Staines has been an important communications point ever since the Romans established a river crossing here on their route from London to the west. Not all subsequent bridges have lasted so well – three of them had collapsed by the end of the 18th century. The present one, opened by William IV in 1832, survives despite the heavy traffic from the A30 and M25. A surprisingly small station car park, accommodating only 50 or so cars, means that the surrounding roads are clogged by all-day parkers. Commuters often prefer to travel from other stations if they can. There is a wide range of housing. Large developments offer flats and houses from £130,000 for a studio, £200,000 for a two-bedroom flat, around £280,000 for a three-bedroom semi and £400,000 to £450,000 for a four-bedroom detached. Staines is one of Surrey’s three main shopping centres. It keeps up to date – the huge Elmsleigh shopping centre opened in 2005 and is augmented by arts entertainment venues, including a 10-screen Warner Brothers multiplex, health club and restaurants. The street market is on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The riverside is full of potential and the small roads leading off Laleham Road to the water are sought after. There is a sailing and a rowing club and along the riverside there are apartments, lawns, walks and moorings. A terraced house with two bedrooms and a patio could cost £390,000.
Laleham, on the way to Shepperton, is the most favoured village, spread along a sizeable stretch of riverside. It has its own cricket club and a few basics – a Spar, an antiques shop and three pubs – and what one local called a ‘cliquey atmosphere but a nice clique. Everyone gets on well’. In the predominantly Victorian village centre, three bedroom semis can be bought for £350,000 to £450,000, a large four-bedroom detached house would cost £560,000.