Its historic estates include the manor of Sydenham.
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Nearing Bridgwater on the M5 motorway it is possible to see the Willow Man sculpture, a striding human figure constructed from willow, sometimes called the Angel of the South (see also Angel of the North). Standing 12 metres (39 ft) tall, it was created by sculptor Serena de la Hey and is the largest known sculpture in willow, a traditional local material.
Sedgemoor District Council acts as the Competent Harbour Authority for the port, and has provided pilotage services for all boats over 98 feet (30 m) using the river since 1998, when it took over the service from Trinity House. Pilotage is important because of the constant changes in the navigable channel resulting from the large tidal range, which can exceed 39 feet (11.9 m) on spring tides.
On 4 November 2011 West Quay alongside the River Parrett and 19 adjoining properties were evacuated after a 40 metres (130 ft) stretch of the retaining wall partially collapsed after heavy rain and flooding.
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The first council estate to be built was in the 1930s at Kendale Road, followed by those at Bristol Road. The 1950s saw the start of a significant increase in post-war housebuilding, with council house estates being started at Sydenham and Rhode Lane and the former cooperative estate near Durleigh.
Bridgwater is in the South West England constituency for elections to the European Parliament.
Dunball wharf was built in 1844 by Bridgwater coal merchants, and was formerly linked to the Bristol and Exeter Railway by a rail track which crossed the A38. In 1875, the local landowner built The Dunball Steam Pottery & Brick & Tile Works adjacent to the wharf.
The Local Government Act 1972 removed the historic status of Bridgwater as a Borough, as it became part of the district of Sedgemoor, which has its headquarters in King's Square.
At the start of World War II, the government built a factory to manufacture high explosives at Puriton near Bridgwater. Called ROF Bridgwater, the plant is today owned by BAE Systems and closed after decommissioning was completed in July 2008.
Bridgwater became the first town in Britain to petition the government to ban slavery, in 1785. In 1896, the trade unionists of Bridgwater's brick and tile industry were involved a number of strikes. The Salisbury government sent troops to the town to clear the barricades by force after the reading of the Riot Act.
1. Bridgwater Docks 2. "Telescopic” bridge 3. Clink Yard 4. Bridgwater Cement, Lime, Brick & Tile Works 5. 1954 connection 6. Church Street
Bridgwater and West Somerset is a county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. The current MP is Ian Liddell-Grainger, a member of the Conservative Party.
Bridgwater is a market town and civil parish in Somerset, England. At the 2011 census, it had a population of 35,886.
Bridgwater is twinned with Uherské Hradiště, in the Czech Republic (since 1991), La Ciotat in France, Homberg, Efze in Germany, and Marsa in Malta.
In the 1685 Monmouth Rebellion, the rebel James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth was proclaimed King on the Cornhill in Bridgwater and in other local towns. He eventually led his troops on a night-time attack on the King's position near Westonzoyland. Surprise was lost when a musket was accidentally discharged, and the Battle of Sedgemoor resulted in defeat for the Duke. He later lost his head in the Tower of London, and nine locals were executed for treason.
The Bridgwater ship the Emanuel was one of three that took part in Martin Frobisher's 1577 search for the Northwest Passage. In 1828, 40 ships were registered in the port, averaging 60 tons each.
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Bridgwater College and Somerset College merged in June 2016, bringing together the academic and vocational training expertise of two excellent organisations. Read more.
The town is both on the route of the Samaritans Way South West and the River Parrett Trail.
Bridgwater had a population of 35,800 according to the 2001 census (up from 22,718 in 1951, 3,634 in 1801, and 7,807 in 1831).
Bridgwater is home to the Somerset Brick and Tile Museum, built on part of the former Barham Brothers site (brick and tile manufacturers between 1857 and 1965). Castle House was built in 1851 and was one of the first to make extensive use of concrete demonstrating "an innovative interpretation of traditional masonry features in concrete".
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A new annual event was launched in 2014, taking place in May each year. The Bridgwater Science Festival brings science related family entertainment and activities to town. The event takes place in the Town Hall, and works with local organisations and the University of the West of England.
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East Bridgwater Sports Centre offers badminton courts, outside football pitches, squash courts and a fitness room.
A by-election in 1938 enabled the town to send a message to the government and Hitler, when an Independent anti-appeasement candidate, journalist Vernon Bartlett was elected.
The Bridgwater constituency has been represented in Parliament since 1295. After the voting age was lowered in January 1970, Susan Wallace became the first 18-year-old to vote in the UK, during the 1970 Bridgwater by-election that elected Tom King, who took the title Baron King of Bridgwater in 2001. At the 2010 General Election, Bridgwater became part of the new Bridgwater and West Somerset constituency.
Shipping to Bridgwater expanded with the construction of Bridgwater Docks, and reached a peak between 1880 and 1885; with an average of 3,600 ships per year entering the port. Bridgwater also built some 167 ships; the last one was the Irene, launched in 1907. Peak tonnage occurred in 1857, with 142 vessels totalling 17,800 tonnes (19,600 tons).
These industries collapsed in the aftermath of World War II due to the failure to introduce mechanisation, although the automated Chilton Tile Factory, which produced up to 5 million tiles each year, lasted until 1968. The importance of the Bath Brick declined with the advent of detergents and other cleaning products. Dunware ponds used to make bricks and can still be found along the paths.
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Historically, the town had a politically radical tendency. The Battle of Sedgemoor, where the Monmouth Rebellion was finally crushed in 1685, was fought nearby. Notable buildings include the Church of St Mary and the house in Blake Street, largely restored, which was the birthplace of Admiral Blake in 1598, and is now the Blake Museum. The town has an arts centre and plays host to the annual Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival.
Castle Street was used as a location in the 1963 film Tom Jones. Horror writer and film journalist Kim Newman was educated at Dr Morgan's school in Bridgwater, and set his 1999 experimental novel Life's Lottery in a fictionalised version of the town (Sedgwater). A sailor who had sailed "from Bridgwater with bricks" and found "There was lice in that bunk in Bridgwater" features in James Joyce's Ulysses (Chapter 16).
The Chandos Glass Cone was built in 1725 as a glasswork firing kiln by James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos as part of an industrial development. After a short period of use for glassmaking it was converted for the production of pottery, bricks and tiles, which continued until 1939. The majority of the brickwork cone was demolished in 1943. The bottom 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in) has been preserved and scheduled as an ancient monument.