England is one of nine official regions of England. It is
the largest in area, covering 9,200 square miles (23,800 km2),
and consists of the counties of Gloucestershire, Bristol, Wiltshire,
Devon and Cornwall, as well as the Isles of Scilly.
Five million people live in South West England.
The region includes the
West Country and much of the ancient kingdom
of Wessex. The largest city is Bristol. Other major urban centres
include Plymouth, Swindon, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Exeter, Bath,
Torbay, and the South East
Dorset conurbation which includes
Poole and Christchurch. There are eight cities:
Salisbury, Bath, Wells, Bristol, Gloucester, Exeter,
Truro. It includes two entire national parks,
small part of the
New Forest is also within the region); and four
World Heritage Sites, including
Stonehenge and the Jurassic Coast. The
northern part of Gloucestershire, near Chipping Campden, is as close
to the Scottish border as it is to the tip of Cornwall. The region
has by far the longest coastline in
England and many seaside fishing
The region is at the first-level of NUTS for
Eurostat purposes. Key
data and facts about the region are produced by the South West
Observatory. Following the abolition of the South West Regional
Assembly and Government Office, local government co-ordination across
the region is now undertaken by South West Councils.
The region is known for its rich folklore, including the legend of
King Arthur and
Glastonbury Tor, as well as its traditions and
Cornwall has its own language, Cornish, and some regard it as
a Celtic nation. The South West is known for Cheddar cheese, which
originated in the
Somerset village of Cheddar;
Devon cream teas,
crabs, Cornish pasties, and cider. It is home to the Eden Project,
Aardman Animations, the
Glastonbury Festival, the Bristol
International Balloon Fiesta, trip hop music and Cornwall's surfing
beaches. The region has also been home to some of Britain's most
renowned writers, including
Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie,
both of whom set many of their works here, and the South West is also
the location of Thomas Hardy's Wessex, the setting for many of his
1.1 Geology and landscape
1.3 Regional identity
2.2 Roman period
2.3 British kingdoms and the arrival of the Saxons
2.4 9th century and the arrival of the Danes
2.5 11th century
2.6 Middle Ages
2.7 16th century
2.8 17th century
2.9 Modern history
2.10 World War II
2.11 Scientific heritage
2.12 Industrial heritage
3.2 Teenage pregnancy
5 Economy and industry
6.1 Local government
7 South West Regional Assembly
9.2 Secondary education
9.3 Further education
9.4 Higher education
10 Local media
13 External links
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Queen Elizabeth II
Parliament of the United Kingdom
West Lothian question
East of England
Yorkshire and the Humber
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
England in the EU
UK elections to the European Parliament
European Parliament constituencies in England
East of England
North East England
North West England
South East England
South West England
Yorkshire and the Humber
Civil Parishes (list)
High Willhays on Dartmoor, Devon, the region's highest point.
Geology and landscape
Most of the region is located on the South West Peninsula, between the
English Channel and
Bristol Channel. It has the longest coastline of
all the English regions, totalling over 700 miles (1,130 km).
Much of the coast is now protected from further substantial
development because of its environmental importance, which contributes
to the region's attractiveness to tourists and residents.
Geologically the region is divided into the largely igneous and
metamorphic west and sedimentary east, the dividing line slightly to
the west of the River Exe.
Cornwall and West Devon's landscape is
of rocky coastline and high moorland, notably at
Bodmin Moor and
Dartmoor. These are due to the granite and slate that underlie the
area. The highest point of the region is High Willhays, at 2,038 feet
(621 m), on Dartmoor. In North
Devon the slates of the west
and limestones of the east meet at
Exmoor National Park. The variety
of rocks of similar ages seen here have led to the county's name being
lent to that of the
The east of the region is characterised by wide, flat clay vales and
chalk and limestone downland. The vales, with good irrigation, are
home to the region's dairy agriculture. The
Blackmore Vale was Thomas
Hardy's "Vale of the Little Dairies"; another, the
was created by reclaiming wetlands. The Southern
Formation extends into the region, creating a series of high, sparsely
populated and archaeologically rich downs, most famously Salisbury
Plain, but also Cranborne Chase, the
Dorset Downs and the Purbeck
Hills. These downs are the principal area of arable agriculture in the
Limestone is also found in the region, at the Cotswolds,
Quantock Hills and
Mendip Hills, where they support sheep farming.
All of the principal rock types can be seen on the
Jurassic Coast of
Dorset and East Devon, where they document the entire
from west to east.
Main article: Climate of south-west England
The climate of South West
England is classed as oceanic (Cfb)
according to the Köppen climate classification. The oceanic climate
typically experiences cool winters with warmer summers and
precipitation all year round, with more experienced in winter. Annual
rainfall is about 1,000 millimetres (39 in) and up to 2,000
millimetres (79 in) on higher ground. Summer maxima averages
range from 18 °C (64 °F) to 22 °C (72 °F) and
winter minimum averages range from 1 °C (34 °F) to
4 °C (39 °F) across the south-west. It is the second
windiest area of the United Kingdom, the majority of winds coming from
the south-west and north-east. Government organisations predict
the region to rise in temperature and become the hottest region in the
Inland areas of low altitude experience the least amount of
precipitation. They experience the highest summer maxima temperatures,
but winter minima are colder than the coast. Snowfalls are more
frequent in comparison to the coast, but less so in comparison to
higher ground. It experiences the lowest wind speeds and sunshine
total in between that of the coast and the moors. The climate of
inland areas is more noticeable the further north-east into the
In comparison to inland areas, the coast experiences high minimum
temperatures, especially in winter, and it experiences slightly lower
maximum temperatures during the summer. Rainfall is the lowest at the
coast and snowfall is rarer than the rest of the region. Coastal areas
are the windiest parts of the peninsula and they receive the most
sunshine. The general coastal climate is more typical the further
south-west into the region.
Areas of moorland inland such as: Bodmin Moor,
Dartmoor and Exmoor
experience lower temperatures and more precipitation than the rest of
the south west (approximately twice as much rainfall as lowland
areas), because of their high altitude. Both of these factors also
cause it to experience the highest levels of snowfall and the lowest
levels of sunshine. Exposed areas of the moors are windier than
lowlands and can be almost as windy as the coast.
The boundaries of the South West region are based upon those devised
by central government in the 1930s for civil defence administration,
and subsequently used for various statistical analyses. The region is
also similar to that used in the 17th-century Rule of the
Major-Generals under Cromwell. (For further information, see
Historical and alternative regions of England). By the 1960s, the
South West region (including Dorset, which for some previous purposes
had been included in a Southern region), was widely recognised for
government administration and statistics. The boundaries were carried
forward into the 1990s, when regional administrations were formally
Government Office Regions. A regional assembly and
regional development agency were created in 1999, then abolished in
2008 and 2012 respectively.
It has been argued that the official South West region does not
possess a cultural and historic unity or identity of itself, which has
led to criticism of it as an "artificial" construct. The large area of
the region, stretching as it does from the
Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly to
Gloucestershire, encompasses diverse areas which have little more in
common with each other than they do with other areas of England. The
region has several TV stations and newspapers based in different
areas, and no single acknowledged regional "capital". Many people of
the region have some level of a 'South West', or 'West Country'
regional identity, although this may not necessarily correspond to an
identification with the official government-defined region. It is
common for people in the region to identify at a national level
(whether English, British, Cornish, and/or a county or city/town
level). Identifying as being from 'the Westcountry', amorphous though
it is, tends to be more predominant further into the peninsula where
the status of being from the region is less equivocal.
In particular, Cornwall's inclusion in the region is disputed by
Cornish nationalists. The cross-party Cornish Constitutional
Convention and Cornish nationalist party
Mebyon Kernow have campaigned
Cornish Assembly ever since the idea of regional devolution was
Pulteney Bridge in Bath, Somerset: the entire city is a World Heritage
The South West region is largely rural, with small towns and villages;
a higher proportion of people live in such areas than in any other
English region. The largest cities and towns are Bristol, Plymouth,
Poole (which together with Christchurch make up the
Dorset conurbation), Swindon, Torbay, Gloucester,
Cheltenham, Exeter, Bath, Weston-super-Mare, Taunton, Salisbury, and
Weymouth. The population of the South West is about five million.
The region lies on several main line railways. The Great Western Main
Line runs from
London to Bristol, Exeter,
Penzance in the
far west of Cornwall. The
South Western Main Line
South Western Main Line runs from
Southampton to Bournemouth,
Poole and Weymouth in Dorset. The West of
England Main Line runs from
Exeter via south Wiltshire,
Dorset and south Somerset. The
Wessex Main Line runs from
Salisbury and on to Southampton. The Heart of
Bristol in the north of the region to Weymouth on the south
Dorset coast via Westbury,
Castle Cary and Yeovil, with most services
starting at Gloucester.
The vast majority of trains in the region are operated by South
Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway and CrossCountry. GWR is the
key operator for all counties in the region except
Dorset (the key
Dorset is South Western Railway). South West Trains
operate services to and from
London Waterloo and serves every county
in the region except
Cornwall (they no longer
operate west of
Exeter as of 2009).
Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway serves all
counties in the region and operate diesel high-speed trains to various
destinations, some of which run to South
Wales and the West Midlands,
though almost all intercity trains operated by GWR run through the
CrossCountry operates services to Manchester Piccadilly and
the Scottish Lowlands.
Dorset is currently the only county in the
region where there are electric trains, though there are official
plans to electrify the
Great Western Main Line
Great Western Main Line and the South Wales
Main Line in Wiltshire, Somerset, Greater
Bristol and Gloucestershire.
Arriva Trains Wales
Arriva Trains Wales also operates services between Maesteg and
Cheltenham Spa and
London Midland operates a parliamentary train
between Worcester Shrub Hill and
Gloucester (there was once a regular
service on the route, but this was withdrawn in 2009).
Plymouth railway of the LSWR needs to be reopened to
Plymouth to the rest of the UK railway system on
an all weather basis. There are proposals to reopen the line from
Tavistock to Bere Alston for a through service to Plymouth. On the
night of 4 February 2014, amid high winds and extremely rough seas,
part of the sea wall at
Dawlish was breached washing away around 40
metres (130 ft) of the wall and the ballast under the railway
immediately behind. The line was closed.
Network Rail began repair
work  and the line reopened on 4 April 2014. In the wake of
widespread disruption caused by damage to the mainline track at
Dawlish by coastal storms in February 2014,
Network Rail are
considering reopening the Tavistock to
of the line as an alternative to the coastal route.
M5 looking north towards Avonmouth
Three major roads enter the region from the east. The
M4 motorway from
London to South
Bristol is the busiest. The A303 cuts
through the centre of the region from
Salisbury to Honiton, where it
merges with the A30 to continue past
Exeter to the west of Cornwall.
The A31, an extension of the M27, serves
Bournemouth and the
Dorset coast. The M5 runs from the West Midlands through
Somerset to Exeter. The A38 serves as a
western extension to Plymouth. There are three other smaller motorways
in the region, all in the
Passenger airports in the region include Bristol, Exeter, Newquay and
Within the region the local transport authorities carry out transport
planning through the use of a Local Transport Plan (LTP) which
outlines their strategies, policies and implementation programme.
The most recent LTP is that for the period 2006–11. In the South
West region the following transport authorities have published their
Cornwall U.A., Devon,
Plymouth U.A., Somerset,
Swindon U. A.,
Torbay U. A. and
authority. The transport authorities of Bath and North East
Somerset U. A.,
Bristol U. A., North
Somerset U. A. and South
Gloucestershire U. A. publish a single Joint Local Transport Plan as
part of the West of
There is evidence from flint artefacts in a quarry at
Westbury-sub-Mendip that an ancestor of modern man, possibly Homo
heidelbergensis, was present in the future
Somerset from around
500,000 years ago. There is some evidence of human occupation of
England before the last ice age, such as at
Kents Cavern in
Devon, but largely in the south east. The British mainland was
connected to the continent during the ice age and humans may have
repeatedly migrated into and out of the region as the climate
fluctuated. There is evidence of human habitation in the caves at
Cheddar Gorge 11,000–10,000 years BC, during a partial thaw in the
ice age. The earliest scientifically dated cemetery in Great Britain
was found at
Aveline's Hole in the
Mendip Hills. The human bone
fragments it contained, from about 21 different individuals, are
thought to be roughly between 10,200 and 10,400 years old. During
this time the tundra gave way to birch forests and grassland and
evidence for human settlement appears at
Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire
and Hengistbury Head, Dorset.
At the end of the last Ice Age the
Bristol Channel was dry land, but
subsequently the sea level rose, resulting in major coastal changes.
Somerset Levels were flooded, but the dry points such as
Brent Knoll are known to have been occupied by
Mesolithic hunters. The landscape at this time was tundra.
Britain's oldest complete skeleton, Cheddar Man, lived at Cheddar
Gorge around 7150 BC (in the
Upper Palaeolithic or Old Stone Age),
shortly after the end of the ice age; however, it is unclear
whether the region was continuously inhabited during the previous 4000
years, or if humans returned to the gorge after a final cold spell. A
Palaeolithic flint tool found in West
Sedgemoor is the earliest
indication of human presence on the
Somerset Levels. During the
7th millennium BC the sea level rose and flooded the valleys, so the
Mesolithic people occupied seasonal camps on the higher ground,
indicated by scatters of flints. The
Neolithic people continued to
exploit the reed swamps for their natural resources and started to
construct wooden trackways. These included the
Post Track and the
Sweet Track. The Sweet Track, dating from the 39th century BC, is
thought to be the world's oldest timber trackway and was once thought
to be the world's oldest engineered roadway. The Levels were also
the location of the
Glastonbury Lake Village as well as two lake
villages at Meare.
Avebury are perhaps the most
Neolithic sites in the UK.
The region was heavily populated during the Neolithic,
Bronze Age and
Iron Age periods. Many monuments, barrows and trackways exist. Coin
evidence shows that the region was split between the Durotriges,
Dobunni and Dumnonii. The
Iron Age tribe in
Dorset were the
Durotriges, "water dwellers", whose main settlement is represented by
Ptolemy stated that Bath was in the territory of the
Belgae, but this may be a mistake. The Celtic gods were
worshipped at the temple of
Sulis at Bath and possibly the temple on
Iron Age sites on the
Quantock Hills include major hill
Dowsborough and Ruborough, as well as smaller earthwork
enclosures, such as Trendle Ring,
Elworthy Barrows and Plainsfield
At the time of the Roman invasion, the inhabitants of the entire area
spoke a Brythonic Celtic language. Its descendant languages are still
spoken to a greater or lesser extent in Cornwall, Wales, and
Silbury Hill – Europe's largest man-made earthwork
During the Roman era, the east of the region, particularly the
Cotswolds and eastern Somerset, was heavily Romanised but
Cornwall were much less so, though
Exeter was a regional capital.
There are villas, farms and temples dating from the period, including
the remains at Bath.
The area of
Somerset was part of the
Roman Empire from AD 47 to about
AD 409. The empire disintegrated gradually, and elements of
Romanitas lingered on for perhaps a century. In AD 47,
invaded from the south-east by the Second Legion Augusta, under the
future emperor Vespasian. The hillforts of the
Durotriges at Ham Hill
and Cadbury Castle were captured. Ham Hill probably had a temporary
Roman occupation. The massacre at Cadbury Castle seems to have been
associated with the later Boudiccan Revolt of AD 60–61.
Photochrom of the Roman Baths in Bath, Somerset
The Roman invasion, and possibly the preceding period of involvement
in the internal affairs of the south of England, was inspired in part
by the lead mines of the
Mendip Hills, which also offered the
potential for the extraction of silver. Forts were set up at
Bath and Ilchester. The lead and silver mines at Charterhouse in the
Mendip Hills were run by the military. The Romans established a
defensive boundary along the new military road known the Fosse Way
(from the Latin fossa meaning "ditch"). The
Fosse Way ran through
Bath, Shepton Mallet,
Ilchester and south-west towards Axminster. The
road from Dorchester ran through
Yeovil to meet the
Fosse Way at
Ilchester. Salt was produced on the
Somerset Levels near Highbridge
and quarrying took place near Bath, named after the Roman baths.
Excavations carried out before the flooding of Chew
Valley Lake also
uncovered Roman remains, indicating agricultural and industrial
activity from the second half of the 1st century until the 3rd century
AD. The finds included a moderately large villa at Chew Park,
where wooden writing tablets (the first in the UK) with ink writing
were found. There is also evidence from the Pagans Hill Roman Temple
at Chew Stoke. In October 2001 the
West Bagborough Hoard
West Bagborough Hoard of
4th-century Roman silver was discovered in West Bagborough. The 681
coins included two denarii from the early 2nd century and 8
miliarensia and 671 siliquae all dating from AD 337 to 367. The
majority were struck in the reigns of emperors
Constantius II and
Julian and derive from a range of mints including
Arles and Lyons in
Trier in Germany, and Rome. In April 2010, the Frome
Hoard, one of the largest ever hoards of Roman coins discovered in
Britain, was found by a metal detectorist. The hoard of 52,500 coins
dated from the 3rd century AD and was found buried in a field near
Frome, in a jar 14 inches (36 cm) below the surface. The
coins were excavated by archaeologists from the Portable Antiquities
British kingdoms and the arrival of the Saxons
Maes Knoll the western end of Wansdyke
Wessex and Constitutional status of Cornwall
After the Romans left at the start of the 5th century AD, the region
split into several British kingdoms, including Dumnonia, centred
around the old tribal territory of the Dumnonii. The upper Thames
area soon came under
Anglo-Saxon control but the remainder of the
region was in British control until the 6th century. Bokerley
Dyke, a large defensive ditch on
Cranborne Chase dated to 367, delayed
the Saxon conquest of Dorset, with the
Romano-British remaining in
Dorset for 200 years after the withdrawal of the Roman legions. The
Western Wandsdyke earthwork was probably built during the 5th or 6th
century. This area became the border between the
and the West Saxons following the
Battle of Deorham
Battle of Deorham in 577.
Anglo-Saxons then gained control of the Cotswold area; but most of
Devon (as well as Cornwall) remained in British
hands until the late 7th century. According to the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle, the Saxon Cenwalh achieved a breakthrough against the
British Celtic tribes, with victories at
Bradford-on-Avon (in the Avon
Gap in the Wansdyke) in 652, and further south at the Battle of
Peonnum (at Penselwood) in 658, followed by an advance west
Polden Hills to the River Parrett. The Saxon advance
from the east seems to have been halted by battles between the British
and Saxons, for example at the siege of Badon
Mons Badonicus (which
may mave been in the Bath district, perhaps at Solsbury Hill), or
Bathampton Down. The Battle of
Bedwyn was fought in 675 between
Escuin, a West Saxon nobleman who had seized the throne of Queen
King Wulfhere of Mercia. The earliest fortification
Taunton started for King Ine of
Wessex and Æthelburg, in or about
the year 710. However, according to the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle this was
destroyed 12 years later.
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great refortified
Exeter as a
defensive burh, followed by new erections at Lydford,
Pilton, although these fortifications were small compared to burhs
further east, suggesting that they were protection for the elite only.
9th century and the arrival of the Danes
The English defeated a combined Cornish and Danish force at Hingston
Down (near Gunnislake) in 838.
Edward the Elder
Edward the Elder built similarly at
Barnstaple and Totnes. But sporadic
Viking incursions continued until
the Norman Conquest, including the disastrous defeat of the Devonians
at the Battle of Pinhoe. In 876 King
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great trapped a Danish
fleet at Arne and then drove it out; 120 ships were wrecked at
Studland. Although King Alfred had lands in Cornwall, it continued
to have a British king. It is generally considered that
fully under the dominion of the English Crown in the time of
Athelstan's rule, i.e. 924–939. In the absence of any specific
documentation to record this event, supporters of Cornwall's English
status presume that it then became part of England. However, in 944,
within a mere five years of Athelstan's death, King Edmund issued a
charter styling himself "King of the English and ruler of this
province of the Britons". Thus we can see that then the "province" was
a territorial possession, which has long claimed a special
relationship to the English Crown.
Corfe Castle in 978 saw the murder of King Edward the Martyr, whose
body was taken first to Wareham and then to Shaftesbury. Somerset
played an important part in stopping the spread of the Danes in the
Viking raids took place for instance in 987 and 997 at
Watchet and the Battle of Cynwit.
King Alfred was driven to seek refuge from the Danes at Athelney
before defeating them in 878 at the Battle of Ethandun, usually
considered to be near Edington, Wiltshire, but possibly the village of
Edington in Somerset. Alfred established a series of forts and lookout
posts linked by a military road, or Herepath, to allow his army to
Viking movements at sea. The
Herepath has a characteristic form
which is familiar on the Quantocks: a regulation 20 m wide track
between avenues of trees growing from hedge laying embankments. A
peace treaty with the Danes was signed at Wedmore and the Danish king
Guthrum the Old
Guthrum the Old was baptised at Aller. Burhs (fortified places) had
been set up by 919, such as Lyng. The Alfred Jewel, an object about
2.5-inch (64 mm) long, made of filigree gold,
cloisonné-enamelled and with a rock crystal covering, was found in
1693 at Petherton Park, North Petherton. This is believed to have
been owned by King Alfred.
Monasteries and minster churches were
set up all over Somerset, with daughter churches of the minsters in
manors. There was a royal palace at Cheddar, which was used at times
in the 10th century to host the Witenagemot.
In the late pre-Norman period, the east coast of modern-day England
came under the growing sway of the Norsemen. Eventually
to be ruled by Norse monarchs, and the
Anglo-Saxon kingdoms fell one
Wessex being conquered in 1013 by King Sweyn
Forkbeard. Sweyn's realms included
Denmark and Norway, and
England such as
Mercia (an Anglian kingdom roughly coinciding
with the English Midlands), much of which, along with northern
England, fell under the Danelaw. Sweyn ruled Wessex, along with his
other realms, from 1013 onwards, followed by his son Canute the Great.
Cornwall was not part of his realm of Wessex. A map by the
American historian called "The Dominions of Canute" (pictured just
above) shows that Cornwall, like
Wales and Scotland, was part neither
of Sweyn Forkbeard's nor of Canute's Danish empire. Neither Sweyn
Forkbeard nor Canute conquered or controlled Scotland,
Cornwall; but these areas were "client nations": subject to payment of
a yearly tribute or danegeld to Sweyn and later Canute, all three
areas retained their autonomy from the Danes. Ultimately, the Danes
lost control of
Wessex in 1042 on the death of both of Canute's sons.
Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor retook
Wessex for the Saxons. In 1016 Edmund
Ironside was crowned king at Glastonbury.
The statue of Sir
Francis Drake (1540–1596) on
After the Norman Conquest the region was controlled by various Norman
as well as Breton lords and later by local gentry, a few of whom
appear to have been descended from pre-Conquest families. In 1140,
during the civil war of King Stephen's reign, the castles of Plympton
Exeter were held against the king by Baldwin de Redvers and this
gave rise to the defensive castles at Corfe Castle, Powerstock,
Wareham and Shaftesbury. The period saw the growth of towns such as
Plympton in the west of the region, but
these were small compared with the established wealth of ancient
cathedral cities in the east of the region such as Exeter, Bath and
Wells. Wealth grew from sheep farming in the east of the region:
church controlled estates such as
Glastonbury Abbey and Wells became
among the richest in England, while tin and silver mining was
Devon and Cornwall; Stannary Parliaments with
semi-autonomous powers were established. Farming prospered until it
was severely hit by the
Black Death which arrived in
Dorset in 1348
and quickly spread through Somerset, causing widespread death, with
mortality rates perhaps as high as 50% in places. The resulting labour
shortage led to changes in feudal practices. Crafts and industries
also flourished; the
Somerset woollen industry was then one of the
largest in England. Coal mining in the Mendips was an important
source of wealth while quarrying also took place.
Many parish churches were rebuilt in this period. Between 1107 and
1129 William Giffard, the Chancellor of King Henry I, converted the
bishop's hall in
Taunton Castle. His successor, Henry of
Blois, transformed the manor house here into a mighty castle in
Bridgwater Castle was built in 1202 by William Brewer.
It passed to the king in 1233 and in 1245 repairs were ordered to
its motte and towers. During the 11th-century Second Barons' War
against Henry III, Bridgwater was held by the barons against the King.
Middle Ages sheep farming for the wool trade came to
dominate the economy of Exmoor. The wool was spun into thread on
isolated farms and collected by merchants to be woven, fulled, dyed
and finished in thriving towns such as Dunster. The land started to be
enclosed and from the 17th century onwards larger estates developed,
leading to establishment of areas of large regular shaped fields.
During this period a
Royal Forest and hunting ground was established,
administered by the Warden. The
Royal Forest was sold off in 1818.
Where conditions were suitable, coastal villages and ports had an
economy based on fishing. The larger ports such as
vessels to the naval enterprises of the King and were subject to
attack from the French in return. Bridgwater was part of the Port of
Bristol until the Port of Bridgwater was created in 1348, covering
80 miles (130 km) of the
Somerset coast line, from the Devon
border to the mouth of the River Axe. Historically, the main
port on the river was at Bridgwater; the river being bridged at this
point, with the first bridge being constructed in 1200. Quays were
built in 1424; with another quay, the
Langport slip, being built in
1488 upstream of the Town Bridge. In
Bristol the port began to
develop in the 11th century. By the 12th century
Bristol was an
important port, handling much of England's trade with Ireland. During
Bristol also became a centre of shipbuilding and
Bristol was the starting point for many important
voyages, notably John Cabot's 1497 voyage of exploration to North
America. By the 14th century
Bristol was one of England's three
largest medieval towns after London, along with
York and Norwich, with
perhaps 15,000–20,000 inhabitants on the eve of the
Black Death of
1348–49. The plague resulted in a prolonged pause in the growth
of Bristol's population, with numbers remaining at 10,000–12,000
through most of the 15th and 16th centuries.
During the Wars of the Roses, there were frequent skirmishes between
the Lancastrian Earl of
Devon and Yorkist Lord Bonville. In 1470,
Edward IV pursued Warwick and Clarence as far as
Exeter after the
Battle of Lose-coat Field. The organisation of the region remained
based on the shires and Church estates, which were largely unchanged
throughout the period. In 1497, early in Henry VII's reign, the Royal
pretender Perkin Warbeck, besieged Exeter. The Cornish Rebellion of
1497 led by
An Gof and
Thomas Flamank ended in a march to Blackheath
London where the Cornish forces were massacred.
Great disturbances throughout both
Devon followed the
introduction of Edward VI's
Book of Common Prayer. The day after Whit
Sunday 1549, a priest at
Sampford Courtenay was persuaded to read the
old mass. This insubordination spread swiftly into serious revolt.
The Cornish quickly joined the men of
Devon in the Prayer Book
Exeter was besieged until relieved by Lord Russell.
The Cornish had a particular motivation for opposing the new English
language prayer book, as there were still many monoglot Cornish
speakers in West Cornwall. The
Cornish language declined rapidly
afterwards and the Dissolution of the
Monasteries resulted in the
eventual loss of the
Cornish language as a primary language. By the
end of the 18th century it was no longer a first language.
Council of the West was a short-lived administrative body
established by Henry VIII for the government of the western counties
of England. It was analogous in form to the Council of the North. The
Council was established in March 1539, with Lord Russell as its Lord
President. Members included Thomas Derby, Sir Piers Edgcumbe, Sir
Richard Pollard and John Rowe. However, the fall of Thomas Cromwell,
the chief political supporter of government by Councils, and the
tranquillity of the western counties made it largely superfluous. It
last sat in summer 1540, although it was never formally abolished.
Bristol Channel floods of 1607 are believed to have affected large
parts of the
Somerset Levels, with flooding up to 8 feet (2 m)
above sea level. In 1625, a House of Correction was
established in Shepton Mallet, and when it closed HMP Shepton Mallet
was England's oldest prison still in use.
During the English Civil War,
Somerset was largely Parliamentarian,
Dunster was a Royalist stronghold. The county saw important
battles between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians, notably at
Lansdowne in 1643 and
Langport in 1645.
Bristol was occupied by
Royalist military, after they overran Royal Fort, the last
Parliamentarian stronghold in the city.
Taunton Castle had fallen
into ruin by 1600 but it was repaired during the Civil War. The
castle changed hands several times during 1642–45 along with the
town. During the Siege of
Taunton it was defended by Robert Blake,
from July 1644 to July 1645. After the war, in 1662, the keep was
demolished and only the base remains. This war resulted in castles
being slighted (destroyed to prevent their re-use).
James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth
In 1685, the Duke of Monmouth led the
Monmouth Rebellion in which a
force partly raised in
Somerset fought against James II. The rebels
Lyme Regis and travelled north hoping to capture
Bath, Puritan soldiers damaged the west front of Wells Cathedral, tore
lead from the roof to make bullets, broke the windows, smashed the
organ and the furnishings, and for a time stabled their horses in the
nave. They were defeated in the
Battle of Sedgemoor
Battle of Sedgemoor at
Westonzoyland, the last battle fought on English soil. The Bloody
Assizes which followed saw the losers being sentenced to death or
transportation. At the time of the Glorious Revolution, King James
II gathered his main forces, altogether about 19,000 men, at
Salisbury, James himself arriving there on 19 November 1688. The first
blood was shed at the
Wincanton Skirmish in Somerset. In Salisbury,
James heard that some of his officers, such as Edward Hyde, had
deserted, and he broke out in a nose-bleed which he took as a bad
omen. His commander in chief, the Earl of Feversham, advised retreat
on 23 November, and the next day John Churchill deserted to William.
On 26 November, James's daughter Princess Anne did the same, and James
London the same day, never again to be at the head of a
serious military force in England.
Since 1650, the City of
Plymouth has grown to become the largest city
in Devon, mainly due to the naval base at Devonport. Her Majesty's
Naval Base (HMNB) Devonport is one of three operating bases in the
United Kingdom for the Royal Navy.
HMNB Devonport is now the largest
naval base in Western Europe. The large Portland Harbour, built
at the end of the 19th century and protected by
Nothe Fort and the
Verne Citadel, was for many years, including during the wars, another
of the largest
Royal Navy bases.
The 19th century saw improvements to roads in the region with the
introduction of turnpikes and the building of canals and railways. The
usefulness of the canals was short-lived, though they have now been
restored for recreation. Chard claims to be the birthplace of powered
flight, in 1848 when the Victorian aeronautical pioneer John
Stringfellow first demonstrated that engine-powered flight was
possible through his work on the Aerial Steam Carriage.
North Petherton was the first town in
England (and one of the few
ever) to be lit by acetylene gas lighting.
Portishead power station
Around the 1860s, at the height of the iron and steel era, a pier and
a deep-water dock were built, at Portishead to accommodate the large
ships that had difficulty in reaching
Bristol Harbour. The
Portishead power stations were coal-fed power stations built next to
the dock. Industrial activities ceased in the dock with the closure of
the power stations. The Port of
Bristol Authority finally closed the
dock in 1992, and it has now been developed into a marina and
First World War
First World War many soldiers from the South West were
killed, and war memorials were put up in most of the towns and
villages; only a few villages escaped casualties. There were also
casualties – though much fewer – during the Second World
War, who were added to the memorials. Several areas were bases for
troops preparing for the 1944
D-Day landings. Exercise Tiger, or
Operation Tiger, was the code names for a full-scale rehearsal in 1944
D-Day invasion of Normandy. The British Government evacuated
approximately 3,000 local residents in the area of Slapton, now South
Hams District of Devon. Some of them had never left their
villages before. Bristol's city centre suffered severe damage
Luftwaffe bombing during the
Bristol Blitz of World War II.
Royal Ordnance Factory
ROF Bridgwater was constructed early in
World War II
World War II for the Ministry of Supply. The
Taunton Stop Line
was set up to resist a potential German invasion, and the remains of
its pill boxes can still be seen, as well as others along the
Exmoor was one of the first British National Parks, designated in
1954, under the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside
Act. and is named after its main river. It was expanded in 1991
and in 1993
Exmoor was designated as an Environmentally Sensitive
Quantock Hills were designated as an Area of Outstanding
Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1956, the first such designation in England
National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act
National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. The
Mendip Hills followed with AONB designation in 1972.
World War II
Much of the
Battle of the Beams
Battle of the Beams was carried out at the
Telecommunications Research Establishment
Telecommunications Research Establishment at
Worth Matravers in
Dorset; the H2S radar was developed by Sir
Bernard Lovell of Bristol.
Gloster Meteor at Newquay Air Museum is the oldest flying jet
aircraft in the world.
Long Ashton Research Station
Long Ashton Research Station in Somerset
Ribena (for population health in World War II) and improved
William Herschel, previously a clarinet player, of Bath discovered
infrared radiation on 11 February 1800, and the planet
Uranus in March
1781; he had made important improvements to the reflecting telescope
by increasing the mirror diameter. Herschel then built a 20-ft
reflecting telescope and invented the star count, working out that the
Milky Way was a disc, which he called a grindstone, and the Milky Way
was a galaxy but that that was all the universe contained; he had
noticed other nebulas but did not recognise what these were; only when
the Hooker telescope was built sufficiently large-enough in California
in 1924, did
Edwin Hubble realise that these nebulas (Andromeda
Galaxy) were other galaxies. The
Herschel Space Observatory
Herschel Space Observatory was
launched by ESA in March 2009 to map the Milky Way. Sir Arthur C.
Minehead invented the idea of artificial satellites; he sent
a letter to
Harry Wexler who then developed the first weather
satellite TIROS-1. Sir
Arthur Eddington of
Weston-super-Mare was the
first to realise that nuclear fusion powered the Sun; previously the
age of Sun was thought to be only 20 million years old, which he knew
had to be older than that; at the 1920 British Association meeting he
said that the Sun converted hydrogen into helium, but he did not know
how, and that mass was lost; nuclear fission was only considered in
James Bradley was an important astronomer from Gloucestershire,
who discovered the aberration of light.
Jan Ingenhousz, the Dutch biologist discovered photosynthesis in 1779
Bowood House in Wiltshire; on 1 August 1774, Joseph Priestley
discovered oxygen at Bowood House. A fossil of the oldest ancestor of
Tyrannosaurus was found in Gloucestershire;
Mary Anning was a
famous fossil collector from Lyme Regis.
Edward Jenner was from
Sir Benjamin Baker from
Cheltenham jointly-designed the 1890 Forth
William Murdoch in 1792 lit his house in Redruth with gas, the
first in Britain.
Plasticine was invented 1897 in Bath by William
Harbutt. Thomas Young of
Somerset is known for his double-slit
experiment in optics, and in solid mechanics for his famous Young's
modulus. Henry Fox Talbot, inventor of a negative-positive process in
Wiltshire made the first photograph in August 1835;
Nicéphore Niépce of France can claim the first photo in 1826;
William Friese-Greene of
Bristol is thought to be the father of
cinematography after inventing his chronophotographic camera in 1889.
Hinkley Point A nuclear power station
Hinkley Point A nuclear power station was a
Magnox power station
constructed between 1957 and 1962 and operating until ceasing
generation in 2000. Hinkley Point B is an Advanced Gas-cooled
Reactor (AGR) which was designed to generate 1250 MW of
electricity (MWe). Construction of Hinkley Point B started in 1967. In
September 2008 it was announced, by
Electricité de France
Electricité de France (EDF), that
a third, twin-unit
European Pressurized Reactor
European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) reactor known as
Hinkley Point C is planned, to replace Hinkley Point B which is
due for closure in 2016. In 1989 the Berkeley nuclear power
station was the first in the UK to be decommissioned. The
steam-generating heavy water reactor was developed at
Ted Codd, inventor of databases and SQL, was from Poole. Campden BRI
Ebrington in north-east
Gloucestershire was an important research
centre for canned food; J. S. Fry & Sons of
Bristol made world's
first chocolate bar in 1847.
The first carpets were made in Britain in 1741 at Wilton, Wiltshire.
Thomas Savery of
Devon developed an early steam engine;
Thomas Newcomen from Dartmouth made another early steam engine in
1710. Edward Butler, a farmer from
Devon born in
Bickington in 1862,
invented the petrol engine.
Regional profile of the South West
Key population data for
South West England
Over 75 years old
According to the 2001 census the population of the South West region
was 4,928,434. It had grown in the last 20 years by 12.5% from
4,381,400 in mid-1981, making it the fastest growing region in
Devon had the largest population gain with
Devon as whole grew by 17.6%. Population falls occurred in
the two major cities of
Bristol and Plymouth. 97.71% of the South
West's population are classified as White British.
It is the most ethnically-white region in
England (97.7%), although
similar to North East
England (97.6%), and the region has the highest
proportion who describe themselves as white (95%); it has the oldest
median age in England; in the 2011 census, West
Somerset was the UK's
oldest average age – almost 48. The region has the
second-highest proportion (23%) of rural population in the UK (less
than 2,000 inhabitants), after Northern Ireland.
Swindon is the most
statistically-average place in the UK.
35% of people in the region own their homes outright, with no debt,
the highest in the UK. The Cotswold district is the best area in the
region for house price increase, and the second-best in the UK outside
London and the South-East, in a March 2015 survey. Weymouth and
Portland has the highest council tax in England. West
Somerset has the
lowest average full-time pay - £287; West
Somerset is also the
district where poor children do much worse than more-wealthier
children at school, with some of the worst differences in the UK,
found by Ambition School Leadership.
For top-tier authorities,
Torbay has the highest teenage pregnancy
rate in the region, with
Exeter the highest rate for council
districts. For top-tier authorities, North
Somerset (closely followed
by Bath & NE Somerset) has the lowest rate, with Cotswold having
the lowest rate for council districts.
The fattest population in the region is
Sedgemoor in Somerset, with
73.4%, the fifth-fattest in the UK. North
Dorset has the lowest
proportion of cancer deaths in
England - 97 per 100,000 (the England
average is 142 per 100,000), down from 162 ten years earlier.
In the 2011 census East
Dorset had the highest rate of marriage in the
Dorset also has the third-highest life expectancy for men in
the UK - 82.7.
Wales in 2015,
Wiltshire has the fourth-lowest crime
Cornwall has the fifth-lowest.
As measured by the English Indices of Deprivation 2007, the region
shows similarities with Southern
England in having more Lower Layer
Super Output Areas in the 20% least multiple deprived districts than
the 20% most deprived. The relative amount of deprivation is
similar to the East Midlands, except the South West has much fewer
deprived areas. According to the LSOA data in 2007, the most deprived
Cornwall became a unitary authority) were, in
descending order –
Bristol (64th in England),
Restormel (89th), North Cornwall
(96th), and West
Somerset (106th). At county level, the deprived areas
are City of
Bristol (49th in England),
Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly (69th).
The least deprived council districts are, in descending order –
East Dorset, North Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire, Cotswold, Kennet,
Stroud, Tewkesbury, West Wiltshire, Salisbury, and Bath and North East
Dorset has the highest life expectancy for males in the
UK. At county level, the least deprived areas, in descending order,
are South Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset,
Dorset, Gloucestershire, Poole, North Somerset, and Somerset. For
smaller areas, the least-deprived in the region are E01015563 (139th
in England) Shaw and Nine Elms ward, in north Swindon, E01014791
(163rd in England) Portishead East ward, in North
Somerset off the
A369 in Portishead and North Weston, E01020377 (184th in England)
Colehill East ward (home of Tim Berners-Lee), in East Dorset, east of
Wimborne Minster near the A31 roundabout with the B3073.
In March 2011 the region had the second lowest unemployment claimant
count in England, second to South East England, with 2.7%. Inside the
Torbay has the highest rate with 4.5%, followed by
Plymouth with 3.8%. East
Dorset has the lowest rate with 1.4%.
West Country dialects and Cornish language
Cornish language evolved from the Southwestern dialect of the
British language spoken during the
Iron Age and Roman period. The
area controlled by the Britons was progressively reduced by the
Wessex after the 6th century, and in 936 Athelstan set
the east bank of the Tamar as the boundary between
and Celtic Cornwall. The
Cornish language continued to flourish
Middle Ages but declined thereafter, and the last speaker
of traditional Cornish died in the 19th century. Geographical
names derived from the British language are widespread in South West
England, and include several examples of the River Avon, from abonā =
"river" (cf. Welsh afon), and the words "tor" and "combe".
Until the 19th century, the
West Country and its dialects of the
English language were largely protected from outside influences, due
to its relative geographical isolation. The
West Country dialects
derive not from a corrupted form of modern English, but from the
Southwestern dialects of Middle English, which themselves derived from
the dialects of the
Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex. Late West Saxon,
which formed the earliest
English language standard, from the time of
King Alfred until the late 11th century, is the form in which the
Anglo-Saxon texts are preserved. Thomas Spencer Baynes
claimed in 1856 that, due to its position at the heart of the Kingdom
of Wessex, the relics of
Anglo-Saxon accent, idiom and vocabulary were
best preserved in the
Somerset dialect. There is some influence from
the Welsh and Cornish languages, depending on the specific location.
West Country dialects are commonly represented as "Mummerset", a kind
of catchall southern rural accent invented for broadcasting.
Economy and industry
Historic docks on
Bristol Harbour, within the region's most productive
Since the decline of mining, Cornwall's economy has been reliant on
agriculture and tourism
The most economically productive areas within the region are Bristol,
M4 corridor and south east Dorset, which are the areas with the
best links to London.
Bristol alone accounts for a quarter of the
region's economy, with the surrounding areas of Gloucestershire,
Wiltshire accounting for a further quarter.
Bristol's economy has been built on maritime trade, including the
import of tobacco and the slave trade. Since the early 20th century,
however, aeronautics have taken over as the basis of Bristol's
economy, with companies including
Airbus UK, Rolls-Royce (military
BAE Systems (former
Bristol Aeroplane Company then BAC)
manufacturing in Filton.
Defence Equipment and Support
Defence Equipment and Support is at MoD Abbey
Wood. More recently defence, telecommunications, information
technology and electronics have been important industries in Bristol,
Swindon and elsewhere. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, the
Soil Association, Clerical Medical, and
Bristol Water are in Bristol;
Indesit makes tumble dryers in Yate; HP and
Infineon Technologies UK
are at Stoke Gifford.
Knorr-Bremse UK make air brakes in Emersons
Green. The South West Observatory's Economy Module provides a detailed
analysis of the region's economy.
Gross value added (GVA) breaks down as 69.9% service
industry, 28.1% production industry and 2.0% agriculture. This is a
slightly higher proportion in production, and lower proportion in
services, than the UK average. Agriculture, though in decline, is
important in many parts of the region.
Dairy farming is especially
Dorset and Devon, and the region has 1.76 million cattle,
second to only one other UK region, and 3,520 square miles
(9,117 km2) of grassland, more than any other region. Only 5.6%
of the region's agriculture is arable.
Tourism is important in the region, and in 2003 the tourist sector
contributed £4,928 million to the region's economy. In 2001 the
GVA of the hotel industry was £2,200 million, and the region had
13,800 hotels with 250,000 bed spaces.
There are large differences in prosperity between the eastern parts of
the region and the west. While
Bristol is the second most affluent
large city in
England after London, parts of
Cornwall have among
the lowest average incomes in Northern Europe.
Vegetable crop south of Ludgvan
Manufacturing Advisory Service is on the A38 north of
Gloucester at Twigworth, and the UKTI office is at the Leigh
Court Business Centre in Abbots Leigh, North Somerset.
Main articles: Economy of
Cornwall and Cornish cuisine
Dairy Crest have their main cheese creamery in
Cathedral City Cheddar and
Davidstow Cheddar on the former RAF
Davidstow Moor, and important wartime
RAF Coastal Command
RAF Coastal Command airfield
bought by Cow & Gate in the 1950s
Major companies in
Imerys who are major producers of
Rodda's make clotted cream near Scorrier, off the A30 east of
Redruth. Fugro Seacore in
Mongleath near Falmouth are leading offshore
drilling contractors; Pendennis makes luxury yachts at Falmouth Docks.
Kensa Heat Pumps are west of Truro. Cornish Country Larder, owned by
Arla, make cheese (Cornish Brie) at
Trevarrian on the B3276 in
Mawgan-in-Pydar, north of Newquay
Cornwall Airport (former RAF St
Allen & Heath make mixing consoles in Penryn. Fourth Element (wet
suits) are on the A3083 at Cury, south of RNAS Culdrose and Helston.
A.P. Valves make diving equipment in Helston off the B3297 on
Water-Ma-Trout Ind Estate, next to Helston Community College; Spiral
Construction is the UK's leading manufacturer of spiral staircases.
Gul (clothing) (watersports clothing) are on Callywith Gate Ind Est in
Cooksland Bodmin at the western end of the A38, on the north end of
the Bodmin bypass; C-Skins (wetsuits) are on the Walker Lines Ind Est,
south of Bodmin on the B3268; Fitzgerald Lighting are west of the
Carminow Cross junction.
GCHQ Bude is an important radar station in
Morwenstow. On the other side of the river from Devonport is HMS
Raleigh, off the A374 at Torpoint, home of the
Royal Navy Submarine
School (moved from HMS Dolphin in
Gosport in 1999) and its Submarine
Command Course; it provides all the training for the Royal Naval
Ginsters have a food production plant in Callington, off the A390
between Liskeard and Tavistock
Cornwall has become reliant on tourism, more so than the other
counties of the South West. In 2010
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
had the lowest GVA per head of any county or unitary authority in
England. It contributes only 7.4% of the region's economy
and has received EU Convergence funding (formerly Objective One
funding) since 2000. Over four million people visit the county
each year. The reasons for Cornwall's poor economic performance
are complex and apparently persistent, but causes include its
remoteness and poor transport links, the decline of its
traditional industries, such as mining, agriculture and fishing, the
low-wealth generating capacity of tourism, relocation of higher
skilled jobs to other parts of the South West, and lack of a concerted
economic strategy (although use of European Regional Development Fund
and European Social Fund monies have been deployed in an attempt at
Main article: Economy and industry of Devon
Cornwall and Devon
The Met Office, with cumulus humilis cloud; the
Met Office Cray XC40
(previously a Power 775) computer takes 4.8m weather observations per
year; Robert FitzRoy, who founded it in 1872, made the first weather
forecast on 1 August 1861 in The Times; isobars were invented in the
late 1800s; two bodies produce windspeed for pilots around the world -
Met Office and the NOAA
Met Office is in
Exeter as is Pennon Group, the water company,
Pedigree Dolls & Toys (
Sindy doll), and
Thrifty Car Rental UK is
at Ashton Business Centre in St Thomas on the A377 opposite the Exeter
Retail Park. The airline
Flybe is based at
Exeter Airport; Plymouth
City Airport closed in 2011. Chatham Marine clothing and footwear is
off the B3123 on the Marsh Barton Trading Est, near Alphington.
Eclipse Internet and
EDF Energy are in the same building south-east of
Met Office next to the M5; Stovax Group, who make wood and
gas-burning stoves, are further south on Sowton Ind Est next to Alcoa
Howmet UK, who make vacuum alloy airfoil castings for industrial gas
turbines. DEFRA have a main site for
Devon at Winslade Park, to the
east at Clyst St Mary; nearby to the south on the A376 is the HQ of
Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.
Dormakaba UK, at Tiverton,
are a world-leader in turnstiles, revolving doors and locks; Heathcoat
Fabrics make the DecelAir fabric for parachutes. In Crediton is
Crediton Dairy (former Milk Link) and Ernest Jackson who make Halls
Soothers and Zubes lozenges. Taw
Valley cheese is made by Arla Foods
UK (former Milk Link) at
North Tawton off the A3124, also the HQ of
XYZ Machine Tools is off the A38 close to the M5 bridge in Burlescombe
The Donkey Sanctuary
The Donkey Sanctuary is in Sidmouth.
Axminster Carpets makes carpets for every
Appledore Shipbuilders are based at Appledore, Torridge, Devon, three
miles north of Bideford, who built sections of the Queen
Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
Parker Hannifin have their
instrumentation division next to the Taw Bridge (A361) at Pottington
in Barnstaple; CQC makes personal equipment and Osprey body armour;
off the A361 towards Barnstaple, is a chipboard (Conti and Caberboard)
plant of Norbord. Next to
Royal Marines Base Chivenor,
Germolene and own-label OTC medicines at the Wrafton Laboratories in
Heanton Punchardon on the A361.
Actavis UK (former Cox
Pharmaceuticals, part of Hoechst AG), off the A361 east of Barnstaple,
make levothyroxine and other thyroid hormones.
Dartington Crystal in
Torrington makes Royal Brierley. Pall Europe make filtration products
All Ambrosia (former Unilever) products are made at the Ambrosia
Creamery in Lifton, off the A30 on the River Lyd. Parkham Farms make
Westcountry Farmhouse Cheddar at Woolfardisworthy, Torridge. SC Group
(Supacat) at Dunkeswell Aerodrome, north of Honiton, make protective
vehicles for the Army, notably the Jackal; these vehicles are also
Babcock International formerly Devonport
Management Limited (DML);
Oceanic Worldwide UK makes scuba diving
gear. Quested make high-end loudspeakers on Heathpark Ind Est, west of
Honiton, next to the railway.
Centrax make industrial gas turbines in Newton Abbot; to the
north-west, on the A38 at the A382 junction at Heathfield in Bovey
British Ceramic Tile have the largest ceramic tile plant in
Suttons Seeds is in Paignton; AVX, off the A3022, was a
worldwide site for tantalum capacitors, until the company moved
production to the Czech Republic in 2009. Britannia Royal Naval
College is at Dartmouth.
Princess Yachts make motor yachts off the A374 in Stonehouse
HMNB Devonport (HMS Drake, the largest naval base in western Europe)
is in Plymouth. Toshiba had a large presence in Ernesettle, in the
Plymouth of, which was the second largest employer after the
Royal Navy, until they moved production of televisions to Kobierzyce
in Poland in 2009; it made its last television at the site on 27
Vispring (beds) is next to Kawasaki Precision Machinery.
Snowbee make fishing tackle.
3 Commando Brigade
3 Commando Brigade is at Stonehouse
Barracks. The Range (home and leisure) is on the B3432 in Estover east
Plymouth Airport; opposite is
Fine Tubes and further east Barden
make ball-bearings for the aerospace industry; on the furthest east of
the industrial estate,
Wrigley Company UK; its Extra brand is the
second best-selling confectionery in the UK after Dairy Milk.
HMS Talent (S92)
HMS Talent (S92) at Devonport in February 2008
X-Fab UK (semiconductor fabrication plant, former Plessey
Semiconductors) is next to the A386 Bickleigh Cross roundabout; nearby
BD have a large plant making medical vacutainers (for blood samples)
on Belliver Way Ind Est in the north of Plymouth; south of BD off the
Southway is Silicon Sensing Systems (who make vibrating
structure gyroscopes and are owned by UTC Aerospace Systems,
previously BAE Systems, and BAe Dynamics, who had made nose cones for
aircraft including Concorde), and
Schneider Electric UK (Drayton
Controls, market-leading thermostatic radiator valves for central
heating, previously owned by Invensys Controls UK). North of Plymouth
in Bickleigh (former Tamerton Foliot) is a large factory of
and to the east on the A386 roundabout is
Plessey Semiconductors (who
have a design centre in Swindon). East of
Plymouth at the Langage
Science Park in Sparkwell, off the B3416/A38 Deep Lane Interchange,
Geocel make industrial adhesives; further south Tecalemit (garage
equipment) is on Langage Park.
Stiga UK (garden equipment) is off the
B3417 in Plympton, north of Langage. Westwood (lawn mowers) (owned by
Ariens), make ride-on lawn mowers, and Atco and Mountfield is at
Newnham Ind Est, off the B3417 in Plympton, both owned by GGP UK
(Global Garden Products, based at
Castelfranco Veneto in Italy).
Hemerdon Mine, east of Plymouth, has one of the largest deposits of
tungsten in the world. Wills Marine make motor inflatable boats off
the A379 in Kingsbridge.
Dorset § Economy and industry
See also: List of equipment of the British Army
Tanglefoot, brewed by Hall & Woodhouse (Badger Brewery) in
Blandford Forum (home of the Royal Corps of Signals)
New Look is in Weymouth; it is Britain's second-biggest value clothing
retailer, with over 800 stores in 21 countries.
Wytch Farm (BP) is the
UK's largest onshore oil field.
Meggitt is a leading aerospace and
defence contractor, based west of
Bournemouth Airport, with
Hobbycraft, at a former BAC works in Hurn, close to West Parley. The
Royal Armoured Corps
Royal Armoured Corps is based at Bovington Camp, and next door is the
Bovington Tank Museum; the Army has three armoured regiments (Royal
Royal Tank Regiment
Royal Tank Regiment and King's Royal Hussars) and 227
Challenger 2 tanks; Germany has around 1,000 tanks and
Russia has 3,300. Westwind Air Bearings (owned by Novanta) is off the
A352 at Wareham St Martin, west of Poole, near Holton Heath railway
Mathmos (lighting), founded by
Edward Craven Walker who
invented the lava lamp.
Tata Consultancy Services
Tata Consultancy Services (former
Unisys Insurance Services before
2010) is in Bournemouth. Imagine Publishing, a magazine publisher,
The Mortgage Works (owned by Nationwide Building Society), is at
the A35/A347 Richmond Hill Roundabout; Organix is in the centre;
McCarthy & Stone, who make much of Britain's retirement housing,
is on the B3066. LV= (insurance) is at Frizzell House at Westbourne at
the County Gates Gyratory A35/A338 roundabout. JPMorgan have their
large Chaseside site at the A3060/A338 junction opposite the Royal
Bournemouth Hospital, RIAS (insurance) and Teachers Assurance, towards
Lifeboat College in Poole, where the Royal National Lifeboat
Institution (RNLI) is headquartered
Merlin Entertainments (who own Sea Life Centres, and are the world's
second largest theme park operator after Disney) is in
Poole with a
former division, Aquarium Technology, at the end of the A350 near the
Twin Sails bridge.
Ryvita is made in
Parkstone on the B3061. Fitness
First, the largest privately owned health club group in the world,
Bournemouth and is now globally headquartered south of
Fleet's Corner. Siemens Traffic Controls make most of the UK's traffic
lights west near Fleet's Corner; the main traffic light in the UK is
the Siemens Helios (the other make is the Peek Elite). North of Fleets
Lane, south of the
Wessex Gate Retail Park, is Parvalux, on the A3049
on the West Howe Ind Estate in Wallisdown, which makes geared DC
electric motors and gearboxes; further south is Faerch Plast (former
Sealed Air, which makes trays for food) then Fitness First, and
Aeronautical & General Instruments; further north, off the A35, is
Wireless Data Sevices (part of Xerox), who provide technical support
for mobile phone networks; further north of Fleets Corner east of the
A349 is Lush, the cosmetics company, with
Hamworthy Combustion (owned by Koch Industries), at the
A349/A3049 junction in Fleetsbridge, is an international engineering
Sunseeker International is a main motor yacht
manufacturer; it made the boat in the opening sequence of The World Is
Not Enough. The
Special Boat Service
Special Boat Service is based at RM Poole, home of the
Navy's amphibious warfare section, off the B3068 at
Hamworthy in the
west of Poole.
Tangerine Confectionery (former Parrs) made gums and
jellies on the Redlands Trading Estate off the A3040 near Branksome
railway station to the east. Aish Technologies makes console (display)
systems for the
Royal Navy off B3068 in Alderney.
Cobham underwing refuelling pod on an RAF Voyager, or
Airbus A330 MRTT
(the aircraft is made at CASA, part of
Airbus Defence and Space, in
Getafe in central Spain)
Cobham plc, in
Wimborne Minster towards Leigh, is a world-leader in
air-to-air refuelling, developed by Sir
Alan Cobham at RAF Tarrant
Rushton, and aircraft antennas.
Durable UK (office products) is in
Wimborne; Caterpillar's Wimborne Marine Power Centre make Perkins
Sabre marine diesel generators on
Ferndown Ind Est off the A31; to the
south is Farrow & Ball (the well-known paint manufacturer) in
Hampreston and Stapehill, in Ferndown. Manitou UK, owner of the
Gehl Company and from
Nanterre in France, is based at Verwood
on the Ebblake Ind Est off the B3081 near the
Sigma-Aldrich UK (pharmaceuticals) are off the B3092 on Brickfield
Business Park in Gillingham, next to the River Stour and railway.
Cygnus Instruments, on the B3144 in Dorchester, is the leading
manufacturer of ultrasonic thickness gauges, developing the technique
in the early 1980s. Edwards Sports Products of Bridport, owned by
Broxap of Staffordshire, make football goals for the Premier League,
and tennis nets and posts for Wimbledon.
An aerial view of GCHQ's headquarters, 2004; the biggest employer in
Gloucestershire is the intelligence agency GCHQ, who are based at 'The
Doughnut', their headquarters GCHQ has around 6,000 staff, MI5
has 4,000, and MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service) has 3,200; GCHQ is in
the west of Cheltenham, off the A40 at the A4013 roundabout at
Fiddlers Green, and also has a site to the east at Oakley
Endsleigh Insurance in Shurdington, Kohler Mira Ltd
Superdry (clothing), Collins Geo (maps), and Chelsea
Building Society are on the A435 to the south-east. North of
Cheltenham at Bishop's Cleeve, south of the village on the A435, is GE
Aviation Systems UK on the large Cleeve Business Park; this which was
the former 300-acre site of the
Cheltenham Division of Smiths
Industries that made flight control systems and flight deck displays;
further up the A435 is a main site of Zurich Assurance UK. Weird Fish
(clothing) is near
Spirax-Sarco Engineering plc (pumps) off the A4019
in Kingsditch in
Swindon Village, north of Cheltenham; on the other
side of the A4019, Douglas Equipment, next to All Saints' Academy,
Cheltenham, makes towing tractors for aircraft.
Gulf Oil UK was
headquartered on B4075 in Prestbury (near the racecourse) until 1997,
when Shell UK bought its petrol stations; the former headquarters
became a student hall of the University of Gloucestershire.
Computer security firm
Symantec have a site in Gloucester, the base of
Dowty Rotol (who make propellors) and Bond
Aviation Group (helicopter leasing) are next to Gloucestershire
Airport at Staverton; Helimedia is the UK distributor of the L-3
Wescam, the Canadian thermal imaging system found with many UK police
air support units and air ambulances. The
Cheltenham & Gloucester
Barnwood (north Gloucester), next to Unilever's manufacturing
site for Wall's ice cream at the A417/A38 roundabout next to the
railway; on other side of the railway in Elmbridge is Lanes Health who
Olbas Oil and Kalms; to the south,
EDF Energy (former British
Energy) have their nuclear energy engineering centre with Horizon
Nuclear Power. Between the former C&G and EDF at Barnwood,
Barclays' data centre services all of its ATMs in the south of
England. Beta Marine make marine diesel engines at Hardwicke off the
A38 near junction 12 of the M5, south of
Gloucester near the HQs of
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, Great Western Ambulance
Safran Landing Systems
Safran Landing Systems UK (former Messier-Dowty, historically
Britain's main aircraft undercarriage manufacturer, now owned by
Safran) make undercarriage for Boeing aircraft; the South West region
has the most aerospace industry in the UK (followed by the North West,
which has Warton and Samlesbury)
Moog Controls UK, on the
Ashchurch Ind Estate by
Tewkesbury near junction 9 (A46) of the M5, make servo valves for the
aerospace industry (flight control systems or AFCS), in Northway; also
on the estate is Steinhoff UK, who own Sleepmasters and Bensons for
Beds. Floortex (floor coverings) is on Tewkesbury Business Park, west
of the M5 south of Duraflex. Near the M5
Ashchurch Interchange off the
RR Donnelley GDS print Barclaycard statements. The Colt Car
Company UK (who distribute Mitsubishi Motors) are in Cirencester, and
Corin Group make artificial joints on the A429 near the Royal
The Stroud &
Swindon Building Society and
Ecotricity are in Stroud
near Stroud station. WSP Textiles (a former division of Milliken) on
the A46 towards
Rodborough in the south of Stroud make felt for
billiard tables (Strachan cloth), and for tennis balls for three Grand
Slam tournaments (Playne's tennis ball cloth).
Dairy Crest makes Frijj
milkshake at its large dairy at
Severnside on the Stroudwater Business
Park at Stonehouse next to the M5, within walking distance of
Stonehouse station; nearby ReedHycalog (owned by National Oilwell
Varco) make industrial drill bits off the A419 on the Oldends Ind Est,
near ABB UK, who make flow meters; Delphi Diesel Systems UK, on the
business park, make electronic unit injectors;
Renishaw plc have large
machining centre on north of the business park;
SKF (Swedish) make
ball bearings (Aeroengine & High Precision Bearings Division, for
Rolls-Royce) to the south of the estate (former Ransome Hoffmann
Pollard), then NSK until 2002); the company has another site at
Clevedon in Somerset.
The entrance to
UCAS in 2008; it has around 37,000 courses at 370
institutions; it is in the north of Cheltenham, near the racecourse in
Prestbury at A435/B4075 junction
Beverage Brands is based at
Hucclecote on the
Gloucester Business Park
off B4641 east of the M5 Brockworth Interchange, with Horizon Nuclear
Power, and next to NHS Gloucestershire); in the same building is
MessageLabs (Symantec), and a main office of
Ageas UK (insurance).
Further south in Brockworth is Direct Wines (Laithwaites); to the east
is a G-TEKT (former Takao Europe) automotive metal pressings and
sub-assemblies factory and a large
Invista textiles factory (former
ICI Fibres, then Dupont from 1992, which makes nylon fibres); the site
is built on the former Gloster Aircraft factory, which closed around
Renishaw plc is in Wotton-under-Edge, previously being in
Nailsworth. Lister Petter, off the A4135 in Dursley, make diesel
engine generator sets; Lister Shearing is the only British
manufacturer of clipping and shearing (animals) equipment. The Fire
Service College is in
Northcot Brick is at Blockley, in the north-east, next to the railway;
Per Una is based near Draycott.
Mabey Group, off the A48 at
Lydney make wind turbine towers; on the
other side of the A48,
Federal-Mogul have a foundry making camshafts.
Suntory (Japanese) makes
Lucozade (from 1957) and
Ribena (from 1947)
Royal Forest Factory off the B4228 in Coleford in the Forest of
Dean; William Horlick, originator of another well-known former GSK
product, was born in the Forest of Dean in 1846.
The Army Air Corps has 67 Yeovil-built, Rolls-Royce RTM322-powered
AgustaWestland Apache AH1 helicopters; since 2010, the helicopters now
have the much-more advanced
Apache Arrowhead night-vision system which
superseded TADS/PNVS; in October 2016, the
Royal Navy had 94
Fleet Air Arm Museum
Fleet Air Arm Museum is Europe's largest naval air
Main article: Economy of Somerset
Mendip Vale the nearest station to the city of Wells which is cut off
from the rest of the UK by the Beeching Axe.
Screwfix is in Yeovil, and Clarks shoes with
K-Swiss Europe are in
Street, although most of its shoes are made in the Far East. Shepton
Mallet is home of Blackthorn
Cider and the Gaymer
Cider Company. Dairy
Crest packs Cathedral City cheese in Frome. The
at Pilton (nearer to
Shepton Mallet than Glastonbury), off the A361,
is the UK's biggest music festival.
Greencore make premium chilled desserts, such as tiramisu for M &
S, at their site (former St Ivel, then Uniq Desserts) off the B3081 at
Royal Marines have a large base for
40 Commando west of Taunton,
with their training centre at
Lympstone Commando in Devon, on the
Avocet Line with its own station of Lympstone and the A376 and River
Exe. Attentional in
Taunton deliver audience figures for BARB. DS
Wansbrough Paper Mill
Wansbrough Paper Mill at
Watchet on the coast is the UK's
largest manufacturer of coreboard. Fletcher Boats make speedboats in
Langport. TePe UK (Swedish) supply toothbrushes.
Thales Defence closed its radar site (former EMI Electronics) near
Wookey Hole, in St Cuthbert Out.
Thales Underwater Systems (former
Plessey Marine) is at Abbas and Templecombe, Somerset, off the A357
Dorset in the Blackmore Vale, east of Yeovil. Commando
Helicopter Force at Yeovilton operates Merlins and Wildcats (the
upgraded version of the Lynx). Mulberry is based at
Chilcompton on the
B3139, north of Shepton Mallet, in the Mendips. Cox & Cox
furnishings, is north of
Frome in Berkley,
Somerset off the A361. Fox
Brothers make cloth in Wellington, and Relyon (part of Steinhoff
International) make beds.
Italian defence contractor Leonardo makes helicopters at Yeovil,
formerly the home of Westland Helicopters, building the AgustaWestland
AW159 Wildcat. To the east of Yeovil, in Houndstone, Garador make
garage doors (part of Hörmann Group of Amshausen, Europe's largest
mechanical door manufacturer). Yeo
Valley Organic is in Blagdon.
Numatic International Limited
Numatic International Limited makes vacuum cleaners in Chard, and
Brecknell Willis, a railway engineering company on the A30, makes
ActionAid UK is based off the A358 in the north of Chard,
near a centrifugal oil filter plant of Mann+Hummel.
Dairy Crest made
brandy butter south of the town in Tatworth and Forton, near the
meeting point of Dorset,
Somerset and Devon. Ministry of Cake, owned
by Greencore since December 2007 on the A3065 in
Staplegrove in the
west of Taunton, is the leading provider of frozen desserts to the UK
foodservice industry. The
United Kingdom Hydrographic Office is in
Pilgrims Choice cheddar is made by made by Adams Foods
(former North Downs Dairy) at Wincanton.
Ariel Motor Company
Ariel Motor Company in
Crewkerne, make the Ariel Atom.
Refresco Gerber in the north of Bridgwater, between the A38 and the
River Parrett, make SunnyD, Libby's, Innocent Drinks, Del Monte, Just
Juice and Ocean Spray.
Former brandy butter plant at
Chard Junction next to the River Axe
Next to the Royal Portbury Dock, off junction 19 of the M5 on the A369
is Lafarge Plasterboard. Thatchers
Cider is in Sandford, North
Somerset on the A368, two miles east of the M5. Towards Bristol
Airport, Claverham make actuation equipment for the aerospace sector
Yatton in North Somerset, off the A370, and is part of Hamilton
Sundstrand, derived from the electrical systems part of Fairey
Wessex Water, Future plc,
Buro Happold and
Rotork are in Bath. Cadbury
used to make Curly Wurly, Double Decker and
Crunchie at the Somerdale
Keynsham until Kraft closed the plant in March 2011 and moved
Skarbimierz, Opole Voivodeship
Skarbimierz, Opole Voivodeship in Poland.
Salisbury Cathedral at 123 m (404 ft) which is the tallest
in the UK
Nationwide Building Society,
Research Councils UK
Research Councils UK and five
research councils, Intel Europe, and the British Computer Society
are in Swindon, as are the main offices of Historic England and
the National Trust, both housed in the former Great Western
Allied Dunbar was headquartered in the centre
Swindon until 1998, when bought by Zurich Financial Services. In
Stratton St Margaret,
BMW press metal for the MINI at Swindon
Pressings Ltd (the former Pressed Steel Company), there is a major
Honda manufacturing plant (in South Marston) where the Jazz, Civic and
CR-V are manufactured at Britain's second-largest car manufacturing
plant; nearby are Zimmer UK (medical devices) and Yuasa UK
(automotive batteries). The headquarters of W H Smith, with Smiths
News, is near the School Library Association, west of the MINI works
in Upper Stratton.
Valero Energy UK, who bought Texaco from
Chevron in 2011, are in Eldene, in the former head office of St Ivel;
Patheon UK (pharmaceuticals, on the former site of Roussel Uclaf) are
on the B4006 in Covingham, north of Valero, in the east of Swindon. BG
Automotive, on the Cheney Manor industrial estate, make gaskets on the
B4006 in Rodbourne; Dynamatic UK are in a former
Burmah Oil was headquartered in the south of Swindon; Burmah bought
Castrol in 1966 (owned by BP from 2000). Stanley Security (former
Amano Blick) is on the Techno trading estate, north of the town
Plessey Semiconductors factory in Swindon, on the Cheney Manor
Industrial Estate, west of Rodbourne
Near the M4 Spittleborough Roundabout, close to Freshbrook, are
Synergy Health and RWE npower; also on the Windmill Hill Business park
are Arval (vehicle leasing and fuel cards), and Allstar (fuel card);
also nearby are Cartus Europe,
Catalent Pharma Solutions UK and MAN
Truck & Bus UK (with
Neoplan and ERF); further east is
former Water Research Centre). Nearby on Lydiard Fields in Lydiard
Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells, which in 2002 was the world's
first production site of membrane electrode assemblies, and next door
is Neptune, who make furniture and kitchens; also BuildStore have
their National Self Build & Renovation Centre.
provide hydraulics off the A419 in Dorcan, and nearby is TE
Connectivity UK (former Tyco Electronics and Raychem). The British and
Foreign Bible Society is on the Delta Business Park in Westlea, near
Intergraph UK (geospatial software, owned by Hexagon AB) on the other
side of Westmead industrial estate, with Metric Group, the only UK
manufacturer of parking meters.
Triumph International UK is in
Blunsdon St Andrew. On the A361 in
Highworth north-east of Swindon, TS Tech make car seats for Honda,
also with a site at the
Renault Centre on the Rivermead industrial
Dyson is in Malmesbury, north of the M4. Cotswold Outdoor
(recommended supplier to the DofE Award and the Scout Association) is
based at the
Cotswold Airport near the
Gloucestershire boundary south
Shredded Wheat factory at Staverton north of Trowbridge
Wiltshire Farm Foods, Danone UK and
their subsidiary Numico.
Cereal Partners make Shredded Wheat and
Shreddies at Staverton, near Trowbridge. In
Devizes is the Wadworth
Salisbury Cathedral in
Salisbury attracts many tourists.
Rockhopper Exploration is in the town and
Naim Audio make hi-fi
equipment. Nearby, Dstl is at Porton Down.
Systems UK (formerly Westinghouse) make railway air brakes in
Bowerhill just south of
Melksham and nearby are the headquarters
of Avon Rubber and Herman Miller UK, a maker of office furniture.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company also make Avon Tyres in the same
Chippenham has the HQ of Wincanton plc, the large logistics
Invensys Rail Group (formerly Westinghouse Rail Systems)
who make rail signalling equipment, and the software company
In the centre of the county are many military establishments, notably
MoD Boscombe Down, the training sites on
Salisbury Plain, and the army
bases around Tidworth,
Larkhill (home of the Royal School of
Warminster (HQ of the Infantry).
The region covers much of the historical area of
Wessex (omitting only
Hampshire and Berkshire), and all of the Celtic Kingdom of Dumnonia
which comprised Cornwall, Devon, and parts of
Somerset and Dorset. In
terms of local government, it was divided after 1974 into Avon,
Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, and Wiltshire.
Avon has since been abolished, and several mainly urban areas have
become unitary authorities.
The official region consists of the following geographic counties and
local government areas:
Shire county / unitary
1. Bath and North East
a) South Somerset, b)
Taunton Deane, c) West Somerset,
d) Sedgemoor, e) Mendip
a) Gloucester, b) Tewkesbury, c) Cheltenham,
d) Cotswold, e) Stroud, f) Forest of Dean
a) Weymouth and Portland, b) West Dorset, c) North
Dorset, d) Purbeck, e) East Dorset, f) Christchurch
a) Exeter, b) East Devon, c) Mid Devon, d) North
Devon, e) Torridge, f) West Devon, g) South Hams,
Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly sui generis UA
UA = unitary authority CC = county council
Eurostat Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics
(NUTS), South West
England is a level-1 NUTS region, coded "UKK",
which is subdivided as follows:
South West England
Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area
Bath and North East Somerset, North
Somerset and South Gloucestershire
Dorset and Somerset
Bournemouth and Poole
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
South West Regional Assembly
Durdle Door in
Dorset is part of the Jurassic Coast, England's only
natural World Heritage Site.
Although referendums had been planned on whether elected assemblies
should be set up in some of the regions, none was planned in the South
South West Regional Assembly
South West Regional Assembly (SWRA) was the regional
assembly for the South West region, established in 1999. It was based
Exeter and Taunton. The SWRA was a partnership of councillors from
all local authorities in the region and representatives of various
sectors with a role in the region's economic, social and environmental
well-being. There was much opposition to the formation of the SWRA
with critics saying it was an unelected unrepresentative and
unaccountable "quango". The Regional Assembly was wound up in May
2009, and its functions taken on by the Strategic Leaders' Board (SLB)
of South West Councils.
Currently the South West contains 55 seats in the House of Commons.
The Conservatives hold 47 seats, Labour 7 and the Liberal Democrats 1.
England is one of the constituencies used for elections to
the European Parliament. From the 2004 election onwards,
been included within the constituency for the purpose of elections to
the European parliament only.
Constituencies in South West
Bridgwater and West Somerset
Camborne and Redruth
Filton and Bradley Stoke
Forest of Dean
Dorset and North Poole
North East Somerset
Plymouth Moor View
Somerton and Frome
South East Cornwall
South West Devon
South West Wiltshire
St Austell and Newquay
Thornbury and Yate
Tiverton and Honiton
Torridge and West Devon
Truro and Falmouth
Bristol North West
Plymouth Sutton and Devonport
Liberal Democrats (1)
England European constituency: Conservative (2)
Election results in 2017
In the 2015 general election, there was a 0.7% swing from Labour to
Conservative in the region. For the region's electorate, 46% voted
Conservative, 18% voted Labour, Liberal Democrats 15%, UKIP 14% and
Green 6%. The Conservatives gained 15 seats almost all of which were
from the Liberal Democrats.
In 2017 the Conservatives lost 3 seats (
Bristol North West, Plymouth
Sutton and Devonport and Stroud) to Labour and 1 (Bath) to the Liberal
Democrats. Labour increased their share of the vote by 11.4% while
Ukip's vote collapsed. However the Conservatives still dominate the
South West with 47 seats out of 55.
In the 2014 European Election, the South West
voted 32.29% for UKIP, 28.9% Conservative, 13.75% Labour, 11.1% Green,
and 10.7% Liberal Democrat. UKIP and the Conservatives have two MEPs
each, while Labour and the Greens have one each.
See also: List of schools in
England § South West of England
The South West has a below average rate of attainment in GCSE (and
equivalent) examinations, with the lowest regional performance in
England from 2009 to 2012. In 2012,
South Hams had the highest
percentage of pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs at grade A*-C at 86%,
whilst Purbeck had the lowest at 70%.
The region has an above average rate of attainment in A-Level (and
equivalent) examinations, having outperformed the West Midlands, East
Midlands, North East and
London in 2012.
There are around 29 further education colleges in the region.
University of Bath
There are twelve universities in the region:
The Arts University Bournemouth
Bath Spa University
University of Bath
University of Bristol
University of Exeter
University of Gloucestershire
The University of Law
Royal Agricultural University
University of St Mark & St John
University of the West of
There are also four higher education colleges. The region has the
lowest number of people registered on higher education courses at FE
The University of
Bristol receives the most total funding, according
to Higher Education Funding Council for
England figures for the
2006/2007 academic year, and the largest research grant—twice as big
as any other in the region. Bath has the next largest research
grant, closely followed by Exeter. UWE and
Plymouth get small research
grants, but no other universities in the region receive much of a
research grant. The University of
Plymouth has the largest teaching
Of the region's students (postgraduate and undergraduate), 50% are
from the region, and around 40% from other regions. For full-time
first degree students, 35% come from the region, around 22% are from
South East England, and 8% are from London. Including the East of
England, around 70% are from Southern England. 10% are from the
Midlands, and 5% from Northern England. The main access for students
from the north is the Cross Country Route. Around 33% of native South
West students stay in the region, with 18% going to the South East
(around 60% stay in the south of England). Around 14% go to Wales, but
very few go to the East of England. Access by road or rail to the East
England region is not straightforward, with around the same amount
of travel as to Scotland. Many more native South West students are
prepared to go to the north of England, than northern students are
prepared to study in the South West. Once graduated, around 50% stay
in the region, with 15% each going to
London or the South East (around
80% find work in the south of England). Very few go elsewhere
(especially the north of England); around 4% go to the West Midlands
Wiltshire building in Swindon
BBC South West, based in
Plymouth with the Spotlight regional
BBC West, based in Clifton in
Bristol with the Points West regional
ITV West Country, based in
Bristol (following the merger of ITV West
and ITV Westcountry), with the ITV News
West Country regional
N.B. Parts of Dorset, including Bournemouth, Poole, Dorchester and
Weymouth also receive
BBC South and ITV Meridian from Southampton.
Digital switchover from
Mendip (for Points West) took place in April
2010, and for the Spotlight area it took place in mid-2009.
BBC Radios Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Solent (Dorset), Bristol,
Wiltshire, and Gloucestershire. National radio is from North Hessary
Tor and Wenvoe (west of Cardiff).
Commercial radio stations are
Kiss 101 (Bristol), Star 107.2
(Bristol), Heart West Country,
Pirate FM (Cornwall),
Atlantic FM (St
Agnes), Heart Devon, Heart
Gloucestershire (Gloucester), Heart
Palm 105.5 (Torquay), Total Star
QuayWest 107.4FM in Bridgwater), Total Star
Swindon (former Brunel
FM), Total Star
Warminster (former 3TR FM),
Total Star Bath
Total Star Bath (former
Nova Radio (Weston-super-Mare),
Spire FM (Salisbury), Wessex
Fire Radio (Bournemouth), and Heart Solent
Regional newspapers include the Bath Chronicle,
Bristol Evening Post,
Western Daily Press, the
Dorset Echo, the
Exeter Express and Echo,
Western Morning News, the North
Devon Journal, Cornish Guardian, The
West Briton (Truro), The Cornishman,
Wiltshire Times (Trowbridge),
Gazette and Herald
Gazette and Herald (North & West Wiltshire),
Plymouth Evening Herald, Torquay Herald Express,
Swindon Advertiser and the
Salisbury Journal (Salisbury).
During the 2016-17 season, the region had one
Premier League team
(A.F.C. Bournemouth), and seven teams in the English Football League
Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham, Exeter,
Swindon, and Yeovil). In the 2017/18 season they will be joined by
Forest Green Rovers.
The area's local football league is the
South West Peninsula League
(SWPL). It was formed in 2007 from the merger of the
League and the South Western League. The league consists of a Premier
Division of up to 20 clubs, which is ranked at Step 6 in the National
League System, and two divisions at Step 7, Division One West and
Division One East.
^ "South West had the oldest population in the UK in 2012". Office for
National Statistics. 17 October 2013.
^ "South West Regional Assembly, Draft Regional Spatial Strategy for
the South West, para.1.1.1" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May 2012.
^ "South West Regional Assembly, Draft Regional Spatial Strategy for
the South West, paras.1.1.3 and 7.2.1" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May
^ "Information Sheet 1E: The
Dartmoor granite and associated igneous
Dartmoor National Park Authority. Retrieved 9 September
^ "High Willhays". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
^ "Direct From
Dorset Producer case study". Western Gazette. This is
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