Bradford on Avon is a town in west Wiltshire with a population of about 9,326. It is the smallest of the five towns in this area. The town’s canal, historic buildings, shops, pubs and restaurants make it popular with tourists.
The history of Bradford on Avon can be traced back to its Roman origins. It also hosts one of the few surviving Anglo-Saxon churches in the country and several buildings dating to the 17th century, a period that saw the town grow as a result of its thriving wool textile industry.
Located eight miles southeast of the famous city of Bath, it lies partially within the Vale of Pewsey and across a hill that marks the Vale’s western edge. In addition, Bradford on Avon occupies hilly countryside between Salisbury Plain, the Cotswold Hills and Mendips. The latter provides the area with Jurassic limestone (or ‘Bath Stone’) from which the older buildings were made. Meanwhile, the River Avon – commonly associated with Bristol – runs through the town.
Furthermore, Bradford on Avon can be found on the Bath-to-Weymouth railway line which opened in the mid-19th century (it was laid by the original Great Western Railway, no less). Northwards, the line runs past Avoncliff and Freshford before joining the Great Western main line east of Bath. As a result, trains frequently run to Bristol Temple Meads and Cardiff. Similarly, the line is joined by a minor Melksham branch from Chippenham just short of Trowbridge. At Westbury, the railway crosses the main London-to-Plymouth line: from there, travelers can catch a service to Southampton, Portsmouth, Weymouth and occasionally Frome or Castle Cary. Consequently, Bradford on Avon is in an ideal location when it comes to commuting.
Running parallel to the Bradford on Avon railway is the Kennet and Avon Canal, not to mention Bradford Lock. The use of this canal declined as the railways grew, but it was restored to full working order between the 1960s and 1980s. The canal provides a link through to the Avon at Bath in the West and the Thames at Reading in the East.