Bradford-on-Avon is a picturesque market town in north west Wiltshire, located on the banks of the River Avon.
History of Bradford-on-Avon
Archaeological excavations suggest there has been a settlement on the site since Roman times: digs have uncovered the remains of a Roman villa with well-preserved mosaics inside.
The town’s name stems from the fact it was established around a ford across the River Avon: the stone bridge which still stands today was built in Norman times, and remnants of the Norman village can be seen upstream.
Bradford-on-Avon became prosperous because of the Avon – it generated power for wool mills, and weaving was a major source of employment for villagers in the 17th and 18th century. Many of the buildings date from this period, including several weavers’ cottagers.
The Industrial Revolution led to around 30 purpose-built woollen mills being built in Bradford-on-Avon: the last one closed in 1905 as the British wool industry shifted up north, towards Yorkshire.
In 1848, Stephen Moulton set up rubber manufacturing in the town: there were vacant mills and a skilled workforce, making it a great location to produce the substance. Moulton won big contracts with Great Western Railway and the army, and rubber production was carried out until the 1990s.
The town is extremely picturesque: it lies across the banks of the Avon and many of the houses are built from warm Cotswold stone, similar to that of nearby Bath, which brings the town to life on a sunny day. It remains quaint, and there are plenty of independent shops and cafes to visit.
The Tithe Barn lies just outside the town itself, and dates back to the 14th century. The Hall, still owned by the Moulton family, is a glorious example of Renaissance architecture, with added Gothic features. It’s open on certain days and events run there semi-regularly: it’s worth timing a visit to coincide with these as The Hall is a stunning building with a rich history of its own.
Getting to Bradford-on-Avon
Bradford-on-Avon is about 8 miles south east on Bath: the town has a station and there’s plenty of central parking. It lies on the B3108, a few miles off the A36 and A361 respectively.
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