The Yardbirds all played in Chelmsford at the Corn Exchange (which has since been demolished).
The major sports teams playing in Chelmsford are:
- Essex County Cricket Club – home ground is in Chelmsford. The Essex County Ground, New Writtle Street, CM2 0PG. Tel: 01245 252420. http://www.essexcricket.org.uk/
- Chelmsford City FC. Salerno Way Chelmsford, CM1 2EH. Tel: 01245 290959. http://www.chelmsfordcityfc.com/
- Chelmsford Hockey Club – Chelmer Park Beehive Lane, Chelmsford, CM2 8RL. Tel: 01245 250189. http://chelmsfordhc.org.uk/
- Chelmsford Rugby Football Club – Coronation Park, Timsons Lane, Chelmsford, CM2 6AG. Tel: 01245 261159.
- The Chelmsford Chieftains Ice Hockey – Riverside Ice & Leisure Centre, Victoria Road, Chelmsford, CM1 1FG. Tel: 01245 615050 – http://www.chelmsfordchieftains.co.uk/
- Chelmsford Athletics Club – Training nights: Tuesday and Thursday from 7.00 pm. at Chelmsford Sport and Athletics Centre, Salerno Way, CM1 2EH. http://chelmsfordathleticsclub.hitssports.com/
Chelmsford is a single constituency, although between 1997 and 2010 it was split into two: West Chelmsford and Maldon & East Chelmsford. In 2012 Chelmsford Borough Council was renamed Chelmsford City Council.
Contact Chelmsford City Council:
- Tel. 01245 606606
- Address: Civic Centre, Duke Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1JE
Chelmsford is surrounded by 27 Parishes. The Parish Charter sets describes how the Principal Authority (Chelmsford City Council) and its parishes work together to form a partnership to help benefit all residents.
- East Hanningfield
- Good Easter
- Great Baddow
- Great and Little Leighs
- Great Waltham
- Little Baddow
- Little Waltham
- Mashbury (Parish Meeting)
- South Hanningfield
- South Woodham Ferrers (Town Council)
- West Hanningfield
- Woodham Ferrers and Bicknacre
For more comprehensive information on Chelmsford’s politics see http://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/council.
Chelmsford industrialists and inventors developed several ground breaking technologies over the years. Although some industries are no longer present in Chelmsford, their legacies live on. Some (Britvic and e2v) are still going strong.
Marconi – Wireless Communication
Guglielmo Marconi invented radio in Chelmsford. This invention was not restricted only to “radio” as we think of it today, but he also went on to develop television, and the same technologies then helped to develop radar. Ultimately, all wireless communications have their origins in the works and ideas of Guglielmo Marconi. Guglielmo was an Italian “Marconi’s law” is today a part of mainstream science. Interesting Facts: Benito Mussolini was Marconi’s best man. If it was not for Marconi’s new wireless equipment it is likely that all the passengers of Titanic would have perished at sea. Marconi’s first company was called the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company.
Marconi was taken over by English Electric in 1968 and Marconi became the radar defence division, being split and renamed Marconi Space & Defence Systems (MSDS) and Marconi Underwater Systems Ltd (MUSL). Wikipedia provides a good overview of the company history. All that remains of Marconi today is MES (Marconi Electronic Systems) which is a part of BAE Systems.
Cromptons Electrical Engineering
Cromptons took the concept of electrical engineering to a new level. They developed both street lighting and electric traction motors, one of which was used for many years to power the train that serviced Southend Pier (the motor can be seen in the Chelmsford Museum).
Cromptons’ main Chelmsford factory was taken over by Marconi in 1969, and the site become home to the new Marconi Radar Systems Ltd. on Writtle Road. However, all that remains today is a facade of the building opposite a the Village housing development.
Hoffmann Ball Bearings (R.H.P.)
Ball bearings were first made in Chelmsford. Although they may not seem very important to those unfamiliar with the world of engineering, ball bearings very quickly revolutionised engineering. Ball bearings increase the efficiency of almost all machines by greatly reducing friction between moving parts. Before ball bears were manufactured engineered relied on grease alone to lubricate between two parts.
Hoffman ball bearings were used all over the world. They were used on the aircraft on the first transatlantic flights as well as in military machinery. For many years more people worked for Hoffman’s than Marconi’s, with over 7500 employees on a 50 acre site. The business closed in 1989 and all assets and intellectual property was taken over by Japan’s NSK Ltd.
The site of the old factory is now home to Chemsford’s Anglia Ruskin University.
English Electric Valve Company – e2v
Today called e2v, it was previously called English Electric Valve Company, and for a while carried the Marconi name too, being Marconi Applied technologies. It was established in 1947 and e2v originally developed as an off-shoot of Marconi. They specialised in building magnetrons for radar systems. In the 1950s e2v (EEV) was the biggest hi-tech company in the UK. In 1960 they won the EMMY award. In the 1970’s they helped to develop the first thermal imaging detector and today they provide technology to the space, aviation and military industries. e2v are today based on Waterhouse Lane in Chelmsford.
Britvic are one of the UK’s largest soft drink manufacturers. They produce many of the best known drinks brands in the UK, including Robinsons, J2o, Tango, 7 Up, Purdys, R Whites and Dr Pepper. They are also the UK’s producer of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Lipton Ice Tea and Gatorade, having won several bottling agreements with PepsiCo.
Britvic had very humble beginnings in Chelmsford, starting out when a chemist starting making soft drinks fortified with vitamins to help people become healthier. In 1949 a company called British Vitamin Products was launched, and this was later abbreviated to Britvic.
- Chelmsford has its own Monopoly Board
- According to The Telegraph, Families living in Chelmsford are happiest.
- The first public broadcast that was made on 15th June 1920 featured Dame Nellie Melba, who also inspired the dessert Peach Melba
- Robert the Bruce may have been born in Writtle, Chelmsford
- In 1381 was the capital of England (but only for a few days)
- Geoff Hurst grew up in Chelmsford and went to Kings Road Primary School
- Chelmsford is the 2nd healthiest place to live in the UK, according to Biocare.
- Alan Titchmarsh studied at Writtle College
Chelmsford history on SEAX
Chelmsford – A Visitor’s Guide (pdf)
Marconi Family History – The Marconi Society
Let’s move to: Chelmsford, Essex – The Guardian, Saturday 28 August 2010