Living in Havant
Where is Havant?
Havant lies between Portsmouth and Chichester on the UK South Coast A27 road, with Hayling Island and Chichester/Langstone Harbours to the south.
At the end you'll find a link to click to Multimap. and to Google Maps.
The town centre is partly pedestrianised and currently undergoing some rebuilding. It is a pleasant and relaxed local shopping centre with cafes, pubs and restaurants and reasonably easy parking.
It is also close to the A3M taking you up to Guildford and in to London and has a fast rail link to the capital too - about an hour and 10 minutes for the fastest trains. Some stop a lot more than others and take up to 1 hour 50 mins. It will take you about 15 mins into the centre of Portsmouth from Havant by car, and a little less to Chichester
There is a good bus service to main towns nearby, to Hayling Island and to the surrounding area from a new bus station built a few years ago (many people say in the wrong place in the town!
There is some light industry around the town, but many people work in Portsmouth, Chichester and commute to further afield. Train services east towards Chichester and westward to Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester are also good.
Road communications to Southampton, Chichester and northwards to London have improved considerably since I first came to the area, and it is now motorway or dual carriageway all the way to the outskirts of London. A tunnel has been constructed to take the A3M away from the town of Hindhead which used to be a really bad traffic bottleneck.
Last Edited: June 8th 2013 @ 15:00 BST
By - Jenny Fletcher
How did I get here?
places I lived before etc.
I've only lived in the borough of Havant for 4 years, but I've known and used the town centre for over 30 years since I came to live in the area.
I originally moved to Portsmouth with my first husband in 1976. He was an engineer on the A27/A275 road building contract. We lived in North End for a while, then out to Cosham.
We divorced in 1990, but have remained good friends. He also lives within the borough, in Warblington which used to be a village or hamlet in its own right, but is now just a suburb of Havant with a tiny train station and a shop.
I met my second husband John while I was working in London. Amazingly I used to travel up every day, how did I ever stand that! We spent a few years living in South London (Surrey Quays) during the week and doing weekend commutes down here. Eventually he changed jobs and we sold the London flat.
In 2003 my dear Mum passed away and with my inheritance, we moved to a bigger house in the Langstone area of Havant, which is south of the A27 and on the way to Hayling Island. We chose this area because it is close to the sailing club we belong to - I can cycle or walk there if I want.
John and I are now divorced, and I am facing a move from the house which is very upsetting.
When that happens I probably won't move more than a couple of miles away. Have considered moving to France or even buying a boat and living aboard for a couple of years, who knows - my life seems to be like that.
Before Portsmouth, David's job as a road engineer took us to Warrington, and before that Glasgow. I was born in South London and lived in Camberwell till I was 11. Then moved with my Mum and Dad to Thames Ditton which is suburban south west of London.
Things to do in Havant and around the area
Havant is a good place to live if you like things relatively quiet. There are pubs, places to walk, cycle and countryside on the doorstep.
There is a leisure centre with a swimming pool, but no large cinema or clubs. Not that great if you are young, I suppose, but you can get a train to Chichester or Portsmouth if you like nightlife.
Havant Arts Centre has a variety of drama, film, music and varied arts events and has just run its second very successful Literary Festival - http://www.havantlitfest.org.uk
Several of the pubs have regular music nights (The Wheelwrights for example - although it has undergone several changes of management and currently seems to be closed more than open).
Hayling Island to the south has 4 sailing clubs plus public slipways for launching small boats. There are dedicated windsurfing areas along Hayling seafront and in Langstone Harbour. You can walk or cycle down the pathway that follows the route of a railway - the Hayling Billy Line - that used to run to Hayling. The pathway starts from the level crossing just east of Havant Station, emerges onto the Havant Road, just north of the bridge onto Hayling, across the road and a short stretch coming out just north of Langstone Sailing Club. You must then cross the bridge onto Hayling Island and then turn right off the road, to reconnect with the Billy Line path which then runs south with views of Langstone Harbour and farmland to its finish in West Town.
An alternative is to go through a 'kissing gate' alongside the Billy Line path before you reach Havant Road and to walk across fields to the edge of Chichester Harbour. Turn right here to get back to Langstone and its two pubs, the Ship and the Royal Oak, or turn left and walk past the Mill Pond and walk along the shoreline towards Emsworth. There you will find a charming small town with a walkway between the harbour and the mill pond. The author P.G. Wodehouse lived in Emsworth, you can see his blue-plaqued house. There is a museum and plenty of places to drink a cup of coffee or a pint of good English beer, get a snack or a full meal.
I can recommend The Kings Arms which is on the main road opposite the Mill Pond. My friend and I play in their Monday night quiz. Their food is all home made and mostly locally sourced, cooked by landlord Gavin Reid.
You'll see from maps that the bridge to Hayling is, more or less the division between Chichester and Langstone harbours although the administrative boundary is the remains of the Hayling Billy line to the west of the road bridge.
Further afield there is Goodwood with a horseracing track and the famous motor racing circuit.
Plenty of great country walks, places to ride horses and off-road cycling. The Queen Elizabeth Country Park is a good example.
Chichester's Festival Theatre hosts an internationally renowned drama festival every summer and its productions regularly feature major stars. The city has a beautiful cathedral and a good shopping centre.
I won't even try to go into Portsmouth's attractions, too many to mention - you'll have to look it up!
Finding your way around Hampshire - You need a good map book
If you are visiting or perhaps moving to a specific area the best thing to do is to get a street guide. You will inevitably meet people who will tell you the address of somewhere to visit and with a guide like this one, you will be able to go straight there. Guides like this one have all the latest road updates .
They are also big enough so you aren't peering at a tiny road map and trying to work out how to reach your destination.
Buy this on Amazon UK
Shopping in Havant
Town centre and around
Havant Town Centre is a pedestrianised area with a few places to sit and pause a moment. There is a market Tuesdays and Saturdays. It's not much good for food shopping and it would be great to have a real farmers' market here once a month as there are in other Hampshire towns.
The town centre is looking rather run down at the moment with quite a few empty shops due to the development of the new Retail Park at Solent Road and particularly a monster new Tesco that many people in Havant did not want because of its negative effect on smaller town centre traders.
In the town centre, you will find several banks, Boots, Superdrug, Specsavers opticians and a good old-fashioned butchers and a greengrocers in the Meridian. There is also a quaint old fashioned chemists store - Davies which also sells and dispenses vetinerary medicine.
There are several charity shops which are good browsing for items to sell on through ebay, and even sometimes good quality second-hand clothing. I'm amazed at what people throw out - particularly party wear that looks like it was maybe worn once and discarded.
The Meridian Centre is a covered mall with a partial upper level but again it is spoiled by several empty shops. Several have closed during the time that the Tesco store was being built, anticipating a fall off of trade, even more so than the recession. There is a fairly well stocked Argos store which is always busy, Robert Dyas hardware, Holland and Barrett health food store and WIlkinsons which has taken over from Woolworths in many UK towns.
On the Retail Park, you will find Hobbycraft, Laura Ashley, Next, Pets at Home, Halfords and a sportswear store and opposite is the new Tesco. I won't be shopping there, not until they change their policy and stop selling battery farmed chicken and other meat products that are not sourced from suppliers guaranteeing high standards of animal welfare.
I prefer the Waitrose supermarket which is the opposite side of town in North Street. Walk up the Pallant, a little one-way street beside Waitrose and you will find a small bookshop called Nineveh, selling both new and second hand books with different and interesting subjects and titles you might otherwise only find online . Next to Waitrose on the other side, you will find a small and frequently overcrowded post office in the back of a shop.
In another small pedestrian area near the train station, there are a few more shops and restaurants including a shop selling printer cartridges and refills, a jewellers, travel agency and somewhere to get keys cut and shoes mended and an Iceland frozen food store, plus Angel Radio which is a very local radio station. There are more charity shops here too.
Going out of the town centre eastwards there is now virtually nothing. There used to be a great hardware store called Streets but is no more thanks to the 'superstores'. I know which I would rather have! Filarinksis which is a ski,watersports and surf shop moved out a while ago to much larger premises at Bosham roundabout.
There is another small retail area to the west with an Aldi food store and a gigantic Wickes DIY and builders' merchants.
A quick bite or a full meal
Plenty of places to eat and drink
Although shopping in the town centre is on something of a decline right now, there are plenty of places to grab a snack or a coffee or for a full meal. I will start to the west and work east.
Furthest east there is a Chinese takeaway in East Street and a couple of pubs, not ones I regularly visit, but they have their regulars from nearby residents. Coming into the town centre, you will find a McDonalds and Burger King pretty well opposite each other on the main road. You will find a KFC on the little retail park opposite the park. Less said the better. They don't get ANY custom from me.
Opposite Maccy D, the Parchment Makers pub. This is one of the JD Wetherspoon chain with a reasonable standard of food and good English beer. It is a popular place during the day with older residents who come for low cost and tasty breakfasts and lunches and snacks.
Next door there is an excellent Indian restaurant called Chilli and Lime, recently redecorated, and renamed. I know the owner and he and his staff work hard to keep it going even in the current recession. Since the refurbishment I have had a takeaway from there and it was excellent.
Further along the pedestrian precinct are a couple of cafe/baker shops with tables outside, then you will find Costa Coffee by the Meridian entrance and a few doors along, my favourite coffee shop Caffe Nero. There is another cafe in the Meridian itself.
If you sit outside Caffe Nero and sip a cappuccino you can see two of the town's best pubs, the Robin Hood and the Old House at Home, either side of St Faith's Church. Both do good quality food.
Just around the corner into North Street is Poppins, cheap and cheerful food but the coffee is poor. Further up towards the station is Heidi's a glorious bakers and patisserie. Croissants recommended and they do good pies and hot pasties at lunchtime. Almost next door is Nico's an Italian run cafe, great breakfasts but curiously awful instant coffee. Drink tea instead.
Around the corner on Market Parade, there is a fish and chip shop, the Havant Tandoori and another takeaway only Indian restaurant, the Shapla, all good and personally recommended. There are also a couple of pizza takeaways which are OK, but I prefer Domino's in North Street.
The pubs in North Street are well known for being rowdy and intermittently closed down by the police for serving under-age. Not recommended unless just off a late train from London and desperate for a beer.
If you like Domino's Pizza you will find it towards the station end of North Street. One of the rowdy pubs is undergoing conversion to another Indian restaurant, which I will comment on in due course.
In East Street you can find the the Bear Hotel. I haven't eaten there for quite a while but the menu looks good and I'm told 'it has improved' recently. They do have a car park of sorts, but it is a pay and display one and you get into it via North Street and The Pallant.
Almost out of town is Havant Arts Centre, recently re-named the Spring. It has a nice cafe - the Red Mango, which is open for meals in the evening when there are theatre, music and cinema events on.
The final stop for a drink is the Wheelwrights which is either full and heaving on music nights or almost totally empty. See previous note about periodic closures.
Thereafter you are in Warblington which is a dry parish and there is nowhere to drink or eat until you reach the Brookfield Hotel just over the border into Emsworth. The first pub you will encounter there is the King's Arms, just past the Texaco station which I would recommend for beer, food and good company. You might find me in there occasionally!
Some of Havant's history
The town's name is derived from '"Hama's Spring". There are many springs and at one time the town was famous for parchment making - remembered in the name of one of the pubs. Parchment from Havant was reputed to be used for the Magna Carter and Treaty of Versailles but there is no hard evidence.
The town received its charter in 1200 when it was licensed to hold a weekly market. We now have a market of sorts twice a week, but it's a tatty affair, and it would be nice to have a real farmers' market once a month with local food which is plentiful.
St Faiths Church also dates from the 1200's
It has also been known for wool, and glove making. From Langstone, just to the south, there was a coastal trade and the remains of the watermill which ground wheat into flour is still a local much-painted and photographed landmark.
In 1847, the railway came, connecting the town to London. There is still a good commuter route into Waterloo taking just over 1 hour for the fastest trains. Trains originally ran down onto Hayling Island, but this branch line operated by the steam loco 'Hayling Billy' was closed in 1963 as part of the 'Beeching cuts'. The remains of the line and the turntable which supported an opening section can be seen alongside the modern road bridge.
The population of the area grew rapidly from the 1950s to the 70's with major social housing developments in Leigh Park, West Leigh and Warren Park. This was originally intended to replace the huge numbers of houses lost to bombing during WW2 in Portsmouth. The total population of the Havant Borough has now grown to around 120,000 from 8,000 in 1949.
Where is Havant?
Council and Member of Parliament/Candidate
Havant's local authority is Havant Borough Council which has its HQ at the Civic Centre to the north of the town. On foot, you can walk across the bridge by the train station. You will also find the Job Centre and the Magistrates' Court as you walk westwards from the bridge towards the council offices.
The Member of Parliament for Havant is David Willetts. David is the current Secretary of Stater for Universities and Science.
Take a right turn on your walk to reach the Civic Centre on your left, and the Leisure Centre and swimming pool on your right. Carry on a bit further and a turn to your right is Havant Health Centre with several GP practices. There is also a new Health Centre (Bosmere) with a Boots pharmacy in Solent Road a little way past Tesco and the retail park.
Bird's Eye view of Havant, Hampshire, England, PO9 2
Get directions to or from Havant, Hampshire, England, PO9 2
Guides to Hampshire from Amazon
Here are some guides if you are visiting the UK or maybe coming to Hampshire from a different part of the UK. As described here, transport links are very good. There is a great bus service (700) that runs all the way from Portsmouth to Brighton taking in different places including Havant and Emsworth. You can get rover tickets that let you hop on and off.
You will find links to all these books in my Amazon Astore if you are UK reader/visitor wishing to buy from Amazon UK.
A good basic guide to the area
Portsmouth has some interesting WW1 and WW2 history
Chichester is the furthest east of the 'Three Harbours' and the most tranquil. A great place to enjoy sailing and wildlife
Hampshire has many historic and interesting pubs, including the Bat and Ball at Hambledon for cricket fans
A must-visit for fans of motorsport