Ash Vale shown within Surrey
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|UK Parliament||Surrey Heath|
Ash Vale is a village in the borough of Guildford in Surrey, England and the larger, northern settlement of the civil parish of Ash. It is 7 miles (11 km) from Guildford but is closer to the Hampshire towns of Aldershot and Farnborough, the centres of which are each about two miles (4 km) away, immediately across the two crossings of the River Blackwater, to the southwest and northwest.
Its population, according to the 2001 census is 7,326.
Ash Vale's extent is demarcated by the river to the west and the parallel Basingstoke Canal to the east - across these are respectively Aldershot Garrison/Military Town and the large Surrey Heath MoD, mostly UK Army, ranges and training areas. The latter is a co-managed County Wildlife Site, for instance Ash Ranges at 2,439 acres (987 ha) and Pirbright Ranges at 2,764.71 acres (1,118.84 ha), with various access days and parts (see the Wildlife's Trust website). The type of soil of the heath is very acidic, sandy and loamy which makes up just 1.9% of English soil and 0.2% of Welsh soil, which gives rise to pines and coniferous landscapes, such as pioneered at Wentworth and Foxhills estate and is good for biodiversity.
Two branch railway lines cross in the middle of the village without forming a junction. In the north of the village are Ash Vale railway station and North Camp railway station on the London-Aldershot-Alton Line and the Reading-Guildford-Gatwick Line respectively. In addition, trains run through Ash Vale from Guildford to Ascot via Aldershot. The village owes its development to the Garrison and to the railways; see the description of the often heath soil under the Ash article, explaining how to the south lies a limited area of fertile farming country.
A Tesco Express store opened in Lysons Avenue, opposite the railway station opened on 12 October 2012. Gunfire can be heard from Ash ranges, and there is occasional noise from planes taking off from Farnborough Airport.
Economy and Amenities
An increased proportion of the village's population relies on the half-hourly 40-minute railway connection to Waterloo as well as providing local services and the small semi-military community of the post-war era has become a largely commuter settlement. While 417 employed residents worked at/from home in 2001, the remaining 1306 commuted, of which 682 responded they commuted less than 5 kilometres (3.1 mi).
Holly Lodge (Primary) School is next to Carrington Park, which has playground facilities and its footpath provides a less residential route between North Camp Station and Mytchett lake and Basingstoke Canal Visitor Centre on the Basingstoke Canal. The canal's towpath runs through the village. Within the park are recycling facilities. The Keogh Barracks on the Ash Ranges are in the ward boundaries. Parks and Nature reserves in Ash Vale:
- Carrington Recreation Ground, Off Lysons Avenue
- Snaky Lane nature reserve on Stratford Road
- Avondale Park, Avondale
- Lakeside Park, Lakeside Road
- Park off Hawker Road
- Park off Beaufort Road
South of the village are:
- Lakeside Park nature reserve
- Willow Park Fishery
- Ash Parish Allotments
The Normandy Youth Center serves the area by sponsoring community-based programs targeting youth in the area (especially marginal groups and minorities) for the purpose of increasing exposure to educational opportunities and building a stronger community.
- Samuel Cody, the first man to achieve powered heavier-than-air flight in Britain. [n 1]
- Darren and Martin Bicknell, professional cricketers.
Notes and References
- The house, "Valecroft", where he spent the last few years of his life, still stands and a blue plaque on its wall commemorates Cody.
- Surrey County Council Census data
- Surrey Wildlife Trust: Ash Ranges
- Cranfield University National Soil Resources Institute
- Award for Mother Who Transformed Her Village; 18 October 2010 article; at Get Surrey News; retrieved 30 January 2013.
- Ash Parish Council. "Ash Parish Maps- Local Interest". Ash, Surrey: Ash Parish Council. Retrieved 11 June 2012. (click on the red dot to see a photographe)
- Jenkinson, Sally (1990). Ash and Ash Vale – A Pictorial History. Chichester: Phillimore. ISBN 0-85033-773-9.
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