West Dorset

West Dorset

West Dorset is a local government district and parliamentary constituency in Dorset, England. Its council is based in Dorchester. The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, and was a merger of the boroughs of Bridport, Dorchester and Lyme Regis, along with Sherborne urban district, and the rural districts of Beaminster, Bridport, Dorchester and Sherborne.


In the Census 2001 West Dorset registered a population of 92,350, estimated to be 94,000 as of 2004. The population structure reflects the rural nature of the district. 52% of the population are female. The area is a popular retirement area which also exports young people due the low choice of career options. This is reflected in the age structure, with 12.3% of the population over 75, compared to 7.5% in England; 51.7% are between 15 and 59, compared to 59.1% in England. 34.4% of dwellings are pensioner households, compared to 23.8% in England.

The district is an extreme example of the low ethnic minority populations in rural areas, with 96.7% white British ethnicity, compared to 87.0% in England.

The district has a high level of car ownership, at 83.1% of households compared to 73.2% in England.


West Dorset is a county constituency, currently represented in the British House of Commons by the Conservative front-bencher Oliver Letwin. Elections in this constituency are usually a two party contest between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. It is almost identical in area with the West Dorset district, but a very small part of West Dorset District lies within the South Dorset county constituency, currently represented in the British House of Commons by the Labour member Jim Knight.


The main settlements in West Dorset are Dorchester, the county town of Dorset, in the south of the district, an important settlement since Roman times. In the north of the district Sherborne is an important market town which was, for a time, the capital of Wessex. Lyme Regis and Bridport are tourist towns on the Jurassic Coast in the south of the district.

:"Settlements with a population over 2,500 are in bold."
*Abbotsbury, Allington, Alton Pancras, Askerwell
*Batcombe, Beaminster, Beer Hackett, Bettiscombe, Bincombe, Bishops Caundle, Bothenhampton, Bradford Abbas, Bradford Peverell, Bradpole, Bridport, Broadmayne, Broadwindsor, Buckland Newton, Burstock, Burton Bradstock
*Castleton, Cattistock, Caundle Marsh, Cerne Abbas, Charminster, Charmouth, Cheselbourne, Chetnole, Chickerell, Chideock, Clifton Maybank, Compton Valence, Corscombe, Crossways
*Dewlish, Dorchester
*Fleet, Folke, Frampton, Frome St Quintin, Frome Vauchurch
*Halstock, Hermitage, Hilfield, Holnest, Holwell, Hooke
*Langton Herring, Leigh, Lillington, Littlebredy, Litton Cheney, Loders, Long Bredy, Longburton, Lyme Regis
*Maiden Newton, Marshwood, Melbury Bubb, Melbury Osmond, Melcombe Horsey, Minterne Magna, Mosterton
*Netherbury, Nether Compton
*Oborne, Osmington, Over Compton, Owermoigne
*Piddlehinton, Piddletrenthide, Portesham, Poundbury, Powerstock, Poyntington, Puddletown, Puncknowle, Purse Caundle
*Rampisham, Ryme Intrinseca
*Sandford Orcas, Seaborough, Sherborne, Shipton Gorge, South Perrott, Stanton St Gabriel, Stinsford, Stoke Abbott, Stratton, Swyre, Sydling St Nicholas, Symondsbury
*Thorncombe, Thornford, Tincleton, Toller Porcorum, Tolpuddle, Trent
*Warmwell, West Bexington, West Knighton, West Stafford, Whitchurch Canonicorum, Winterborne Monkton, Winterborne St Martin, Winterbourne Abbas, Winterbourne Steepleton, Woodsford, Wootton Fitzpaine, Wraxall

Places of interest

* Abbotsbury Castle
* Abbotsbury Swannery
* Chesil Beach
* Dorset Downs
* Golden Cap
* Jurassic Coast
* Kingston Russell
* Maiden Castle
* Pilsdon Pen
* Poundbury Hill
* Rampisham Down
* River Frome
* Sherborne Abbey
* Sherborne Castle
* Sherborne House
* The Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum

ee also

* Dorset
* History of Dorset
* Geology of Dorset

External links

* [http://www.dorsetforyou.com/index.jsp?articleid=1113 West Dorset District Council]
* [http://www.west-dorset.co.uk West Dorset Directory] ----

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