Coordinates: 51°26′18″N 2°51′14″W / 51.4384°N 2.8539°W / 51.4384; -2.8539

View of Clevedon from the air, showing the pier
Clevedon is located in Somerset

 Clevedon shown within Somerset
Population 21,957 [1]
OS grid reference ST406714
Unitary authority North Somerset
Ceremonial county Somerset
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town CLEVEDON
Postcode district BS21
Dialling code 01275
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Avon
Ambulance Great Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament North Somerset
List of places: UK • England • Somerset

Clevedon is a town and civil parish in the unitary authority of North Somerset, which covers part of the ceremonial county of Somerset, England. The town has a population of 21,957 according to the United Kingdom Census 2001.[1]

The town is situated amongst a group of small hills alongside the River Severn estuary, including Churchill, Wain's hill (which is topped by the remains of an iron age hill fort), Dial hill, Strawberry hill, Castle hill, Hangstone hill and Court hill which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Clevedon was mentioned in the Domesday Book but did not really grow until the Victorian era when Clevedon became a popular seaside town. It was served by a short branch line from the main railway at Yatton, between 1847 and 1961. Another railway also served the town, the Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Light Railway, which opened in 1897 and closed in 1940.

The seafront includes ornamental gardens, a Victorian bandstand, and other visitor attractions. The Salthouse Field has a light railway running round the perimeter and is used for donkey rides during the summer. The shore is a mixture of pebbled beaches and low rocky cliffs, with the old harbour being at the western edge of the town at the mouth of the Land Yeo. The rocky beach, which has been designated as the Clevedon Shore geological Site of Special Scientific Interest. Clevedon Pier was opened in 1869, one of the earliest examples of a Victorian pier still in existence in the United Kingdom. During the 20th century it fell into disrepair but was dismantled, restored and rebuilt, reopening in 1986. Other landmarks include Walton Castle, Clevedon Court the Clevedon clock tower and the Curzon cinema. Clevedon has a certain amount of light industry, mainly in industrial estates including Hither Green Trading Estate near the M5 motorway junction, and it is also a dormitory town for Bristol. The town is also home to a range of educational, religious and cultural buildings and sporting clubs.



The name derives from the Old English, 'Cleve' meaning cleave or cleft and 'don' meaning hill,[2]

Wain's Hill is an univallate Iron Age hill fort situated approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) south-west of Clevedon. The hillfort is defined by a steep, natural slope from the south and north with two ramparts to the east.[3]

Clevedon was mentioned in the Domesday Book as being a holding of a tenant-in-chief by the name of Mathew of Mortaigne,[4] and was listed at that time as having eight villagers, and ten smallholders.[5] The parish of Clevedon was part of the Portbury Hundred.[6]

The small rivers the Land Yeo and Middle Yeo supported at least two mills. The Tuck Mills lay in the fields south of Clevedon Court and were used for fulling cloth. The other mills were near Wain's Hill and probably date from the early 17th century.[7]

During the Victorian era Clevedon became a popular seaside town, before that it had been an agricultural village.[8] The Victorian craze for bathing in the sea was catered for in the late 19th century by saltwater baths adjacent to the pier (since demolished, though the foundations can still be seen), and bathing machines on the main beach.[9]

Clevedon was also home to St Edith's children's home for almost 100 years until it closed in 1974. The building on Dial Hill is listed,[10] and therefore the outside has changed little, but it now houses privately owned flats. The home was run by nuns from 'The Community of the Sisters of the Church' which is an international body of women within the Anglican Communion, living under the gospel values of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.[11]

The first large scale production of penicillin took place in the town.[4] In 1938, Howard Florey was working at Lincoln College, Oxford University with Ernst Boris Chain and Norman Heatley, when he read Alexander Fleming's paper discussing the antibacterial effects of Penicillium notatum mould. He made arrangements for this to be grown in deep culture tanks at the Medical Research Council's Antibiotic Research Station in Clevedon, enabling mass production of this mould for the injections of the soldiers of World War II who suffered from infections.[12]

Clevedon was served by a short branch line from the main railway at Yatton. It opened in 1847, six years after the main line itself,[13] but closed in 1966.[14] The site of the station is now Queen's Square, a shopping precinct.[15] The town was the headquarters for another railway, the Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Light Railway, which connected the three coastal towns in its name. It opened to Weston-super-Mare in 1897,[16] was extended to Portishead ten years later,[17] and closed in 1940.[18] Its trains crossed the road in the town centre, known as The Triangle, preceded by a man with red and green flags.[19]


Clevedon falls within the non-metropolitan district of North Somerset unitary authority which replaced the Woodspring district, having formerly been part of Somerset, and between 1974 and 1996 within the county of Avon. Until 2010 the parliamentary constituency was still called Woodspring and was represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, however following the review of parliamentary representation by the Boundary Commission for England in Somerset, this seat was renamed North Somerset. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. The current MP is Liam Fox of the Conservative Party. It is also part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament, which currently elects six MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.


Salthouse Fields

Clevedon is situated on and round seven hills called Churchill, Wain's hill (which is topped by the remains of an iron age hill fort),[20] Dial hill, Strawberry hill, Castle hill, Hangstone hill and Court hill which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.[21] On a clear day there are far reaching views across the Severn estuary to Wales. When the visibility is particularly good the island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel can be seen. The tidal rise and fall in the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel can be as great as 14.5 m (48 ft),[22] second only to Bay of Fundy in Eastern Canada.[23][24]

The seafront stretches for approximately half a mile from the pier to Salthouse Field, and includes ornamental gardens, a Victorian bandstand, a bowling green, tennis courts, crazy golf and other amusements. An addition to this list is Marine Lake, which was once a Victorian swimming pool, is now used for boating activities, as well as a small festival once a year where people can try out new sports. The Salthouse Field has a light railway running round the perimeter and is still used for donkey rides during the summer.[25]

The shore at Clevedon is a mixture of pebbled beaches and low rocky cliffs, with the old harbour being at the western edge of the town at the mouth of the Land Yeo river. It is remembered as the place at which John Ashley conceived of the idea of creating the Mission to Seafarers.[26] The rocky beach, which has been designated as the Clevedon Shore geological Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is the side of a mineralised fault, which runs east-west adjacent to the pier, and forms a small cliff feature in Dolomitic Conglomerate on the north side of Clevedon Beach, containing cream to pink baryte together with sulfides. The minerals identified at the site include: haematite, chalcopyrite, tennantite, galena, tetrahedrite, bornite, pyrite, marcasite, enargite and sphalerite. Secondary alteration of this assemblage has produced idaite, Covellite and other Copper sulfides.[27]

"Poet's Walk" is a footpath around Wain's Hill and Church Hill, to the south west of the seafront, and the upper part of the town contains many other footpaths through parks and wooded areas which were laid out in the nineteenth century. The name of the walk is a commemoration of the poets and writers who have visited Clevedon. These include Coleridge in 1795 and Tennyson in 1834.[28]


Windswept Clevedon seafront has shaped this tree

Along with the rest of South West England, Clevedon has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than the rest of the country.[29] The annual mean temperature is approximately 10 °C (50.0 °F). Seasonal temperature variation is less extreme than most of the United Kingdom because of the adjacent sea temperatures. The summer months of July and August are the warmest with mean daily maxima of approximately 21 °C (69.8 °F). In winter mean minimum temperatures of 1 °C (33.8 °F) or 2 °C (35.6 °F) are common.[29] In the summer the Azores high pressure affects the south-west of England, however convective cloud sometimes forms inland, reducing the number of hours of sunshine. Annual sunshine rates are slightly less than the regional average of 1,600 hours.[29] In December 1998 there were 20 days without sun recorded at Yeovilton. Most of the rainfall in the South-West is caused by Atlantic depressions or by convection. Most of the rainfall in autumn and winter is caused by the Atlantic depressions, which is when they are most active. In summer, a large proportion of the rainfall is caused by sun heating the ground leading to convection and to showers and thunderstorms. Average rainfall is around 700 mm (28 in). About 8–15 days of snowfall is typical. November to March have the highest mean wind speeds, and June to August have the lightest winds. The predominant wind direction is from the south-west.[29]


The town has a population of 21,957 according to the United Kingdom Census 2001. Of these almost 20% are over the age of 65 years and 98.8% are white. Almost three quarters of the population described themselves as being Christian, with 17.4% having no religion and another 7.3% not stating any religion. 72.4% of the 15,408 people between the ages of 16 and 74 years are economically active.[1]


Clevedon has some light industry, mainly in industrial estates including Hither Green Trading Estate near the M5 motorway junction, and it is also a dormitory town for Bristol. The Clerical Medical pensions and investments group, part of HBOS, had its headquarters in the town on the former site of the Hales Cakes factory, but after its closure, North Somerset Council entered into talks to take over the lease.[30] Percy Daniel & Co is a firm of organ builders, whose work includes the instrument in Brentwood Cathedral.[31]


Metal pier standing on thin legs rising from the sea. Beach in the foreground
Clevedon Pier and the Severn estuary. Wales can be seen on the horizon
Clevedon Pier head

Clevedon Pier was opened on Easter Monday 1869,[26][32] one of the earliest examples of a Victorian pier still in existence in the United Kingdom. During the 20th century it fell into disrepair and in 1985 the pier was dismantled and taken to Portishead dock for restoration, and rebuilt in 1986. In 2001, the pier was upgraded to a grade 1 listed building,[32][33][34] The Paddle Steamer Waverley and Motor Vessel Balmoral offer day sea trips from Clevedon Pier to various destinations along the Bristol Channel and Severn estuary.[35] Adjoining the pier and contemporary with it is the Toll House, built in the style of a folly castle and provided as accommodation for the pier-master.[36]

Toll House

The Royal Pier Hotel is a Grade II listed building located next to the pier.[37] The Royal Pier Hotel was built in 1823 by Thomas Hollyman, and originally called The Rock House. In 1868, the building was expanded by local architect Hans Price[38] and renamed Rock House & Royal Pier Hotel, later shortened to Royal Pier Hotel. Since its closure the building has fallen into disrepair,[39] and despite numerous planning applications being submitted, it remains derelict.

Walton Castle is a 17th century fort located on Castle Hill hill that overlooks the Walton St Mary area at the northern end of Clevedon. It was built sometime between 1615 and 1620. The castle was designed as a hunting lodge for Lord Poulett, a Somerset MP. The English Civil War saw the decline of Poulett's fortunes, and by 1791 the castle was derelict and being used as a dairy by a local farmer.[40] In 1984, the castle was purchased for £1 by Margarita Hamilton, who restored the building to its former glory.[41]

Millennium monument

Clevedon Court is on Court Hill east of the town centre, close to the road to Bristol. It is one of only a few remaining 14th century manorial halls in England, having been built by Sir John de Clevedon circa 1320.[42] Since the early eighteenth century the house has been owned by the Elton family, who were responsible for much building work on the house and many improvements in the town, and although the house itself is now owned by the National Trust,[43] the associated estates are still owned by the Elton family. Sir Edmund Elton (1846–1920) was a potter who produced unusually shaped ware in a variety of richly-coloured glazes, including a gold glaze of his own invention, at the Clevedon Elton Sunflower Pottery.[44]

Clevedon clock tower in the centre of the town is decorated with "Elton ware".[45] It was completed in 1898, and donated by Sir Edmund Elton in celebration of Queen Victoria's Jubilee.[46] The Curzon cinema was built in 1912,[47] for Victor Cox,[48] and is the oldest purpose-built, continuously operated cinema in the world.[49]

The town's market hall on Alexandra Road was designed by local architect Hans Price.[50] A monument, known as the "Spirit of Clevedon", was erected near the seafront to mark the Millennium. Unveiled in June 2000, the 5 ft (1.5 m) tall sculpture cost £9,000.[51] It was designed by local citizens and includes panels and plaques representing the history and community in the town. Within its base is a time capsule containing information about the town.[52]


Clevedon School and playing fields

Clevedon School is a large secondary comprehensive school serving the whole town and the surrounding rural areas. It has approximately 1,200 pupils in years 7 to 11 (Lower School) and 12 to 13 (Upper School or sixth form). The school has regained its Language College status.[53] There are also six primary schools in the town:[54] Mary Elton Primary School, John the Evangelist Church of England Primary School, All Saints C Of E Primary School and St.Nicholas' Chantry CEVC Primary School. Yeo Moor Primary School, which opened on 19 April 2010, is an amalgamated school joining the Infant and Junior schools that held position on the existing site for many years.

St Brandon's School was an independent boarding school until 1991[55] and a coeducational infant and junior school until 2004.[56]

Religious sites

Church of St Andrew - circa 1907

There a several churches serving the town,[57] including St. Andrew's church, which was built in the thirteenth century AD, although there are thought to be Saxon foundations under the present building. It is the burial place of Arthur Hallam, subject of the poem In Memoriam A.H.H. by his friend Alfred, Lord Tennyson.[58]

The Church of St John was built in 1875, by William Butterfield for Sir Arthur Elton.[59] The Church of All Saints was built in 1861 by C E Giles.[60] The tower of Christ Church, on Chapel Hill, is a very important landmark in Clevedon. It was erected 1838 and 1839 from designs by Thomas Rickman in an early 14th century style.[61]

The Copse Road Chapel is a Independent Evangelical Church, which was built in 1851 and has been attributed to Foster and Wood of Bristol,[62] who also designed the United Reformed Church on Hill Road.[63] The Roman Catholic church of the Immaculate Conception is served by the Franciscan order.[64]


Because of its location watersports are a feature of the local scene. The Clevedon Canoe Club is based at the marine lake and organise take short sea paddling trips along the North Somerset coast on the Severn Estuary,[65] and nearby, on Marine Parade is the sailing club.[66]

Clevedon Cricket Club was established in 1874. The first team now play in the Bristol and Somerset division of the West of England Premier League.[67] Clevedon Town Football Club was started in the late 19th century and were one of the founder members of the Western Football League, winning its championship in the 1990s.[68] Clevedon Bowling Club was formed in 1910, and since then has achieved several international honours in Bowls.[69] Other sporting facilities include Clevedon Golf Club who have a Par 72, 6,500 yard course,[70] Riding Centre,[71] Rugby Club,[72] and a range of other sports clubs.[73]


Literary figures associated with the town are Samuel Taylor Coleridge (who spent some months living in a cottage in the town after his marriage to Sarah Fricker),[74] William Makepeace Thackeray (a frequent guest of the Elton family at Clevedon Court),[74] and George Gissing (The Odd Women is set in the town).[75]

In the 1993 movie, The Remains of the Day, starring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson and Christopher Reeve, references are made to Clevedon, where the final scene of the film is set and was filmed.[76] The 1998 adaptation of Cider with Rosie also featured scenes filmed in the town.[77] Scenes from the 2010 film, Never Let Me Go, starring Keira Knightley were filmed in Clevedon during the summer of 2009.[78]

Clevedon is twinned with Ettlingen, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany since 1980; Épernay, France since 1990; and Middelkerke, Belgium since 1991.[79]

Notable people


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