Blandford Forum

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Blandford Forum
Blandford Forum.jpg
Blandford town centre
Blandford Forum is located in Dorset
Blandford Forum
Blandford Forum
 Blandford Forum shown within Dorset
Population 11,694 [1]
OS grid reference ST886069
   – London  118 miles (190 km) 
Civil parish Blandford Forum
District North Dorset
Shire county Dorset
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district DT11
Dialling code 01258
Police Dorset
Fire Dorset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament North Dorset
List of places

Coordinates: 50°51′22″N 2°09′53″W / 50.856°N 2.1648°W / 50.856; -2.1648

Blandford Forum (/ˈblænfəd ˈfɔərəm/ BLAN(D)-fərd FOHR-əm), commonly Blandford, is a market town on the River Stour in Dorset, England. The town is noted for its Georgian architecture.[2] In the 2011 census the town had a population of 11,694.[1] Blandford is the administrative headquarters of North Dorset District Council. Blandford Camp, a military base, is sited on the hills two miles to the north east of the town.


Blandford is situated between Cranborne Chase and the Dorset Downs, at the south eastern corner of the Blackmore Vale, 24 km (15 mi) northwest of Poole and 35 km (22 mi) southwest of Salisbury.


Blandford has been a fording point since Anglo-Saxon times, when it was recorded as Blaen-y-ford and as Blaneford in the Domesday Book. The name Blandford derives from the Old English blǣge, and probably means ford where gudgeon or blay are found.[3][4] By the 13th century it had become an important market town[citation needed] with a livestock market serving the nearby Blackmore Vale with its many dairy farms. The Latin word Forum, meaning market, was recorded in 1540.[5] It was an important break on the journey between the port of Weymouth and the capital London. There is still a weekly outdoor market and a bi-weekly indoor market held in the Corn Exchange[citation needed]

In 1731 much of the town was destroyed in a fire. John and William Bastard rebuilt the town over the following 30 years and the town centre features Georgian architecture from the 1730s to 1760s.

The "Corn Exchange" (town hall)
Church of St. Peter and St. Paul


Blandford Forum is often given as an example of a Georgian town, as the entire centre was rebuilt in the 18th century, due to the fire of 1731, and is hence uniformly Georgian. All façades remain in fair to good condition, and notable buildings include the Corn Exchange, and the 1732 parish church of St Peter and St Paul, a classical building with a cupola on top of the tower. The interior remains relatively unaffected by Victorian interference and retains its galleries, font, pulpit, box-pews and mayoral seat. In 1893 the church was enlarged by moving the apsidal sanctuary out on rollers onto new foundations and building a new chancel behind it.[6]

To the south of the town a six arch stone bridge spans the River Stour.


There are five electoral wards mentioning Blandford, (Damory Down, Hilltop, Langton St. Leonards, Old Town and Station). All these wards appear to be confined within the town. Their total population was 9,983 at the 2011 Census.

Blandford Forum falls within the North Dorset (UK Parliament constituency).


Five district electoral wards (Blandford Damory Down, Blandford Hilltop, Blandford Langton St.Leonards, Blandford Old Town and Blandford Station) comprise the town and parish of Blandford Forum, with a built-up area totalling 310 hectares (770 acres).[7] Census returns for the town show that it had a population of less than 4,000 until 1981, after which it increased rapidly; in the 2001 Census, the town had 4,524 dwellings and a population of 8,760,[7] of whom 96.5% were White British.[7] Some of the population increase however can be accounted for by a boundary change which incorporated housing estates that already existed but were previously within a different parish (Pimperne) on the town's northern side.[citation needed] The 2009 mid-year population estimate is 9,200.[7] Unemployment varied between 0.5% and 2.3% between 1997 and 2009.[7] Census figures for the town are shown in the table below:

Census 1931 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 3,370 3,670 3,570 3,650 3,920 7,850 8,760


Almshouses at the top end of town

North Dorset District Council employs a number of residents. Other employers in nearby parishes are the Hall & Woodhouse (Badger) Brewery, which supplies beer to public houses and shops across the region.

Blandford Camp is 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) north east of the town and has long been home to the Royal Corps of Signals, the communications wing of the British Army. The base incorporates a modern technology training college plus a cinema for military personnel, and the National Signals Museum – a museum of items relating to the history of the Royal Signals since its inception, which is open to the public. The museum contains many items of interest including uniforms, medals, signals equipment, and an Enigma cryptographic machine, used to produce German high level ciphers during World War 2 but cracked by the Allies.

There are a number of busy industrial estates (with, for example, builder's supply yards) on the bypass road to the North-East of Blandford.

The early 21st century saw a number of private housing development projects in and around Blandford. These developments were built with traditional architectural styles.[citation needed]

A Georgian Fayre is held in the first week of May every other year in the town centre and attracts thousands of visitors. The Fayre combines Georgian celebrations with cultural presentations, stalls, and a fun fair on the meadows along the banks of the Stour.

In August 2014 it was announced that the 190 metres (620 ft) high Iron Age hill fort Hambledon Hill, near the town, had been bought by the National Trust. money to buy the hill had come from a Natural England grant and from a legacy gift left to benefit Dorset countryside.[8]



The town lies at the junction of the A350 and A354 main roads but is skirted by an eastern bypass. The main road running through the town is the B3082, connecting Blandford Forum to Wimborne Minster. Buses run from the town to locations including Poole, Bournemouth, Salisbury and Shaftesbury with the primary operator being Wilts & Dorset.


The town is 15 miles (24 km) from Bournemouth Airport.


The town is 15 miles (24 km) from Poole railway station.

From 1860 to 1964, Blandford Forum was an important stop on the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway, which ran from Bath to Bournemouth, until the line closed to passengers in 1966. Located between Templecombe and Broadstone, the railway was still open until the closure of the Blandford's goods yard in 1969, after which the track was lifted. The station was immortalised in 1964 in the song "Slow Train" by Flanders and Swann.


Blandford Forum has two primary schools, Archbishop Wake and Milldown schools. A new Archbishop Wake school, built on the old St Leonards Middle School site at the bottom of Black Lane, opened in November 2008. The other feeder schools for The Blandford School are Blandford St Mary, Downlands, Dunbury and Durweston, Pimperne, and Spetisbury Primary Schools. Pupils move at the age of 11 to The Blandford School, which is a secondary school lying in the West of Blandford; the school also has a sixth form.

A number of independent schools are also located near Blandford, such as Bryanston School, Canford School, Clayesmore School, Hanford School, Knighton House School and Milton Abbey School.

Sport and leisure[edit]

Blandford Forum has a Non-League football club Blandford United F.C. who play at Blandford Recreation Ground. BFBS Radio broadcasts across Blandford on 89.3FM from a studio at the military base as part of its UK Bases network.


In 1590, Edmund Spenser mentioned the Stoure flowing through the town in The Faerie Queene.[9]

Blandford features in Thomas Hardy's novels as the Wessex town of Shottesford Forum.[10]

Blandford Forum railway station which is now gone — the train line to Blandford was removed in the 1960s — was mentioned in the song Slow Train by Flanders and Swann.[11]

Natural history[edit]

An unpleasant local resident is the Blandford fly (Simulium posticatum), a biting insect. In recent years the weed beds in the river have been sprayed to reduce numbers.[12][13]

Twin towns[edit]

Blandford Forum is twinned with:[14]


  1. ^ a b "All UK Towns & Cities in Population Order (2011 Census)". 
  2. ^ "It took a major fire and a pair of Bastards to give Blandford Forum the Georgian flavour for which it is celebrated."
  3. ^ David Mills, ed. (2011). A Dictionary of British Place Names. Oxford University Press. p. 62. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  4. ^ OED, s.v. "blay".
  5. ^ Mills, A. D., 1986. Dorset Place Names. Ensign, Southampton.
  6. ^ Betjeman, John, ed. (1968) Collins Pocket Guide to English Parish Churches; the South. London: Collins; p. 172
  7. ^ a b c d e "Blandford". Retrieved 2013-05-28. 
  8. ^ "BBC News - Hambledon Hill fort in Dorset acquired by National Trust for £450,000". 7 August 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  9. ^ Spenser, Edmund (1590), The Faerie Queene: Book 4: Canto XI, retrieved 30 March 2013, And there came Stoure with terrible aspect, Bearing his sixe deformed heads on hye, That doth his course through Blandford plains direct, And washeth Winborne meades in season drye. 
  10. ^ "Destinations > Europe > England > The South > Places to Explore > Blandford Forum". Travel Intelligence. Fodor's. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Flanders, Michael; Swann, Donald (1963), Slow Train, retrieved 30 March 2013, No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortehoe, On the slow train from Midsomer Norton and Mumby Road. 
  12. ^ "Blandford Fly". North Dorset Council. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  13. ^ "The Blandford Fly". BBC. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c "Dorset Twinning Association List". The Dorset Twinning Association. Archived from the original on 2013-06-21. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  15. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns [via]". Archant Community Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 

External links[edit]