Our town Midsomer Norton
PUBLISHED: 11:35 02 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:38 20 February 2013
The people of Midsomer Norton take Sarah Ford on a tour of their town – <br/><br/>from the pretty platform of a renovated railway station to the studios of their <br/><br/>very own community radio
The people of Midsomer Norton take Sarah Ford on a tour of their town
from the pretty platform of a renovated railway station to the studios of their very own community radio. Photos by Denise Violet
The population of Midsomer Norton and its twin town of Radstock totals around 21,600, making it the second largest urban area in Bath & North East Somerset. Once standing at the heart of Somersets coalfield, the towns provide a range of facilities for those living in the surrounding parishes.
Planners are now looking to the future and the people of Midsomer Norton are currently being given a say in the future development of their town centre. This summer, an exhibition has offered locals the chance to give their views on draft proposals for the next
20 years. The plans, developed by
Bath & North East Somerset Council,
in partnership with the Midsomer Forum, aim to create new job opportunities by providing new office accommodation and a more vibrant High Street that attracts more national high street stores.
The towns forum has been working with the council for over a year and has been excited about the prospect of giving local people the opportunity to shape their community.
Meanwhile, youngsters have been celebrating the opening of the new Somer Valley Adventure Play Park and Skate Park part of a 2.5million investment into play across the area to improve opportunities for children and young people.
Everyone is very welcoming and knowledgeable, and customers are offered tea and biscuits
Midsomer Norton has many independent shops, some of them long-standing family businesses, according to Denise Violet. One of her favourite places is Midsomer Quilting, where she is able to browse more than 2,000 fabrics for her dressmaking and soft furnishings.
Its like a little escape from the world, she explains. Everyone is very welcoming and knowledgeable, and customers are offered tea and biscuits. The fabrics are amazing probably the largest range in the South West and readers of British Patchwork & Quilting magazine voted this the UKs favourite quilt shop. Midsomer Quilting is open Frid to Mon; www.midsomerQ.com
Midsomer Norton is an old mining village and the railway played a big part in this area
Chef Stephen Shore moved his famous Moody Goose restaurant from Bath to Midsomer Norton in the lovely surroundings of The Old Priory Hotel, which dates back to the 12th century. Guests staying here enjoy visits to Bath, Wells and Bristol or take it easy with a stroll or cycle along the nearby track.
The old Somerset and Dorset railway line is a nice walk, says Stephen. You can get to Kilmersdon and eventually Frome. Midsomer Norton is an old mining village and the railway played a big part in this area. I think they are doing a good job of refurbishing the old train station. 01761 416784; www.moodygoose.co.uk
There is something for all ages to do and there is always something going on...
Some 300 people work on the Mulberry factory site in neighbouring Chilcompton, making the British fashion label the areas largest employer. Leather cutter Nathan Merrigan was on Mulberrys successful apprentice scheme. He grew up in Midsomer Norton and says the area has much to offer, from jobs to sporting opportunities at the various clubs, sports centres and play areas.
Young people have been waiting a long time for the new skate park and the council has put a lot of money and effort into it, says Nathan. I would say there is something for all ages to do and there is always something going on around Midsomer Norton. Many of the places
to eat out within a 10-mile radius are family orientated.
It has always been my belief that we can make quality radio from a volunteer base
Somer Valley FM, a Midsomer Norton-based community radio station, offers training to young people, the unemployed and the disadvantaged. There is no other broadcaster focussing on this area, says Station Manager Dom Chambers, who describes the launch of its new breakfast show as an exciting development.
It is notoriously difficult for community radio stations to carry a breakfast show. It has always been my belief that we can make quality radio from a volunteer base. I am confident that the team have the talent and energy.
For young people over 18 there is a good atmosphere in Midsomer Norton
The radio station grew out of a project at Somervale School, where Vikki Hutton was a student before spending much of her gap year with Somer Valley 97.5FM.
There is a healthy relationship between the three main secondary schools and they are active within the community, explains Vikki. For young people over 18 there is a good atmosphere in Midsomer Norton. We have a few pubs which cater for different tastes and a nightclub called Fat Sams.
We have two museums here, the station building, a buffet coach, signal box, goods shed and we are rebuilding the green house
Shirley Steel is a councillor for the unitary authority and a leading light in the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust. Born and bred in Midsomer Norton, she saw the importance of saving and renovating the former railway station, which is now a successful tourist attraction looked after by 40 volunteers.
We have two museums here, the station building, a buffet coach, signal box, goods shed and we are rebuilding the green house, explains Shirley, who says the neighbouring nature reserve is also enjoyed by local people and schools.
The station in Silver Street is open on Sun and Mon, and during Heritage Week on 11 and 12 September.
01761 411221; www.sdjr.co.uk