Aerial photo of Pensford with the viaduct in the foreground
Pensford shown within Somerset
|OS grid reference|
|Unitary authority||Bath and North East Somerset|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Avon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||North East Somerset|
Pensford is a village in the civil parish of Publow and Pensford in Somerset, England. It lies in the Chew Valley 7 miles (11 km) south of Bristol and 8 miles (13 km) west of Bath. It is on the A37 road from Bristol to Shepton Mallet.
During the 19th and 20th centuries the main industry was coal mining, with Pensford and the surrounding area forming a major part of the Somerset coalfield. Pensford colliery opened in 1909 and closed in 1955.
The River Chew suffered a major flood in 1968 with serious damage to towns and villages along its route. The flood swept away the bridge over the A37 and damaged the railway viaduct so badly that it never reopened. On 10–11 July a storm brought heavy rainfall to the valley, with 175 millimetres (7 in) falling in 18 hours on Chew Stoke, double the area's average rainfall for the whole of July.
Government and politics 
Pensford and Publow has its own parish council which has some responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept (local rate) to cover the council’s operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny. The parish council evaluates local planning applications and works with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic. The parish council's role also includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of parish facilities, such as the village hall or community centre, playing fields and playgrounds, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also of interest to the council.
It is part of the Publow and Whitchurch Ward which is represented by one councillor on the Bath and North East Somerset Unitary Authority which was created in 1996, as established by the Local Government Act 1992. It provides a single tier of local government with responsibility for almost all local government functions within its area including local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection, recycling, cemeteries, crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism. It is also responsible for education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning, although fire, police and ambulance services are provided jointly with other authorities through the Avon Fire and Rescue Service, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and the Great Western Ambulance Service.
Bath and North East Somerset's area covers part of the ceremonial county of Somerset but it is administered independently of the non-metropolitan county. Its administrative headquarters is in Bath. Between 1 April 1974 and 1 April 1996, it was the Wansdyke district and the City of Bath of the county of Avon. Before 1974 that the parish was part of the Clutton Rural District.
The parish is represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom as part of North East Somerset. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. It is also part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.
According to the 2001 Census, the Publow and Whitchurch Ward (which includes Belluton and Publow), had 1,087 residents, living in 429 households, with an average age of 40.8 years. Of these 73% of residents describing their health as 'good', 24% of 16-74 year olds had no qualifications; and the area had an unemployment rate of 2.3% of all economically active people aged 16–74. In the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004, it was ranked at 26,408 out of 32,482 wards in England, where 1 was the most deprived LSOA and 32,482 the least deprived.
St Thomas A Beckett Church 
The St Thomas A Beckett Church is a Grade II* listed building and is currently on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register, following damage in a flood in 1968. During the 1980s an attempt was made to turn it into an arts centre but this was abandoned when the extent of the repairs required to make the building safe became clear. In 2007 the church was put on the market for redevelopment, and in 2008 purchased for repair and use as a private dwelling. The redevelopment of the church into a private dwelling was featured in Restoration Home (TV series).
The Lock-up 
Pensford has three pubs: the Travellers Rest, the Rising Sun, and the George and Dragon. During the 17th and 18th centuries Pensford was an important staging post for stage coaches which stopped at the George and Dragon and the Rising Sun. The George and Dragon dates from 1752 and is a Grade II listed Building.
Other Grade II listed buildings 
- 149 High Street at Images of England
- Bridge House at Images of England
- Bridge over the River Chew at Images of England
- Gill's G.V. Shoe Shop — Row of 6 cottages at Images of England
- 129-131 High Street at Images of England
- Old Bakery at Images of England
- Guy's Farm at Images of England
- Viaduct View at Images of England
For centuries Pensford has been an important crossing point on the River Chew. The modern road bridge was rebuilt in 1968 after flood damage, but the much older (1839–85) bridge, by the church, survived the flood.
On the western side of the village is a viaduct on the disused Bristol and North Somerset Railway, built in 1873 but closed to trains in 1968 after the great flood of Pensford, after which it was deemed unsafe. The last passenger train had been earlier: the 9:25 a.m. from Frome to Bristol on 31 October 1959; after that there were only goods trains (mainly bringing coal from Radstock), which ceased in 1964, and very occasional excursion trains. Pensford viaduct is 995 feet (303 m) long, reaches a maximum height of 95 feet (29 m) to rail level and consists of sixteen arches. The viaduct is now a Grade II listed building.
Surrounding Area 
Famous residents 
- "Pensford Conservation Area Character Appraisal". Bath and North East Somerset Council. Archived from the original on 2008-04-13. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- Robinson, Stephen (1992). Somerset Place Names. Wimborne, Dorset: The Dovecote Press Ltd. ISBN 1-874336-03-2.
- "Somerset Hundreds". GENUKI. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
- Hare, J.N. (22 January 2003). "Growth and recession in the fifteenth-century economy: the Wiltshire textile industry and the countryside". The Economic History Review 52 (1): 1–26. doi:10.1111/1468-0289.00116.
- Tincey, John (2005). Sedgemoor 1685: Marlborough's first victory. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Books. p. 61. ISBN 978-1844151479.
- Down, C.G.; A. J. Warrington (2005). The history of the Somerset coalfield. Radstock: Radstock Museum. ISBN 978-0-9551684-0-6.
- "The great flood of 1968". Memories of Bristol. Archived from the original on 2006-05-02. Retrieved 2006-01-04.
- Richley, Rob (June 2008). The Chew Valley floods of 1968. Exeter: Environment Agency.
- "The Avon (Structural Change) Order 1995". HMSO. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
- A Vision of Britain Through Time : Clutton Rural District
- "Somerset North East: New Boundaries Calculation". Electoral Calculus: General Election Prediction. Retrieved 2007-09-19.
- "Neighbourhood Statistics LSOA Bath and North East Somerset 020D Publow and Whitchurch". Office for National Statistics 2001 Cenusus. Retrieved 2006-04-25.
- "St Thomas A Beckett Church". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
- "St Thomas A Beckett Church". English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- "For Sale — Pensford Church". Chew Valley Gazette. October 2007.
- "Church sold". Mendip Times. May 2008.
- Mason, Edmund J. & Mason, Doreen (1982). Avon Villages. Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN 0-7091-9585-0.
- "Pensford Lock up". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
- "George and Dragon". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
- "Pensford". United Kingdom National Inventory of War memorials. Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
- Durham, I. & M. (1991). Chew Magna and the Chew Valley in old photographs. Redcliffe Press. ISBN 1-872971-61-X.
- Janes, Rowland (ed) (1987). The Natural History of the Chew Valley. ISBN 0-9545125-2-9.
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