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Clevedon
ClevedonFromAir2007.jpg
View of Clevedon from the air, showing the pier
Clevedon shown within Somerset
Population 21,281 
OS grid reference ST406714
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town CLEVEDON
Postcode district BS21
Dialling code 01275
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Avon
Ambulance Great Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament
  • North Somerset
List of places
UK
England
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Clevedon is a town and civil parish in the unitary authority of North Somerset, which covers part of the ceremonial county of Somerset, England. The town has a population of 21,281 according to the United Kingdom Census 2011.

The town is situated amongst a group of small hills including Church Hill, Wain's Hill (which is topped by the remains of an Iron Age hill fort), Dial Hill, Strawberry Hill, Castle Hill, Hangstone Hill and Court Hill which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest along the Severn estuary. Clevedon was mentioned in the Domesday Book but grew in the Victorian era when it became a popular seaside resort. It was served by a short branch line from the main railway at Yatton, between 1847 and 1966. The Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Light Railway, which opened in 1897 and closed in 1940 also served the town.

The seafront has ornamental gardens, a Victorian bandstand, and other visitor attractions. Salthouse Field has a light railway running round the perimeter and is used for donkey rides during the summer. The shore is a mixture of pebbled beaches and low rocky cliffs, with the old harbour at the western edge of the town at the mouth of the Land Yeo. The rocky beach has been designated as the Clevedon Shore geological Site of Special Scientific Interest. Clevedon Pier, opened in 1869, is one of the earliest surviving examples of a Victorian pier the United Kingdom. On October 17, 1970, two outward spans collapsed when the seventh set of legs from the shore failed during a routine insurance load test. After protracted considerations a trust was formed and the pier and its terminal buildings were restored and reopened on May 27, 1989, when the Waverley paddle steamer berthed and took on passengers. Other landmarks include Walton Castle, Clevedon Court the Clock Tower and the Curzon Cinema. Clevedon's light industry is centred mainly in industrial estates including Hither Green Trading Estate near the M5 motorway junction. It is a dormitory town for Bristol. The town is home to educational, religious and cultural buildings and sporting clubs.

History

Clevedon 1890s
Clevedon circa 1900

The name derives from the Old English, cleve meaning "cleave" or "cleft" and don meaning "hill".

Wain's Hill is an univallate Iron Age hill fort situated approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) south-west of Clevedon. The hill fort is defined by a steep, natural slope from the south and north with two ramparts to the east.

The Domesday Book mentions Clevedon as a holding of a tenant-in-chief by the name of Mathew of Mortaigne, with eight villagers and ten smallholders. The parish of Clevedon formed part of the Portbury Hundred.

The small rivers the Land Yeo and Middle Yeo supported at least two mills. The Tuck Mills lay in the fields south of Clevedon Court and were used for fulling cloth. The other mills, near Wain's Hill, probably date from the early 17th century.

During the Victorian era Clevedon became a popular seaside town; before that it had been an agricultural village. The Victorian craze for bathing in the sea was catered for in the late 19th century by saltwater baths adjacent to the pier (since demolished, though the foundations remain), and bathing machines on the main beach.

Clevedon Pier, Clevedon
Clevedon Pier, which opened in 1869

Clevedon was home to St Edith's children's home for almost 100 years until it closed in 1974. The building on Dial Hill is listed, and therefore the outside has changed little, but it now houses privately owned flats. The home was run by nuns from the Community of the Sisters of the Church, an international body of women within the Anglican Communion, living under the gospel values of poverty, chastity and obedience.

The first large-scale production of penicillin took place in the town. In 1938 Howard Florey was working at Lincoln College, Oxford University with Ernst Boris Chain and Norman Heatley, when he read Alexander Fleming's paper discussing the antibacterial effects of Penicillium notatum mould. He made arrangements for this to be grown in deep culture tanks at the Medical Research Council's Antibiotic Research Station in Clevedon, enabling mass production of this mould for the injections of the forthcoming soldiers of World War II who suffered from infections.

Clevedon was served by a short branch line from the main railway at Yatton. It opened in 1847, six years after the main line itself, but closed in 1966. The site of the station is now Queen's Square, a shopping precinct. The town was the headquarters for another railway, the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Light Railway, which connected the three coastal towns in its name. It opened to Weston-super-Mare in 1897, was extended to Portishead ten years later, and closed in 1940. Its trains crossed the road in the town centre, known as The Triangle, preceded by a man with red and green flags.

Clevedon clock tower North Somerset England arp
The clock tower in Clevedon town centre
A coastal bay at Clevedon in Somerset. Lithograph after a sk Wellcome V0044532
A coastal bay at Clevedon in Somerset. Lithograph after a sketch by Lady Elton, 1838

Geography

Clevedon - Salthouse Fields Train - geograph.org.uk - 62218
Salthouse Fields

Clevedon is situated on and round seven hills called Church Hill, Wain's Hill (which is topped by the remains of an Iron Age hill fort), Dial Hill, Strawberry Hill, Castle Hill, Hangstone hill and Court Hill which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. On a clear day there are far reaching views across the Severn estuary to Wales. When the visibility is good the islands of Steep Holm and Flat Holm in the Bristol Channel can be seen. The tidal rise and fall in the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel can be as great as 14.5 m (48 ft), second only to Bay of Fundy in Eastern Canada.

The seafront stretches for approximately half a mile from the pier to Salthouse Field, and includes ornamental gardens, a Victorian bandstand, a bowling green, tennis courts, crazy golf and other amusements. An addition to this list is Marine Lake, which was once a Victorian swimming pool, is now used for boating activities, as well as a small festival once a year where people can try out new sports. The Salthouse Field has a light railway running round the perimeter and is still used for donkey rides during the summer.

The shore at Clevedon is a mixture of pebbled beaches and low rocky cliffs, with the old harbour being at the western edge of the town at the mouth of the Land Yeo river. It is remembered as the place at which John Ashley conceived of the idea of creating The Mission to Seafarers. The rocky beach, which has been designated as the Clevedon Shore geological Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is the side of a mineralised fault, which runs east-west adjacent to the pier, and forms a small cliff feature in Dolomitic Conglomerate on the north side of Clevedon Beach, containing cream to pink baryte together with sulfides. The minerals identified at the site include: haematite, chalcopyrite, tennantite, galena, tetrahedrite, bornite, pyrite, marcasite, enargite and sphalerite. Secondary alteration of this assemblage has produced idaite, Covellite and other Copper sulphides.

"Poet's Walk" is a footpath around Wain's Hill and Church Hill, to the south west of the seafront, and the upper part of the town contains many other footpaths through parks and wooded areas which were laid out in the nineteenth century. The name of the walk is a commemoration of the poets and writers who have visited Clevedon. These include Coleridge in 1795 and Tennyson in 1834. It is a local nature reserve covering Church Hill and Wain's Hill and includes calcareous grassland, coastal scrub and woodland.

Climate

ClevedonTree
Windswept Clevedon seafront has shaped this tree

Along with the rest of South West England, Clevedon has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than the rest of the country. The annual mean temperature is approximately 10 °C (50.0 °F). Seasonal temperature variation is less extreme than most of the United Kingdom because of the adjacent sea temperatures. The summer months of July and August are the warmest with mean daily maxima of approximately 21 °C (69.8 °F). In winter mean minimum temperatures of 1 °C (33.8 °F) or 2 °C (35.6 °F) are common. In the summer the Azores high pressure affects the south-west of England, however convective cloud sometimes forms inland, reducing the number of hours of sunshine. Annual sunshine rates are slightly less than the regional average of 1,600 hours. In December 1998 there were 20 days without sun recorded at Yeovilton. Most of the rainfall in the South-West is caused by Atlantic depressions or by convection. Most of the rainfall in autumn and winter is caused by the Atlantic depressions, which is when they are most active. In summer, a large proportion of the rainfall is caused by sun heating the ground leading to convection and to showers and thunderstorms. Average rainfall is around 700 mm (28 in). About 8–15 days of snowfall is typical. November to March have the highest mean wind speeds, and June to August have the lightest winds. The predominant wind direction is from the south-west.

Demography

The town has a population of 21,957 according to the United Kingdom Census 2001. Of these almost 20% are over the age of 65 years and 98.8% are white. Almost three quarters of the population described themselves as being Christian, with 17.4% having no religion and another 7.3% not stating any religion. 72.4% of the 15,408 people between the ages of 16 and 74 years are economically active.

Landmarks

Clevedon Pier Dec09
Clevedon Pier and the Severn estuary. Wales can be seen on the horizon

Clevedon Pier was opened on Easter Monday 1869, one of the earliest examples of a Victorian pier still in existence in the United Kingdom. After a set of legs collapsed during an insurance load check on October 17, 1970, it fell into disrepair until in 1985 the pier was dismantled and taken to Portishead dock for restoration, and was rebuilt in 1986. In 2001, the pier was upgraded to a grade 1 listed building, The Paddle Steamer Waverley and Motor Vessel Balmoral offer day sea trips from Clevedon Pier to various destinations along the Bristol Channel and Severn estuary. Adjoining the pier and contemporary with it is the Toll House, built in the style of a folly castle and provided as accommodation for the pier-master.

Geograph-2011243-by-Brian-Robert-Marshall
Toll House

The Royal Pier Hotel is a Grade II listed building located next to the pier. The Royal Pier Hotel was built in 1823 by Thomas Hollyman, and originally called The Rock House. In 1868, the building was expanded by local architect Hans Price and renamed Rock House & Royal Pier Hotel, later shortened to Royal Pier Hotel. Since its closure the building has fallen into disrepair, but it is now (Summer 2015) being converted into luxury apartments.

Walton Castle is a 17th-century fort located on Castle Hill that overlooks the Walton St Mary area at the northern end of Clevedon. It was built sometime between 1615 and 1620. The castle was designed as a hunting lodge for Lord Poulett, a Somerset MP. The English Civil War saw the decline of Poulett's fortunes, and by 1791 the castle was derelict and being used as a dairy by a local farmer. In 1984, the castle was purchased for £1 by Margarita Hamilton, who restored the building to its former glory.

Clevedon Millennium Obelisk
Millennium monument

Clevedon Court is on Court Hill east of the town centre, close to the road to Bristol. It is one of only a few remaining 14th century manorial halls in England, having been built by Sir John de Clevedon circa 1320. Since the early eighteenth century the house has been owned by the Elton family, who were responsible for much building work on the house and many improvements in the town, and although the house itself is now owned by the National Trust, the associated estates are still owned by the Elton family. Sir Edmund Elton (1846–1920) was a potter who produced unusually shaped ware in a variety of richly-coloured glazes, including a gold glaze of his own invention, at the Clevedon Elton Sunflower Pottery.

Clevedon clock tower in the centre of the town is decorated with "Elton ware". It was completed in 1898, and donated by Sir Edmund Elton in celebration of Queen Victoria's Jubilee. The Curzon cinema was built in 1912, for Victor Cox, and is the oldest purpose-built, continuously operated cinema in the world.

The town's market hall on Alexandra Road was designed by local architect Hans Price. A monument, known as the "Spirit of Clevedon", was erected near the seafront to mark the Millennium. Unveiled in June 2000, the 5 ft (1.5 m) tall sculpture cost £9,000. It was designed by local citizens and includes panels and plaques representing the history and community in the town. Within its base is a time capsule containing information about the town.

Religious sites

Clevedon Village - Somerset - circa 1907 - Project Gutenberg eBook 12287
Church of St Andrew - circa 1907

There are several churches serving the town, including St. Andrew's church, which was built in the thirteenth century AD, although there are thought to be Saxon foundations under the present building. It is the burial place of Arthur Hallam, subject of the poem In Memoriam A.H.H. by his friend Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The Church of St John was built in 1875, by William Butterfield for Sir Arthur Elton. The Church of All Saints was built in 1861 by C E Giles. The tower of Christ Church, on Chapel Hill, is a very important landmark in Clevedon. It was erected 1838 and 1839 from designs by Thomas Rickman in an early 14th-century style.

The Copse Road Chapel is an Independent Evangelical Church, which was built in 1851 and has been attributed to Foster and Wood of Bristol, who also designed the United Reformed Church on Hill Road. The Roman Catholic church of the Immaculate Conception is served by the Franciscan order.

Culture

Clevedon - The Curzon Community Cinema, Old Church Road - geograph.org.uk - 198835
Curzon cinema, opened on 20 April 1912

Literary figures associated with the town are Samuel Taylor Coleridge (who spent some months living in a cottage in the town after his marriage to Sara Fricker), William Makepeace Thackeray (a frequent guest of the Elton family at Clevedon Court), and George Gissing (The Odd Women is set in the town).

In the 1993 movie, The Remains of the Day, starring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson and Christopher Reeve, references are made to Clevedon, where the final scene of the film is set and was filmed. The 1998 adaptation of Cider with Rosie also featured scenes filmed in the town. Scenes from the 2010 film, Never Let Me Go, starring Keira Knightley were filmed in Clevedon during the summer of 2009. Clevedon has its own comic book superhero, Captain Clevedon.

Clevedon is twinned with Ettlingen, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany since 1980; Épernay, France since 1990; and Middelkerke, Belgium since 1991.

Clevedon was the setting for the eponymous town Broadchurch, a detective drama first aired on ITV on 4 March 2013.

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