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Portal:Somerset

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Somerset

caption=Somerset shown within England

Somerset (/ˈsʌmərsɛt/ (About this sound listen) or /ˈsʌmərsɪt/) is a county in South West England. The county town of Somerset is Taunton, which is in the south of the county. The ceremonial county of Somerset borders the counties of Bristol and Gloucestershire to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east, and Devon to the south-west. It is partly bounded to the north and west by the coast of the Bristol Channel and the River Severn estuary. The traditional northern border of the county is the River Avon, but the administrative boundary has crept southwards with the creation and expansion of the City of Bristol.

Somerset is a rural county of rolling hills such as the Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills, and Exmoor National Park, and large flat expanses of land including the Somerset Levels. There is evidence of human occupation from Palaeolithic times, and subsequent settlement in the Roman and Saxon periods. Later, the county played a significant part in the consolidation of power and rise of King Alfred the Great, the English Civil War, and the Monmouth Rebellion.

Agriculture is a major business in the county. Farming of sheep and cattle, including for wool and the county's famous cheeses (most notably Cheddar), are traditional and contemporary, as is the more unusual cultivation of willow for basketry. Apple orchards were once plentiful, and to this day Somerset is known for the production of strong cider. Unemployment is lower than the national average, and the largest employment sectors are retail, manufacturing, tourism, and health and social care. Population growth in the county is higher than the national average. (more about Somerset...)

Selected article

Firepool Lock, where the canal joins the River Tone
The Bridgwater and Taunton Canal is a canal between Bridgwater and Taunton, opened in 1827 and linking the River Tone to the River Parrett. There were a number of abortive schemes to link the Bristol Channel to the English Channel by waterway in the 18th and early 19th centuries. These schemes followed the approximate route eventually taken by the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, but the canal was instead built as part of a plan to link Bristol to Taunton by waterway.

The early years of operation were marred by a series of legal disputes, which were resolved when the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal Company and the Conservators, who managed the River Tone Navigation, agreed that the Canal Company should take over the Tone Navigation. The canal originally terminated at a basin at Huntworth, to the east of Bridgwater, but was later extended to a floating harbour on its western edge. Financially this was a disaster, as the extension was funded by a mortgage, and the arrival of the railways soon afterwards started the demise of the canal. The canal was rescued from bankruptcy by the Bristol and Exeter Railway in 1866.

Despite commercial traffic ceasing in 1907, the infrastructure was maintained in good order, and the canal was used for the transport of potable water from 1962. The Countryside Act 1968 provided a framework for Somerset County Council to start the restoration of the canal as a leisure facility, which was completed in 1994, when the canal was reopened throughout. Bridgwater Docks have been restored as a marina, but there is no navigable connection to the River Parrett, as the canal still transports drinking water for the people of Bridgwater.


Selected biography

Jake Seamer
B. (1913-06-23)June 23, 1913 – d. April 16, 2006(2006-04-16) (aged 92)

John Wemyss "Jake" Seamer was an amateur cricketer who played for Oxford University and Somerset either side of the Second World War. A bespectacled cricketer, Seamer was a right-handed batsman who played with a defensive streak to his game which was rarely seen among amateur batsmen of his time. He was described as a leg break googly bowler, but in truth he rarely bowled at all, and claimed just four first-class wickets.

Seamer played the best of his cricket while at Oxford University. All four of his first-class centuries were made for the university side, and his average for Oxford was 35.30, significantly higher than his career average of 20.35. He made his highest score against Free Foresters in his second year, during which he accrued 858 runs, more than double he managed in any other season. On completion of his studies at Oxford, Seamer joined the Sudan Political Service, which limited his first-class cricket appearances to periods of leave. He was named as one of three amateurs to captain Somerset in 1948, leading the team during June and July. That season was his last for Somerset, and he made only one further first-class appearance. He became a district commissioner in the Sudan, and after leaving the service, he taught at Marlborough College and was twice mayor of Marlborough.


Districts of Somerset

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Somerset(27 C, 7 P, 1 F)
Somerset-related lists(2 C, 33 P)
Bath, Somerset(15 C, 4 P)
Burials in Somerset(3 C, 21 P)
Crime in Somerset(1 C, 4 P)
Culture in Somerset(13 C, 19 P)
Economy of Somerset(5 C, 7 P)
Education in Somerset(8 C, 3 P)
Environment of Somerset(6 C, 14 P)
Films shot in Somerset(3 P)
Geography of Somerset(12 C, 17 P)
Geology of Somerset(3 C, 46 P)
Health in Somerset(2 C, 13 P)
History of Somerset(26 C, 182 P)
Media in Somerset(4 C)
Music in Somerset(3 C, 3 P)
Organisations based in Somerset(14 C, 20 P)
People from Somerset(24 C, 258 P)
Politics of Somerset(12 C, 21 P)
Religion in Somerset(3 C, 3 P)
Sport in Somerset(7 C, 15 P)
Tourist attractions in Somerset(31 C, 47 P)
Transport in Somerset(12 C, 20 P)

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Selected picture

Palladian Pulteney Bridge on the River Avon at Bath

Pulteney Bridge is a bridge that crosses the River Avon, in Bath. It was completed in 1773 and is designated as a grade I listed building.


Selected settlement

The shortest pier in Britain, on the sea front at Burnham-on-Sea

Burnham-on-Sea
Co-ordinates 51°14′15″N 2°59′37″W / 51.2376°N 2.9935°W / 51.2376; -2.9935

Burnham-on-Sea is a town at the mouth of the River Parrett on Bridgwater Bay. Burnham was a small village until the late 18th century, when it began to grow because of its popularity as a seaside resort. It forms part of the parish of Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge. According to the 2001 census the population of the parish was 18,401.

The position of the town on the edge of the Somerset Levels, where they meet the Bristol Channel, has resulted in a history dominated by land reclamation and sea defences since Roman times. Burnham was seriously affected by the Bristol Channel floods of 1607, and various flood defences have been installed since then. In 1911, a concrete sea wall was built, and after the Second World War further additions to the defences were made, using the remains of a Mulberry harbour. The present curved concrete wall was completed in 1988. There have been many shipwrecks on the Gore Sands, which lie just offshore and can be exposed at low tides. The Bridgwater Corporation sent the first lifeboat to Burnham in 1836; the present rescue service is provided by the Burnham-on-Sea Area Rescue Boat. The need to protect shipping using the channel has also led to the development of the lighthouses, which are prominent landmarks. The original lighthouse, known as the Round Tower, was built to replace the light on the top of the 14th-century tower of St Andrews Church. The four-storey round tower was taken over and improved by Trinity House in 1815, and was operational until 1832. The top two storeys were later removed, to prevent confusion with the new lighthouse. The 110 feet (34 m) pillar or High Lighthouse and the low wooden pile lighthouse or Lighthouse on legs on the beach were built to replace it.

A stone pier was built in 1858 by the Somerset Central Railway. Soon afterwards, in 1860, a steamer service to Wales was inaugurated, but it was never a commercial success, and ended in 1888. Burnham-on-Sea railway station was the terminus of the Burnham branch of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. It opened in 1858, closed to scheduled passenger traffic in 1951, and stopped being used for excursions in 1962. The former Great Western Railway station is now known as Highbridge and Burnham. A second pier, built of concrete between 1911 and 1914, is claimed to be the shortest pier in Britain. The town has number of educational, religious and cultural buildings, and sporting clubs.

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