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Yeovil
red brick building with small car park in front.
Yeovil County Court
Yeovil is located in Somerset
Yeovil
Yeovil
Population 45,784 (built-up area, 2011)
OS grid reference ST552164
District
Shire county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town YEOVIL
Postcode district BA20, BA21, BA22
Dialling code 01935
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Devon and Somerset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament
  • Yeovil
List of places
UK
England
Somerset
50°56′43″N 2°38′13″W / 50.9452°N 2.6370°W / 50.9452; -2.6370

Yeovil ( YOH-vəl) is a town and civil parish in the district of South Somerset, England. At the 2011 census the town had a population of almost 46,000. It is close to Somerset's southern border with Dorset, 130 miles (210 km) from London, 40 miles (64 km) south of Bristol, 6 miles (9.7 km) from Sherborne and 30 miles (48 km) from Taunton. The aircraft and defence industries which developed in the 20th century made it a target for bombing in the Second World War; they are still major employers. Yeovil Country Park, which includes Ninesprings, is one of several open spaces with educational, cultural and sporting facilities. Religious sites include the 14th-century Church of St John the Baptist. The town is on the A30 and A37 roads and has two railway stations.

History

Archaeological surveys have indicated signs of activity from the palaeolithic period, with burial and occupation sites located principally to the south of the modern town, particularly in Hendford where a Bronze Age golden torc (twisted collar) was found. Yeovil is on the main Roman road from Dorchester to the Fosse Way at Ilchester. The route of the old road is aligned with the A37 from Dorchester, Hendford Hill, Rustywell, across the Westland site, to Larkhill Road and Vagg Lane, rejoining the A37 at the Halfway House pub on the Ilchester Road. The Westland site has evidence of a small Roman town. There were several Roman villas (estates) in the area, including finds at East Coker, West Coker and Lufton.

Yeovil was first mentioned in a Saxon charter dated 880 as Gifle. The name derives from the Celtic river-name gifl "forked river", an earlier name of the River Yeo. The town was recorded in the Domesday Book as Givele, a thriving market community. The parish of Yeovil was part of the Stone Hundred. After the Norman Conquest the manor, later known as Hendford, was granted to the Count of Eu and his tenant Hugh Maltravers, whose descendants became Earls of Arundel and held the lordship until 1561. In 1205 it was granted a charter by King John. By the 14th century, the town had gained the right to elect a portreeve. The Black Death exacted a heavy toll, killing approximately half the population. In 1499 a major fire broke out in the town, destroying many of the wooden, thatched roofed buildings. Yeovil suffered further serious fires, in 1620 and again in 1643. After the dissolution of the monasteries the lord of the manor was the family of John Horsey of Clifton Maybank from 1538 to 1610 and then by the Phelips family until 1846 when it passed to the Harbins of Newton Surmaville. Babylon Hill across the River Yeo to the south east of the town was the site of a minor skirmish, the Battle of Babylon Hill, during the English Civil War, which resulted in the Earl of Bedford's Roundheads forcing back Sir Ralph Hopton's Cavaliers to Sherborne.

Yeovil railways
Map of railways around Yeovil

During the 1800s Yeovil was a centre of the glove making industry and the population expanded rapidly. In the mid-19th century it became connected to the rest of Britain by a complex set of railway lines which resulted from competition between the 7 ft (2,134 mm) broad gauge lines of the Great Western Railway (GWR) and the 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge lines of the London and South Western Railway (LSWR). In 1853 the Great Western Railway line was opened between Taunton and Yeovil.

The first railway in the town was a branch line from the Bristol and Exeter Railway near Taunton to a terminus at Hendford on the western side of the town, which opened on 1 October 1853. As an associated company of the GWR, this was a broad gauge line. The GWR itself opened Yeovil Pen Mill railway station on the east side of the town as part of its route from London on 1 September 1856 (this was extended to Weymouth on 1 January 1857), and the original line from Taunton was connected to this. The LSWR route from London reached Hendford on 1 June 1860 but a month later the town was by-passed by the extension of the LSWR to Exeter. A new station at Yeovil Junction was provided south of the town from where passengers could catch a connecting service to Hendford. On 1 June 1861 passenger trains were withdrawn from Hendford and transferred to a new, more central, Yeovil Town railway station.

In 1854, the town gained borough status and had its first mayor. In the early 20th century Yeovil had around 11,000 inhabitants and was dominated by the defence industry, making it a target of German raids during World War II. The worst of the bombing was in 1940 and continued until 1942. During that time 107 high explosive bombs fell on the town. 49 people died, 68 houses were totally destroyed and 2,377 damaged.

Industrial businesses developed in the area around the Hendford railway goods station to such a degree that a small Hendford Halt was opened on 2 May 1932 for passengers travelling to and from this district, but the growth of road transport and a desire to rationalise the rail network led to half of the railway stations in Yeovil being closed in 1964. First to go was Hendford Halt which was closed on 15 June along with the line to Taunton, then Yeovil Town closed on 2 October . Long-distance trains from Pen Mill had been withdrawn on 11 September 1961 leaving only Yeovil Junction with a service to London, but the service between there and Pen Mill, the two remaining stations, was also withdrawn from 5 May 1968.

Yeovilrec
Preston Park.

In April 2006 Yeovil became the first town in Britain to institute a somewhat controversial system of biometric fingerprint scanning in nightclubs. Individuals wishing to gain access to one of the town's nightclubs were asked in the first instance to submit their personal details for inclusion in a central system. This included a photograph and index fingerprint. Thereafter, each entry to one of the participating premises required a fingerprint scan. The scheme is no longer in operation. According to Nigel J Marston, Licensing Manager of South Somerset District Council, the scheme was short lived as, "The company that originally supplied went through various changes of ownership and the project became unsupported. This allied to several of the venues closing down lead to the death of the scheme." In February 2007, Yeovil Town Council became the first English council to ban the children's craze Heelys in the centre of the town and High Street. Skateboards, roller skates and roller blades are also illegal in the area. Councillors have stated this is due to "numerous complaints about the activities of youngsters".

In late July 2007, South Somerset District Council plans were made public by the Western Gazette to build a £21 m 'Yeovil Sports Zone' on Yeovil Recreation Ground, which has been a popular open green space used by the local community for over seventy years. Residents fought to protect the Rec, leading to rejection of the proposals in 2009, and further consultations in 2010.

The free, informal recreational space of Mudford Rec, as it is known colloquially, was frequented by England Cricket great Ian Botham during his childhood stay in Yeovil. Another regeneration project was to have included the demolition of Foundry House, a former glove factory, however a local campaign led to this becoming a listed building and it will now be converted into a restaurant and offices and new shop and houses will be built on the surrounding site.

Geography

Yeovil is situated at the southern boundary of Somerset, close to the border with Dorset, 130 miles (209 km) from London, 40 miles (64 km) south of Bristol and 30 miles (48 km) from Taunton. It lies in the centre of the Yeovil Scarplands, a major natural region of England. The suburbs include: Summerlands, Hollands, Houndstone, Preston Plucknett, Penn Mill, New Town, Hendford, Old Town, Forest Hill, Abbey Manor, Great Lyde. Outlying villages include East Coker, West Coker, Hardington, Evershot, Halstock, Stoford, Barwick, Sutton Bingham, Mudford and Yetminster. Other nearby villages include Bradford Abbas, Thornford Corscombe, Montacute (where one will find Montacute House), and Pendomer. The village of Brympton, now almost a suburb of Yeovil, contains the medieval manor of Brympton d'Evercy. Tintinhull is also a village close to Yeovil featuring the National Trust owned Tintinhull House and Gardens.

Ninesprings Country Park is in the south east near Penn Hill. It is linked to by a cycleway following the route of the old railway to Riverside Walk, Wyndham Hill and Summerhouse Hill forming the 40-hectare (99-acre) Yeovil Country Park.

Climate

Along with the rest of South West England, Yeovil 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) and shows a seasonal and a diurnal variation, but due to the modifying effect of the sea the range is less than in most other parts of the UK. January is the coldest month with mean minimum temperatures between 1 °C (33.8 °F) and 2 °C (35.6 °F). July and August are the warmest months in the region with mean daily maxima around 22 °C (71.60 °F).

The south-west of England has a favoured location with respect to the Azores high pressure when it extends its influence north-eastwards towards the UK, particularly in summer. Convective cloud often forms inland however, especially near hills, reducing the number of hours of sunshine. The average annual sunshine totals around 1,700 hours.

Rainfall tends to be associated with Atlantic depressions or with convection. The Atlantic depressions are more vigorous in autumn and winter and most of the rain which falls in those seasons in the south-west is from this source. Average rainfall is about 725 millimetres (28.5 in). November to March have the highest mean wind speeds, with June to August having the lightest winds. The predominant wind direction is from the south-west.


Climate data for Yeovilton 20m amsl (1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.3
(46.9)
8.5
(47.3)
10.9
(51.6)
13.4
(56.1)
16.8
(62.2)
19.7
(67.5)
21.8
(71.2)
21.6
(70.9)
19.0
(66.2)
15.0
(59)
11.3
(52.3)
8.6
(47.5)
14.58
(58.24)
Average low °C (°F) 1.7
(35.1)
1.4
(34.5)
3.0
(37.4)
4.0
(39.2)
7.2
(45)
10.0
(50)
12.1
(53.8)
12.0
(53.6)
9.9
(49.8)
7.3
(45.1)
4.0
(39.2)
1.8
(35.2)
6.2
(43.16)
Rainfall mm (inches) 67.6
(2.661)
48.5
(1.909)
49.6
(1.953)
50.2
(1.976)
48.5
(1.909)
50.3
(1.98)
53.3
(2.098)
55.0
(2.165)
54.9
(2.161)
78.3
(3.083)
74.2
(2.921)
78.1
(3.075)
708.5
(27.894)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 12.2 9.3 10.4 10.1 9 8.3 8.2 8.9 9.4 12.2 12.1 12.1 122.2
Sunshine hours 55 75.6 113 166.1 193.5 195.5 202.3 192.7 143.9 104.9 70.6 50.9 1,564
Source: Met Office

Demography

At the 2011 census, the population of the built-up area (which extends beyond Yeovil civil parish to include the urban parts of Yeovil Without and Brympton parishes) was 45,784, forming 28% of the population of South Somerset district.

Population since 1801 – Source: A Vision of Britain through Time
Year 1801 1851 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population: South Somerset 70,769 93,075 85,080 84,280 85,001 85,729 92,313 99,407 106,462 114,020 129,310 143,395 150,974

Landmarks

Jack The Treacle Eater 3
Jack the Treacle Eater, one of the Barwick follies

One of the symbols of Yeovil is "Jack the Treacle Eater", a folly consisting of a small archway topped by a turret with a statue on top. This is actually located in the village of Barwick, just to the south of the town. The hamstone Abbey Farm House was built around 1420 by John Stourton II, known as Jenkyn, and the associated Abbey Barn dates from the same period.

Hendford Manor in the centre of the town was built around 1720 and has since been converted into offices. It is a Grade II* listed building. Newton Surmaville is a small park and house which is also known as Newton House. It was built between 1608 and 1612, for Robert Harbin, a Yeovil merchant. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building.

Yeovil has two theatres; The Octagon, and The Swan, a ten-screen cinema and 18-lane ten-pin bowling alley. Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust provides local health services. The Yeovil Railway Centre is a small railway museum at Yeovil Junction. It was created in 1993 in response to British Rail's decision to remove the turntable from Yeovil Junction. Approximately 0.25 miles (400 m) of track along the Clifton Maybank spur is used for demonstration trains.

Transport

The two railway stations serve separate lines. Yeovil Pen Mill is on the Bristol to Weymouth line, served by Great Western Railway services, and Yeovil Junction is on the London Waterloo to Exeter line served by South Western Railway. Both are some distance from the centre of Yeovil: Pen Mill just under 1 mile (1.6 km) to the east and Junction just over 1.75 miles (2.82 km) to the south.

Yeovil Junction SWC YJ07EHL
A South West Coaches shuttle service to the town centre calls at Yeovil Junction

Bus services linking the centre to Yeovil Junction are run by South West Coaches except on Sundays and bank holidays, when a service is operated by First West of England. The latter firm also operates a service to Pen Mill,

Yeovil has bus services from First West of England, First Hampshire & Dorset, South West Coaches, Stagecoach South West and Damory Coaches, and coach services from National Express, Berry's Coaches and South West Tours. Many of the listed services serve Yeovil College. All bus routes except First West of England local routes towards the Western side of the town serve Yeovil bus station. North Dorset Community Accessible Transport (NORDCAT) provides a bookable service to places without other forms of public transport.

The town is on the A30 – the main route between London and the South West until it was supplanted by the A303 to its north. Junction 25 of the M5 motorway, giving access to Bristol and the Midlands, is about 20 miles (32 km) to the east, near Taunton. Yeovil is also on the mainly single-carriageway A37 north–south road between Bristol and Weymouth.

Religious sites

The Anglican Church of St John The Baptist dates from the late 14th century. The tower is 92 feet (28 m) high, in four-stages with set back offset corner buttresses. It is capped by openwork balustrading matching the parapets which are from the 19th century. There are two-light late-14th-century windows on all sides at bell-ringing and bell-chamber levels, the latter having fine pierced stonework grilles. There is a stair turret to the north-west corner, with a Weather vane termination. The tower contains two bells dating from 1728 and made by Thomas Bilbie of the Bilbie family in Chew Stoke. The "Great Bell" was recast from 4,502 pounds (2,042 kg; 321.6 st) to 4,992 lb (2,264 kg; 356.6 st). It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.

Yeovil also has a Roman Catholic church (Holy Ghost Church), three Methodist Churches – Preston Road, St Marks (Chelston Avenue) & Vicarage Street (Town Centre), Baptist church in South Street, Salvation Army, Elim Pentecostal Church, Yeovil Community Church (Evangelical, based at "The GateWay"), Yeovil Family Church (New Frontiers), and several other Anglican churches.

In popular culture

Yeovil is the location for the fictional School of Lifemanship in a series of novels by Stephen Potter: Gamesmanship (1947), Lifemanship (1950), One-Upmanship (1952), Supermanship (1958), Anti-Woo (1965) and The Complete Golf Gamesmanship (1968). The books were adapted for the 1960 film School for Scoundrels, starring Alastair Sim, Terry-Thomas, Ian Carmichael and Irene Handl. Later they were adapted by Barry Took into a BBC TV comedy series called One-Upmanship (1974–78), starring Richard Briers and Peter Jones. Yeovil is also one of the three principal locations in John Cowper Powys's 1929 novel, Wolf Solent.

Yeovil is known in Thomas Hardy's Wessex as "Ivell".

Local band The Chesterfields released a single called "Last train to Yeovil" and the pop band Bubblegum Splash also released a song called "18:10 to Yeovil Junction". The folk band Show of Hands wrote a song entitled "Yeovil Town" about the violence and crime they experienced after playing a small gig in Yeovil.

Yeovil is mentioned by John Finnemore (writer) in his song Red Trousers.

Economy

Westlandsyeovil
Westland Helicopters works

AgustaWestland manufactures helicopters in Yeovil, and Normalair Garratt, (Honeywell) builder of aircraft oxygen systems, is also based there.

Yeovil's role as a centre of the aircraft and defence industries continued into the 21st century, despite attempts to diversify and the creation of industrial estates. In January 1986 a proposed sale of Westland Helicopters to the US Sikorsky Aircraft group led to the Westland affair, a crisis in the Thatcher government, resignation of Michael Heseltine as Secretary of State for Defence, and two weeks later of Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Leon Brittan, who admitted leaking a governmental law officer's letter harshly critical of Heseltine. AgustaWestland, created through the acquisition of Westland by Finmeccanica in 2000, remains the main employer in Yeovil.

Yeovil Aerodrome (ICAO: EGHG), (sometimes known as Yeovil/Westland "Judwin" to avoid confusion with nearby RNAS Yeovilton), is 1 nautical mile (1.9 km) west of the town centre. British defence giant BAE Systems also runs a site producing high-integrity networked software, mainly for the armed forces.

Screwfix Direct based in Houndstone started life as Woodscrew Supply Company in 1979. It is now a subsidiary of Kingfisher plc. The company warehouse relocated to Stoke-on-Trent after failing to gain planning permission for expansion.

Quedam Shopping Centre has some 45 shops: the usual high-street chains, several independents, and a multi-storey car park with about 650 spaces.

In 2015, leather manufacturer Pittards bought back its 1964 purpose-built tannery in Sherborne Road, Yeovil.

Sport

Huish Park, September 2007
Huish Park

The town's football team, Yeovil Town F.C., plays in green and white livery at Huish Park, and currently competes in the National League. Known as the "Glovers" (referring to the town's glove-making past), it was founded in 1895 and won promotion to Division Three as Football Conference champions in 2003. It had achieved numerous FA Cup victories over Football League sides in the past 50 years, and since joining the League has won promotion again – as League Two champions in 2005 and League One play-off winners in 2013. In women's football, Yeovil Town L.F.C. was founded in 1990 and won promotion to England's highest tier, the FA Women's Super League, in 2016.

Other football teams in the town include Westland's Sports Football Club, which plays at Alvington Lane, and Pen Mill Football Club.

Yeovil Olympiads Athletics Club, founded in 1969, has produced many international athletes. The first was Eric Berry, who came 6th in the 1973 European Juniors in the hammer event. Olympians who started with the club include Max Robertson and Gary Jennings, both 400-metre hurdlers.

Yeovil is home to Ivel Barbarians Rugby Club, formed in 1995 by a merger of the Yeovil and Westlands clubs. South Somerset Warriors formed in 2010 and played in the South West Division of the Rugby League Conference until it folded in 2011.

The Goldenstones Pool and Leisure Centre provides a 25 metres (82 ft) swimming pool, a teaching pool, a gym, sauna, steam room, spectator area and workout studio. Preston Sports Centre has undergone an £800,000 refurbishment, which included adding a gym and dance studio.

In late July 2007, South Somerset District Council plans were made public by the Western Gazette to build a £21-million Yeovil Sports Zone on Yeovil Recreation Ground, which has been a popular open green space with the local community for over 70 years. Residents fought to protect it, leading to rejection of the proposals in 2009, and further consultations in 2010.

The recreation space known as Mudford Rec was frequented by England cricket star Ian Botham during a childhood stay in Yeovil. Another regeneration project would have meant demolishing Foundry House, a former glove factory, but a local campaign led to this becoming a listed building. It will now be converted into a restaurant and offices and new shop and houses built on the surrounding site.

Education

Further education in Yeovil is mainly offered by Yeovil College, with land-based studies available at a Yeovil centre of Bridgwater College, and some provision through private providers. The town also has a higher education centre, University Centre Yeovil, whose main degree-awarding body is Bournemouth University, with University of the West of England offering some courses.

Secondary education in Yeovil is provided by four schools: Westfield Academy on Stiby Road; Preston School, with actress Sarah Parish among its past pupils; and Bucklers Mead Academy with past pupils including Sir Ian Botham.

Notable people

Among several notable Yeovil people, Robert Harbin, born in 1526, was a mercer by profession, who lived and died in Yeovil and is buried in St John the Baptist Church. His house, Newton Surmaville, was completed on the edge of the town in 1612. He was granted a coat of arms in May 1612 and given the title "Gentleman", but not knighted. Stukeley Westcott was an early American settler (17th century) and co-founder with Roger Williams and 11 others, of Providence, Rhode Island (1636), an early American asylum of religious freedom.

Alison Adburgham (1912–1997), social historian and fashion journalist, was born in Yeovil, as were film historian William K. Everson in 1929, and traditionalist Catholic writer and public figure Michael T. Davies in 1936.

Sportspeople from Yeovil include Luton Town defender Martin Cranie, Olympic pentathlete Sam Weale, and his twin brother Chris Weale, who is a former professional goalkeeper. Heather Stanning, a gold-medallist rower in the 2012 Olympic Games, was born in Yeovil.

England Women's Rugby World Cup winner 2014 and freedom of the town holder Marlie Packer is from Yeovil.

The arts are represented by Jim Cregan, a guitarist with Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, musician John Parish, and his younger sister, actress Sarah Parish. Artist Flora Twort was born in Yeovil in 1893.

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