North Somerset

North Somerset (/ˈsʌmərsɛt/) is a unitary authority area in England. Its area covers part of the ceremonial county of Somerset but it is administered independently of the non-metropolitan county. Its administrative headquarters is in the town hall in Weston-super-Mare.

North Somerset borders the local government areas of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, Mendip and Sedgemoor. The area comprises the parliamentary constituencies of Weston-super-Mare and North Somerset.

North Somerset
North Somerset shown in Somerset
North Somerset shown in Somerset
Coordinates: Coordinates: 51°23′N 2°48′W / 51.39°N 2.80°W
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth West England
Ceremonial countySomerset
Admin HQWeston-super-Mare
Created1 April 1996
 • TypeUnitary Authority
 • LeaderDon Davies[1]
 • CouncilNo overall control[2]
 • MPs:John Penrose C
Liam Fox C
 • Total144.66 sq mi (374.68 km2)
 (mid-2018 est.)
 • Total213,919 (Ranked 83rd)
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
ISO 3166 codeGB-NSM


Between 1 April 1974 and 31 March 1996, this area was the Woodspring district of the county of Avon (named after Woodspring Priory, an isolated mediaeval church near the coast just north east of Weston-super-Mare). The district of Woodspring was formed from the municipal boroughs of Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon and Portishead urban districts, Long Ashton Rural District, and part of Axbridge Rural District.

Though the government proposed that the new unitary area be known as "North West Somerset" from 1 April 1996,[3] the council voted instead to adopt the name "North Somerset" and so the name "North West Somerset" was never widely used. There remained some legal doubt as to whether the council had validly changed the name to "North Somerset",[4] but in 2005 the council passed a resolution to put the matter beyond doubt.[5]


North Somerset Council, a unitary authority, is elected every four years, with currently 61 councillors being elected at each election. Since the first election to the unitary authority in 1995, the council has either been under Conservative party control, or no party has held a majority. As of the 2019 election the council is composed of the following councillors:[2]

Party Councillors
Independent 17
Conservative Party 13
Liberal Democrats 11
Labour Party 6
Green Party 3


The principal towns in the district are the coastal towns of Weston-super-Mare, Portishead and Clevedon, and the commuter town of Nailsea.

Places of interest

North Somerset's natural environment and coastal towns attract visitors from the nearby cities. Notable geographical features include:

The district is noted for the religious buildings at:


Image Name Status Population Former local authority Coordinates Refs
Holy Trinity Church, Abbots Leigh - - 1051693 Abbots Leigh Civil parish 799 Long Ashton Rural District 51°28′N 2°39′W / 51.46°N 2.65°W [6][7]
Backwell sign Backwell Civil parish 4,589 Long Ashton Rural District 51°25′N 2°44′W / 51.41°N 2.73°W [6][7]
Banwellcastle Banwell Civil parish 2,919 Axbridge Rural District 51°19′N 2°52′W / 51.32°N 2.86°W [6][8]
Barrow Gurney - millpond at Lower Barrow Mill - - 94265 Barrow Gurney Civil parish 349 Long Ashton Rural District 51°24′N 2°40′W / 51.40°N 2.67°W [6][7]
Blagdon church and lake Blagdon Civil parish 1,116 Axbridge Rural District 51°20′N 2°43′W / 51.33°N 2.72°W [6][8]
Bleadonchurch Bleadon Civil parish 1,079 Axbridge Rural District 51°19′N 2°56′W / 51.31°N 2.94°W [6][8]
Brockley ploughing match in 1991 Brockley Civil parish 277 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°46′W / 51.39°N 2.76°W [6][7]
Burrignton church Burrington Civil parish 464 Axbridge Rural District 51°20′N 2°44′W / 51.33°N 2.74°W [6][8]
Butcombechurch Butcombe Civil parish 218 Axbridge Rural District 51°21′N 2°41′W / 51.35°N 2.69°W [6][8]
Churchillsomerset Churchill Civil parish 2,235 Axbridge Rural District 51°20′N 2°47′W / 51.33°N 2.79°W [6][8]
Clapton Court - - 697226 Clapton in Gordano Civil parish 348 Long Ashton Rural District 51°28′N 2°45′W / 51.46°N 2.75°W [6][7]
Holy Trinity Church Cleeve Cleeve Civil parish 902 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°46′W / 51.39°N 2.77°W [6][7]
ClevedonPier Clevedon Town 21,281 Clevedon Urban District 51°26′N 2°51′W / 51.43°N 2.85°W [6][9]
Congresbury Congresbury Civil parish 3,497 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°49′W / 51.37°N 2.81°W [6][8]
Dundry-fairlawns Dundry Civil parish 829 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°38′W / 51.39°N 2.64°W [6][7]
Eig sign Easton in Gordano Civil parish 4,828 Long Ashton Rural District 51°29′N 2°41′W / 51.48°N 2.69°W [6][7]
Flax Bourton church in 2004 Flax Bourton Civil parish 715 Long Ashton Rural District 51°25′N 2°43′W / 51.42°N 2.71°W [6][7]
Hutton War Memorial Hutton Civil parish 2,582 Axbridge Rural District 51°19′N 2°56′W / 51.32°N 2.93°W [6][8]
Kenn church Kenn Civil parish 431 Long Ashton Rural District 51°25′N 2°50′W / 51.42°N 2.84°W [6][7]
Woodspringpriory Kewstoke Civil parish 1,690 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°58′W / 51.37°N 2.96°W [6][8]
The Triangle Kingston Seymour Kingston Seymour Civil parish 388 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°52′W / 51.39°N 2.86°W [6][7]
Locking village hall Locking Civil parish 2,756 Axbridge Rural District 51°20′N 2°55′W / 51.33°N 2.91°W [6][8]
Long Ashton Church and Angel Long Ashton Civil parish 6,044 Long Ashton Rural District 51°26′N 2°39′W / 51.43°N 2.65°W [6][7]
Loxton Loxton Civil parish 192 Axbridge Rural District 51°17′N 2°53′W / 51.29°N 2.89°W [6][8]
Nailsea and Backwell Nailsea Town 15,630 Long Ashton Rural District 51°26′N 2°46′W / 51.43°N 2.76°W [6][7]
Portbury church Portbury Civil parish 827 Long Ashton Rural District 51°28′N 2°43′W / 51.47°N 2.72°W [6][7]
Portishead MMB 07 Portishead and North Weston Town 23,699 Long Ashton Rural District
Portishead Urban District
51°29′N 2°46′W / 51.48°N 2.77°W [6][7]
Puxton church Puxton Civil parish 359 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°51′W / 51.37°N 2.85°W [6][8]
Weston-super-Mare MMB 22 St Georges News St Georges Civil parish 3,379 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°54′W / 51.36°N 2.90°W [6][8]
Tickenham church Tickenham Civil parish 910 Axbridge Rural District 51°26′N 2°48′W / 51.44°N 2.80°W [6][8]
Walton in Gordano junction Walton in Gordano Civil parish 273 Axbridge Rural District 51°27′N 2°50′W / 51.45°N 2.83°W [6][8]
Weston in Gordano church Weston in Gordano Civil parish 301 Axbridge Rural District 51°28′N 2°47′W / 51.46°N 2.79°W [6][8]
Weston-Super-Mare view Weston super Mare Town 76,143 Axbridge Rural District
Weston super Mare Municipal Borough
51°21′N 2°58′W / 51.35°N 2.97°W [6][8]
Wick St Lawrence Wick St Lawrence Civil parish 1,331 Axbridge Rural District 51°23′N 2°55′W / 51.38°N 2.91°W [6][8]
Prince of Waterloo Winford Winford Civil parish 2,153 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°40′W / 51.38°N 2.66°W [6][7]
Winscombe Woodborough Road Winscombe and Sandford Civil parish 4,546 Axbridge Rural District 51°19′N 2°50′W / 51.31°N 2.83°W [6][8]
WraxallAllSaintsChurch Wraxall and Failand Civil parish 2,302 Long Ashton Rural District 51°26′N 2°44′W / 51.44°N 2.73°W [6][7]
Wringtonhighstreet Wrington Civil parish 2,633 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°46′W / 51.36°N 2.76°W [6][8]
YattonPrecinct Yatton Civil parish 7,552 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°50′W / 51.39°N 2.83°W [6][7]


North Somerset's economy is traditionally based on agriculture, including sheep raised for wool on the Mendip Hills and dairy farming in the valleys. This is celebrated at the annual North Somerset Show. During the Georgian era tourism became a significant economic sector in the coastal towns, most notably Weston-super-Mare which grew from a small village to a large resort town. Though tourism declined in the mid to late-20th century, in common with most British coastal resorts, this sector of the economy has stabilised.

In the 19th century the major port city of Bristol found that modern ships had outgrown the narrow river approach and the Port of Bristol company began seeking locations for new docks on the coast. The first of these was Portishead Dock, which handled coal from South Wales, though this too has seen shipping outgrow its facilities. The newer Royal Portbury Dock is noted for the large volume of car imports.

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of North and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire at current basic prices (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling. [10]

Year Regional Gross Value Added1 Agriculture2 Industry3 Services4
1995 5,916 125 1,919 3,872
2000 8,788 86 2,373 6,330
2003 10,854 67 2,873 7,914

^1 Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
^2 includes hunting and forestry
^3 includes energy and construction
^4 includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured


North Somerset compared
UK Census 2001 North Somerset UA[11] South West England[12] England[12]
Total population 188,564 4,928,434 49,138,831
Foreign born 9.5% 9.4% 9.2%
White 97.1% 97.7% 91%
Asian 1.7% 0.7% 4.6%
Black 0.9% 0.4% 2.3%
Christian 75.0% 74.0% 72%
Muslim 0.2% 0.5% 3.1%
Hindu 0.1% 0.2% 1.1%
No religion 16.6% 16.8% 15%
Over 75 years old 9.9% 9.3% 7.5%
Unemployed 2.1% 2.6% 3.3%

North Somerset covers an area of around 145 square miles (380 km2) and has a resident population of 193,000 (1.4% BME) living in 85,000 households.[13]

The population of North Somerset has doubled since the 1950s and is predicted to rise by 6,184 or 3.0% to 2011 and by 17% to 2026. Whilst the proportion of people in North Somerset who are under 45 is lower than the national average, population growth is predicted to be strongest in the 2034 age group. Conversely North Somerset has a 4.2% higher percentage of older people (60+ female, 65+ male) than the rest of England and Wales. This disparity increases with age with the percentage of the population over 75 years almost 30% higher than the national average, resulting in a relatively aged population.[14]

In 2001 there were 134,132 people of working age living in North Somerset and 91,767 were in employment; an economic activity rate of 68.4%. This is very close to the economic activity rate of the West of England sub-region which was 68.8% in the 2001 census.[13]

The 2001 census stated that 1.38% of North Somerset residents identified themselves as belonging to a visible ethnic group and a further 1.27% identified themselves as 'white other'.[15]

Population since 1801[16]
Year 1801 1851 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population North Somerset[17] 16,670 33,774 60,066 68,410 75,276 82,833 91,967 102,119 119,509 139,924 160,353 179,865 188,556


The Unitary Authority of North Somerset, provides support for 78 schools, delivering education to approximately 28,000 pupils.[18]

Weston College is the main provider of further education in the area. University Centre Weston offers higher education courses in conjunction with Bath Spa University and the University of the West of England.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "Article 4 of the Avon (Structural Change) Order 1995 (SI 1995/493)". 28 February 1995. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  4. ^ "Report to the Executive". 14 June 2005. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  5. ^ "Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Council". 28 June 2005. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am "2011 Census Profile". North Somerset Council. Archived from the original (Excel) on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Long Ashton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Axbridge RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  9. ^ "Clevedon UD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Regional Gross Value Added" (PDF). National Statistics. 21 December 2005. Retrieved 3 June 2007.
  11. ^ United Kingdom Census 2001 (2001). "Key Figures for 2001 Census: Census Area Statistics: Area: North Somerset". Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  12. ^ a b United Kingdom Census 2001 (2001). "Key Figures for 2001 Census: Census Area Statistics: Area: Bath and North East Somerset". Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  13. ^ a b "Local Area Agreement for North Somerset 2007–2010". North Somerset Partnership. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  14. ^ "Culture, Leisure and Tourism and Topic Paper" (PDF). North Somerset Core Strategy document. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  15. ^ "North Somerset Council Race Equality Scheme 2007–2010". North Somerset Council. Archived from the original (Word) on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  16. ^ A Vision of Britain through Time
  17. ^ "North Somerset: Total Population". A Vision of Britain Through Time. Great Britain Historical GIS Project. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  18. ^ "Schools". North Somerset. Retrieved 19 December 2008.

External links

1999 North Somerset Council election

The 1999 North Somerset Council election took place on 6 May 1999 to elect members of North Somerset Unitary Council in Somerset, England. The whole council was up for election with boundary changes since the last election in 1995 increasing the number of seats by 2. The Conservative Party gained overall control of the council from no overall control.

2003 North Somerset Council election

The 2003 North Somerset Council election took place on 1 May 2003 to elect members of North Somerset Unitary Council in Somerset, England. The whole council was up for election and the Conservative Party lost overall control of the council to no overall control.

2007 North Somerset Council election

The 2007 North Somerset Council election took place on 3 May 2007 to elect members of North Somerset Unitary Council in Somerset, England. The whole council was up for election and the Conservative Party gained overall control of the council from no overall control.

2011 North Somerset Council election

The 2011 North Somerset Council election took place on 5 May 2011 to elect members of North Somerset Unitary Council in Somerset, England. The whole council was up for election and the Conservative Party stayed in overall control of the council.

Ashton Court

Ashton Court is a mansion house and estate to the west of Bristol in England. Although the estate lies mainly in North Somerset, it is owned by the City of Bristol. The mansion and stables are a Grade I listed building. Other structures on the estate are also listed.

Ashton Court has been the site of a manor house since the 11th century, and has been developed by a series of owners since then. From the 16th to 20th centuries it was owned by the Smyth family with each generation changing the house. Designs by Humphry Repton were used for the landscaping in the early 19th century. It was used as a military hospital in the First World War. In 1936 it was used as the venue for the Royal Show and, during the Second World War as an army transit camp. In 1946 the last of the Smyth family died and the house fell into disrepair before its purchase in 1959 by Bristol City Council.

The estate developed from the original deer park and is Grade II* listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England. It is the venue for a variety of leisure activities, including the now-defunct Ashton Court Festival, Bristol International Kite Festival and the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. It is home to charity The Forest of Avon Trust.

Aveline's Hole

Aveline's Hole is a cave at Burrington Combe in the limestone of the Mendip Hills, in Somerset, England.

The earliest scientifically dated cemetery in Britain, 10,200 and 10,400 years old, was found at Aveline's Hole. Much of the collection has been lost, and although more than fifty individuals are represented, there are only two complete skeletons. Perforated animal teeth, red ochre and seven pieces of fossil ammonite, suggest that some of the bodies were adorned.A series of inscribed crosses found on the wall of the Aveline's Hole cave are believed to date from the early Mesolithic period just after the Ice Age. The pattern is said to be comparable with others known from Northern France, Germany and Denmark. A gate has been installed in the cave to protect the engraving, after consultations between English Heritage and other interested parties, including the landowner and English Nature.

The cave was rediscovered in 1797 by two men digging for a rabbit. The cave was excavated and the entrance enlarged in 1860 by William Boyd Dawkins who named it after his mentor William Talbot Aveline.Access to the cave is controlled by the University of Bristol Spelæological Society and is restricted during the bat hibernation season.

BS postcode area

The BS postcode area, also known as the Bristol postcode area, is a group of postcode districts around Axbridge, Banwell, Bristol, Cheddar, Clevedon, Wedmore, Weston-super-Mare and Winscombe in England, generally covering Bristol in its entirety, and most of South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset.

Bristol and North Somerset Railway

This article describes the Bristol and North Somerset Railway, between Bristol and Radstock, and the associated Camerton line from Hallatrow to Limpley Stoke.

The Bristol and North Somerset Railway was a railway line in the West of England that connected Bristol with Radstock, through Pensford and further into northern Somerset, to allow access to the Somerset Coalfield. The line ran almost due south from Bristol and was 16 miles (26 km) long.

Opened in 1873, it joined with an existing branch from Frome to Radstock, and was later worked with it as a single entity. In 1882 the Camerton Branch was opened by the Great Western Railway to serve collieries at Camerton; it was later extended to Limpley Stoke, on the Bath to Trowbridge line. It closed to passenger traffic in 1925.

The lines primary traffic was coal, and travel to work commuting into Bristol. Both of these traffic sources substantially declined in the 1950s, with the Camerton Branch fully closed in 1951. Passenger traffic ceased on the rest of the entire line complex before the Beeching Axe in 1959, with complete closure of the line in 1973 following the closure of the last colliery in the Somerset Coalfield at Kilmersdon.

Clevedon School

Clevedon School, located in Clevedon, North Somerset, England, is a large secondary school with 1,117 pupils, in years 7 to 11 (Lower School) and 12 to 13 (Upper School or sixth form). The school recently regained its Language College status. As of 2016 the Head of school is Jim Smith and the Headteacher is John Wells. (Clevedon Learning Trust) The school became an academy in February 2012.

Congresbury Yeo

The River Yeo (often referred to as the Congresbury Yeo, after the village of Congresbury, through which it flows, to avoid confusion with other similarly named rivers) is a river which flows through North Somerset, England.

Grade I listed buildings in North Somerset

North Somerset is a unitary authority in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England. In the United Kingdom, the term listed building refers to a building or other structure officially designated as being of special architectural, historical or cultural significance; Grade I structures are those considered to be "buildings of exceptional interest". Listing was begun by a provision in the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. Once listed, severe restrictions are imposed on the modifications allowed to a building's structure or its fittings. In England, the authority for listing under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 rests with Historic England, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; local authorities have a responsibility to regulate and enforce the planning regulations.

North Somerset constitutes part of the ceremonial county of Somerset. As a unitary authority, North Somerset is administered independently of the non-metropolitan county of Somerset. Its administrative headquarters are located in the town hall of Weston-super-Mare. North Somerset includes areas that were once part of Somerset before the creation of Avon in 1974.There are 37 Grade I listed buildings in North Somerset, including the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which joins North Somerset to Bristol and Clevedon Pier. Of the listed buildings, manor houses include Clevedon Court, built in the 14th century, and from the 15th century, Ashton Court and Nailsea Court. Somerset has many religious structures; the largest number are from the Norman or medieval eras. Some of the churches are included in the Somerset towers, a collection of distinctive, mostly spireless Gothic church towers.

List of schools in North Somerset

This is a list of schools in North Somerset in the English county of Somerset.

North Somerset (UK Parliament constituency)

North Somerset is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Liam Fox, a Conservative who has served as Secretary of State for International Trade, a new position in the Cabinet, since 13 July 2016.

North Somerset Council

North Somerset Council is the local authority of North Somerset, England. It is a unitary authority, having the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. It provides a full range of local government services including Council Tax billing, libraries, social services, processing planning applications, waste collection and disposal, and it is a local education authority. The council meets at Weston-super-Mare Town Hall.

North Somerset Council elections

North Somerset Council is a unitary authority in Somerset, England. Until 1 April 1996 it was a non-metropolitan district in Avon.

North Somerset Levels

The North Somerset Levels is a coastal plain, an expanse of low-lying flat ground, which occupies an area between Weston-super-Mare and Bristol in North Somerset, England. The River Banwell, River Kenn, River Yeo and Land Yeo are the three principal rivers draining the area.

To the south the levels are bounded by the Mendip Hills, to the east by the Yeo Valley and the Lulsgate Plateau, and to the north by the Tickenham Ridge. To the west lies the Severn Estuary.

The levels are distinct from two similar areas: the much larger Somerset Levels to the south in Somerset, and the smaller Gordano Valley to the north.

The water level management and maintenance of rhynes in the area are the responsibility of the North Somerset Internal Drainage Board.

The term "Avon Levels" has also been used - either as a synonym for the North Somerset Levels, or to refer a larger area also including all of the other low-lying flat areas in the former county of Avon (e.g. the Gordano Valley and the areas around Severn Beach and Avonmouth)

North Somerset Yeomanry

The North Somerset Yeomanry was a part-time cavalry regiment of the British Army from 1798 to 1967. It maintained order in Somerset in the days before organised police forces, and supplied volunteers to fight in the Second Boer War. It served on the Western Front in World War I. At the outbreak of World War II it continued to operate in the mounted role, and then as a specialist signals unit. Postwar it joined the Royal Armoured Corps and later became infantry. Its lineage today is maintained by 93 (North Somerset Yeomanry) Squadron 39 (Skinners) Signal Regiment.

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