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What it’s like to live in Haywards Heath

PUBLISHED: 09:46 17 January 2017 | UPDATED: 09:56 17 January 2017

The rose garden at Borde Hill near Haywards Heath. Photo by Borde Hill Garden

The rose garden at Borde Hill near Haywards Heath. Photo by Borde Hill Garden

Archant

It was the arrival of the railways 150 years ago which saw Haywards Heath become a major centre in Mid Sussex. And it remains a popular commuter home for more than 25,000 people

Getting there

Haywards Heath is on the main railway line between Brighton and London. Southern Rail, Gatwick Express and Thameslink trains run direct to the airport, Victoria, London Bridge, Portsmouth, Eastbourne, Brighton, Littlehampton, Bedford and Ore, and all stops in between.

By road Haywards Heath is accessible from B2272, formerly the A272, which has since bypassed the town. It is only five miles from the A23/M23 from London to Brighton.

The town is served by buses from Compass Travel, Metrobus, theSussexBus.com, Sussex Coaches and Heritage Travel, offering routes across the town as well as to Burgess Hill, Lindfield, Uckfield, Hurstpierpoint, Brighton, Lewes, East Grinstead and Crawley. 


History

Prior to the arrival of the railways 150 years ago Haywards Heath was a small village. But when landowners around Cuckfield refused to allow a railway line to pass through the village, Haywards Heath suddenly found itself at the centre of a new-found prosperity. Now home to more than 25,000 people the Mid Sussex town, alongside its near neighbour Burgess Hill, provides the area’s commercial heart. The national chain Pets Corner began from a shop in Haywards Heath in 1968, and 1st Central Insurance and Lloyds Bank both have large offices in Perrymount Road. The town is also perfect for commuters going to Gatwick and London. Despite the modern developments there is still a little history around the town – not least Muster Green where Parliamentarians routed a small Royalist force in 1642. And the town is in the middle of some of the most beautiful countryside in Sussex – as can be seen from the Ouse Valley viaduct only a few miles north.


Annual festivals and events

It’s Magic holds regular concerts in The Broadway, mixing tribute acts with big name guests such as Katherine Jenkins and Shane Richie.

The Town Council also organises a Town Day in September, offering a mix of live performances and events.

Haywards Heath is only four miles from the South of England Showground in Ardingly which hosts a programme of fairs and festivals throughout the year, including the Spring Garden and Leisure Show, from 30 April and 1 May; South of England Show, 8 to 10 June; and the Autumn Show and Game Fair on 30 September and 1 October. 


Amenities

Haywards Heath has its own theatre space, Clair Hall in Perrymount Road, which hosts film screenings, live comedy, music and theatre. Highlights of their 2017 programme include the Weald Theatre Group’s charity pantomime Sleeping Beauty from Tuesday 10 January, guitarist Martyn Joseph on Friday 20 January, comedians Richard Herring (8 March) and Andy Parsons (31 March) and tribute acts Absolute Bowie (25 March) and Mainly Madness (21 April). Places for People Leisure also run The Dolphin leisure centre in Pasture Hill Road, which has a gym, swimming pool and regular workout classes. The parkland Haywards Heath Golf Club is in High Beech Lane.

Shopping in the town centre is based around the 40-strong Orchards Shopping Centre, which is home to national chains including Next, Marks and Spencer, Clarks and Tesco. Restaurants and bars can be found along The Broadway.

The Princess Royal Hospital offers a range of acute services, A&E and a maternity unit. There is plenty of parkland, including Beech Hurst Gardens, which has a miniature railway, bowling green and tennis courts, Jubilee Gardens, Victoria Park and Blunts Wood. The Woodland Trust is responsible for the 23 acres of ancient woodland at local nature reserve Ashenground and Bolnore Woods.


Around Haywards Heath

The town is in the middle of some of the most beautiful countryside and private gardens in Mid-Sussex, such as the National Trust property Nymans, six miles away in nearby Handcross. Much of the house was lost in a devastating fire in 1947, but the gardens remain open to the public. There are further impressive gardens at Borde Hill, only two miles away, and Kew’s botanic gardens at Wakehurst Place which is six miles away.

Train-lovers can take a ride on the Bluebell Railway, which runs between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead and has a station five miles from Haywards Heath at Horsted Keynes.


Meet the neighbours

Former Haywards Heath residents include Pointless star Richard Osman and his brother Mat, who formed the band Suede with fellow Oathall School pupil Brett Anderson. Pop singer Natasha Bedingfield was born in the town, and Olympic decathlete Daley Thompson began his training with Haywards Heath Harriers in the mid 1970s.


Council

Haywards Heath has its own town council. It comes under the Mid Sussex District Council and West Sussex County Council. The Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Soames has represented the Mid Sussex constituency since 1997.


More…

What it’s like to live in Chichester - West Sussex’s only city is still booming with its combination of history and cutting edge culture. Duncan Hall finds out more

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