World class glass with a drop o' cider
Nailsea and Backwell are about seven and eight miles south west of Bristol and straddle the Bristol to Exeter railway line, on which they share a station.
Little is known of Nailsea before the coal mining industry began, although there was a sandstone quarry in Roman times. Near Backwell is evidence of an Iron Age fort.
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Nailsea's early economy relied on coal mining from the 16th century. By the late 1700s the town had a large number of pits and the social reformer Hannah More founded a Sunday school for the workers.
The Elms Colliery, (Middle Engine Pit), one of the most complete examples of an 18th-century English colliery, has been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is included on English Heritage's "at risk" register. The coal mines prompted glass manufacturer John Robert Lucas to set up a factory in 1788. It became the fourth largest of its kind in the UK and, although the works closed in 1873, "Nailsea" glass is still sought after by collectors around the world. The glass works' site has been covered by a supermarket car park but there's a statue of a glassblower nearby. Stancombe Quarry in Backwell was opened in 1952 and still produces limestone today, mainly for road building.
There are more than 90 listed buildings in the area, including the Grade I 15th-century Nailsea Court and Holy Trinity Church, while Grade II listings include former pit engine houses, a couple of mile posts and the remains of a cross in Holy Trinity churchyard.
Tickenham, Nailsea and Kenn Moors is a 129.4 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Bucklands Pool/Backwell Lake Nature Reserve, was constructed as a balancing pond in the mid 1970s, and has since become home to wildfowl, dragonflies and it's important to bats. Backwell Playing Fields are on land given by local benefactor Theodore Robinson for the benefit of the residents in 1929. They include tennis courts and a bowling green.
Business and employment
Service industries are the principle employers these days, though Nailsea has two large industrial and business estates and three supermarkets. Coate's cider factory was first opened in 1788 and was bought by Showerings of Shepton Mallet in 1956. The brand was merged with Gaymers and absorbed by Matthew Clark Brands. Prior to Coates, there was Heath Brewery, owned by the Thatcher family, which was behind the Friendship Inn.
Culture and community
Nailsea has several pubs and a small nightclub, plus youth clubs, scouts, sports teams, theatre, musical and orchestral groups.
There are children's play areas, a skate park and small areas of green land in the town's housing estates.
Nailsea and Backwell share a railway station linking London and Exeter, while Bristol Airport via the A38 is close by at Lulsgate. There are also good road links to Clevedon and the M5, to Bristol via the A370.
One of Nailsea's best known celebrities was folk singer Adge Cutler, whose backing band were The Wurzels. He worked at the Coates cider factory and The Wurzels' album Live at the Royal Oak was recorded at the pub of the same name on the High Street. Cutler is buried in Christ Church graveyard. First-class cricketer Mervyn Kitchen was born in Nailsea in 1940. He topped the county averages in 1966 and 1968 and went on to umpire iInternational matches before retiring in 2005. Another Somerset cricketer, Stephen Newton, was also born in Nailsea in 1853. Gymnast Charles Sederman, who competed in the 1908 Olympics, was born in Nailsea in 1881.
For more about the locality, see www.nailseapeople.co.uk