12 things you probably never knew about North Somerset
- Credit: Archant
From its numerous historic buildings to its famous cider, there’s much more to North Somerset than meets the eye
1 Comedian, actor, writer and ‘Save Birnbeck Pier’ campaigner, John Cleese was born in Weston-Super-Mare in 1939.
2 There are 400 different varieties of cider apples grown in Somerset. And in 2010 North Somerset cider farm, Thatcher’s, added 10,000 new trees to its 380 acres of Sandford orchards.
3 Very little of what’s called Nailsea Glass today is authentic. And even when it is the real thing, it won’t have been made officially by Nailsea Glassworks. Most of the traditional, decorative pieces like canes and rolling pins were produced by workers, after-hours, for some extra cash.
4 Tyntesfield House’s chapel was built as an almost exact replica of Saint-Chapelle in Paris, but consecration was refused because it was felt Lord Wraxall already had too much power locally – a famous teetotaller, he even bought Tyntesfield’s local pub to keep it under control.
5 There are more than 11,000 listed buildings, 523 ancient monuments, 41 parks and gardens, 36 English Heritage sites and 19 National Trust sites in Somerset. North Somerset alone, has one of only two Grade 1 listed piers in England, Clevedon Pier, and over 13 known Iron Age settlements and forts.
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6 Clifton Observatory overlooking the Avon Gorge has one of only two Camera Obscura in England open to the public.
7 Clifton Suspension Bridge is, and always will be, associated with Isambard Kingdom Brunel. But, although the bridge is based on his original plans, the final design is attributed to William Henry Barlow and John Hawkshaw and work wasn’t completed until 1864, 5 year’s after Brunel’s death.
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8 The Bristol Channel has the second highest tidal range in the world.
9 The Bristol Channel’s landmark islands, Flat Holm and Steep Holm, might look like close neighbours. But Steep Holm is in North Somerset and Flat Holm is in Wales.
10 The niche music genre ‘Scrumpy and Western’ started in North Somerset. It’s founding father, Adge Cutler of the Wurzels, was born in Portishead and grew up in nearby Nailsea – technically making the town the Nashville of North Somerset.
11 Birnbeck Pier in Weston-Super-Mare is the only English pier to link the mainland to an island – Birnbeck Island.
12 Watercress Farm in Wraxall has the only remaining, working watermill on the Land Yeo, a river that runs from Dundry Hill to Clevedon.
13 North Somerset’s coveted 19th century Eltonware was originally produced at Clevedon Court’s Sunflower Pottery and at the height of its fame was only available in the US at Tiffany & Co.