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Peterborough

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Peterborough is an historic cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, part of the English region of East Anglia.

Understand

Peterborough, in the North East of Cambridgeshire, is a Cathedral city and is known as the 'Gateway to the Fens'. Peterborough emerged as the region's industrial capital after the building of a major rail junction just outside the historic city centre. Designated a 'New Town' in 1967 the city expanded rapidly during the 1970s and 1980s. Home to a large second-generation Italian population, and a later influx of Asian immigrants, more recently the city has been a destination for Eastern European migrants. The city centre has been extensively redeveloped and is dominated by the Queensgate shopping mall, leaving only a small central area of historic interest remaining, which includes the Cathedral and its environs.

Get in

By road

From London, take the A1(M) northwards. From Cambridge, take the A14 northeastwards, before joining the A1(M).

By rail

1 Peterborough station is on the East Coast Main Line from London King's Cross to York, Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne and Edinburgh. It is 45 minutes travel from London on the fastest East Coast trains, but slower on the stopping First Capital Connect services. There is also services to and from Norwich on East Midlands Trains, where there is 1ph also stopping at Ely and Thetford. There is 1tph to Cambridge and London Stansted airport also stopping at Ely also at Leicester and Birmingham New Street in the other direction, this is run by Crosscountry. There is also a train service to Ipswich stopping ElyNewmarket and Bury St Edmunds, this is run by National Express East Anglia.

Get around

There is a fairly good cycle & footpath network. Much of the city centre is pedestrianised Taxis are good value as the city is not very large and it has a decent network of ringroads.

See

  • 1 Peterborough Cathedral, PE1 1XS, ☏ +44 1733 355300. Open M-F 9AM-6.30PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 7.30AM-5PM. NB: access may be limited during services, no set admission fee, but donations appreciated (£3.50 suggested). It was founded as an abbey in 665; the present building was started in 1118 and completed in 1238. Highlights of the Cathedral include the West Front with its unique English Gothic Portico, the original 13th century painted nave ceiling (the only English example and one of only four in Europe!), the burials of Katharine of Aragon (1st wife from six of Henry VIII) and of Mary Queen of Scots, the fan vaulting of the New Building Ceiling, the Hedda Stone (an 8th Century Saxon carving from the original church) and St Oswald's Chapel with its original 12th century watchtower.
  • 2 Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, Priestgate, PE1 1LF, ☏ +44 1733 343329, fax: +44 1733 341928, ✉ museum@peterborough.gov.uk. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-4PM, closed most Mondays and public holidays. Free.
  • 3 Flag Fen - Britain's Bronze Age Centre, The Droveway, Northey Road, PE6 7QJ, ☏ +44 844 414 0646. Open April to October (inclusive) 10AM-5PM everyday, with last entry to the park at 4PM. The Bronze Age settlement is 2-3 miles east of Peterborough City Centre and you will need a car or taxi to get there. The Flag Fen website is regularly updated and includes information on public events and developments in the archaeological park, educational programmes for schools, opening times and admission charges. It also carries news of the latest archaeological discoveries from the excavations. Entrance fee £5 for adults, £3.75 for children and full-time students.
  • 4 Longthorpe Tower, Thorpe Rd, PE3 6LU, ☏ +44 1733 864663. A 14th-century building with medieval wall paintings. adults £3.00, children £2.00, concessions £2.00.

Do

  • Ice Skate, 1 Mallard Road, Peterborough, ☏ +44 1733 260222. at Planet Ice, also used by the Peterborough Phantoms ice hockey team. Check availability before heading there.
  • 1 Nene Valley Railway, Wansford Station, Stibbington, PE8 6LR (15 mins walk from city centre), ☏ +44 1780 784444, ✉ nvrorg@nvr.org.uk. Ride the heritage railway passing through pleasant countryside, stopping off at one of the pretty villages for lunch.
  • Sacrewell, Thornhaugh, PE8 6HJ, ☏ +44 1780 782254, ✉ info@sacrewell.org.uk. Heritage farm attraction and 18th century watermill

Buy

Shopping in the city centre is dominated by the large indoor Queensgate Centre, which lies in between the station and the historic city centre. Queensgate offers the usual range of chain stores found in most UK city centres. John Lewis and Marks & Spencer are the two main department stores.

  • 1 Queensgate Shopping Centre, Long Causeway, PE1 1NT, ☏ +44 1733 311666. M-W: 9AM-5:30PM, Th-F: 9AM-8PM, Sa: 9AM-6PM, Su: 10:30AM-4:30PM.

Eat

Peterborough, due to its large Italian immigrant population, is the crucible of the UK pizza house. One of its most famous residents is Peter Boizot, founder of the Pizza Express chain of restaurants. Oddly, Peterborough took a while to get a branch of this chain.

  • Pizza House, 3 Cowgate. The oldest pizza restaurant in the city, started in 1980, right in the heart of the city centre. It's a cafe-style pizza house, still owned and run by an Italian family, and pre-dates the invasion by US pizza chains and even Pizza Express.
  • There are a vast number of 'takeaway' restaurants but if you'd like to eat quality fish and chips, English style, try Parrotts Fish Parlour near the market, where you can sit down and much in relative comfort.

Drink

Peterborough has a huge number of average pubs but some which are outstanding.

  • The Brewery Tap (across Bourges Boulevard from the rail station, just a short walk.). The former unemployment office, converted into a pub and microbrewery in the late 1990s. It has won awards from national magazines for its quality. It serves Thai food, but more notably a huge range of 'real ales' - traditional English beers which are not pasteurised or gassed with CO2. Its 'native' beer is brewed by Oakham Ales, which once ran the micro-brewery you can see through the plate glass panels.
  • Charters (On the river at Town Bridge). A converted Dutch grain barge, that sits at a jaunty angle in the river, forever threatening to sink, also serves a range of traditional beers. It has a restaurant, East, upstairs serving Asian 'fusion' food, and downstairs a bar which doubles as a music venue on some weekends, with late-night live blues and other music. Additionally, Charters has a large 'bandstand' garden designed by noted UK landscaper Bunny Guinness.
  • Palmerston Arms (The Palmie), Oundle Road. Tiny, one of England's most traditional pubs. Instead of serving its traditional ales from pumps on the bar, it serves them downstairs in the cellar direct from the cask, and brings the ales to the bar.

Sleep

  • 1 Dragonfly Hotel Peterborough, Thorpe Meadows (Off Longthorpe Parkway), ☏ +44 1733 564240, fax: +44 1733 565538.
  • 2 Peterborough Marriott Hotel, Tesla Court Peterborough Business Park, Lynch Wood, ☏ +44 1733 371111.
  • 3 The Bull Hotel, Westgate, ☏ +44 1733 561364.

Go next

  • Travel west to the Georgian town of Stamford (Lincolnshire), only 12 minutes by Cross Country train.
  • Head across the bleak expanse of the Fens to Ely
  • Take one of the regular trains to London



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