Bradford on Avon (sometimes Bradford-on-Avon) is a town and civil
parish in west Wiltshire, England, with a population of 9,402 at the
2011 census. The town's canal, historic buildings, shops, pubs and
restaurants make it popular with tourists.
The history of the town can be traced back to Roman origins. It has
several buildings dating from the 17th century, when the town grew due
to the thriving English woollen textile industry.
3 Religious sites
8 Sport and leisure
9 Notable people
11 External links
The town lies partly on the Avon Valley, and partly on the hill that
marks the Vale's western edge, eight miles southeast of Bath, in the
hilly countryside between the Mendip Hills,
Salisbury Plain and the
Cotswold Hills. The local area around Bath provides the Jurassic
limestone (Bath Stone) from which the older buildings are constructed.
The River Avon (the
Bristol Avon) runs through the town. The town
Trowbridge to the south east.
The town includes the suburbs of Bearfield and Woolley; the parish
includes the hamlets of Widbrook and Woolley Green.
Wiltshire Green Belt forms the eastern extent of the Avon
Green Belt, and it completely surrounds Bradford-on-Avon, helping to
maintain the setting and preserve the character of the town, and
minimising urban sprawl between Bath and other nearby settlements such
as Trowbridge, Winsley, and Westwood.
The earliest evidence of habitation is fragments of Roman settlements
above the town. In particular, archaeological digs have revealed the
remains of a large
Roman villa with a well-preserved mosaic on the
playing fields of St Laurence School. The centre of the town grew up
around the ford across the river Avon, hence the origin of the town's
name ("Broad-Ford"). This was supplemented in Norman times by the
stone bridge that still stands today. The Norman side is upstream, and
has pointed arches; the newer side has curved arches. The Town Bridge
Chapel is a grade I listed building. It was originally a packhorse
bridge, but widened in the 17th century by rebuilding the western
side. On 2 July 1643 the town was the site of a skirmish in the
English Civil War, when Royalists seized control of the bridge on
their way to the Battle of Lansdowne.
On the bridge stands a small building which was originally a chapel
but was later used as a town lockup. The weather vane on top takes the
form of a gudgeon, (an early Christian symbol), hence the local
saying "under the fish and over the water".
Widbrook Grange is a Georgian manor house on the edge of the town. It
was built as a model farm on Earl Manvers' estate; it is now run as a
The river provided power for the wool mills that gave the town its
wealth. The town has 17th-century buildings dating from the most
successful period of the local textile industry. The best examples of
weavers' cottages are on Newtown, Middle Rank and Tory Terraces.
Daniel Defoe visited
Bradford on Avon in the early 18th century and
commented: "They told me at
Bradford on Avon that it was no
extra-ordinary thing to have clothiers in that county worth £10,000
to £40,000 per man" (equivalent to £1.3M to £5.3M in 2007).
With improving mechanisation in textile manufacture during the
Industrial Revolution, the wool weaving industry moved from cottages
to purpose-built woollen mills adjacent to the river, where they used
water and steam to power the looms. Around thirty such mills were
Bradford on Avon alone, and these prospered further until the
English woollen industry shifted its centre of power to Yorkshire in
the late 19th century. The last local mill closed in 1905. Many have
since stood empty and some became derelict.
Barton Farm Tithe Barn
A notable feature of
Bradford on Avon is the large Grade II* listed
tithe barn, known as the Saxon Tithe Barn, 180 feet long and 30 feet
wide, which was constructed in the 14th century and is now part of
Barton Farm Country Park. The barn would have been used for
collecting taxes, in the form of goods, to fund the church.
There are several notable buildings in and around the town centre.
Many of the old textile factories have been converted into modern
flats and apartments; however, few of the buildings are still used
today in their original roles. One of the few is The Swan, a public
house and hotel set in the centre of town; the building is 17th
century and retains many original features, in particular the stone
flag floors. Records show that there has been a public house on the
same site since the 1500s.
In 1998 the
Wiltshire Music Centre was opened in
Bradford on Avon, on
the grounds of St Laurence School. In 2000, the millennium sculpture
nicknamed "Millie" was unveiled.
On 8 October 2003,
Bradford on Avon was granted
Fairtrade Town status.
Main article: St Laurence's Church, Bradford-on-Avon
St Laurence's church
Holy Trinity church
The Saxon church dedicated to
Saint Lawrence may have been founded by
Saint Aldhelm around 705, and could have been a temporary burial site
for King Edward the Martyr. It was rediscovered by Canon William
Frampton in 1856, having been used for secular purposes (apparently
becoming a house, a school and part of a factory). In his research
Canon Frampton, who had an interest in archaeology, found reference to
the church in the writings of William of Malmesbury.
It is suggested that some of the building, containing the blind
arcades at a higher level, may belong to a later period while a
leaflet available at the church, February 2012, seems to prefer the
period 950–1050 for the whole building. The elaborate ornamentation
of the exterior consists of pilaster-strips, a broad frieze of two
plain string-courses between which is a blind arcade of round-headed
arches whose short vertical pilasters have trapezoidal capitals and
bases, while on the eastern gable and the corners adjacent there is a
series of mouldings as vertical triple semicylinders.
Inside the church, high in the wall above a small chancel arch, are
the carved figures of two flying angels, the right-hand figure
reportedly "intended to be clothed in transparent drapery ... the legs
from the knee downward are depicted as showing through the transparent
robe" which is referred to as a "quaint fancy".
In addition to the Saxon church, the town has four Church of England
churches, one Church of
England chapel, two
Baptist chapels, a United
Methodist and United Reformed Church), a free nonconformist
church, a community church, a
Quaker (Society of Friends) meeting
house and a
Roman Catholic church.
The original parish church has a dedication to the Holy Trinity, and
is located near the town centre by the river. It is Norman in origin,
and it is possible that the chancel was built over the remains of an
older church. Several chapels were added on the north side, and the
wall in between was later opened up and the chapels now form the north
aisle. A squint, or hagioscope, near the altar is claimed to be
England's longest. The tower and spire was built around 1480,
replacing an older one, and the south wall was largely rebuilt in the
19th century. The church has a ring of eight bells, with the tenor
(heaviest bell) weighing
29 long cwt 2 qr 26 lb (3,330 lb or
1,510 kg) and is tuned to D♭.
Anglican church has dedication of Christ Church, and is
entirely a Victorian construction. The Catholic church, dedicated
to St. Thomas More, occupies the building that used to be the town
There is also a Buddhist monastery in the town, under the auspices of
the Aukana Trust; it comprises a monastic building each for men and
for women, and a meditation hall. There are also workshops, gardens
and a library, and the elegant buildings look down upon the town from
a hill. The monastery practises the
Theravadin tradition of Buddhism,
and offers opportunities for both full-time residential and part-time
practise and study.
A panoramic view of
Bradford from the north-west
Bradford on Avon has been the headquarters of Avon Rubber, a large
manufacturer of rubber products for the automotive and other
industries. Today, it is the headquarters of the
Alex Moulton bicycle
company. It has several other small scale manufacturing enterprises.
The town's main business is retail shopping, tourism and day to day
servicing of a population largely made up of families, commuters and
The town has one mid-sized supermarket, Sainsbury's, situated on the
Elms Cross Industrial estate, a two-minute walk from the Canal lock,
and five convenience stores. Local consumers founded
Bradford-on-Avon Co-operative Society in 1861, which, in the 1960s,
united with other consumer co-operatives in the district to merge with
a national business.  A mini outdoor shopping centre of
independent shops, Weavers Walk, which describes itself as an "ethical
trading centre", is in the town centre.
The town is an increasingly popular location for films, television
adaptations and more; it has played host to Wolf Hall, Creation (The
life of Darwin), Robin of Sherwood and a film adaptation of Canterbury
More recently, in mid 2016,
The White Princess (TV series)
The White Princess (TV series) began
filming in the area.
Bradford-on-Avon lies on the
Trowbridge to Bath road, which runs
through the town from south to north, and crossed over by the B3109
linking Bradford-on-Avon with
Melksham and Frome. All other road
routes are minor, affording access to local settlements.
Bradford-on-Avon railway station
Bradford-on-Avon railway station lies on what is now the
Bristol—Weymouth railway line. It opened in the mid-19th century and
was built by the original Great Western Railway.
Running parallel to the railway through the town is the Kennet and
Avon Canal and
Bradford Lock. The use of this canal declined as the
railways grew but it was restored to full working order during the
1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The canal provides a link through to the Avon
at Bath in the west, and the
Thames at Reading in the east.
Bradford on Avon civil parish elects a town council with twelve
members: six for the North ward and six for the South ward. After the
elections held in May 2017,
Bradford on Avon Town Council comprised
ten councillors elected on the Ideal Bradford party platform, and
two Liberal Democrat councillors.
The town council is providing an increasing range of services in the
town, building on its historically mostly consultative and ceremonial
role, and its chairman has the title of
Mayor of Bradford. The most
significant local government functions (including schools, roads,
social services, emergency planning, leisure services, development
control, and waste disposal) are carried out by
Wiltshire Council, a
Bradford on Avon has been part of the Chippenham
Wiltshire Council elections
Wiltshire Council election, 1999
Wiltshire Council election, 2003
Wiltshire Council election, 2007
The town has one secondary school, St Laurence School, a specialist
Sport and leisure
Bradford on Avon has a
Non-League football club,
Bradford Town F.C.,
who play at the Sports and Social Club on
Trowbridge Road. There is
Bradford on Avon Rowing Club, based in Pound Lane near to the
Tithe Barn. The club caters for rowing and canoeing.
Wiltshire Music Centre is a purpose-built, 300-seat concert hall that
attracts internationally renowned musicians. Situated within the
grounds of the St Laurence School, it is renowned for its fine
John Methuen and his son Sir Paul Methuen, successively Ambassadors to
Peter Hammill, singer-songwriter
Henry Shrapnel, inventor of the shrapnel shell
Shadrack Byfield, War of 1812 infantryman and memoirist
Miles Kington, journalist
Alex Moulton, engineer and inventor
Simon R. Green, science-fiction/fantasy author
Rugby union players Will Carling, Phil de Glanville, Jon Sleightholme
and Lewis Moody
Hugh Scully, television presenter
Jonathan Newth, actor
Rob Newman, ex-footballer and current football manager
Paul Emsley, artist
Andy Pearce, ex-footballer
Stephen Volk, TV scriptwriter, TV series Afterlife, Dark Corners
Simon Tisdall, journalist
Samuel Meredith, first British
Chief Constable in 1839
Jesus Jones and
Blackbud were both formed in the town
Fitzroy Simpson, former professional footballer
Ed McKeever, Olympic canoeing champion
Emily Hilda Young, novelist
Donald Maitland, senior diplomat
^ a b "
Wiltshire Community History - Census".
Retrieved 16 February 2016.
Wiltshire Core Strategy - Adopted January 2015" (PDF).
^ "Bath & North East Somerset Green Belt Review - Stage 1 Report
April 2013 - Green Belt history and policy origins" (PDF).
^ a b c "Victoria County History -
Wiltshire - Vol 7 pp4-51 -
Parishes: Bradford-on-Avon". British History Online. University of
London. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
^ "The Town Bridge and Chapel". Images of England. Retrieved
^ Barratt, John (2005). The civil war in the south west. Bernsley: Pen
& Sword Military. p. 48. ISBN 1-84415-146-8.
^ "Tithe Barn". Images of England. Retrieved 2006-08-24.
^ H.M.Taylor & Joan Taylor, Anglo-Saxon Architecture, Cambridge
University Press, 1980
^ Taylor & Taylor, op. cit.
^ Gordon Home & Edward Foord, "Bristol, Bath and Malkmesbury, with
a Short Account of
Bradford on Avon" in the series Cathedrals, abbeys
and Famous Churches, J.M.Dent, London, 1925
Holy Trinity Church". Images of England. Retrieved
^ "Christ Church". Images of England. Retrieved 2006-08-24.
Roman Catholic Church of St Thomas More". Images of England.
^ "Grocers and convenience stores".
Yell.com Yellow Pages directory.
^ "Coop Online Share Book search: Bradford-on-Avon". Retrieved
2008-05-21. [permanent dead link]
^ "Listing of co-operatives in the ACDA area". Avon Co-operative
Development Agency. Archived from the original on 2 August 2008. Its
five shops in Bristol, Stroud, Glastonbury, Totnes and
Bradford-on-Avon sell clothes for adults and children
Bradford on Avon is centre stage for filming of White Princess".
Wiltshire Times. Newsquest. 3 September 2016. Retrieved 4 January
2016. in the Tithe Barn, near
Frome Road, and St Laurence's Church, in
^ "Ideal Bradford". Retrieved 20 January 2018.
^ "Meet your Town Councillors".
Bradford on Avon Town Council.
Retrieved 20 January 2018.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for
Bradford on Avon.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bradford-on-Avon.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Bradford on Avon Town Council
Bradford on Avon at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Historic Bradford-on-Avon photos at BBC Wiltshire
Six English Towns: Bradford-on-Avon - A 35-minute BBC TV programme
made in 1981 examining Bradford-on-Avon's Georgian buildings and
Day Out: Bradford-on-Avon - A 30-minute BBC TV programme made in 1978
of a day spent exploring Bradford-on-Avon
Ceremonial county of Wiltshire
Bradford on Avon
Royal Wootton Bassett
See also: List of civil parishes in Wiltshire
Population of major settlements
Grade I listed buildings
Grade II* listed buildings