Hopewell Twinning Association – Sister City
Ashford, Kent; England, United Kingdom
Ashford is a town in the county of Kent, England. It lies on the River Great Stour at the south edge of the North Downs, about 61 miles (98 km) southeast of central London and 15.3 miles (24.6 km) northwest of Folkestone by road. In the 2011 census, it had a population of 74,204. The name comes from the Old English æscet, indicating a ford near a clump of ash trees. It has been a market town since the 13th century, and a regular market continues to be held.
Ashford has been a communications hub and has stood at the center of five railway lines since the 19th century. The arrival of the railways became a source of employment and contributed to the town’s growth. With the opening of the international passenger station it is now a European communications center, with new lines running between London and the Channel Tunnel . The M20 motorway also links Ashford to those two destinations for road traffic.
The town has been marked as a place for expansion since the 1960s and appeared on several Government plans for growth. Changes have included the County Square shopping centre, the redevelopment of the Templer Barracks at Repton Park, and the award winning Ashford Designer Outlet. In the 1970s, a controversial ring road scheme and construction of the multi-storey Charter House building destroyed significant parts of the old town, though some areas were spared and preserved.
St Mary’s Church in Ashford has been a local landmark since the 13th century, and expanded in the 15th. Today, the church functions in a dual role as a centre for worship and entertainment. Ashford has two grammar schools; the Norton Knatchbull School and Highworth Grammar School.
Ashford Designer Outlet attracts approximately 3 million customers a year.