infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 51.1695
longitude= -2.973
official_name= Puriton
population = 2124
shire_district= Sedgemoor
shire_county = Somerset
region= South West England
Ambulance= South Western
constituency_westminster= Bridgwater
post_town= BRIDGWATER|postcode_district = TA7
postcode_area= TA |dial_code= 01278
os_grid_reference= ST321415

Puriton is a village and a parish, at the westerly end of the Polden Hills, in the Sedgemoor district of Somerset, UK. The local parish church is named after St. Michael. Road, but it was converted to a private house some 20 years ago.

Puriton is now becoming a commuter village. The built-up area of the village lies mostly between the 5 and 50 metres above sea level. The village has a population of 2,124 (2002 estimate).cite web | url= http://www.somerset.gov.uk/somerset/statistics/contents/population/estimates/2002mye/ |title= Parish population estimates 2002 | work= Sedgemoor District Council | format= PDF | accessdate= 2007-09-22]

The village still has a full range of village facilities such as a primary school, Parish Church, village Pub, post office, village shop (general store and newsagents), butchers and hairdressers. It started to expand considerably in the 1960s and 1970s when new houses were built on former farm land, a former infilled stone (Blue Lias) quarry, "Puriton Park", and on fields in between the existing houses. The old victorian school near the church was converted into homes and a new school built elsewhere. The Manor house was also sold off in 1960 and four houses were built on its former tennis courts.

The Manor house is still there and lived in; but now is in multiple occupancy.

Transport links

The village is located immediately east of Junction 23 of the M5 motorway (Dunball is immediately to the west) and can be accessed directly from the A39. The A38 lies just over one mile away beyond the M5 roundabout.

Up until the mid-19th century, the main road from Exeter to Bristol, via Crandon Bridge, passed through the village in front (east) of the Puriton Inn and continued along what is now Pawlett Road / Puriton Road to Pawlett and beyond. The Exeter - Bristol road is now part of the A38; and the arrow-straight section of the A38 leading north from Bridgwater to Pawlett is a relatively new section of highway, being built in the mid-19th century. It also bypassed Pawlett; the old road through Pawlett remains and is now known as the "Old Main Road".

With the building of the new section of the A38, the old main road from Crandon Bridge, through Puriton, to Pawlett was retained. The southern section from Crandon Bridge up the Polden Hill still forms the route of the current A39 link road to the M5 motorway. Part of the northern section of the road was realigned in 1973, when the M5 motorway was extended through Somerset; and it was diverted to the west of Puriton Inn, to the new M5 motorway roundabout, at junction 23. Parts of the original route still exist as two sections of Puriton Hill and most of Puriton Road. Hall Road, Puriton, was built at the same time to link the A39 to Riverton Road, Puriton. The road-link between Riverton Road / Puriton Hill and Puriton Road / Downend Road was severed by the M5 motorway, being replaced by a pedestrian footbridge to the hamlet of Downend. Church Field Lane was also severed by the M5 motorway; it remains severed. A new section of road, a dual carriageway, was built between the M5 roundabout and a new roundabout on the A38 at Dunball. A link road was provided between it and Downend.

The northern end of King's Sedgemoor Drain, where it discharges into the River Parrett, lies just outside the Puriton Parish boundary; it runs parallel, at this point, between the Polden Hills (to the east) and the M5 motorway (to the west).

In Roman times the course of the River Parrett near Puriton was very much different from that of today. The river had an almost complete great loop which followed the southern flank of the Polden Hills, along course of the present day King's Sedgemoor Drain. Roman ships were able to dock in the lee of the Polden Hills.

Puriton in World war II

Up until just after the World War II the village still had orchards, some grew apples and some grew pears. Puriton is mentioned in the Domesday Book as growing pears. A German pilot was captured in one in WW II after his airpane was shot down and he landed by parachute. The orchards have now all gone, houses having been built on them. The last was "Culverhay", which at one time had housed both a dairy and a cider press. One working dairy-farm is still in existence.

In 1941, during World War II, a Royal Ordnance Factory, ROF Bridgwater, was opened mid-way between Puriton and the adjacent village of Woolavington. The factory lies mostly within the Puriton Parish boundary, with a small portion lying within Woolavington Parish. At war-time production rates, several millions of gallons of water per day were extracted from the nearby artificial River Huntspill. Now the extraction rate is probably very much lower; and most, if not all, of the water is returned after use, after clean-up through a reedbed sewage treatment plant. A large explosion occurred at the factory in the early 1950s, which resulted in a number of workers dying or being injured. Its current owner, BAE Systems Land and Armaments, plan to close it completely in Spring 2008.

A cement and lime works was located at Dunball, which used Blue Lias stone quarried in the village and transported on narrow gauge railways. The works became run down by the early 1960s and was demolished when the M5 motorway was built through part of the site. The church, and the boundary walls, in the old part of the village, are built out of blue lias blocks.

ee also

*ROF Bridgwater

External links

* The Somerset Urban Archaeological Survey: [http://www.somerset.gov.uk/somerset/cultureheritage/heritage/projects/eus/downend Down End] , by Miranda Richardson



* Dunning, R.W. (1992). "History of the County of Somerset", Volume VI, "Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes)". Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-722780-5.
* Dunning, R.W. (2004). "History of the County of Somerset", Volume VIII, "The Poldens and the Levels". Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 1-90-435633-8. [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/source.asp?pubid=62 | Link to online copy] .

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