Published On: Sun, Feb 11th, 2024
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The little market town once named UK’s ugliest that’s now loved by Hollywood | Travel News | Travel

A little market town which was once voted the UK’s ugliest place has since become a filmmakers’ favourite. Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire was ranked as the ugliest town in Britain in 2013 by the authors of the Crap Towns book beating out the likes of Luton and Slough.

But now more than a decade later, the town is seeing a resurgence thanks to movie makers, with the location starring in the Afterlife TV series and Steven Spielberg‘s Masters of the Air.

It has also been featured in Grantchester and Ladhood, with Dacorum Borough Council claiming the films and TV series had “transformed” the town.

Amy Greenland, the council’s filming lead said she now called the town “Hemelwood” adding that Afterlife was the show that “put Hemel on the map”.

She said the town had begun to see new film studios opening in it.

Ms Greenland told the BBC: “It’s really close to London and we’ve got so many iconic film studios around us, which means the crews don’t need to relocate.

“We’re trying to provide film crews with everything they need.”

She explained that the town was “not really recognisable” when Spielberg’s teams rolled in, taking Hemel back in time to the 1940s in a move which “went down well with local businesses”.

Sue Heaslip, who works in the town’s Tea Tree tearooms, which was visited by Ricky Gervais for Afterlife, told the BBC it was a “privilege” to have the series filmed in her town adding that it had brought in the tourists.

She told the BBC: “We’ve had quite a lot of people say they’ve come to visit after seeing After Life, from as far as Ireland, Germany and America.”

Snapping up a home in the “Hemelwood” hills will cost £431,396 on average according to Rightmove and despite the attention of filmmakers prices actually declined by 3pc over the last year.

When voting it the country’s ugliest town about 10 years ago, Crap Towns said Hemel was Britain’s “dullest” town adding that it had unattractive architecture and unappealing town centres.

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