Continuing our exploration of the local towns and villages we today headed out for a short visit to Berkhamsted. Conveniently located around a half-hour’s drive away on the A41, I noticed good write-ups of the town while browsing reviews of areas on the Channel 4′s Relocation Relocation map of the best and worst places to live in the country. Berkhamsted repeatedly appeared in comments of Dacorum district as a bustling market town with an art deco cinema and as with Rickmansworth is located by the Grand Union canal.
In comparison to towns I’m familiar with, Berkhamsted reminded me a good deal of Kendal, from my own neck of the woods in South Lakeland. Both are historic market towns, abuzz on market day and full of family owned and boutique shops, with a ruined castle on the outskirts. It’s seems relatively uncommon to find a town these days that doesn’t have an homogenous high street of the same chain shops. Smaller towns can escape this curse. Rickmansworth does to a good extent and although only marginally larger in size, Berkhamsted has a far larger high street but retains a commendable proportion of independent shops.
A particular highlight for me was Berkhamsted’s art deco cinema, the Rex. The exterior is rather low-key; the majority of it advertising the Gatsby restaurant. The side of the building provides a discrete entrance to the cinema, and inside a stylish bar and box office awaits. Interestingly, the evening showings at the cinema appeared to largely booked up for some weeks in advance; a good sign of local support of their local independent cinema.