| Bridgwater is now my adopted home and has been since 1985. It is a surprising mixture, being a fairly industrial town set in a rural area. Until December 2000 it still had a weekly livestock market, the sheep sales at the annual St. Matthew's Fair ended with the 2001 Foot & Mouth outbreak - but there are
still horses sold alongside the stalls and the fun fair, plus there are
various agriculture related businesses in and around the town and a new
farmers centre including a market has opened at motorway Junction 24. Part of the agricultural "scene" around here is the annual Bridgwater & District Ploughing Match which now has a page on this site.|
Click here to see photos of Bridgwater. updated for the river wall collapse.
As a shopping centre Bridgwater has been overshadowed by nearby Taunton, but there is still a reasonable range of shops including large supermarkets, DIY stores, builders merchants and smaller speciality shops. Bridgwater is also overshadowed by the county town of Taunton as an administration centre, but has the headquarters of Sedgemoor District Council, the regional Environment Agency offices along with professional firms and branches of the main banks.
The town's current strength is as a distribution centre, being located where the A38 and A39 trunk roads cross and between two junctions on the M5 Birmingham to Exeter motorway. Though it is less important nowadays there is a rail connected goods depot, and flasks of spent reactor fuel from the nearby Hinkley Point nuclear power stations are transferred to rail at a site by the railway station. There are large numbers of warehouses on trading estates in town and close to both motorway junctions, including large facilities for Argos, Somerfield and NHS Supplies and now a vast facility for Morrisons. There is still a manufacturing base in the town, the main factories being those producing bonded fibre fabrics (such as Jeyecloths) and fruit juices etc (including Sunny Delight) though the cellophane factory has closed.
There is an historic side to the town, it recently celebrated the 800th. anniversary of being granted a royal charter, is still proud of its most famous son, Admiral Blake, and has many old buildings, though the castle has long since disappeared - its site being occupied by a block of retirement flats called Homecastle House. While not being very "touristy" in itself it is conveniently located for visiting such places as the Quantocks Hills, Exmoor, the coast from Burnham on Sea to Brean, Cheddar Gorge and Caves, Wells, Glastonbury and the Mendip Hills. It was at one time a commercial port, the docks closed in the 60's but are now in use for pleasure craft which can go up to Taunton on the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. The canal towpath is now a footpath and cycle track, offering a pleasant stroll through the countryside. Nearby Westonzoyland is notable for the fact that the last battle fought on English soil, the Battle of Sedgemoor, took place there in 1685 when King James II's army finally put down the Monmouth Rebellion.
Apart from the 4 day St. Matthew's Fair which starts on the last Wednesday in September Bridgwater's major event is the Guy Fawkes Carnival in November. It is the reckoned to be the largest illuminated carnival in the world, being attended by floats from the South Somerset series as it falls just after the end of that circuit as well as being the first one in the North Somerset Circuit. Words can't do it justice
It used to have a poor reputation due to the infamous smell from the cellophane factory, however that has closed, and only really affected the railway, motorway and a small area of the northern part of the town. It is a more workaday town than most in the West Of England, but is none the worse for it, while there are places I'd like to move to I'm quite happy living here.
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This site was last updated 16/08/2012
This site is ©2002-2006 S G J Huddy.