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Blandford

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Blandford

"Blandford" redirects here. For other uses, see Blandford (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 50°51′41″N 2°09′46″W / 50.8615°N 2.1627°W / 50.8615; -2.1627

Blandford Forum

Blandford town centre
Dorset
Population 8,760 [1]
OS grid reference ST886069
    - London  118 miles (190 km) 
Civil parish Blandford Forum
District North Dorset
Shire county Dorset
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BLANDFORD FORUM
Postcode district DT11
Dialling code 01258
Police Dorset
Fire Dorset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament North Dorset
List of places
UK
England
Dorset

Blandford Forum (/ˈblænfəd ˈfɔərəm/ ), commonly Blandford, is a market town on the River Stour in Dorset, England. The town is noted for its Georgian architecture.[2] In the 2001 Census the town had a population of 8,760. Blandford is the administrative headquarters of North Dorset District Council. Blandford Camp, a military base, is sited on the hills a mile to the east of the town.

Location

Blandford is situated between Cranborne Chase and the Dorset Downs, at the south eastern corner of the Blackmore Vale, 24 km (15 mi) northwest of Poole and 35 km (22 mi) southwest of Salisbury.

History

Blandford has been a fording point since Anglo-Saxon times, when it was recorded as Blaen-y-ford and as Blaneford in the Domesday Book, meaning ford of the river of blay, or bleak (Alburnus alburnus).[3] By the 13th century it had become an important market town with a livestock market serving the nearby Blackmore Vale with its many dairy farms. The Latin word Forum, meaning market, was recorded in 1540.[4] It was an important break on the journey between the port of Weymouth and the capital London. There is still a weekly outdoor market and a bi-weekly indoor market held in the Corn Exchange

In 1731 much of the town was destroyed in a fire. John and William Bastard rebuilt the town over the following 30 years and the town centre features Georgian architecture from the 1730s to 1760s.


Architecture

Blandford Forum is often given as an example of a Georgian town, as the entire centre was rebuilt at once in the 18th century, due to the fire of 1731, and is hence uniformly Georgian. All façades remain in fair to good condition, and notable buildings include the Corn Exchange, and the 1732 parish church of St Peter and St Paul, a classical building with a cupola on top of the tower. The interior remains relatively unaffected by Victorian interference and retains its galleries, font, pulpit, box-pews and mayoral seat. In 1893 the church was enlarged by moving the apsidal sanctuary out on rollers onto new foundations and building a new chancel behind it.[5]

To the south of the town a six arch stone bridge spans the River Stour.

Demography

Five district electoral wards (Blandford Damory Down, Blandford Hilltop, Blandford Langton St.Leonards, Blandford Old Town and Blandford Station) comprise the town and parish of Blandford Forum, with a built-up area totalling 310 hectares (770 acres).[6] Census returns for the town show that it had a population of less than 4,000 until 1981, after which it increased rapidly; in the 2001 Census, the town had 4,524 dwellings and a population of 8,760,[6] of whom 96.5% were White British.[6] Some of the population increase however can be accounted for by a boundary change which incorporated housing estates that already existed but were previously within a different parish (Pimperne) on the town's northern side. The 2009 mid-year population estimate is 9,200.[6] Unemployment varied between 0.5% and 2.3% between 1997 and 2009.[6] Census figures for the town are shown in the table below:

Census 1931 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 3,370 3,670 3,570 3,650 3,920 7,850 8,760

Economy

North Dorset District Council employs a large number of residents. Other employers in nearby parishes are the Hall & Woodhouse (Badger) Brewery, which supplies beer to public houses across the region, Tesco and Morrisons.

Blandford Camp is 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) north east of the town and has long been home to the Royal Corps of Signals, the communications wing of the British Army. The base incorporates a modern technology training college plus a cinema for military personnel, and the National Signals Museum – a museum of items relating to the history of the Royal Signals since its inception, which is open to the public. The museum contains many items of interest including uniforms, medals, signals equipment, and an Enigma cryptographic machine, used to produce German high level ciphers during World War 2 but cracked by the Allies.

There are a number of busy industrial estates (with, for example, builder's supply yards) on the bypass road to the North-East of Blandford.

The early 21st century saw a number of private housing development projects in and around Blandford. These developments were built with traditional architectural styles.

A Georgian Fayre is held in the first week of May every other year in the town centre and attracts thousands of visitors. The Fayre combines Georgian celebrations with cultural presentations, stalls, and a fun fair on the meadows along the banks of the Stour.

Transport

Road

The town lies at the junction of the A350 and A354 main roads but is skirted by an eastern bypass. The main road running through the town is the B3082, connecting Blandford Forum to Wimborne Minster. Buses run from the town to locations including Poole, Bournemouth, Salisbury and Shaftesbury with the primary operator being Wilts & Dorset.

Air

The town is 15 miles (24 km) from Bournemouth Airport.

Railway

The town is 15 miles (24 km) from Poole railway station.

From 1860 to 1964, Blandford Forum was an important stop on the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway, which ran from Bath to Bournemouth, until the line closed to passengers in 1966. Located between Templecombe and Broadstone, the railway was still open until the closure of the Blandford's goods yard in 1969, after which the track was lifted. The station was immortalised in 1964 in the song "Slow Train" by Flanders and Swann.

Education

Blandford Forum has two primary schools, Archbishop Wake and Milldown schools. A new Archbishop Wake school, built on the old St Leonards Middle School site at the bottom of Black Lane, opened in November 2008. The other feeder schools for The Blandford School are Blandford St Mary, Downlands, Dunbury and Durweston, Pimperne, and Spetisbury Primary Schools. Pupils move at the age of 11 to The Blandford School, which is a specialist technology college lying in the West of Blandford; the School also has a sixth form.

A number of independent schools are also located near Blandford, such as Bryanston School, Canford School, Clayesmore School, Hanford School, Knighton House School and Milton Abbey School.

Sport and leisure

Blandford Forum has a Non-League football club Blandford United F.C. who play at Blandford Recreation Ground.

Literature

Blandford features in Thomas Hardy's novels as the Wessex town of Shottesford Forum.[7]

In 1590, Edmund Spenser mentioned the Stoure flowing through the town in The Faerie Queene.[8]

Blandford Forum railway station which is now gone — the train line to Blandford was removed in the 1960s — was mentioned in the song Slow Train by Flanders and Swann.[9]

Natural history

An unpleasant local resident is the Blandford fly (Simulium posticatum), a biting insect. In recent years the weed beds in the river have been sprayed to reduce numbers.[10][11]

Twin towns

Blandford Forum is twinned with:[12]

References

  • Blandford Forum Information at Dorset County Council (pdf) - Accessed January 2006

External links

  • Blandford Forum Town Council
  • DMOZ
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