As part of the rash of wealthy commuter towns in the Three Rivers area (cf. Abbots Langley, Chorleywood, Loudwater), I held out high hopes for “Ricky.” Yet, as with these other settlements when you actually get there, there’s very little worth coming for. Looking on Wikipedia, it seems the town’s main claim to fame is being included on the first page of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which isn’t really saying a lot. Famous residents such as David Seaman, Tim Lovejoy or Alan Duncan may disagree, although you’d have trouble getting a similar statement out of William Penn these days, but it seems to me just another bland, Betjemanian sprawl of wealthy suburb.
Wending ones way into the town, it looks promising – a narrow high street with overhanging roofs, tight one way systems, free parking in the multistorey, a Waitrose towering over the hilly station. In reality however, it’s an imitation of a lovely high street; the majority of buildings date from the 1920s at the earliest, ranging through the numerous multi-storey parking of the 1960s to the modern, bizarrely placed, and huge Waitrose. It’s an attempt to capitalise on a small existing community (there’s a few C17 buildings around, the low ones) in a sympathetic way. Partially successful, but it doesn’t make much of a destination for visitors of any sort – least of all niche markets such as ourselves.
There’s just the three charity shops, and referring to our minimum standards, one Oxfam. This is the pick of the bunch with some curios, among them outsize red shoes (I was a bit tempted, even though my boat-likes wouldn’t nearly fill them), collectable first editions and expensive shirts nestling in underneath low ceilings. Further up the high street, Help The Aged offers a huge but sparsely stocked space, and back down the road, Sue Ryder has another large space but again, poorly filled. I wonder if the proclaimed credit crunch is really having the reported effect on charity shops by now. It’s difficult to genuinely tell, but Rickmansworth definitely offered a thrill-free hour of charity trawling, so maybe we’re onto something…
Find: Rickmansworth @ Google Maps
Transport: Rickmansworth station is served by overground rail and the Metropolitan Line
Consume with: Caffe Nero was as exciting as we can find, although there’s actually plenty of places to refuel.
Visit: One of Colonisation‘s classic founding fathers, William Penn was a Rickmansworthite; his house is still here, and his life is on display at the Three Rivers Museum.
Overall Rating: two red shoes