Our local guide to Stroud
We’re biased, of course, but it’s with good reason that Stroud was voted ‘Best place to live in the UK 2021’ by The Sunday Times. Sitting at the point at which five valleys converge, and surrounded by rolling hills and countryside within the Cotswold area of outstanding natural beauty, Stroud is a small town with a huge heart, and it has captured the imagination of many who have visited over the years. Plenty of those visitors have then returned, or even just stayed, to make Stroud their home.
Logistically, you can’t blame them. Stroud is superbly placed for access to London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham, with a central railway station with a direct London (Paddington) service. Junction 13 of the M5 is closeby, so it’s easy to get where you need to go. There’s plenty to see and do by just walking out of your front door though – the town has a great variety of shops, cafes, pubs and amenities, including a busy leisure centre and the famous, award-winning weekly farmers’ market.
Many of Stroud’s most established shops are independent, family-run businesses – pop into Made In Stroud for locally sourced giftware and art or drop in at Woodruffs, the UK’s original organic cafe. More recent development has seen the relaunch of the Five Valleys shopping centre (now a haven for all you foodie types), the refurbishment of the cinema and the addition of a ten pin bowling centre and a central gym.
Spiritually, you can’t blame them either. Stroud has a proud, thriving local community, one steeped in music and art. Jasper Conran dubbed the town ‘the Covent Garden of the Cotswolds’, while the London Evening Standard famously described Stroud as ‘Notting Hill with Wellies’.
Whilst both of these comparisons would make your die-hard Stroudie wince, there’s no denying that art, music and creativity are woven into the fabric of life here. Grab your copy of local guide mag Goodonpaper, then head to the Subscription Rooms, Lansdown Hall and gallery, the SVA or the Goods Shed for gigs and art installations.
Stroud is also a festival town, celebrating the things that matter to us – art, literature, music, theatre and the natural world, among others. Oh, and make sure you grab tickets to the Hidden Notes festival.
Then on Sunday walk up the Commons, or The Heavens, for some fresh air (with the dog … you live in Stroud now, you’ll need a dog), and then maybe treat yourself to lunch with friends at The Crown and Sceptre or The Corner House, or a pint at The Golden Fleece or Stroud Brewery.
Talking of the brewery, don’t forget a walk along Stroud’s historic canal, close to the River Frome, where Stroud’s mills and millponds testify to a rich industrial past. In fact, Stroud was once one of the greatest centres for textile production in the world and the green baize cloth used to cover snooker tables, as well as the cloth covering championship tennis balls, is still made here in the town.
So you’ll come for the good schools, the scenery and the transport links, but you’ll stay for the people, the spirit and the energy. Welcome to Stroud, our unique, wonderful town. We’re proud to call it home.
- Schools: there are six primary schools in the town, as well as many in the surrounding areas. The town also has three secondary schools – a comprehensive and two grammar schools – and further education is provided by South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.
- Facilities: a swimming pool and leisure centre, railway station to London, cinema, bowling alley, gyms and a number of arts venues.
- Food and Shopping: an award-winning weekly farmers’ market and a wide range of shops, cafes and restaurants. The town also has no less than seven major supermarkets.
- Churches: the town has a number of churches of different denominations.
- Famous Faces: Thomas the Tank Engine author Rev W Awdry and Cider with Rosie author Laurie Lee are just two of the many famous people associated with the town.
“I love popping into any of our three (!) independent records shops for my vinyl fix and then off for a wander around the Farmers Market.”