10 things to see and do in Staines

PUBLISHED: 11:34 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:51 20 November 2018

Illustration by Lucy Atkinson

Illustration by Lucy Atkinson

Lucy Atkinson

Surrounded by reservoirs and located on the banks of the famous river from which it takes its name, Staines-upon-Thames (as it is now called) is a town working to reshape its future and celebrate its picturesque riverside setting

1. The River Thames

Until 2012, when the town was rebranded to highlight its riverside credentials, a visit to this corner of north west Surrey would have brought you to little old Staines. Now known as Staines-upon-Thames, which some suggest may have been in a bid to move the town away from its associations with the comedy character Ali G, the move was celebrated with a regatta. Staines-upon-Thames Day and its duck races now takes place every June/July. Whatever its title, the town has a long history of river life with Staines Boat Club founded in 1851 and rowers from the club have represented Great Britain.

At its heart

2. Boat trips and towpath walks

Found just along the river from the historic Staines Bridge, the current incarnation of which dates back to the 1830s, the moorings by the old town hall provide a stop off during the summer months for French Brothers river cruises from Runnymede to Hampton Court – perhaps something to pencil in for next year. As an aside for those of you who enjoy witnessing our county on film, the interior of the town hall was used as a courtroom in Sir Richard Attenborough’s Oscar winning, Gandhi. When the boats aren’t running through the winter, you can still enjoy a stroll along the Thames Path national trail and its interconnecting parks and islands. Perhaps attracted by such riverside walks, the author Charles Dickens is said to have stayed at the long since repurposed Angel coaching inn on the High Street.

Staines Town Hall TW18 3JQ; frenchbrothers.co.uk

3. The Swan Hotel

A Fuller’s pub and hotel, the 16th century Swan is blessed with a beautiful riverside location. It was extensively refurbished last year and features 11 boutique hotel rooms as well as plenty as well as wonderful views along the river. Other options? Try Sushi Nara on Church Street or Café Momo on Clarence Street, both of which, coincidentally, offer a taste of Asia. It’s only a 10-minute drive to the recently-crowned AA Hotel of the Year, Great Fosters, where you’ll find Surrey Life’s 2018 Chef of the Year, Douglas Balish, and his Michelin-starred The Tudor Room restaurant.

The Hythe TW18 3JB; swanstaines.co.uk

4. History of invention

Did you know that linoleum was invented by Surrey’s Frederick Walton in 1860 and that for many years Staines was the beating heart of this durable flooring industry? Well it’s a fact that’s celebrated today by a statue in the High Street, which depicts two men carrying a role of the material. Staines linoleum is said to have been exported around the world and even featured on the infamously doomed ship, Titanic. Joining the ‘Lino Men’ on Staines’ High Street every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday is the town’s market – and there’s now a farmers’ market on the second Sunday of the month too.

High Street, TW18 4AH

5. Two Rivers Shopping Centre

So named due to the meeting of the River Colne and the River Thames at Staines, Two Rivers Shopping Centre boasts the High Street brands you’ve probably come to expect in a Surrey shopping precinct. From Ann Summers to TK Maxx via Wagamama and a Vue Cinema, this is where you want to go if a little shopping and light entertainment is your bag. There is also Elmsleigh Shopping Centre on South Street and a Debenhams found just off the High Street, so plenty to keep you busy.

Two Rivers, Mustard Mill Road TW18 4WB; tworiversstaines.com

6. Colne Valley Park

The Colne Valley Park covers more than 40 square miles of countryside to the west of London and reaches Staines-upon-Thames at its most southerly point. Found just outside the town centre, it features Staines Moor, which is one of the few remaining pastures of the medieval Manor of Staines. It has remained unploughed for over 1,000 years and has been common land since 1065. Depending on what time of year you visit, you’ll find horses and cows grazing out in the open on natural pasture near the King George VI Reservoir.

colnevalleypark.org.uk

7. Spelthorne Museum

A fascinating destination for local history buffs, Spelthorne Museum is divided into two rooms: The Elmsleigh Room, which is is opened by Staines Library staff and has the history of Spelthorne (including Ashford, Laleham, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell and Sunbury) from the Ice Age to modern times, and the Thames Room, which is opened when volunteers are on duty and acts as a temporary exhibition area. Spelthorne Archaeology and Local History Group are the trustees of Spelthorne Museum, and in 2016 they received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

1 Elmsleigh Road TW18 4PM; spelthornemuseum.org.uk

8. Thames Side Brewery

Thames Side Brewery owner Andrew Hayward realised a lifetime’s ambition to leave the insurance industry and start his own micro-brewery and he even grows hops by the river now. The brewery’s selection of award-winning ales has all been inspired by its riverside location, as well as the feathered friends who call the Thames habitat and environs home. The company walks the walk too – it sponsors the Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton, which provides treatment, care and rehabilitation to swans and wildfowl in the UK.

Tim’s Boatyard, Timsway TW18 3JY; thamessidebrewery.co.uk

9. Thorpe Park

One of the top family attractions in Surrey and among the best theme parks in the country, Thorpe Park is less than a five minutes drive from the town centre. From the world’s first horror movie themed rollercoaster, Saw – The Ride, to Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon via The Angry Birds 4D Experience, there’s enough thrills on offer for you to make a weekend out of a visit to the area.

Staines Road KT16 8PN; thorpepark.com

10. Runnymede Pleasure Grounds

Seen by many as the birthplace of modern democracy, Runnymede is found just a five-minute drive (or a one hour walk, if you’re feeling active) out of town along the river. This is where King John sealed the Magna Carta more than 800 years ago, and remains a beautiful place to explore. Nearby, you’ll also find the hidden gem of Ankerwycke with its Benedictine priory ruins and the National Trust’s oldest tree, a 2,500-year-old yew. On the way there, you’ll find the luxurious Runnymede on Thames hotel, which is perfect for a spa visit or afternoon tea.

Windsor Road TW20 0AE; nationaltrust.org.uk/runnymede-and-ankerwycke

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