Infobox UK place
country = England
latitude = 51.128
longitude = -2.993
official_name = Bridgwater
population = 36,563 (2001 census)
region = South West England
constituency_westminster = Bridgwater
post_town = BRIDGWATER
postcode_district = TA5, TA6, TA7
postcode_area = TA
dial_code = 01278
os_grid_reference = ST305370
Somerset, England, is a market town, the administrative centre of the Sedgemoordistrict, and the leading industrial town in the county.Bridgwater is located on the major communication routes through South West England.
It is situated, on the edge of the
Somerset Levels, in a level and well-wooded country, having to the north the Mendip range and on the west the Quantock hills. The town lies along both sides of the River Parrett, convert|10|mi|km|0 from its mouth, here crossed by an iron bridge. The town is located between two junctions of the M5 motorway, the southern most of which houses a motorway service station. Bridgwater railway stationis on the main railway line between Bristoland Taunton.
Bridgwater had a population of 36,563 according to the 2001 census (up from 22,718 in 1951, 3,634 in 1801, and 7,807 in 1831).Fact|date=January 2008 Historically, the town had a politically radical tendency, being involved in several events of note on the national stage.
Among several places of worship the chief is St Mary Magdalene's church; this has a north porch and windows dating from the 14th century, besides a lofty and slender spire; but it has been much altered by restoration. It possesses a fine painted reredos. A house in Blake Street, largely restored, was the birthplace of Admiral Blake in 1598, and is now the
Blake Museum. Near the town are the three old churches of Westonzoyland, Chedzoyand Middlezoy, containing some good brasses and carved woodwork. The battlefield of the Battle of Sedgemoor, where the Monmouth Rebellionwas finally crushed in 1685, is within convert|3|mi|km|0; while not far off is Charlinch, the home of the Agapemonites.
It is thought that the town was originally called Brigg, meaning
Quay. It has been argued that the name may instead come from the Old Englishbrycg (gang plank) or Old Norsebryggja (quay), though this idea has been opposed on etymological grounds. In the Domesday Bookthe town is listed as Brugie, while Brugia was also used. After the Norman invasion the land was given to Walter Douai(a Norman prince), hence becoming known variously as Burgh-Walter, Brugg-Walter and Brigg-Walter, eventually corrupted to Bridgwater. An alternative version is that it derives from "Bridge of Walter" (i.e. Walter's Bridge). [cite book |last=Robinson |first=Stephen |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Somerset Place Names |year=1992 |publisher=The Dovecote Press Ltd |location=Wimbourne |isbn=1874336032] cite book |title=Somerset Harbours |last=Farr |first=Grahame |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1954 |publisher=Christopher Johnson |location=London |isbn= |pages=101-116 ]
Bridgwater is mentioned both in the
Domesday Bookand in earlier Anglo-Saxon Chronicledating from around 800, owing its origin as a trade centre to its position at the mouth of the chief river in Somerset. It was formerly part of the Hundred of North Petherton. Alfred the Greatfamously burnt cakes when hiding in the marshes of Athelneynear Bridgwater, after the Danish invasion in 875, while in 878 there was a major engagement nearby at the Battle of Cannington.Fact|date=January 2008
William Briwere was granted the lordship of the Manor of Bridgwater by Henry II in 1201. Through William's influence, King John granted three charters in 1200; for the construction of Bridgwater Castle, for the creation of a
borough, and for a market.cite book |title=Curiosities of Somerset |last=Leete-Hodge |first=Lornie |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1985 |publisher=Bossiney Books |location=Bodmin |isbn=0906456983 |pages=75 ] Bridgwater Castlewas a substantial structure built in Old Red Sandstone, covering a site of 8 or 9 acres (32,000 to 36,000 m²). A tidal moat, up to convert|65|ft|m|0 wide in places, flowed about along the current streets of Fore Street and Castle Moat, and between Northgate and Chandos Street. Unusually, the main entrance opposite the Cornhill was built with a pair of adjacent gates and drawbridges. In addition to a keep, located at the south-east corner of what is now King Square, documents show that the complex included a dungeon, chapel, stables and a bell tower. Built on the only raised ground in the town, the castle controlled the crossing of the town bridge. A convert|12|ft|m|0 thick portion of the castle wall and water gate can still be seen on West Quay, and the remains of a wall of a building that was probably built within the castle can be viewed in Queen Street. The foundations of the tower forming the north-east corner of the castle are buried beneath Homecastle House.
Other charters were granted by Henry III in 1227 (confirmed in 1318, 1370, 1380), which gave Bridgwater a gild merchant.
William de Briwere also founded St John's
hospital[cite web |url=http://www.secretpeople.co.uk/_B/Bridgwater.php |title=Bridgwater |accessdate=2008-01-20 |format= |work=Everything Exmoor ] which, by the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteriesunder Henry VIII, was worth the substantial sum of almost 121 pounds,Fact|date=January 2008 as well as starting the construction of the town's first stone bridge. One of William's sons went on to found a Franciscan prioryin the town.
During the 11th century
Second Barons' Waragainst Henry III, Bridgwater was held by the barons against the King.Fact|date=January 2008
Bridgwater's peasants under Nicholas Frampton took part in the
Peasants' Revoltof 1381, sacking Sydenham House, murdering the local tax collectors and destroying the records. [cite web |url=http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~smedlo/Bridgwater/Bridgwater.htm |title=Radical History |accessdate=2008-01-20 |format= |work=Bridgwater ]
In the medieval period the
River Parrettwas used to transport Hamstonefrom the quarry at Ham Hill, [cite journal |last=Gerrard |first=Christopher M. |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1985 |month= |title=Ham Hill Stone: A medieval distribution pattern from Somerset |journal=Oxford Journal of Archaeology |volume=4 |issue=1 |pages=105–116 |doi= 10.1111/j.1468-0092.1985.tb00234.x |accessdate= 2007-12-08 |quote= ] having become independent of Bristol and recognised as a port in its own right by 1348. Historically, the main porton the river was at Bridgwater, largely importing coal from south Wales, although by trans-shipping into barges at the town bridge it was navigable as far as Langportand (via the River Yeo) to Ilchester. After 1827, it was also possible to transfer goods to Tauntonvia the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. [cite book |last=Hawkins |first=Desmond |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Avalon and Sedgemoor |year=1982 |publisher=Alan Sutton Publishing |location=Gloucester |isbn=0862990165 ] The trade reached its peak in 1857 when there were 142 vessels totaling 17,519 tons. The last vessel built at Bridgwater was the ketch "Irene" which was launched in 1907. By 1954 only 12 vessels were registered from the town, and of these five were yachts, largely due to the limitations imposed by the size of the dock which was convert|180|ft|m|0 long and convert|31|ft|m|0 wide.
It was incorporated by charter of Edward IV (1468), confirmed in 1554, 1586, 1629 and 1684. Parliamentary representation began in 1295 and continued until the Reform Act of 1870. A Saturday market and a fair on
24 Junewere granted by the charter of 1201. Another fair at the beginning of Lent was added in 1468, and a second market on Thursday, and fairs at Midsummer and on the 21st of September were added in 1554. Charles II. granted another fair on the 29th of December. The medieval importance of these markets and fairs for the sale of wool and wine and later of cloth has gone. The shipping trade of the port revived after the construction of the new dock in 1841, and corn and timber have been imported for centuries.
Gunpowder Plotis thought to have been masterminded by Robert Parsons, born in the nearby village of Nether Stowey. To this day Guy Fawkesis celebrated as a local hero during the carnival season, including a grand illuminated procession through Bridgwater town centre, which culminates in the Squibbing.
English Civil Warthe town and the castle were held by the Royalists under ColonelSir Francis Wyndham, a personal acquaintance of the King. British history might have been very different had his wife, Lady (Crystabella) Wyndham, been a little more accurate with a musket shot that missed Cromwell but killed his aide de camp. Eventually, with many buildings destroyed in the town, the castle and its valuable contents were surrendered to the Parliamentarians on July 22 1645. The castle itself was deliberately destroyed the following year (1645), while in 1651 Colonel Wyndham made arrangements for Charles II to flee to France following the Battle of Worcester.
Following the restoration of the monarchy, in 1663 the
non-conformistReverend John Norman, vicarfrom 1647 to 1660, was one of several 'religious fanatics' confined to their homes by Lord Stawell's militia. A large religious meeting house, thought to have been Presbyterian, was demolished and its furniture burned on the Cornhill. [cite web |url=http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=18649 |title=Bridgwater:Protestant nonconformity |accessdate=2008-01-20 |format= |work=British History Online ] Matters seem to have calmed by 1688 when the Dampiet Street Unitarianchapel was founded. [cite web | title=Christ Church Unitarian Chapel | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=373868 | accessdate=2008-01-20]
In the 1685
Monmouth Rebellion, the rebel James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouthwas proclaimed King in various local towns including on the Cornhill in Bridgwater. He eventually lead his troops on a night-time attack on the King's position near Westonzoyland. Unfortunately surprise was lost when a musket was accidentally discharged, and the Battle of Sedgemoorresulted in defeat for the Duke. He later lost his head in the Tower of London, and nine locals were executed for treason. Allegedly, until recently members of the Royal Family would not pass through Bridgwater without drawing the blinds of the Royal Trainas a result of this escapade.
Bridgwater became the first town in Britain to petition the government to ban
In 1896, the trade unionists of Bridgwater's brick and tile industry were involved a number of strikes. The Salisbury government sent troops to the town to clear the barricades by force. This was the first use of the
Riot Actin the UK in an industrial dispute, and not the UK miner's strikes of the 1980s as is commonly stated.
ydenham Manor House
Previously a manor estate built in the early 16th century, which was refronted and rebuilt after 1613. [cite web | title=Sydenham Manor House | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=373819 | accessdate=2007-10-13] It now stands in the grounds of the former British Cellophane plant. Its owners were on the losing side in the Civil War and again in the
Monmouth Rebellion. Allegedly, it has a most persistent and almost predictable ghost.Fact|date=January 2008
World War IIthe Bridgwater and Taunton Canalformed part of the Taunton Stop Line, designed to prevent the advance of a German invasion. Pillboxes can still be seen along its length. The first bombs fell on Bridgwater on August 24 1940, destroying houses on Old Taunton Road, and three men, three women and one child were killed. Later a prisoner of warcamp was established at Colley Lane, holding Italian prisoners. During the preparations for the invasion of Europe, American troops were based in the town.
1950 saw the start of a significant increase in post-war housebuilding, with
council houseestates being started at Sydenham and Rhode Lane and the former cooperative estate near Durleigh. The first council estate to be built was in the 1930s at Kendale Road, followed by those at Bristol Road.
The 1973 national reform of local government removed the historic status of Bridgwater as a
Borough, as it became part of the district of Sedgemoor.
Bridgwater is a
county constituencyrepresented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the postsystem of election. Following its review of parliamentary representation in Somerset, the Boundary Commission for Englandhas finalised the proposals which expands the existing Bridgwater seat into a new Bridgwater and West Somerset division. The current MP is Ian Liddell-Grainger, a member of the Conservatives. [cite web | url= http://www.parliament.uk/directories/hciolists/alcm.cfm#B | title= Alphabetical List of Constituencies and Members of Parliament | publisher= House Of Commons Information Office | accessdate= 2008-01-19]
Members of Parliament
The Bridgwater constituency has been represented in Parliament since 1295. After the voting age was lowered in January 1970, Susan Wallace became the first 18-year-old person to vote in the UK, during the 1970 Bridgwater by-election that elected Tom King.Members of parliament have included:
*Admiral Robert Blake (
Short Parliamentof 1640)
*Admiral Robert Blake (
Barebones Parliamentof 1653)
Vernon Bartlett(Independent anti-appeasement) "Popular Front" (1938-1950)
Gerald Wills(Conservative) (1950-1969)
*Tom King (Conservative) (1970-2001)
Ian Liddell-Grainger(Conservative) (2001- )
Residents of Bridgwater also form part of the electorate for the South West England constituency for elections to the
European Parliament. [cite web |url=http://www.europarl.org.uk/uk_meps/southwest.asp |title=UK MEPs for the South West |accessdate=2008-01-11 |format= |work=European Parliament UK Office ]
Bridgwater is centred on an outcrop of
marlin an area dominated by low-lying alluvial deposits. There are local deposits of gravels and sand.cite web |url=http://www.somerset.gov.uk/somerset/cultureheritage/heritage/projects/eus/bridgwater/ |title=Bridgwater archaeological survey |accessdate=2008-01-20 |format= |work=Somerset County Council ] Bridgwater is situated, on the edge of the Somerset Levels, in a level and well-wooded country, having to the north the Mendip range and on the west the Quantock hills. The town lies along both sides of the River Parrett, convert|10|mi|km|0 from its mouth, here crossed by an iron bridge, which then flows to discharge into the Bridgwater BayNational Nature Reserve.
Along with the rest of
South West England, Bridgwater has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than the rest of the country. The annual mean temperature is approximately convert|10|°C|°F|1|lk=on and shows a seasonal and a diurnal variation, but due to the modifying effect of the sea the range is less than in most other parts of the UK. January is the coldest month with mean minimum temperatures between convert|1|°C|°F|1 and convert|2|°C|°F|1. July and August are the warmest months in the region with mean daily maxima around convert|21|°C|°F|1.
The south-west of England has a favoured location with respect to the
Azoreshigh pressure when it extends its influence north-eastwards towards the UK, particularly in summer. Convectivecloud often forms inland however, especially near hills, reducing the number of hours of sunshine. The average annual sunshine totals around 1,600 hours.
Rainfall tends to be associated with Atlantic depressions or with convection. The Atlantic depressions are more vigorous in autumn and winter and most of the rain which falls in those seasons in the south-west is from this source. Average rainfall is around convert|31|in|mm|0–convert|35|in|mm|0. About 8–15 days of snowfall is typical. November to March have the highest mean wind speeds, with June to August having the lightest winds. The predominant wind direction is from the south-west.cite web | title=About south-west England | work=Met Office |url=http://www.metoffice.com/climate/uk/location/southwestengland/index.html | accessdate=2006-05-28]
Bridgwater had a population of 36,563 according to the 2001 census (up from 22,718 in 1951, 3,634 in 1801, and 7,807 in 1831).
River Parrettwas until recently at the centre of Bridgwater's trade, and the town grew to become a major seaport for the south west of England. The convert|30|ft|m|0 tidal range on the river allowed ships of up to 300 tonnes to reach the town centre.
As early as 1300, the port exported wheat, peas and beans to Ireland, France and Spain, and by 1400 was also exporting cloth from Somerset and the adjoining counties. By 1500 it was the largest port in Somerset, [cite web |url=http://www.bristol.ac.uk/Depts/History/Maritime/Sources/1565bridgwater.htm |title=Bridgwater Port Survey, 14 May 1565 |accessdate=2008-01-20 |format= |work=Department of Historical Studies, University of Bristol ] later becoming the fifth largest in England until eclipsed by
Bristolin the 18th century.cite web |url=http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=18640 |title=Bridgwater |accessdate=2008-01-20 |format= |work=British History Online ] In its heyday, imports included wine, grain, fish, hemp, coal and timber. Exports included wheat, wool, cloth, cement, bricks and tiles. Unlike Bristol, Bridgwater was never involved in the slave tradeand, in 1797, was the first town in Britain to petition the government to ban it. [cite web |url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/somerset/content/articles/2007/02/19/abolition_somerset_and_slavery_feature.shtml |title=Somerset and slavery |accessdate=2008-01-20 |format= |work=BBC Somerset ]
The Bridgwater ship the "Emanuel" was one of three that took part in
Martin Frobisher's 1577 search for the Northwest Passage. In 1828, 40 ships were registered in the port, averaging 60 tons each. [cite book|title=Hudson, Frobisher and the Early Exploration of Canada: Some Heraldic Puzzles|first=John J.|last=Kennedy|publisher=Académie internationale d'héraldique]
Bridgwater was the leading industrial town in Somerset. A major manufacturing centre for clay tiles and bricks in the 19th century, including the famous "
Bath brick", were exported through the port. [cite book |last=Hawkins |first=Desmond |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Avalon and Sedgemoor |year=1982 |publisher=Alan Sutton Publishing |location=Gloucester |isbn=0862990165 ] In the 1890s there were a total of 16 brick and tile companies, and 24 million bricks per annum were exported during that decade alone. [cite web |url=http://bathdailyphoto.wordpress.com/2007/03/19/070319bridgwater-just-water-under-the-bridge/ |title= Bridgwater, Just Water Under the Bridge? (Not to Bath Brick Enthusiasts)|accessdate=2008-01-20 |format= |work=Bath Daily Photo ] John Sealy & Co exhibited their product range at the 1851 Great Exhibition.Fact|date=January 2008 These industries are celebrated in the Somerset Brick and Tile Museumon East Quay.
These industries collapsed in the aftermath of
World War IIdue to the failure to introduce mechanisation, although the automated Chilton Tile Factory, which produced up to 5 million tiles each year, lasted until 1968.Fact|date=January 2008 The importance of the Bath Brick declined with the advent of detergents and other cleaning products.
During the 19th century, Castle House (originally named Portland Castle after
Portland cement), reputedly the first domestic house in the UK to be built from concrete, was constructed in 1851 by John Board, a local brick and tile manufacturer. [cite web | title=Castle House | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=373965 | accessdate=2008-01-20] The building is now Grade II* listed and in 2004 was featured in the BBC televisionprogramme "Restoration".
In the 19th century, Bridgwater was also home to a number of
ironfoundries. George Hennet's Bridgwater Iron Works (closed 1878) worked on bridges, railways and machinery for Brunel and Robert Stephenson, while W&F Wills Ltd produced steam locomotives and fingerposts.
At the start of
World War II, the government built a factory to manufacture high explosives at Puritonnear Bridgwater.Cocroft, Wayne D. (2000). "Dangerous Energy: The archaeology of gunpowder and military explosives manufacture". Swindon: English Heritage. ISBN 1-85074-718-0] Called ROF Bridgwater, the plant is today owned by BAE Systemsand is scheduled to close after decommissioning is complete in July 2008. British Cellophane Ltd, a joint venture between La Cellophane SA and Courtaulds opened a major factory producing cellophanein Bridgwater 1937. The factory produced Bailey Bridges during World War IIfor the invasion of Europe. Bought by UCB Films in 1996, the town suffered a blow in 2005 when Innovia Filmsclosed the cellophane factory. At one time the factory employed around 3,000 people, although at the time of closure this had been reduced to just 250. However recovery has begun with the establishment of new businesses on the "Express Park" business park including the relocation of Gerber Juice and new enterprise Toolstationand Interpet.
Bridgwater is now a major centre of industry in Somerset, with industries including the production of plastics, engine parts, industrial chemicals, and foods. Bowerings Animal Feed Mill is now the only industry still located at the docks. Being close to the
M5 motorwayand half way between Bristoland Exeter, Bridgwater is also home to two major distribution centres. The "Excel" centre for the NHS Logistics Authority is located on the "Express Park" business park, while retailer "Argos" has a regional distribution centre based at Huntworth. Work on the new Regional Agricultural Business Centre is due to start in 2006/7. [cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/4553340.stm |title=£50m agricultural centre to open |accessdate=2008-01-20 |format= |work=BBC News ]
Bridgwater is home to the
Somerset Brick and Tile Museum, built on part of the former Barham Brothers site (brick and tile manufacturers between 1857 and 1965).
A house in Blake Street, largely restored, was the birthplace of Admiral Robert Blake in 1598, and is now the
Blake Museum. It was built in the late 15th or early 16th century, and has been designated by English Heritageas a grade II* listed building. [cite web | title=The Admiral Blake Museum | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=373830 | accessdate=2007-10-30] His statue from 1898 by D W Pomeroyhas been repositioned from the front of the Corn Exchange to face down Cornhill. [cite web | title=Blake Statue | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=373861 | accessdate=2007-10-30]
The public library By
E Godfrey Pagedates from 1905. [cite web | title=Public library and attached wall, railings, gate piers and gates | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=373824 | accessdate=2007-10-13]
As trade expanded with the
Industrial Revolution, Bridgwater was linked to Tauntonby the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal(1827), although initially it ran from a basin south of Bridgwater at Huntworth.
As trade grew docks were built in the town, linked to an extension of the canal, with both opening in 1841.The docks was dredged by a scraper-dredger
Berthasimilar to the one Brunel had designed for the Bristol Floating Harbour. June 14, 1841saw the opening of the Bristol and Exeter Railwayfrom Bristol to Bridgwater. The railway also opened a coach and wagon works in the town; the last of the buildings is currently in 2005 scheduled for demolition. Bridgwater railway station, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunelis now a Grade II listed building.
An end to the unequal competition between rail and canal came in 1867 when the Bristol and Exeter railway purchased the canal. Four years later, in 1871, the River Parrett was spanned by a unique steam-powered telescopic bridge, to allow the railway to serve the docks, last used in 1953(?). A number of local branches were also built, for example to serve the Northgate
Brewery(now replaced by a car park north of Angel Crescent) and the former British Cellophane factory. The Somerset and Dorset branch lineto Edington was opened in 1890. Its former Bridgwater station is now occupied by J Sainsbury.The importance of shipping and the docks started to decline after 1886, the year in which the opening of the Severn Tunnelcaused a severe drop in coal imports by sea. The situation worsened as the railways were extended into Somerset and beyond, and ships became too big for the port. The last commercial use of the docks was when coal imports ceased on July 31 1971, and although they now house a marina they are currently little used. The surrounding quays have been developed for housing, although the remains of wooden quays on the riverbank can still be seen. All but a small remnant of the "mump" (a huge mound of spoil from the original dock excavations) was removed in the 1980s to make way for the development on the north side of the dock.
Due to the port,
ship buildingwas also an important industry, and around 140 ships were built in the town during the 19th century by companies including David Williams, Joseph Gough, Watsons and William Lowther. F J Carver and Son owned a small dry dockon East Quay and constructed the last ship to built in the town - the "Irene" - which has its own [http://www.ireness.com web site] . The former associated industry of ropemaking is commemorated in street furnishings and paving on East Quay and in the name of "Ropewalk" street.
Under an 1845
Act of Parliamentthe Port of Bridgwater extends from Brean Downto Hinkley Pointin Bridgwater Bay, and parts of the rivers Parrett (to Bridgwater), River Brueand River Axe, Somerset. Although no ships now dock in the town, in 2001 103,613 tonnes of cargo were handled within the area of the Port Authority (compared with more than 200,000 tons in 1878), most of which were stone products through Dunball
Schools listed in alphabetical order
Further Education colleges
Bridgwater College(formerly Bridgwater Technical School)
Robert Blake Science College
Chilton Trinity Technology College
East Bridgwater Community School: Performing & Visual Arts College
* Elmwood Special School
* New Horizon Centre School
* Penrose School
* Eastover Community Primary School
* Hamp Community Junior School
* Sedgemoor Manor School
* St John & St Francis Primary School
* St Joseph's Catholic Primary School
* St Mary's Primary School
Somerset Bridge Primary School
* Spaxton CofE Primary School
* Westover Green Primary School
Nursery and infants schools
* Hamp Nursery and Infants School
Former Schools and colleges
Further Education colleges
* Bridgwater Technical School (Now Bridgwater College)
* Poplar School Of Engineering And Navigation (closed; Dr Morgan's Grammar School For Boys was later located in the same premises)
* Bridgwater Grammar School For Boys
* Bridgwater Grammar School For Girls
* Dr Morgan's Grammar School For Boys
* Sydenham School (Now East Bridgwater Community School)
* Westover Senior Council School
Among several places of worship the chief is St Mary Magdalene's church; this has a north porch and windows dating from the 14th century, besides a convert|170|ft|m|0 slender spire; but it has been much altered by restoration. It possesses a fine painted reredos, and has been designated by
English Heritageas a grade I listed building. [cite web | title=Parish Church of St Mary | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=373991 | accessdate=2007-10-13]
The Church of St John the Baptist in Blake Place was built by John Brown in 1843. [cite web | title=Church of St John the Baptist | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=373825 | accessdate=2007-10-13]
Elim Pentecostal Church on Church Street was a public house after being used as a church and is now a shop. [cite web | title=Elim Pentecostal Church | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=373852 | accessdate=2007-10-13]
There is a Salvation Army Citadel located in Moorland Road, on the Sydenham Estate
Nearing Bridgwater on the
M5 motorwayit is possible to see the " Willow Man" sculpture, a striding human figure constructed from willow, sometimes called the "Angel of the South" (see also " Angel of the North"). Standing 12 m (39') tall, it was created by sculptor Serena de la Heyand is the largest known sculpture in willow, a traditional local material.
The Bridgwater Arts Centre was opened on
October 10 1946, the first community arts centre opened in the UK with financial assistance from the newly established Arts Council of England. It is situated in a Grade I listed buildingin the architecturally protected Georgian "Castle Street", designed by Benjamin Hollowayfor the Duke of Chandos, and built over the site of the former castle. [cite web | title=Bridgwater Arts Centre | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=373842 | accessdate=2008-01-20] Holloway was also the architectof the Baroque "Lions" building on West Quay, constructed around 1730. [cite web | title=The Lions and attached pavilions, balustrades, gate piers and railings | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=374025 | accessdate=2008-01-20]
Bridgwater Arts Centre was the venue for the first post-war meeting of the
Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Modernein 1947.
Castle Street was used as a location in the 1963 film "Tom Jones".
Horror writer and film journalist
Kim Newmanwas educated at Dr Morgan's school in Bridgwater, and set his 1999 experimental novel "Life's Lottery" in a fictionalised version of the town (Sedgwater).
A sailor who had sailed "from Bridgwater with bricks" and found "There was lice in that bunk in Bridgwater" features in
James Joyce's Ulysses (Chapter 16).
Bridgwater is now best known for the illuminated "Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival" that attracts around 150,000 people from around the country and overseas. Now held annually on the Friday after the first Thursday of November (ie - the nearest Friday to
November 5). It consists of a dazzling display of over 100 large vehicles ("Carnival floats") up to convert|100|ft|m long, festooned with dancers (or team member in tableaux) and up to 22,000 lightbulbs, that follows a convert|2.5|mi|km|sing=on route over 2 to 3 hours. Later in the evening of the Carnival, there is the simultaneous firing of large fireworks (known as squibs) in the street outside the town hall, known as "squibbing".cite web |url=http://www.bridgwatercarnival.org.uk/history.php |title=History of Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival |accessdate=2007-11-17 |format= |work=Bridgwater Carnival ]
Bridgwater Fair normally takes place in September - it starts on the last Wednesday in September and lasts four days. The fair takes place on St Matthew's Field, better known locally as the Fair Field. The fair is now a
funfair, ranked as second largest in England after the Nottingham Goose Fair. It originated in 1249 as a horse and cattle fair, lasting for eight days near St Matthew's day ( September 21), giving the venue its name. [cite web |url=http://www.bridgwater.net/Town/Carnival_Fair/carnival.htm |title=Bridgwater Carnival and Fair |accessdate=2008-01-20 |format= |work=Bridgwater Carnival and Fair ]
During the first weekend of July, the annual "Somerfest" arts festival is held in Bridgwater. The event includes an extensive program of rock, jazz and classical music, dance, drama and visual arts with national and local participants. [cite web |url=http://www.bridgwaterartscentre.co.uk/GetSmart.htm |title=GetSmart |accessdate=2008-01-20 |format= |work=Bridgwater Arts Centre ]
Bridgwater Town F.C.are a football club based at Fairfax Park. The original version of the club was founded in 1898. The club currently plays in the Southern League Division One South and West.
[http://www.barfc.co.uk/ Bridgwater & Albion RFC] are Somerset's highest- placed rugby team, playing in National League 3 South and are based at College Way. Founded in 1875 they have had previous homes in Bridgwater including the site now occupied by B&Q.
Admiral Robert Blake, until Horatio Nelsonthe most famous of British Admirals, was born in Bridgwater, and attended the local grammar school( Bridgwater Grammar School For Boys). His home is now the Blake Museumand contains details of his career amongst its exhibits of local historyand archaeology.
Donald Crowhurst(1932-69), who tried to fake a round-the-world solo yacht journey, set up his business in the town and was a Town Councillor.
Peter HaggettCBE FBA (b.1933), eminent academic geographerand professor at University of Bristol, educated at Dr Morgan's Grammar School in Bridgwater [cite press release|date=2004-11-24|title=UWE awards honorary degree to Professor Peter Haggett |url=http://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/UWEnews/article.asp?item=557|publisher=Bristol UWE Press Office|accessdate=2008-05-29]
Sergeant Ben Knight, Bridgwater airman who died in an AfghanistanRAF Nimrod plane crash. Sgt Knight was only 25 when he was killed along with 13 comrades from the 120 Squadron when the Nimrod came down near Kandaharon September 2 2002
David Luckes MBEEngland and Great Britain hockey player - 1989-2000 brought up in Bridgwater
*Simon (1981) and
Richard Mantell(1984), brothers and field hockey players for England, were both born in Bridgwater.
Kim Newman, science fiction novelist, horror film expert, TV presenter and film critic, educated at Dr Morgan's Grammar School in Bridgwater
Henry Phillpotts, Bishop of Exeter, born in Bridgwater in 1778.
Andrew Plimer, portrait miniature artist, born in Bridgwater 1763.
Jean Rees, artist and co-founder of the Bridgwater Arts Centre. b 1914
James Sully, psychologist, born in Bridgwater in 1842.
Bridgwater is twinned with:
Uherské Hradiště, in the Czech Republic(since 1991)
La Ciotat, France
* Homberg, Efze,
* " "Bridgwater with and without the 'e' " "', Roger Evans, ISBN 0-9525674-0-7
* "A History of Bridgwater", J.C. Lawrence, ISBN 1-86077-363-X
* "Bridgwater Victorian Days", Philip James Squibbs, ISBN 0-9501022-1-0
* "Somerset in the Age of Steam", Peter Stanier, ISBN 0-86183-481-X
* "Remember Remember". The Story of Bridgwater Carnival", written by Chris Hocking who is president of Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee
* A History of the County of Somerset: Vol 6: [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=18640 Bridgwater] (1992)
* The Somerset Urban Archaeological Survey: [http://www.somerset.gov.uk/somerset/cultureheritage/heritage/projects/eus/bridgwater Bridgwater] , by Clare Gathercole
* [http://www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/ Sedgemoor District Council]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/somerset BBC Somerset]
Arts, entertainment and social
* [http://www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/sedgemoorweb/Content/Museums/BlakeMuseum.htm Blake Museum]
* [http://www.bridgwatercarnival.org.uk/ Bridgwater Carnival (official site)]
* [http://www.somersetcarnivals.co.uk/ Somerset Carnivals (inc. Bridgwater)]
* [http://www.stmarysbells.org.uk/ St Marys Bell Ringers]
* [http://www.somersetgateway.com/aboutsom/somermag/june2000/bridgwater.htm A Bridgwater town trail]
* [http://www.hamp.org.uk/Default.htm Community Website for the Hamp Estate in Bridgwater]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ec9DTdjvtY YouTube video of carnival]
* [http://www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/sedgemoorweb/Content/Depts/Economic/PortHarbour.htm Port of Bridgwater]
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