Blandford town centre
Blandford Forum shown within Dorset
|OS grid reference|
|- London||118 miles (190 km)|
|Civil parish||Blandford Forum|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||BLANDFORD FORUM|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||North Dorset|
Blandford Forum (/ / 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. In the 2011 Census the town had a population of 11,694.  Blandford is the administrative headquarters of North Dorset District Council. Blandford Camp, a military base, is sited on the hills a mile to the east of the town.
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, meaning ford of the river of blay, or bleak (Alburnus alburnus). By the 13th century it had become an important market town with a livestock market serving the nearby Blackmore Vale with its many dairy farms. The Latin word Forum, meaning market, was recorded in 1540. 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
Blandford Forum is often given as an example of a Georgian town, as the entire centre was rebuilt at once 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.
To the south of the town a six arch stone bridge spans the River Stour.
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). 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, of whom 96.5% were White British. 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. The 2009 mid-year population estimate is 9,200. Unemployment varied between 0.5% and 2.3% between 1997 and 2009. 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
North Dorset District Council employs a large number of residents. Other employers in nearby parishes are the Hall & Woodhouse (Badger) Brewery, which supplies beer to public houses across the region, Tesco and Morrisons.
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.
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.
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 specialist technology college lying in the West of Blandford; the School also has a sixth form.
Sport and leisure
- Census, 2011, http://www.lovemytown.co.uk/Populations/TownsTable1.asp
- "It took a major fire and a pair of Bastards to give Blandford Forum the Georgian flavour for which it is celebrated." http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/house-and-home/property/hot-spot-blandford-forum-dorset-573830.html
- OED, s.v. "blay".
- Mills, A. D., 1986. Dorset Place Names. Ensign, Southampton.
- Betjeman, John, ed. (1968) Collins Pocket Guide to English Parish Churches; the South. London: Collins; p. 172
- "Blandford". dorsetforyou.com. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
- "Destinations > Europe > England > The South > Places to Explore > Blandford Forum". Travel Intelligence. Fodor's. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
- 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."
- 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."
- "Blandford Fly". North Dorset Council. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
- "The Blandford Fly". BBC. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- "Dorset Twinning Association List". The Dorset Twinning Association. Archived from the original on 2013-06-21. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
- "British towns twinned with French towns [via WaybackMachine.com]". Archant Community Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
- Blandford Forum Information at Dorset County Council (pdf) - Accessed January 2006
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