5 reasons why you should move to Burton upon Trent
PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 January 2020
Neighbourhood know-how, people and places
One of the first things to notice about Burton upon Trent is its easy accessibility. A quick drive down the A38 and just a couple of minutes from the turn-off, you've arrived. There's plenty of reasonably priced car parking, a central railway station and the town centre is fairly compact. You're immediately aware of Burton's formidable history as the hub of the nation's brewing industry, and even though many of the brewery buildings and terraced houses were demolished at the end of the last century, there's still a wealth of characterful architecture. In the industry's heyday in 1888 there were over 30 breweries - the few that have survived today have quality on their side. Brewing is still undeniably part of the town (step outside and breathe in!) and it remains as true to its unpretentious gritty heritage as ever. A first port-of-call has to be the National Brewery Centre, which stages special events, gives fascinating tours, has a museum, a brewery tap and Shire horses, as well as a fascinating layout of the town in 1921.
Burton has interesting places to visit, some fine and tasteful independent shops, and an abundance of cafés and eateries. The excellent modern library at Riverside was a great source of information with very helpful staff. Burton is a straightforward, friendly town, and is all the better for it. On pulling into the car park a lady very kindly told me that one of the lights on my car wasn't working - and that certainly doesn't happen everywhere!
A Watery Tale
Water plays a major role in Burton's history. The River Trent runs parallel to the main street, offering a place for a peaceful stroll by the Washlands from the attractive iron Ferrybridge towards the old Burton Bridge. En route at the Old Brewery is the distinctive water tower built in 1803, an information board relates that for every barrel of beer brewed about 200 gallons of water are used 'in securing the purity of the vessels and implements necessary in the brewing operations.' The quality of the water was the reason why Burton beer was so outstanding. Take note though, the gypsum-rich water that's perfect for creating a flavoursome brew comes from wells sunk into gravel beds below the town, not from the river.
Also important in the rise of Burton's success was the Trent and Mersey Canal, now a valuable leisure asset with a popular visitor/shopping attraction at nearby Barton Marina.
Shop and Stop Awhile
Bearing in mind the British climate, any town with three fully under-cover shopping areas - Coopers Square, The Octagon and Burton Place - has a distinct advantage. All three are bright, spacious and busy with branches of high street favourites such as M&S, Boots and Waterstones. The town centre is compact too. The market square still has both an indoor and outdoor market and, although as in many towns the number of stalls has declined, amongst other things the fresh fruit and vegetables on sale looked superb.
There are plenty of cafés to choose from when you feel like a break. Helen's on the market place is a traditional tearoom that was packed with appreciative customers, selling delicious cake and bread and with a takeaway menu. Next door to it, Start and Tremayne is the sort of long-established - since 1900 - independent gift and fashion accessories shop, stocking top-quality leather goods and home items, you're always delighted to find. Also recommended to us was the Alphabet Gift Shop on Union Street opposite The Brewhouse Arts Centre. As well as a lovely choice of personalised gift items, it has an attractive, lively coffee shop/restaurant. One of Burton's oldest businesses, estate agents John German (1840) is still thriving and elsewhere on the High Street are local favourites Brigdens Menswear and the family bakers Birds. Also mentioned to us were long-standing, local, family-owned-and-run furniture store Coytes, on Derby Road, and if motorbikes are your thing you'll already know about Arnolds Motorcycles on Borough Road, opposite the splendid Victorian Town Hall.
On the west side of the town, the Pirelli Stadium is home to Burton Albion FC. Currently standing in the top half of Football League One, it's managed by the excellent Nigel Clough under the impressive chairmanship of Ben Robinson. Come on Albion! Over to the east, a 330-acre site is home to St George's Park, the English Football Association's national football centre. Just to the south, at Branston, is the 3,000-member golf, health and fitness club which has just been bought by a consortium of local families led by current managing director Ben Laing - an ever fitter future surely awaits!
The National Brewery Centre - it was a first port of call, but is worth mentioning twice!
On the outskirts: The National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas - a beautiful poignant place with woodland, gardens and over 300 unique memorials - thenma.org.uk; Claymills Victorian Pumping Station for a flavour of our great engineering heritage - claymills.org.uk; and nearby Rosliston Forestry Centre which offers lots of activities and lovely walking trails - a reminder that you're in the heart of the National Forest.