North Somerset

North Somerset is a name used in the Watsonian vice-county system to refer to a much larger area.
North Somerset
unitary authority area

Stone building with colonnaded entrance. Above is a clock tower.

Weston-super-Mare Town Hall

North Somerset shown in Somerset
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region South West England
Ceremonial county Somerset
Admin HQ Weston-super-Mare
Created 1 April 1996
  Type Unitary Authority
  Leader Nigel Ashton
  Council Conservative
  MPs: John Penrose C, Liam Fox C
  Total 144.66 sq mi (374.68 km2)
Population (mid-2014 est.)
  Total 208,154 (Ranked 80th)
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
  Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
ISO 3166 code GB-NSM

North Somerset is a unitary authority area in England. Its area covers part of the ceremonial county of Somerset but it is administered independently of the non-metropolitan county. Its administrative headquarters is in the town hall in Weston-super-Mare.

North Somerset borders the local government areas of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, Mendip and Sedgemoor. North Somerset contains the parliamentary constituencies of Weston-super-Mare and North Somerset.


Between 1 April 1974 and 31 March 1996, it was the Woodspring district of the county of Avon (named after Woodspring Priory, an isolated mediaeval church near the coast just north east of Weston-super-Mare). The district of Woodspring was formed from the municipal boroughs of Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon and Portishead urban districts, Long Ashton Rural District, and part of Axbridge Rural District.

Though the government proposed that the new unitary area be known as "North West Somerset" from 1 April 1996,[1] the council voted instead to adopt the name "North Somerset" and so the name "North West Somerset" was never widely used. There remained some legal doubt as to whether the council had validly changed the name to "North Somerset",[2] but in 2005 the council passed a resolution to put the matter beyond doubt.[3]


North Somerset unitary council is elected every four years, with currently 61 councillors being elected at each election. Since the first election to the unitary authority in 1995, the council has either been under Conservative party control, or no party has held a majority. Most recently the Conservatives gained a majority at the 2007 election, and as of the 2011 election the council is composed of the following councillors:[4]

Party Councillors
Conservative Party 42
Independent 7
Liberal Democrats 6
Labour Party 5
Green Party 1

Settlements and communications

The principal towns in the district are the coastal towns of Weston-super-Mare, Portishead and Clevedon and the commuter town Nailsea.

Places of interest

North Somerset's natural environment and coastal towns attract visitors from the nearby cities. Notable geographical features include:

The district is noted for the religious buildings at:


Image Name Status Population Former local authority Coordinates Refs
Stone building with prominent three stage square tower. In the foreground is a grass area and road separated from the church by a stone wall. Abbots Leigh Civil parish 799Long Ashton Rural District 51°28′N 2°39′W / 51.46°N 2.65°W / 51.46; -2.65 (Abbots Leigh) [5][6]
Road signs with Backwell in black writing on white background and below it another sign saying village of the year South West and Wales regional winner 1997. Backwell Civil parish 4,589 Long Ashton Rural District 51°25′N 2°44′W / 51.41°N 2.73°W / 51.41; -2.73 (Backwell) [5][6]
Stone building with slit windows and battlements. Foreground is road with grass verges. Banwell Civil parish 2,919 Axbridge Rural District 51°19′N 2°52′W / 51.32°N 2.86°W / 51.32; -2.86 (Banwell) [5][7]
Water contained within stone walls to the right of road. In the background stone house with red roof. Barrow Gurney Civil parish 349 Long Ashton Rural District 51°24′N 2°40′W / 51.40°N 2.67°W / 51.40; -2.67 (Barrow Gurney) [5][6]
Church tower surrounded by trees with water in the background. Blagdon Civil parish 1,116 Axbridge Rural District 51°20′N 2°43′W / 51.33°N 2.72°W / 51.33; -2.72 (Blagdon) [5][7]
Square three stage stone tower. To the right is a building with a white wall and in the foreground a parked car. Bleadon Civil parish 1,079 Axbridge Rural District 51°19′N 2°56′W / 51.31°N 2.94°W / 51.31; -2.94 (Bleadon) [5][7]
Brown field being ploughed by multiple red tractors. In the background it a hill with trees. Brockley Civil parish 277 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°46′W / 51.39°N 2.76°W / 51.39; -2.76 (Brockley, Somerset) [5][6]
Stone building with arched windows and a square tower. Burrington Civil parish 464 Axbridge Rural District 51°20′N 2°44′W / 51.33°N 2.74°W / 51.33; -2.74 (Burrington, Somerset) [5][7]
Stone building with arched windows and a square tower. Butcombe Civil parish 218 Axbridge Rural District 51°21′N 2°41′W / 51.35°N 2.69°W / 51.35; -2.69 (Butcombe) [5][7]
Multiple houses mostly with red roofs seen in a valley between the vegetation in the foreground and the hills beyond.Churchill Civil parish 2,235 Axbridge Rural District 51°20′N 2°47′W / 51.33°N 2.79°W / 51.33; -2.79 (Churchill, Somerset) [5][7]
Red brick building with tall chimneys. In the foreground is an arched gateway. Clapton in Gordano Civil parish 348 Long Ashton Rural District 51°28′N 2°45′W / 51.46°N 2.75°W / 51.46; -2.75 (Clapton in Gordano) [5][6]
Stone building with arched windows and central square tower.In the foreground are trees and a road. Cleeve Civil parish 902 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°46′W / 51.39°N 2.77°W / 51.39; -2.77 (Cleeve, Somerset) [5][6]
Metal pier standing on thin legs rising from the sea. Beach in the foreground Clevedon Town 21,281 Clevedon Urban District 51°26′N 2°51′W / 51.43°N 2.85°W / 51.43; -2.85 (Clevedon) [5][8]
Roofs of houses showing amongst tree with prominent church tower. In the foreground are green fields with hills behind. Congresbury Civil parish 3,497 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°49′W / 51.37°N 2.81°W / 51.37; -2.81 (Congresbury) [5][7]
Yellow stone church tower above other buildings of the same stone.In the foreground is a grassy field with cows. Dundry Civil parish 829 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°38′W / 51.39°N 2.64°W / 51.39; -2.64 (Dundry) [5][6]
Street sign with the words Welcome to Easton in Gordano & Pill. Easton in Gordano Civil parish 4,828 Long Ashton Rural District 51°29′N 2°41′W / 51.48°N 2.69°W / 51.48; -2.69 (Easton in Gordano) [5][6]
Three stage square stone church tower on the left. Red painted building on the right and a rainbow. Flax Bourton Civil parish 715 Long Ashton Rural District 51°25′N 2°43′W / 51.42°N 2.71°W / 51.42; -2.71 (Flax Bourton) [5][6]
Stone cross, with red wreaths, separated from a building behind by metal railings. Hutton Civil parish 2,582 Axbridge Rural District 51°19′N 2°56′W / 51.32°N 2.93°W / 51.32; -2.93 (Hutton, Somerset) [5][7]
Stone church with square tower in the background partially obscured by trees. To the left is a pink painted house with red roof and in the foreground a car and grass area. Kenn Civil parish 431 Long Ashton Rural District 51°25′N 2°50′W / 51.42°N 2.84°W / 51.42; -2.84 (Kenn, Somerset) [5][6]
Square stone tower and red roofed buildings behind a stone wall and partially obscured by trees. Kewstoke Civil parish 1,690 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°58′W / 51.37°N 2.96°W / 51.37; -2.96 (Kewstoke) [5][7]
Street scene with area between two roads containing trees and stone column behind a white fence. Kingston Seymour Civil parish 388 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°52′W / 51.39°N 2.86°W / 51.39; -2.86 (Kingston Seymour) [5][6]
Locking Civil parish 2,756 Axbridge Rural District 51°20′N 2°55′W / 51.33°N 2.91°W / 51.33; -2.91 (Locking, North Somerset) [5][7]
Yellow painted building fronting the road is nearest the camera. In the background is the square stone tower. Long Ashton Civil parish 6,044 Long Ashton Rural District 51°26′N 2°39′W / 51.43°N 2.65°W / 51.43; -2.65 (Long Ashton) [5][6]
The houses and church of a small village can be seen in the bottom left of the picture. It is surrounded by a patchwork of fields with some trees on a hillside. Large hills in the distance. Loxton Civil parish 192 Axbridge Rural District 51°17′N 2°53′W / 51.29°N 2.89°W / 51.29; -2.89 (Loxton, North Somerset) [5][7]
lots of house roofs, with trees and grass in the foreground and hills in the distance. Nailsea Town 15,630 Long Ashton Rural District 51°26′N 2°46′W / 51.43°N 2.76°W / 51.43; -2.76 (Nailsea) [5][6]
Square stone tower behind churchyard with cross and gravestones. Portbury Civil parish 827 Long Ashton Rural District 51°28′N 2°43′W / 51.47°N 2.72°W / 51.47; -2.72 (Portbury) [5][6]
Multiple buildings including terraces, detached houses and blocks of flats. In the foreground are fields and in the background water and then hills.Portishead and North Weston Town 23,699 Long Ashton Rural District
Portishead Urban District
51°29′N 2°46′W / 51.48°N 2.77°W / 51.48; -2.77 (Portishead and North Weston) [5][6]
Low building with tiled roof and non-vertical square tower, surrounded by trees and with grass in the foreground. Puxton Civil parish 359 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°51′W / 51.37°N 2.85°W / 51.37; -2.85 (Puxton) [5][7]
White fronted shop with sign saying St Georges News St Georges Civil parish 3,379 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°54′W / 51.36°N 2.90°W / 51.36; -2.90 (St. Georges, North Somerset) [5][7]
Stone church view from a low angle. The church has a simple tower and there are gravestones in the churchyard surrounding it Tickenham Civil parish 910 Axbridge Rural District 51°26′N 2°48′W / 51.44°N 2.80°W / 51.44; -2.80 (Tickenham) [5][7]
The markings on a road junction around a tree are visible in the foreground, in front of a small shop with Christmas decorations in the window. A red K8 model telephone box and a red post box built into a wall are to the left. Walton in Gordano Civil parish 273 Axbridge Rural District 51°27′N 2°50′W / 51.45°N 2.83°W / 51.45; -2.83 (Walton in Gordano) [5][7]
Stone building with arched windows and square tower. In the foreground is a grass area with gravestones. Weston in Gordano Civil parish 301 Axbridge Rural District 51°28′N 2°47′W / 51.46°N 2.79°W / 51.46; -2.79 (Weston in Gordano) [5][7]
Multiple houses and other buildings around a bay into which a pier projects. On the background are hills. Weston super Mare Town 76,143 Axbridge Rural District
Weston super Mare Municipal Borough
51°21′N 2°58′W / 51.35°N 2.97°W / 51.35; -2.97 (Weston-super-Mare) [5][7]
Stone steps up to a stone shaft which would once have had a cross at the top. To the left are yellow painted houses. To the right is an old stone church with a square tower partially obscured by trees. Wick St Lawrence Civil parish 1,331 Axbridge Rural District 51°23′N 2°55′W / 51.38°N 2.91°W / 51.38; -2.91 (Wick St. Lawrence) [5][7]
Stone building with tiled roof. Sign saying Prince of Waterloo. In the foreground are tables, benches and planters. Winford Civil parish 2,153 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°40′W / 51.38°N 2.66°W / 51.38; -2.66 (Winford) [5][6]
Street scene with houses and shops on both side of road on which there is a tractor. Winscombe and Sandford Civil parish 4,546 Axbridge Rural District 51°19′N 2°50′W / 51.31°N 2.83°W / 51.31; -2.83 (Winscombe and Sandford) [5][7]
Stone building with square tower. In the foreground are gravestones. Wraxall and Failand Civil parish 2,302 Long Ashton Rural District 51°26′N 2°44′W / 51.44°N 2.73°W / 51.44; -2.73 (Wraxall and Failand) [5][6]
Street scene showing shops and houses with cars. Wrington Civil parish 2,633Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°46′W / 51.36°N 2.76°W / 51.36; -2.76 (Wrington) [5][7]
Row of shops in pedestrianised precinct. In the foreground a bus shelter and tree. Yatton Civil parish 7,552 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°50′W / 51.39°N 2.83°W / 51.39; -2.83 (Yatton) [5][6]


North Somerset's economy is traditionally based on agriculture, including sheep raised for wool on the Mendip Hills and dairy farming in the valleys. This is celebrated at the annual North Somerset Show. During the Georgian era tourism became a significant economic sector in the coastal towns, most notably Weston-super-Mare which grew from a small village to a large resort town. Though tourism declined in the mid to late-20th century, in common with most British coastal resorts, this sector of the economy has stabilised.

In the 19th century the major port city of Bristol found that modern ships had outgrown the narrow river approach and the Port of Bristol company began seeking locations for new docks on the coast. The first of these was Portishead Dock, which handled coal from South Wales, though this too has seen shipping outgrow its facilities. The newer Royal Portbury Dock is noted for the large volume of car imports.

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of North and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire at current basic prices (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling. [9]

Year Regional Gross Value Added1 Agriculture2 Industry3 Services4
1995 5,916 125 1,919 3,872
2000 8,788 86 2,373 6,330
2003 10,854 67 2,873 7,914

^1 Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
^2 includes hunting and forestry
^3 includes energy and construction
^4 includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured


North Somerset compared
UK Census 2001 North Somerset UA[10] South West England[11] England[11]
Total population188,5644,928,43449,138,831
Foreign born9.5%9.4%9.2%
No religion16.6%16.8%15%
Over 75 years old9.9%9.3%7.5%

North Somerset covers an area of around 145 square miles (380 km2) and has a resident population of 193,000 (1.4% BME) living in 85,000 households.[12]

The population of North Somerset has doubled since the 1950s and is predicted to rise by 6,184 or 3.0% to 2011 and by 17% to 2026. Whilst the proportion of people in North Somerset who are under 45 is lower than the national average, population growth is predicted to be strongest in the 2034 age group. Conversely North Somerset has a 4.2% higher percentage of older people (60+ female, 65+ male) than the rest of England and Wales. This disparity increases with age with the percentage of the population over 75 years almost 30% higher than the national average, resulting in a relatively aged population.[13]

In 2001 there were 134,132 people of working age living in North Somerset and 91,767 were in employment; an economic activity rate of 68.4%. This is very close to the economic activity rate of the West of England sub-region which was 68.8% in the 2001 census.[12]

The 2001 census stated that 1.38% of North Somerset residents identified themselves as belonging to a visible ethnic group and a further 1.27% identified themselves as 'white other'.[14]

Population since 1801[15]
Year 1801 1851 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population North Somerset[16] 16,670 33,774 60,066 68,410 75,276 82,833 91,967 102,119 119,509 139,924 160,353 179,865 188,556


The Unitary Authority of North Somerset, provides support for 78 schools, delivering education to approximately 28,000 pupils.[17]

Weston College is the main provider of further education in the area. University Centre Weston offers higher education courses in conjunction with Bath Spa University and the University of the West of England.

See also


  1. "Article 4 of the Avon (Structural Change) Order 1995 (SI 1995/493)". 28 February 1995. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  2. "Report to the Executive". 14 June 2005. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  3. "Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Council". 28 June 2005. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  4. "England council elections". BBC News Online. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 "2011 Census Profile" (Excel). North Somerset Council. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 "Long Ashton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 "Axbridge RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  8. "Clevedon UD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  9. "Regional Gross Value Added" (PDF). National Statistics. 21 December 2005. Retrieved 3 June 2007.
  10. United Kingdom Census 2001 (2001). "Key Figures for 2001 Census: Census Area Statistics: Area: North Somerset". Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  11. 1 2 United Kingdom Census 2001 (2001). "Key Figures for 2001 Census: Census Area Statistics: Area: Bath and North East Somerset". Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  12. 1 2 "Local Area Agreement for North Somerset 2007–2010". North Somerset Partnership. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  13. "Culture, Leisure and Tourism and Topic Paper" (PDF). North Somerset Core Strategy document. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  14. "North Somerset Council Race Equality Scheme 2007–2010" (Word). North Somerset Council. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  15. A Vision of Britain through Time
  16. "North Somerset: Total Population". A Vision of Britain Through Time. Great Britain Historical GIS Project. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  17. "Schools". North Somerset. Retrieved 19 December 2008.
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