Ten fascinating facts about Yate and Chipping Sodbury
1. Chipping Sodbury has the second widest High Street in the country. The medieval street was purposely built to accommodate animal pens for the regular agricultural markets. Nowadays the chippings are used for free parking.
2. Harry Potter author JK Rowling was born at the now defunct Chipping Sodbury Maternity Hospital on Station Road, between Yate and Chipping Sodbury in 1965. She grew up in nearby Winterbourne and is widely believed to have named the Dursley family in the Potter books after the Gloucestershire market town just 20 minutes away.
3. Yate was named the 45th worst place to live in Britain in the 2003 tongue-in-cheek book Crap Towns. “Yate,” it said, “extends like a textbook hernia from the soft underbelly of Bristol. From the centre, endless ranks of Bovis-style homes radiate to the horizon over trolley-packed streams and along roads with names that don’t even try to be interesting.”
4. Inventor and manufacturer James Dyson who, according to The Sunday Times Rich List in 2013 has a net value of £3billion, bought Dodington Park, just outside Old Sodbury, in 2003 seeing off competition from Robbie Williams. Dyson, whose vacuum cleaners bear his name, paid £15 million for the 300-acre Georgian estate leading to The Sun newspaper to dub it Suckingham Palace.
5. Take That once played Spirals, Yate’s former nightclub. On April 3, 1992, a young Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams, Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Jason Orange performed on HTV show The Hitman and Her presented by Michaela Strachan and Pete Waterman.
6. The murder of Chipping Sodbury student Louise Smith on Christmas Day 1997 led to a change in the law on keeping DNA samples on file. David Frost was 22 when he raped and strangled 18-year-old Louise in the early hours of the morning after she walked home from Spirals nightclub. More than 4,500 men gave DNA samples to police during the murder investigation, which eventually resulted in the arrest of Frost who had left the UK to work in South Africa. The samples were destroyed but Steve Webb MP and Louise’s parents Robert and Gill have successfully campaigned for a change in the law which means all samples are now kept on file.
7. Rock band Half Man Half Biscuit, from Birkenhead, refer to Yate in their song The Referee's Alphabet on their Cammell Laird Social Club album. The lyrics inform the listener that ‘Y is for Yate, the kind of town that referees come from’.
8. Brimsham Park, Yate’s largest housing estate built in the north of the town in the early 1990s, is actually spelt incorrectly. The area was known as Brinsham and a large fishing lake is still referred to by its original spelling. The ‘n’ was accidentally changed to an ‘m’ by developers but has stuck and Brimsham Green School has followed suit with the wrong spelling.
9. Yate was nearly never built as. Post-war planners for Gloucestershire advised against developing the town. They felt the high water table made Yate unsuitable for building houses and preferred Sodbury Common as a site for a new town. However, opposition in Chipping Sodbury caused Yate to become the favoured site.
10. Ridgewood Community Centre, on Station Road, was built for the princely sum of £2,090 as the Chipping Sodbury Union Workhouse in 1839. It opened in May 1840 and house 160 inmates. Children were housed elsewhere in 1914 and the workhouse was taken over by the local authority in 1930 when it became a county infirmary.