South Woodham Ferrers

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South Woodham Ferrers
South Woodham Ferrers is located in Essex
South Woodham Ferrers
South Woodham Ferrers
 South Woodham Ferrers shown within Essex
Population 16,629 approx.
OS grid reference TQ812970
District Chelmsford
Shire county Essex
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district CM3
Dialling code 01245
Police Essex
Fire Essex
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Maldon
List of places

Coordinates: 51°39′04″N 0°36′45″E / 51.651°N 0.6124°E / 51.651; 0.6124

South Woodham Ferrers is a town and civil parish in the borough of Chelmsford, in the English county of Essex. It is approximately 35 mi (56 km) from London and, according to the 2001 census, has a population of 16,629. The town is situated east of Fenn Creek, near to where it meets the River Crouch.[1] South Woodham Ferrers is currently part of the Maldon constituency represented by John Whittingdale.


The railway station was originally built in the late 19th century and opened in 1889 to serve South Woodham Ferrers and the surrounding area. The town of South Woodham Ferrers itself continued to develop until it was formally recognised as a separate community to that of Woodham Ferrers, located one mile north.[2] However, the town only underwent dramatic growth as part of a planned development in the late 1970s following incremental growth in the 1960s.

In 1981 Queen Elizabeth II opened the town square, which is named after her.

Many street names in the south-western part of the town are taken from the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, with names such as Gandalf's Ride, Gimli Watch, Rivendell Vale, Celeborn Street, Hobbiton Hill and Arwen Drive.

Bushy Hill (aka "Radar Hill")[edit]

Bushy Hill is technically part of South Woodham Ferrers and lies to the north of the town. It was also known locally as Radar hill,[citation needed] the upper face of it having slid away to reveal an escarpment overlooking South Woodham Ferrers. The West face of Bushy Hill was covered in broad leafed woodland and known locally as 'Little Wood'. 'Big Wood', officially named Hawe's Wood and also known as 'Bluebell Wood' is further over near Edwin's Hall. Later the hill became known locally as "Radar Hill" due to having been visually dominated[3] by a radar testing site. This site was operated by a number of the former Marconi[4] companies including Alenia Marconi Systems, and more recently (currently?) operated by BAE Systems in the process of developing various radar technologies,[5] some of which is for military orientated projects. While the site remains in use, the large dish which earned the hill its nickname has since been removed. Online mapping services such as Google Maps clearly show the site in use, including a "H" pad is located there for the landing of helicopters. The public footpath around the site passes the entrance sign warning of "helicopters landing, danger of radiation" and other such dangers associated with a working radar testing site. The actual inner workings of the site are well secured with a security gatehouse, anti-climb heras fencing and a number of well placed CCTV cameras.[6] Bushy Hill was also known locally, before Marconi came to use it, as "Landslip Hill", referring to the south face of the hill which has slid away leaving a bare escarpment, clearly visible from the village. From the west-side of the present Marconi site, trailing off towards Edwin's Hall, is a woodland of mature trees, sometimes called "Bluebell Wood". During snowy winters, Bushy Hill is very popular for sledging.


The main secondary school in the town is William de Ferrers School, the first intake of which was in 1982. The town is also home to five primary schools: Collingwood, Elmwood, St. Josephs RC, Trinity St. Mary's C of E and Woodville. Chetwood Primary School was closed in 2009 and was replaced by a Sure Start centre.

Town centre[edit]

The town centre consists of around 100 business units. Approximately 45% are retail premises, with the remainder being a combination of professional services (such as banks and estate agents) and dining locations such as cafés and restaurants.

The supermarket chain Asda is regarded as a key development partner for the town centre, opening a store in the town in late 1978 which made them the principal retailer in the town. In 2001 Essex County Council sold the freehold for the vast majority of the town to Asda, who in turn sold a package of land and property to SW Investments. As a result of these sales, Asda own the town's car parks, Queen Elizabeth II Square and approximately one third of the shop premises in the town centre. SW Investments owns most of the remaining areas in the town centre, including Market Square, with the remaining premises having a variety of private owners.

Because Asda is such a focus for the town centre, many perceive it as dominating the area. Sporadically the local newspapers carry letters from a small number of residents complaining about the situation, often accusing the company of charging excessive rents, abusing their position, and controlling the shops in the town. These letters often culminate in calls to boycott Asda, yet very few residents seem to take part in such proposed boycotts. Despite the complaints, a number of small businesses have existed in the town centre for significant periods, with a number closing for various reasons, the most commonly given being a lack of support from the local community.

Chelmsford City Council has recently entered a consultation period with a number of groups in the town, including the local business group, over the future development of the town centre.

The Village Hall[edit]

Home to the local football club and cricket team, the village hall is a well known feature of the town. It offers special events such as monthly and weekly football and cricket matches.


South Woodham Ferrers is the home of a modern and progressive male voice choir.[citation needed] Originally named after the town, it now performs under the name of men2sing.


In Summer 2006, South Woodham Ferrers elected its first town mayor, Councillor Ian Roberts.

The town has a community based magazine called the South Woodham Focus.


South Woodham Ferrers Rugby Club has a Club House at Saltcoats Park, running teams at ages between under 7 and under 16. Players as young as two can join Little Scrummers on Saturday mornings. The youth section consists of under 17s and colts and have three senior teams, a veterans team and a ladies team. The First Team has just been promoted to the London North East Second Division.[when?]

South Woodham Ferrers Cricket Club currently runs three teams in the T Rippon Mid-Essex League, playing home games at Saltcoats Park & the village hall.

South Woodham Ferrers is home to a number of amateur football teams. Focus Ferrers, Fennlands, Woodham Town and Woodham Radars.


The A132 lies to the north of the town, which leads to the A130 (a road linking Chelmsford to Canvey Island) and then into Wickford and to the A127 and A13 in Basildon. The B1012 road connects SWF with the Dengie peninsula, including the towns of Burnham and Maldon. The town is also served by South Woodham Ferrers railway station, (formally Woodham Ferrers station until May 2007) a station on the single track Crouch Valley Line. There are a number of bus routes connecting South Woodham Ferrers with towns in the surrounding area.


  1. ^ "South Woodham Ferrers". ESSCRP. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Frankland, John (1992). South Woodham Ferrers : a pictorial history. Chicester: Phillimore. ISBN 0-85033-832-8. 
  3. ^ "Domesday Reloaded: Marconi Radar". Quotation from unnamed school pupil about local landmarks, recorded as part of BBC's Domesday project in 1986. BBC. Retrieved 2011. 
  4. ^ Simons, Roy. "Forty Years of Marconi Radar from 1946 to 1986 (GEC Review Vol.13 No.3 1998)" (PDF). 1998 report on Marconis history of radar research work in the UK, mentioning Bushy Hill. GEC Review. Retrieved 2011. 
  5. ^ Eastwood, Eric. "Radar's contribution to studies of birds". Report on study of bird life carried out at Bushy Hill circa 1958. New Scientist. Retrieved 2011. 
  6. ^

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