Bewdley


Bewdley

infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Bewdley
latitude= 52.37524
longitude= -2.31624
population = 10,689
shire_district= Wyre Forest
shire_county = Worcestershire
region= West Midlands
constituency_westminster= Wyre Forest
post_town= Bewdley
postcode_area= DY
postcode_district= DY12
dial_code= 01299
os_grid_reference= SO785752
london_distance= 134.2 m

Bewdley ( had a population of 10,689.

History and Government

The settlement of Wribbenhall, on the eastern side of the Severn, and now part of Bewdley, was recorded in the Domesday Book as being part of the manor of Kidderminster. By the 14th century, the town had come to be known as "Beau lieu", French for "Beautiful place" - a compliment that fits well with John Leland's statement in his "Itinerary" two centuries later that "a man cannot wish to see a towne better".

Bewdley was granted borough status, as well as a weekly market, by King Edward IV in 1472, and retained this status until local government reorganisation in 1974. A parliamentary report of 1777 listed Bewdley as having a parish workhouse accommodating up to 80 inmates.

Bewdley is now governed by three tiers of local government; in increasing order of size: Bewdley town council, Wyre Forest district council and Worcestershire county council.

For many centuries Bewdley had its own Member of Parliament (MP), but in 1950 the Bewdley constituency was abolished and the town was included in the Kidderminster constituency. In 1983, the Kidderminster constituency itself was absorbed into the Wyre Forest constituency, which currently encompasses all of Bewdley. The MP for Wyre Forest is Richard Taylor of Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern (often simply "Health Concern"), a local organization. The seat was previously a Conservative Party stronghold, though the Labour Party briefly won it from 1997-2001.

Town Geography

The bulk of Bewdley town is situated on the western bank of the River Severn, including the main street — Load Street — whose name derives from "lode", an old word for ferry. Load Street is notable for its width: this is because it once also served as the town's market place. Most of Bewdley's shops and amenities are situated along Load Street, at the top of which lies St Anne's Church, built between 1745 and 1748 by Thomas Woodward of Chipping Campden.

Beyond the church, High Street leads off to the south towards Stourport along the B4194, a road known locally as "the switchback" because of its many undulations. Unlike in many English towns, High Street is so called not because of its importance, but because of its geographical position 'high' above the river.

On the other side of the church, Welch Gate (so called because it once contained a tollgate on the road towards Wales) climbs steeply up to the west, while a continuation of the B4194 leads north-west towards the Wyre Forest.

The former quayside on the western bank of the river has been much prettified and landscaped over the last few decades, and its rows of Georgian townhouses and buildings are well seen from Telford's bridge. Since the completion of the flood defences in 2006 (see below), a "Civic Space" has been introduced to replace the old bandstand. It is used on a variety of occasions including the regular local Farmer's markets.

To the northeast of the town is the wooded hilltop of Wassel Wood in Trimpley, the southern terminus of Shatterford Hill, while to the northwest is the Wyre Forest. Both areas provide excellent walking. Bewdley is only a short drive away from the Shropshire Hills, beyond the Wyre Forest, the nearest summit being that of Titterstone Clee Hill at 533 m.

River and Bridges

The River Severn often bursts its banks in winter, flooding many houses and commercial premises in Bewdley. Among the worst floods in living memory were those in 1947, 1968 and 2000. Bewdley's long experience of dealing with flooding led to the setting up of the National Flood Forum in the town in 2002.

After the 2000 floods, plans were made for flood defences on the western bank, and this work was completed in April 2006. Temporary barriers are also put up to protect properties on the Eastern side of the river in Wribbenhall.

Bewdley Bridge over the River Severn was built in 1798 by Thomas Telford. It was erected to replace the 1483 medieval bridge which was swept away in the floods of 1795. There is some speculation locally that its continued ability to carry heavy motor traffic may be thanks to secret strengthening work carried out during the Second World War to allow the bridge to bear the weight of tanks if necessary.

There is also a modern road bridge, to the south-east of the town at Blackstone, which carries the Bewdley bypass (opened in 1987 after many decades of campaigning) across the river.

A branch of the Severn Valley Railway, which ran through the Wyre Forest to Tenbury Wells, once crossed the river at Dowles, a little to the north of the town. The bridge itself no longer exists, although its imposing brick pillars remain.

Local attractions

Events

The 'Discover Bewdley' weekend takes place on the May Bank Holiday weekend, 4th - 5th May in 2008. The weekend features artists, events, market stalls, a parade and the launch of the Bewdley Heritage Trails. The Bewdley Festival, featuring a variety of artistic performances, is held in the town each October, and Bewdley also hosts one of the largest inland river regattas in the country. The successful Bewdley Beer Festival is held each August Bank Holiday weekend. Bewdley also has a carnival which takes place in June every year: the 40th such carnival was held in 2006.

Other Attractions

The West Midland Safari Park lies just out of the town, on the A456 towards Kidderminster.

Bewdley is also the headquarters of the Severn Valley Railway, a heritage railway running the 16 miles between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth. The Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Gardens (usually abbreviated to simply "Jubilee Gardens") are tucked away between the rear of Bewdley Museum and the River Severn.

Bewdley is surrounded by the Wyre Forest, and there are many footpaths and cycle routes through the unspoilt woodlands. There is a visitor centre situated just outside Bewdley on the road to Cleobury Mortimer, where many waymarked trails through the forest start from.

There is also Bewdley museum , housed in the Guildhall (alongside the Tourist Information Centre) which is free to enter but donations would be welcome, it explores the interesting history of the peaceful countryside town and has displays on local crafts such as coopering, basket making, agriculture and tanning.

Famous residents

British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was born at Lower Park House, Lower Park. He served as MP for the town from 1908 for nearly thirty years and later became "Earl Baldwin of Bewdley".

Musician Karl Hyde - best known as a member of British techno/electronic music band Underworld was born in Bewdley on 10th May 1957.

TV chef and actor Rustie Lee has lived in the town and local area for a number of years.

Model Kayleigh Pearson grew up in Bewdley, and attended Bewdley High School and Sixth Form College.

Brian Turner Tom Lawrence, winner of the Victoria Cross in the Boer War, was born in Bewdley.

Alun Evans, professional footballer who in 1968 became the most expensive teenage transfer in history, moving from Wolverhampton Wanderers to Liverpool FC, was born in Bewdley.

Twin towns

*flagicon|United States Clarksville, Indiana, United States
*flagicon|France Fort-Mahon-Plage, France
*flagicon|Germany Vellmar, Germany

External links

* [http://www.bewdley.org.uk/ Bewdley]
* [http://www.bewdley.actinet.net/ The Bewdley Site]
* [http://www.bewdleyfestival.org.uk/ Bewdley Festival]
* [http://www.bewdleybeerfestival.co.uk/ Bewdley Beer Festival]
* [http://www.thewyre.com/ 107.2 The Wyre]
* [http://www.floodforum.org.uk/ National Flood Forum]
* [http://www.wyfopedia.org.uk/index.php/Bewdley_%28town%29 Bewdley, Wyfopedia]
* [http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=2485153&page=1 Bewdley photographs at www.geograph.co.uk]
* [http://www.underworldlive.com/home.html]
* [http://www.bewdleyparish.org.uk/ Bewdley CofE]


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