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Suffolk, Essex
Market Hill and parish church, Haverhill, Suffolk - geograph.org.uk - 63259.jpg
Market Hill and parish church
Grid reference: TL671456
Location: 52°4’48"N, 0°26’24"E
Population: 22,010  (2001)
Post town: Haverhill
Postcode: CB9
Dialling code: 01440
Local Government
Council: West Suffolk
West Suffolk

Haverhill is an industrial market town and parish in Suffolk, close by the borders of Essex and Cambridgeshire. It lies 14 miles south-east of Cambridge and 45 miles north of London. The county border with Essex runs through the southern part of the town, but both the ancient and civil parishes extend into both counties.

The town centre lies at the base of a gentle dip in the chalk hills of the Newmarket Ridge; running through the town is the Stour Brook, which goes on to join the River Stour just outside the town. Rapid expansion of the town over the last two decades means that the western edge of Haverhill now includes the hamlet of Hanchet End. The surrounding countryside largely consists of arable land.


Haverhill dates back to at least Anglo-Saxon times, and the town's market is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Whilst most of its historical buildings were lost to the great fire on 14 June 1667, one notable Tudor-era house remains (reportedly given to Anne of Cleves as part of the settlement of the annulment of her marriage to Henry VIII and thus titled Anne of Cleves House). The town has many interesting Victorian buildings.

Following a planning review in 1956, Haverhill was targeted for expansion.[1] This was primarily to resettle communities from London which had been devastated during Second World War. As part of this plan, new housing settlements and new factories were built. A later review in 1962 planned for a threefold increase in population from the then population of 5,446.[2]

This influx of people changed many aspects of life in Haverhill. One noticeable change is that the local Suffolk accent (still spoken by the town's older residents) has largely been replaced by a London/South-east England accent characterised as "Estuary English". The expansion was not without friction. Residents who moved to the newly developed areas complained about the housing density and lack of amenities in a 1968 Man Alive documentary.[3]

Nowadays, Haverhill is predominantly a modern and young town, the relatively small town centre is surrounded by many large housing developments, completed at various periods between the 1950s and the present. Recently, it has seen the growth of small, but noticeable Portuguese and Polish communities.


Haverhill's economy is dominated by industry, and a large industrial area on the southern side of the town is home to a large number of manufacturing companies such as Wisdom toothbrushes, Gurteen clothing and VION Foods (in Little Wratting near Haverhill), although, in 2009, Wisdom was in the process of closing down its manufacturing operations at the Haverhill factory and VION was undergoing a restructure that would see the abattoir close and the plant specialising in cooked meats. Other companies deal in chemicals, waste processing, transport and construction. In 1982, the international biotechnology firm Genzyme opened a site in Haverhill for manufacturing pharmaceuticals.

In the past couple of years, a new business park has undergone development on the industrial estate, alongside the bypass. This has seen new businesses move into the town. In the town centre, new developments saw a cinema and food outlets open in the later part of 2008, and a new supermarket on the land of the old railway station, just off the town centre in 2009.

A weekly market is held in the town in the High Street each Saturday. This has been a long running tradition throughout Haverhill's history (in common with many other market towns in England). A smaller market is held each Friday in the town's market square.

Leisure activities

There are various sporting activities available in Haverhill, including a leisure centre (with swimming pool and a children's soft play area Kid City),[4] an 18 hole golf course,[5] a dancing school specialising in ballet, modern and tap dancing as well as acro/gymnastics,[6] a ten-pin bowling alley, and a snooker club.

The cricket club has recently attracted the well-known Lashings side for an annual fixture and underwent a successful period of growth and expansion. The Haverhill Arts Centre [7] features a cinema and has a varied schedule of music, drama, dance, and comedy. This facility is housed in the town hall, a grade II listed building and opened as an arts centre in 1994.

A 5-screen multiplex cinema complex was opened in October 2008.[8] There is also a thriving angling club, with waters on the River Stour, Suffolk|River Stour and the Flood Park Lake. Haverhill is also home to The Centre for Computing History, a computer museum established to tell the story of the Information Age.[9]


The busy A1307 road is the only major road that connects Haverhill to Cambridge and the A11 and the M11 motorway. This route suffers congestion with commuter traffic most mornings and evenings. The bus station in Haverhill also provides local services to some of the surrounding towns and villages.

The town has no railway station and is one of the largest towns in Britain without one.[10] It once had two railway stations and two interconnected railways. The Stour Valley Railway ran from Cambridge to Sudbury and beyond by way of Haverhill North whilst the Colne Valley and Halstead Railway ran from Haverhill South to Marks Tey by way of Castle Hedingham and Halstead.


In 2000-1 two thousand inhabitants of Haverhill were photographed and morphed into a single image by the artist Chris Dorley-Brown. The resulting image was displayed in the National Portrait Gallery (London). This was the biggest photographic morphing project of its kind.[11]

In November 2004, Haverhill made a claim for a world first, becoming the only known town to feature a laser-lit sculpture on a roundabout.[12] The tall steel sculpture, called the Spirit of Enterprise (or by locals as "The bin", or "The toilet roll"), is situated on the main gateway roundabout on the west side of town, and was mostly funded by local businesses.[13]

Outside links