- Economy of Somerset
Somersetis a county in the south west of England. It is a rural county and transport infrastructure has been significant in industrial development. There is some heavy industry particularly related to the defence technologies and the county has several centres for stone quarrying, although the coalfield is now closed.
Agriculture and textile production continue to provide employment along with tourism.
Somerset has few industrial centres.
Bridgwaterwas developed during the Industrial Revolutionas the West Country's leading port. The River Parrettwas navigable by large ships as far as Bridgwater. By then loading the cargoes onto smaller boats at Langport Quay, next to the Bridgwater Bridge, they could be carried further up river to Langport.Lawrence, J.F. (2005). "A History of Bridgwater". (revised and compiled by J.C. Lawrence) Chichester: Phillimore & Co. ISBN 1-86077-363-X.] The Parrett is now only navigable as far as DunballWharf; and the wharf is still in use today to unload marine gravels and sands. Bridgwater, in the 19th and 20th centuries, was a centre for the manufacture of bricks and clay roof tiles, Bath bricks and later cellophane, but those industries have now closed. With its good links to the motorway system, Bridgwater has developed as a distribution hub for companies such as Argos, Toolstation and Gerber Juice.
Somerset Levelshas historically been a large producer of peat, but ecological concerns have led to the search for alternative materials for applications, such as potting of plants. AgustaWestlandmanufacture helicopters in Yeovil. Helicopters were also built at Weston-super-Mare; it is now the home of a helicopter museum - The Helicopter Museum (Weston). Normalair Garratt, who built aircraft oxygen systems, are also based in the town; the company is now part of HoneywellAerospace.
Somerset was, and is, an important supplier of equipment and technology to support the defence of United Kingdom. A
Royal Ordnance Factory, ROF Bridgwaterwas built at the start of the Second World War, between the villages of Puritonand Woolavington, to manufacture explosives; and in 2007 is still operating, at a much reduced output, as part of BAE Systems Land Systemsand is due to close completely in 2008. Templecombehas Thales Underwater Systems; and Tauntonpresently has the United Kingdom Hydrographic Officeand Avimo, which became part of Thales Optics. It has been announced twice, in 2006 and 2007, that manufacturing is to end at Thales Optics' Taunton site, [cite web |url=http://archive.thisisthewestcountry.co.uk/2006/11/9/70222.html |title=Shock at factory closure news |accessdate=2007-10-29 |format= |work=This is the West Country ] but the Trade Unionsand Taunton Deane District Council are working to reverse or mitigate these decisions. Bath has Ministry of Defence offices; and Norton Fitzwarrenis the home of 40 Commando. Other high-technology companies include the optics company Gooch and Housego, at Ilminster.
Agriculture and food and drink
Agriculture and food and drink production continue to be major industries in the county, employing over 15,000 people. Apple orchards were once plentiful, and Somerset is still a major producer of
cider. The towns of Taunton and Shepton Malletare involved with the production of cider, especially Blackthorn Cider, which is sold nationwide, and there are specialist producers such as Burrow Hill Cider Farmand Thatchers Cider. Gerber Products Companyin Bridgwater are the largest producer of fruit juices in Europe, producing brands such as 'Sunny Delight' and 'Ocean Spray'. Development of the milk-based industries, such as Yeo Valley Organic, has resulted in the production of ranges of desserts, yoghurts and cheeses, [cite web |url=http://www.burrows.co.uk/somerset/09WorM.htm |title=Mini profiles of the key industrial sectors in Somerset |accessdate=2007-10-26 |format= |work=Celebrating Somerset ] including Cheddar cheese– some of which has the "West Country Farmhouse Cheddar" PDO.
Towns such as
Castle Caryand Frome grew around the medieval weavingindustry. Street developed as a centre for the production of woollen slippers and, later, boots and shoes, with C&J Clarkestablishing its headquarters in the town. C&J Clark's shoes are no longer manufactured there as the work was transferred to lower-wage areas, such as Chinaand Asia. [cite web |url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/somerset/content/articles/2005/01/10/clarks_feature.shtml |title=Clarks ends shoemaking in Somerset |accessdate=2007-10-29 |format= |work=BBC Somerset ] Instead, in 1993, redundant factory buildings were converted to form Clarks Village, the first purpose built factory outlet in the UK. C&J Clark also had shoe factories, at one time at Bridgwater and Minehead, to provide employment outside of the main summer tourist season, but these satellite sites had been were closed, in the late 1980s, before the main site at Street. Dr. Martensshoes were also made in Somerset, by the Northampton-based R. Griggs Group, using redundant skilled shoemakers from C&J Clark; this work has also been transferred to Asia.
The county has a long tradition of supplying
freestoneand . Quarries at Doultingsupplied the freestone used in the construction of Wells Cathedral. Bath stoneis also widely used. Ralph Allenpromoted its use in the early 18th century, but it was used locally long before then. It was mined underground at Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines, and as a result of cutting the Box Tunnel, at various locations in Wiltshire, including Box.Hudson (1971). "The Fashionable Stone". Bath: Adams & Dart. ISBN 0-239-00066-8] Bezzant, Norman (1980). "Out of the Rock..". London: William Heinemann Ltd. ISBN 0-434-06900-0] Perkins, J.W., Brooks, A.T. and McR. Pearce, A.E. (1979). "Bath Stone: a quarry history". Cardiff: Department of Extra-mural Studies, University College Cardiff. ISBN 0-906230-26-8] Bath stone is still used today, on a reduced scale; but more often as a cladding, rather than a structural material.
Hamstoneis the colloquial name given to stone from Ham Hill, which is also widely used in the construction industry. Blue Liashas been used locally as a building stone; and as a raw material for lime mortarand Portland cement. Puritonup to the 1960s had Blue Lias stone quarries, as did several other Polden Villages. Its quarries also supplied a Lime mortar and Portland cement factory at Dunball, adjacent to the King's Sedgemoor Drain. Its derelict, early 20th century, remains were removed when the M5 motorwaywas constructed in the mid-1970s.(1998)."Images of England: Bridgwater (Complied from the collections at Admiral Blake Museum). Stroud: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-1049-0] Keinton Mandevillewas also heavily involved in quarrying; the village's quarries are now abandoned, but they are still remembered in the name of a Public House. Quarrying of blue lias is still undertaken at Charlton Mackrelland Charlton Adam.
Since the 1920s, the county has supplied aggregates.
Foster Yeomanis Europe's large supplier of limestoneaggregates, with quarries at Merehead Quarry. It has a dedicated railway operation, Mendip Rail, which is used to transport aggregates by rail from a group of Mendip quarries.
Much of the county is scenic and unspoilt. Tourism is a major industry, estimated in 2001 to support around 23,000 people.cite web | title=Employers in Somerset|work=Somerset Chamber of Commerce |url=http://www.somerset-chamber.co.uk/somerset_employers.htm|accessdate=2006-05-28] Attractions include the coastal towns, from the west to the north east,
Minehead, Watchet, Burnham-on-Sea, Weston-super-Mare, Clevedonand Portishead, with their various piers and beaches. Inland the county includes part of the Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset Railway(a heritage railway), and the museum of the Fleet Air Armat RNAS Yeovilton. The town of Glastonbury has mythical associations, and the annual open-air Glastonbury Festival(actually in Pilton), while the Cheddar Gorge has show caves open to visitors, as well as its locally produced cheese, although there is now only one cheese maker remaining in the village of Cheddar.
Regional gross value
Notes :ref label|Rounding|A|AComponents may not sum to totals due to rounding:ref label|Agriculture|B|BIncludes hunting and forestry:ref label|Industry|C|CIncludes energy and construction:ref label|Services|D|DIncludes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
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