Living in Chelmsford

Marconi statue in Chelmsford Untitled Page

Chelmsford has its very own personality and huge appeal for a compact city just 35 minutes from London. It's known as the birthplace of radio, thanks to its connection with Guglielmo Marconi who opened the world's first wireless factory here in 1899. 

From first-class cricket to being home to one of the world’s best international music festivals, you’ll be surprised to discover what Chelmsford has to offer. As a student here, it won’t take you long to get used to the friendly, laidback atmosphere the city exudes. Small enough to never overwhelm but big enough to explore and discover your own highlights, Chelmsford is a city that quickly feels like home.

Chelmsford highlights

One of the best things about Chelmsford is its size. It’s compact, and easy to explore on foot or by bicycle.

And what will you see? In the centre you’ll find all the high street names as well as a grand choice of places to eat and drink. Baddow Road is home to the majority of independent shops, boutiques and restaurants – with a host of cuisines to choose from. Every Friday and Saturday, shoppers are treated to a variety of local and international treats at the Gourmet Food Fair which is held in the high street.

With so much to see and do it can be hard to pick out the highlights, but we think you’ll like:

  • exploring the shops and restaurants in Baddow Road
  • the 800-year-old retail market that houses stalls selling everything from specialist foods to clothing and homeware
  • exploring the collections displayed at the Chelmsford Museum nestled in the heart of Oaklands Park
  • historic Hylands Park, whose house and grounds you can explore for hours; it’s also home to the annual V music festival
  • relaxing in open spaces such as Central Park, Hylands Park and Oaklands Park.

Art and culture

For art and culture there really is something for everyone. We’ve already mentioned the Chelmsford Museum, but there’s also the Civic and Cramphorn theatres, both in the city centre and showing a varied programme of theatre, comedy, music, dance and film.

There’s also a number of other live music venues in and around the city that showcase up and coming bands as well as established acts.

Visit Essex has information about local arts events.

Food and drink

When it comes to food and drink, there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets in Chelmsford.

You’ll be spoilt for choice with names you find on most high streets including Giraffe, Wildwood, Prezzo, Pizza Express, Café Rogue, Zizzi and many more. If you’re looking for something a little different you won’t be disappointed either, there’s a wealth of independent restaurants that cater for every palette and many cuisines. The city is also well-equipped in the café department with everything from a great stop for a fry-up to the quintessential afternoon tea – try Small Talk Tearooms or Tea on the Green for great tea and cake.

The city and surrounding villages are also home to some of the best pubs in the region, most serving lunches and dinners. The Lion Inn in Boreham is always good for delicious food and a great atmosphere. And don’t forget the Gourmet Food Fair that’s on in the high street every Friday and Saturday.

Visit Chelmsford has a handy search tool that can help you find the perfect place to eat.

Shopping

For serious shoppers there’s the well-stocked high street and two shopping arcades, The Meadows and High Chelmer where you’ll find everything you could possibly want or need. There’s also a multi-screen Odeon cinema in the city centre.

We’ve mentioned Baddow Road but there’s also Moulsham Street for quirky shops and cool pubs, and the odd hidden gem tucked away in the side streets so make sure you explore. Right in the centre near the High Chelmer shopping centre is the 800-year-old retail market which is an absolute treat. You can get just about anything at the market which is open Tuesday-Saturday and well worth a look.

Sports

Whether you just want to have fun and keep fit, or if you're more serious about competing, there's plenty of opportunity to get involved in sport in Chelmsford. It goes without saying it’s a cricket-loving city where Essex County Cricket Club plays its home games. The Essex First Team Squad includes famous names like England Captain Alastair Cook, Graham Napier and Monty Panesar.

You can also take full advantage of Chelmsford’s Sport and Athletics Centre with its first class indoor and outdoor facilities suitable for all ages and abilities – it’s popular with elite athletes and non-professional folk too.

Not to mention our own on-campus sports run by our Active Anglia team. There’s loads of social sport going on every day including studio fitness classes, which you can just turn up and try without any long-term commitment. We have a gym and sports hall on campus as well which you can join at hugely discounted rates.

Riverside Ice and Leisure Centre is the city's sporting hub with facilities that include swimming pools, a gym and an ice rink (where the Chelmsford Chieftains ice hockey team play). We’ve got a good partnership with the centre which offers our students reduced rates on memberships.

Alternatively, if being on the water is more your thing Chelmsford has one of the oldest canoe clubs in the country. Established in 1946 it has around 400 members and the team runs introductory courses in the spring and summer for newcomers to give it a try.

Visit us in Chelmsford

Fancy seeing Chelmsford for yourself? Book on to one of our open days, come along and explore. We’d love to welcome you to our campus.