Farnborough is a town in north east Hampshire, England, and part of the district of Rushmoor. Farnborough was founded in Saxon times and is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name is formed from Ferneberga which means “fern hill”.
Farnborough is a gateway town to the Ridgeway National Trail.
The town is best known for its association with aviation – Farnborough Airshow, Farnborough Aerodrome and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
Farnborough is situated in northeast Hampshire and near the boundary with Surrey. The River Blackwater forms part of the boundary. It is located 34 miles (55 km) southwest of London and 16 miles (26 km) east of Basingstoke, directly to the south of junction 4 of the M3 motorway. The town lies at the centre of the Blackwater Valley conurbation, which includes Aldershot, Camberley, Yateley, Sandhurst, Frimley and Farnham. Based in the town is the council of the local government district of Rushmoor. The district has borough status and also covers nearby Aldershot.
Name changes: Ferneberga (11th century); Farnburghe, Farenberg (13th century); Farnborowe, Fremborough, Fameborough (16th century).
Tower Hill, Cove: There is substantial evidence that many years ago a large accumulation of Sarsen stones existed upon what later came to be known as ‘Tower Hill’. To this day well over 1,000 of these stones remain, sized from one or two ton down to loaf size, scattered, reused for many different purposes, but still within a short distance of their probable original site.
The town is the home of St. Michael’s Abbey. The Imperial Crypt there is the resting place of Napoleon III (1808–1873), Emperor of the French, and his wife, Eugénie de Montijo, (1826–1920) and their son, Louis Napoléon, The Prince Imperial. The crypt of St Peter’s Old Parish Church is also believed to house the remains of many of the Earls of Anglesey. Since 2007 the Abbey has been the home of the Catholic National Library.
The River Blackwater on the Hampshire/Surrey border was the location of the first international prize fight between Tom Sayers and John C Heenan, which took place near the location of the Ship Inn pub.
Closely associated with Farnborough Airfield, situated between Farnborough and Fleet, is Samuel Franklin Cody. Cody, or Col Sam Cody as he was known, was one of the early pioneers of aviation. He died when he crashed his plane on Ball Hill, a site which is now within QinetiQ’s Technology Park.
Farnborough Airfield is the site of the historic Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE).
Sir Frank Whittle conducted much of his research into jet aircraft at the RAE. A replica Gloster E.28/39 (based on his prototype) is sited on a roundabout along Ively Road in tribute to its inventor.
Farnborough is near 2 junctions of the M3 motorway. The A325 enters the town from Frimley to the north, and continues into Aldershot to the south.
Farnborough is served by four railway stations:
- Farnborough Main railway station on the South Western Main Line (London Waterloo to Basingstoke and beyond).
- Farnborough North railway station on the North Downs Line (Reading to Gatwick).
- North Camp railway station also on the North Downs Line.
- Ash Vale railway station on the Ascot to Guildford line.
Since 2003 Farnborough Airfield has been a business airport operated by TAG Aviation.
A noted airshow takes place at the airport. In 2006, an Airbus A380 flew over the town flanked by the Red Arrows to open the show.
In 2010, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its first international flight with the destination as Farnborough for the 2010 Airshow.
Farnborough is part of the Aldershot constituency.
Farnborough Aerospace Centre is a business park south of the airfield, built between 1990 and 1992.Some of the buildings are occupied by BAE Systems; however BAE Systems operational headquarters and board of directors are located at Carlton Gardens in London.
Adjacent to the airport, IQ Farnborough (formerly Farnborough Business Park), is a development which aims to have around 1,670,000 sq ft (155,000 m2) of new office space. There are plans to make this area a new centrepiece for Farnborough.
When completed it will include new housing, a new aviation library and the refurbishing of the listed wind tunnels on the site. Current tenants include: AgustaWestland, Autodesk, a BMW dealership, Blue Coat Systems, Bluhalo, Defence Strategy & Solutions, Imagine Homes, a hotel, Orcare Limited, Fluor Limited, and Red Hat.
On the park is the frame of a 1910 Airship Hangar which had previously been dismantled to house wind tunnels, but is now reconstructed – minus its outer skin – to make an impressive centrepiece. The structure has now been listed and protected as a Grade II building.
During the fifteenth series of Top Gear a race was performed around the business park.
Farnborough’s North Camp district is notable as being the location of Hampshire’s only full-throughput abattoir, nestled between housing and a school at Peabody Road. It is licensed to kill cows, sheep, pigs and goats.
Farnborough has one main shopping centre divided into three areas; Kingsmead and Queensmead (which are currently undergoing redevelopment into ‘The Meads’) and Princesmead. There are three supermarkets in Farnborough, Asda and Sainsbury’s in the town centre, and Morrisons in Southwood.
Solartron retail park is located to the West of the town centre and contains DFS, Paul Simon, Carpetright, Maplin Electronics and Pets at Home. Next to Solartron retail park is a B&Q warehouse and a Wickes DIY.
On the border with Frimley, there is a retail park known as Blackwater Retail Park (formerly Farnborough Gate), with such shops as Halfords, TK Maxx, Comet, Currys, Mamas and Papas, Outfit, McDonalds, Next and Boots late night.
The centre of Farnborough comprises the Kingsmead, Queensmead and Princesmead shopping precincts. In February 2007, in a bid to address local perceptions, Rushmoor Borough Council unveiled plans to radically renovate the centre of Farnborough over the next two decades. The town centre study outlines major changes to the council offices, Farnborough’s main railway station, the local road network and the continuation of the improvements to Farnborough town centre, including the development of a Discovery Centre (a Hampshire County Council initiative aimed at improving libraries in the county).
Work is underway to construct a new retail area with an entertainment complex. Several new blocks of flats have also been built adjacent to the town centre.
On the edge of the town centre, is Farnborough Leisure Centre, which has a swimming pool, gym, indoor bowling, squash courts and ten pin bowling.