Monday, August 29, 2011

Bradford-on-Avon, England - August 29, 2010

Devizes is 2 degrees west of the Greenwich Meridian line in London. Our next stop, a quarter of a degree further west and still just in the county of Wiltshire, was Bradford-on-Avon. This is a busy market town of about 9,000 on the edge of the Cotswolds facing the River Avon. Near the center of town, the bridge crossing the river retains two of its original 13th century arches and also has a 17th century overnight "lock up" for local miscreants. The Kennet and Avon Canal also passes through the town running adjacent to the railway that provides access to other Wiltshire towns. The oldest church in the town dates back to Saxon times, circa 705 CE.
The earliest evidence of habitation in Bradford consists of fragments of Roman settlements above the town and an archaeological dig has uncovered the remains of a large Roman villa with a well-preserved mosaic. The center of the town grew up around the ford crossing the river Avon and the name of the town most probably derived from Broad-Ford. The Normans built a stone bridge to augment the ford and part of that original bridge still exists and is in daily use.
The town has numerous 17th century buildings stemming from its success in the textile industry during which period the river was harnessed to provide power for the wool mills. As the textile industry mechanized during the Industrial Revolution, wool weaving migrated from weaver's cottages to purpose built mills by the river. At the peak, there were as many as 30 such mills along the river bringing great prosperity to the town. Toward the end of the 19th century the wool industry shifted to Yorkshire and in 1905 the last mill in Bradford was closed.
More views around this picturesque town are here.

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