Fleet is a town in north-east Hampshire on the main London - Southampton railway line close to Hampshire's borders with Surrey and Berkshire. The town, which has a population of 39,600 and an area of 28.28 km2, comprises four parishes, the core parish of Fleet with mainly residential parishes of Elvetham Heath to the north, Crookham Village to the west and Church Crookham to the south. The town of Farnborough is to the east while open countryside separates it from Hartley Wintney to the north, Farnham to the south and Odiham to the west.
In mediaeval times, Fleet Pond, as it is now known, was owned by the monks at Winchester and was used to provide them with fish. In the late eighteenth century, Fleet was open heathland traversed from north to south by the Reading – Farnham road. Crookham Village was a hamlet which was part of the parish of Crondall. The Basingstoke Canal was built in the 1790s linking Basingstoke to the Wey Navigation and thence to the Thames.
By the 1840s a number of people had settled in the area that is now known as Church Crookham (south of the Basingstoke Canal whereas Crookham Village lay to the north of the canal). By this time there were sufficient people in the whole of Crookham to warrant the creation of a separate ecclesiastical parish of Crookham.
In 1847 a station known as Fleet Pond, was built on the London – Southampton railway line. The town of Fleet, as opposed to Church Crookham, was little developed, though in 1861 the All Saints Church, endowed by Charles Lefroy in memory of his wife provided a nucleus for growth. This church was to become the parish church for the new ecclesiastical parish of Fleet.
The proximity of the Aldershot military camp attracted a lot of senior army officers retire to Fleet, particularly in the area adjacent to the railway line, often known as the "Blue Triangle". The town grew slowly and at the end of the Second World War, the total population stood at about 8,000. Since then, its population has increased five-fold with a substantial number of its residents commuting to London daily. Fleet and the surrounding district of Hart have been repeatedly named among the best places to live in the UK, with numerous studies citing the town's wealth, commutable distance from London, proximity to the countryside and - apparently - the most sex toys per capita of anywhere in Britain!
Fleet is served by the 1 M3 motorway (junction 4a) which runs from London to Southampton. The town is about an hour's drive from central London, and 10 minutes from junction 12 of the M25. The A323 is a handy access road (via Aldershot) from the A31 in the south.
The principal car parks are the multi-storey car park in the Hart Centre (access via Albert Street), the Church Road Car Park behind Sainsbury's (access via Church Road), the Victoria Road car park and the short-term Gurkha Square car park (access Fleet Road).
- 2 Fleet railway station for South Western Railway services from London (Waterloo, Clapham Junction), Basingstoke, Southampton (Central, Airport Parkway), Portsmouth (Harbour), Bournemouth and Poole. Trains depart from Waterloo three times an hour Monday-Saturday and every hour on Sundays.
Also of use may be this station in Farnborough:
- 3 North Camp railway station for Great Western Railway trains from Reading, Guildford and London Gatwick Airport. This station is on the Hampshire/Surrey border and is about 5 miles (8.0 km) by road from Fleet. There are no direct public transport links.
Fleet is well served by airports. For travellers coming directly to Fleet, the closest airports are:
- London Heathrow Airport (LHR IATA) is 28 miles away. Drive to Fleet via the M4, M25 and M3 motorways. Public transport options from Heathrow to Fleet are indirect and take much longer than driving. You can either take a Rail Air bus shuttle to Woking railway station, and catch the train, or take the London Underground (Piccadilly line to Piccadilly Circus, then Bakerloo line to Waterloo) to London Waterloo and catch the train from there.
- Southampton Airport (SOU IATA) is 40 miles away. Drive to Fleet via the M3 motorway. There are also frequent express trains between Southampton Airport Parkway and Fleet railway stations.
- London Gatwick Airport (LGW IATA) is 46 miles away. Drive to Fleet via the M23, M25 and M3 motorways. Direct trains to North Camp (5 miles from Fleet) operate from Gatwick Airport station.
- London Luton Airport (LTN IATA) is 52 miles away. Drive to Fleet via the M1, M25 and M3 motorways. Trains connect Luton Airport Parkway to London St Pancras International every 35 minutes. From there, take the London Underground (Victoria line to Oxford Circus, then Bakerloo line to Waterloo) to London Waterloo station. Trains depart for Fleet three times an hour Monday-Saturday and every hour on Sundays.
Farnborough airfield is 3 miles (5 km) from Fleet. There are no scheduled commercial flights to and from 4 Farnborough Airport (FAB IATA); rather it is the base of two of the largest private jet hire companies in the UK. If you have the money, the sky really is the limitǃ
Fleet is only small, so most visitors will get around on foot or by car.
- Fleet Taxis, ☎ .
- 1 Fleet Pond. Nature reserve with large freshwater lake.
- 2 Basingstoke Canal. Canal built in the 1790s originally linking Basingstoke with the Thames via the Wey Navigation.
- 3 All Saints Church, Church Road, Fleet. Parish church, consecrated in 1861. A Grade II listed building that was badly damaged by fire in 2015. In April 2018, it was still under repair.
- 4 Christ Church, Crookham, Gally Hill Road, Church Crookham. Parish church, consecrated in 1841. A Grade II listed building.
- 1 Tweseldown Racecourse, Beacon Hill Road, Church Crookham (Off the B3013), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Hosts horse trials throughout the year. Prices vary.
- 2 North Hants Golf Club, Minley Road, Fleet, ☎ . 18-hole golf course where Justin Rose learnt his game. Prices vary.
- 3 Fleet Half Marathon (start/end Calthorpe Park), Calthorpe Park. Half marathon, first run in 1982, billed as a "Preparation for the London Marathon" and run annually a few weeks before the London Marathon.
- 4 Hart Leisure Centre, Emerald Avenue,Fleet GU51 5EE, ☎ 0333 005 0134 (non-geographic number). Leisure centre with gym, swimming pool, climbing wall. sauna, outdoor sports fields, etc.
Most of Fleet's shops are in or within 200 metres of Fleet Road. Shops and markets include:
- 1 Fleet Market, Gurkha Square, Fleet Road. Sa 8AM–3PM. Traditional town market - vegetables, butcher, hardware etc. Free.
- 2 Hart Shopping Centre, Fleet Road (pedestrian); Albert Street (car park). M-F 9AM–5:30PM, Sa 9AM–6PM, Su 10AM–4PM. Traditional shopping mall.
However 3 Morrisons, Elvetham Heath, Fleet GU51 1GY. M-Sa 7AM–10PM, Su 10AM–4PM. Supermarket in the Elvetham Heath development, away from the town centre.
The Gurkhas were based in the Fleet area and today there is a large Nepalese community in North-East Hampshire. Two mid-range Nepalese restaurants are practically next door to each other in Fleet:
- 1 Gurkha Square, 327 Fleet Road, GU51 3BU, ☎ . Tu-Su 6PM-10:30PM. Friendly atmosphere with attentive staff happy to explain the menu to first-timers.
- 2 Kathmandu, 305 Fleet Road, GU51 3BU, ☎ . Daily 5PM-11PM. The newer and slightly inferior of the two, but still good food.
You will find similar restaurants in neighbouring towns too.
- 3 Daisy's Tea Room, 295 Fleet Road, GU51 3BT (within Serendipity antiques shop). M-Sa 10AM-4:30PM, Su 11AM-3PM. A range of hold and cold sandwiches, also does a good afternoon tea with homemade cakes and scones.
- 4 The Foresters, Aldershot Road, Church Crookham, GU52 9EP (In the woods on the road east out of Crookham), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily noon-midnight. Cosy woodland setting for classic pub grub with a gastronomic twist. House specialities include a bacon and Westcountry cheese burger, and a smoked chicken, tarragon and mustard pie. Mains £14-£18.
- 5 Trattoria La Casa, 203 Fleet Road, GU51 3BL, ☎ . Daily 10AM-10:30PM (Su closes 10PM). Decent Italian restaurant and pizzeria.
- 6 The Exchequer, Crondall Road, Crookham Village, GU51 5SU (2 miles out of Fleet), ☎ . Pub open day and night. Kitchen hours: M-Th noon-2:30PM, 6PM-9PM; F Sa noon-9:30PM continuous; Su noon-8:30PM continuous. Gastropub serving seasonal food typical of Hampshire and the southern counties. Stay for a locally-distilled gin and platter of local cheeses.
Fleet has a number of public houses (pubs), many of which have attached restaurants. Those listed here are also notable landmarks.
- 1 The Oatsheaf, 2 Crookham Rd, Fleet GU51 5DR, ☎ . Public house with attached restaurant. It has given its name to the "Oaksheaf Crossing", one of Fleet's principal landmarks.
- 1 Premier Inn Fleet, 11 Fleet Rd, Waterfront Business Park, ☎ .
- 2 Lismoyne Hotel, 45 Church Road, Fleet, ☎ .
The telephone area code for Fleet (and surrounding areas) is 01252 (from within the United Kingdom) or +44 1252 (International) and the postal districts are GU51 and GU52.
All the towns and attractions listed below are within 30 miles of Fleet and many are a lot closer.
- Aldershot, the "home of the British Army" is home to two military museums, an artificial ski slope, lido and theatres.
- Alton, a pretty mid-Hants market town, start of the Watercress Line steam railway, and near to the homes of Jane Austen and Gilbert White
- Basingstoke, the best shopping and entertainment options in north Hampshire.
- Farnborough, the "home of British aviation" which is noted for its biennial airshow. Has the nearest cinema to Fleet.
- Farnham, an historic market town with an attractive selection of independent shops and a castle.
- Odiham, a small Georgian market town surrounded by pretty countryside and a castle which was once besieged by the French.
|Routes through Fleet|
|Southampton ← Basingstoke ←||W E||→ Farnborough → London|
|Basingstoke ← Winchfield ←||W E||→ Farnborough → London|