I'm an IT Consultant for a 'gold partner' of IBM. So I've spent a lot of time down there - courses, presentations, and working also working on customer problems (IBM happily let you come in to the customer centre and work on their 390s/datapower boxes/etc if you need to.
I've been 'blue labeled' a few times too - i.e. working in South Africa for a few months, badged as an 'IBMer' since IBM lacked the skills for the product internally at the time (datapower).
Winchester is a nice place too - lots of pubs, etc.
I've always found the folk at Hursely to be a good bunch. Unlike the USA contingent who can be a bunch of wankers.
We are big into MQ and Messagebroker for example.
About 7 or 8 years ago the US based websphere group made a bid to try to takeover SOA within IBM - got everything renamed into the 'websphere' family - and made it clear to customer that MQ/MB was dead/dying and they should all use websphere messaging, websphere ESB, Process server, etc.
I remember being at a partner event in Dublin in around 2006 where I was told by a bunch of shiny america IBMers all about websphere ESB and how wonderful it is. Everytime I asked about why it couldn't do this or that, and why was it slower than MQ/MB, etc I was met with stony silence as if I clearly should be shutting up and accepting the shite they were coming out with.
It was clearly utter shite, and never going to happen. MB/MQ is rock solid mature tech that 'just works'. customer love it.
You could see it really rubbed some of the Hursely guys up the wrong way that US IBM websphere group was trying to shut them down.
8 years later: MB/MQ is going strong. I've never met a single customer who has every used Websphere ESB.
Long live Hursley.