Hot Spot: Rugby, Warks

The birthplace of rugby union is still a bustling transport hub - and is seeing impressive growth, says Robert Liebman
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The Independent Online

When, during a football game at Rugby School in 1823, a player picked up the ball and ran with it, the other boys should have thrashed him to within an inch of his life. Instead, the name of William Webb Ellis was etched in history books, and the schoolboy credited with inventing a new sport.

When, during a football game at Rugby School in 1823, a player picked up the ball and ran with it, the other boys should have thrashed him to within an inch of his life. Instead, the name of William Webb Ellis was etched in history books, and the schoolboy credited with inventing a new sport.

The town of Rugby was transformed from an agricultural to an industrial town in the 1770s with the arrival of the canals and, about 60 years later, the railroad. Centrally located on the London-Birmingham line and, later, the line to Nottingham and Derby, the town became a major junction and a centre for the manufacture of rolling stock. At one time its station was Europe's largest. Manufacturing subsequently declined but Rugby retained its status as a transportation hub, aided nowadays by the proximity of several motorways.

Rugby's redundant agricultural and industrial past is now underpinning town-centre renewal. "We expect to allocate more than 100 acres of underused industrial land near the railway station to provide nearly 1,000 new homes over the next decade," the borough council declares.

"Currently occupied by Alstom (formerly GEC) together with the 10-acre site used by Rugby Livestock Sales, these brownfield sites have been earmarked for new housing."

In addition, about 2,000 new homes are rising at two sites - Coton and Cawston - on the outskirts of town.

"Rugby offers a mixture of modern dwellings and 18th-century housing among its extensive parks and recreational open spaces," says Paul Fincham of estate agents Halifax.

"House prices increased 21 per cent last year, producing an average of £169,000. It is one of the more affordable areas in Warwickshire, and still highly sought after, especially among first-time buyers."

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

Rugby train station has services to London, Birmingham, Northampton, Milton Keynes, Manchester, Liverpool, north Wales and Glasgow. The M6, M45 and M1 surround the town on three sides. Several airports - Birmingham International, East Midlands and Coventry - are nearby.

Attractions

The James Gilbert Rugby Football Museum is housed in the original building where William Gilbert, Rugby School's boot and shoe maker, made his first rugby football in 1842. Rugby School also has a museum and offers guided tours of its buildings, which are mostly Victorian, although the school was founded in 1567.

Culture

The amateur Rugby Theatre owns a 313-seat venue, produces 10 shows annually and screens the occasional film. A bronze statue honours the poet Rupert Brooke, who was born in the town and attended Rugby School.

History

Dunchurch, south of Rugby, has a 14th-century church and a prominent place in English history. Not far from the church is Guy Fawkes House, reputed to be the Lion Inn where the Gunpowder Plot conspirators waited to hear if their scheme had succeeded. Also near Rugby, the village of Ansty takes its name from Nicholas Ansty, but had previously been owned by Lady Godiva.

Prices

For first-time buyers, Shipways has a modern, two-bedroom, ground-floor maisonette with large rear garden at £89,950. In Hillmorton, south-east of the town centre, a two-reception, two-bed mid-terrace with small courtyard garden is £129,950. A little more upmarket in this area is a larger detached three-bed house at £235,000, and a double-fronted, three-reception, four-bed detached house with gardens to three sides, £329,950; all at Shipways.

Farm conversions

In Long Lawford, less than four miles from Rugby, Swallows Barn is an L-shaped, 13-room former milking parlour with exposed beams, large rooms and spiral staircase leading to two bedrooms on the second storey. There is also a garage, pavilion and workshop, all on about 1.3 acres; £695,000 at Shipways. Another L-shaped property is Winwick Manor Farm, on 3.68 acres eight miles east of Rugby, £975,000 at Strutt & Parker.

Country

The Old Vicarage is a six-bed home with a separate coach house, heated swimming pool and tennis court on about 1.6 acres in Withybrook, eight miles from Rugby; £1.1m at FPDSavills.

Let's get permission

The 4.2-acre Grade II-listed Wharf Farm in Hillmorton overlooks the Oxford Canal and has outbuildings with planning permission for conversion into three holiday lets and offices; £600,000 at Fisher German.

New

The Pavilions is a 166-unit development by Wimpey, which has flats starting from £119,995 (0121 703 3400). Twigden is building houses on two sites (01788 815086). Westbury's large Coton Park (01788 544772) has some newly released houses joining the development, and Laing's 28-unit Meadowfields has two-bed flats from £189,995 (01788 576265).

Estate agents

Fisher German, 01295 271555; FPDSavills, 01295 228000; Shipways, 01788 574641; Strutt & Parker, 01858 433123.

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