With evidence of settlement dating back to the prehistoric times, Ashford’s history spans several millennia. First recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as having a church, two mills and 21 ‘households’ – large by medieval standards – Ashford was well on its way to becoming the large and diverse borough it is today.
In 1243, Ashford’s history as a market town began, becoming one of Kent’s most important by the 1600s. Initially based in Middle Row and the High Street, the Ashford Cattle Market Company Ltd was formed to relocate it in 1856 to Elwick Road as it had outgrown its site. Now located in Orbital Park and used by over 5,000 farmers, it remains one of the top 15 markets in the UK.
The arrival of the railway and its manufacturing works was a defining moment in Ashford’s
modernisation, when the town became an important passenger junction and centre for the rail industry. Although all the works were finally closed by 1993, Ashford experienced a revival with
the introduction of international services in 1996. This was followed by the arrival of Hitachi’s first UK depot servicing the high-speed Javelin trains that have linked Ashford to London in just 38 minutes since 2009.
This trail guides you around the historic town centre of Ashford,
Ashford Borough Council launched the Ashford Heritage Trail in June 2016. These pages form the online version of the Trail and will add more detail to the Trail leaflet.
Download a copy of the print version (pdf 4MB)