<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Hampshire Life today click here

What it’s like to live in Eastleigh

PUBLISHED: 12:16 12 June 2017 | UPDATED: 12:16 12 June 2017

Eastleigh Park is a great facility right in the centre of town that is popular with many for picnics, playing and relaxing.

Eastleigh Park is a great facility right in the centre of town that is popular with many for picnics, playing and relaxing.

Emma Caulton

From beastly to a beacon – the rise and rise of the town of Eastleigh goes on. Emma Caulton paid a visit to see for herself

An erstwhile neighbour of mine, Eastleigh born and bred, regularly referred to his home town as “Beastly Eastleigh”. Perhaps it was meant as a term of endearment. However, if it seemed to me an unfair epithet back then, it certainly is now. Yes, Eastleigh was once best known, historically and architecturally, as a Victorian railway town, its streets laid out in a grid pattern of terracing. And fair enough, it was culturally primarily associated as the inspiration for comedian Benny Hill’s novelty song Ernie (the fastest milkman in the West), with a reference to Eastleigh’s Market Street in the lyrics.

But times change. Eastleigh is undergoing a metamorphosis, alongside substantial and ongoing investment. The town is becoming recognised as a hub for contemporary arts. The Point, converted from the old town hall and adjacent library, is now a centre for performance with a specialist devising space and an emphasis on dance, innovative new productions, community clubs and classes. More recently the old sorting office behind the High Street was converted into workspaces for creative businesses.

Even the street scene has been revamped with contemporary metal benches, new lamp columns from which to hang banners and trees lit up at night. A decorative pleasantry, yet such details matter – they create a pleasant ambience.

Green spaces and leisure facilities are optimised. Eastleigh Park, in the centre of town, has a traditional bandstand and popular playground. Fleming Park is having a £25 million pound upgrade, while Lakeside Country Park, 22 hectares of lake, meadow and woodland plus dual gauge railway, has just opened a new waterside centre.

So, unsurprisingly, priced out of neighbouring Winchester, this is where the young money comes, with first-timers and young families buying into the area. Consequently, there’s a buzzy vibe going on, along with a mash-up of the creative and conventional, the new-fangled and the old-fashioned, presented in an appealing streetscape of ironwork and glass canopied pavements.

An interesting mix of independents and useful brands includes award-winning butcher’s, Smith’s, a greengrocer’s, Roebridge Farm Shop, good sports store, Alton Sports, and Candy Room, a sweet shop that wouldn’t look out of place in hipster London.

At one end of Market Street is a proper street market – held every Thursday and Saturday with a range of stalls from fishing tackle to flowers. At the other is the Swan Centre – a lively entertainment and shopping complex encompassing state of the art bowling alley, nine-screen cinema, and eateries such as Nando’s, Chimichanga and Creams. Meanwhile in the light-filled shopping mall you’ll find familiar names like Next and New Look – joined, about 18 months ago, by hip Swedish clothing retailer H&M. Surprised?

Well, here’s another surprise. Eastleigh has some really great yet unassuming restaurants and cafes. They run the gamut and come highly recommended. There’s Artisan with a colourful interior of Ikat hangings and warm woods and a menu that includes authentic Turkish meze dishes. Nearby is La Fenice, a family-run Italian restaurant, so good you’ll need to book, with diners tempted by homemade pasta made fresh each day. Newish additions to the eating out scene include Tesoro, an Italian café, and a branch of Coffee#1, award-winning Wales-born chain with very good roasts (coffee, not Sunday) and gooey tray bakes. Well off the High Street, East Avenue restaurant at Eastleigh College is staffed by students and offers classic fine dining at very reasonable prices.

There’s also one of almost every supermarket round and about, and an M&S Simply Food opening soon – here’s hoping it doesn’t affect the independents and the market.

There’s a feeling of rebirth as others cotton on to the fact that Eastleigh has a lot going for it. Transport links are excellent. That station (revamped and improved in 2015) offers a good service. Winchester is 10 minutes (more or less) in one direction, Southampton is 15 minutes in the other, and Southampton Airport Parkway is next stop along (Southampton Airport is not in Southampton but on the edge of Eastleigh). Plus the town is tucked into the corner where M3 meets M27 for the ultimate in convenience.

As for schools: they are mostly ‘good’ according to Ofsted. At primary level that includes Cherbourg, Fryern, Shakespeare and Stoke Park Juniors, and Nightingale, Norwood, St Swithun Wells, Scantabout and The Crescent Primaries. At secondary level, Crestwood College and Toynbee are also rated ‘good’, while Thornden in Hiltingbury is ‘outstanding’ and considered one of the best secondary schools in the country. Barton Peveril sixth form college is another ‘good’ (alumni include the very appreciative Colin Firth), while Eastleigh College, a further education college specialising in vocational education, is deemed ‘outstanding’.

Eastleigh’s neighbours may come under the auspices of Eastleigh Borough Council (whether they like it or not) but they are a contrast in character. North of the M3, Chandler’s Ford is all leafy suburbia. South over the railway line, Bishopstoke, alongside the Itchen Navigation, still remains villagey, with a smattering of thatch, and merges into Fair Oak, a scattered, large semi-rural village. Throughout these areas there’s considerable development. But will it detract from or enhance the town? Hopefully the latter. Certainly, it is prospering. House prices have increased by 19% over the last two years – beating both Southampton (16%) and even Winchester (18%) to the hot spot. But it is not just about the money – those living here comment that Eastleigh has pretty much everything you need and a nice sense of community. That’s worth a lot. (And not a whisper of beastly from anyone.)


What it’s like to live in New Milton - As the ‘Lymington effect’ spreads along the coast, is it boom time for New Milton and nearby Barton on Sea? Emma Caulton paid a visit to find out what’s on offer to buyers


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Tue, 15:34

Bluebell season is a wonderful time to visit Hampshire. Here is some visual evidence of why…

Read more
Mon, 16:00

Ponies, beautiful walks and stunning villages. Those are just some of the reasons we all love the New Forest...

Read more
Mon, 15:38

It’s the highlight of a traditional fairground and after more than 130 years on the road, few carousels come close to giving Hampshire’s famous Golden Gallopers a run for its money. Viv Micklefield meets the family holding the reins

Read more
Friday, April 13, 2018

10 of best photos of Hampshire shared on Instagram over the past week...

Read more
Monday, April 9, 2018

With the freedom of open water appealing to thousands of wild swimmers across the country, we round up some of the best locations for it in Hampshire

Read more
Thursday, April 5, 2018

This coastal town is a destination for outdoorsy types, foodies and shopaholics says Emma Caulton

Read more
Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Treat yourself to lunch and tea with a visit to one of these fantastic Hampshire tea rooms.

Read more
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Hampshire this month

Read more
Monday, March 26, 2018

Keep everyone in the family entertained this Easter break with our list of eggcellent adventures to enjoy across Hampshire

Read more
Monday, March 26, 2018

Ever wondered where your favourite movie or scene is filmed? Here we summarise those that might be closer than you think

Read more
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

With seafront views and a heritage and history to rival our larger towns, this lovely New Forest parish is well worth a visit

Read more
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Winchester City Mill has been part of the local landscape since Saxon times but until recently, devastating flood damage threatened 1000 years of milling history

Read more
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

With the New Forest, South Downs and a picturesque coastline, Hampshire is an amazing place for a walk. We round up a few of our favourites

Read more
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Emma Caulton considers the changing fortunes of Waterlooville

Read more
A+ South & South West
Great British Holidays advert link
Pure Weddings advert link
South West Life advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Hampshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search