Woolhampton Swing Bridge
Woolhampton is a village in Berkshire, on the London to Bath A4 road between Reading (8 miles east) and Newbury (6 miles west). The village lies on the northern edge of the flat flood plain of the River Kennet, with the Berkshire Downs rising above the village to the north.
Besides the A4 road, both the Reading to Taunton railway line and the Kennet and Avon Canal also pass through the village.
On the railway, Woolhampton is served by Midgham railway station in the village. The railway station was originally known as Woolhampton railway station but, according to local legend, was renamed Midgham railway station (after the village of Midgham, one mile west-northwest) in order to avoid possible confusion with the similarly named Wolverhampton railway station.
The A4 road forms the main street of the village. An unclassified road runs to the south, towards the village of Brimpton. This crosses the railway line by the station on a level crossing, followed shortly afterwards by a swing bridge across the river and canal (which share a common channel at this point). Woolhampton Lock lies just to the west. Two other unclassified roads leave the village to the north, climbing into the Berkshire Downs.
About the village
Because of its location on the Bath road, Woolhampton was well known for its coaching inns. Two of these survive on the main road, the Falmouth Arms and the Angel. A third public house, the Rowbarge, is, as its name suggests, situated alongside the Kennet and Avon Canal next to the swing bridge.
On the higher land some half mile to the north of the village is the adjacent hamlet of Upper Woolhampton, which contains both Woolhampton (St Peter's) Church and the village school. A further half mile to the north, but still within the civil parish, is the Benedictine Douai Abbey community, and its now-closed Douai School. Between Douai Abbey and the village is the historic Woolhampton House, which now houses Elstree School, a preparatory school that moved to Woolhampton from Elstree in Hertfordshire during the Second World War.
The civil parish of Woolhampton includes the village of Woolhampton, the adjacent settlement of Upper Woolhampton, and the rural area to the north, east and south of the village.
The Woolhampton Reed Bed, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, lies alongside the River Kennet within the parish and to the south east of the village. The dense reed bed, with smaller areas of tall fen vegetation and carr woodland, is notable for its nesting bird populations and for the diversity of insects it supports.
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- "Our History". Elstree School. http://www.elstreeschool.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=24&Itemid=39. Retrieved 2007-09-13.
- "Woolhampton Reed Bed" (PDF). English Nature. http://www.english-nature.org.uk/citation/citation_photo/1000370.pdf. Retrieved 2006-09-22.