North Somerset
Official logo of North Somerset
North Somerset within Somerset
North Somerset within Somerset
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth West England
Ceremonial countySomerset
Admin HQWeston-super-Mare
Area first created1 April 1974
Unitary status1 April 1996
 • TypeUnitary authority
 • Governing bodyNorth Somerset Council
 • MPs:John Penrose C
Liam Fox C
 • Total144.66 sq mi (374.68 km2)
 • Total219,145 (Ranked 86th)
Ethnicity (2021)
 • Ethnic groups
Religion (2021)
 • Religion
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
ISO 3166 codeGB-NSM

North Somerset is a unitary authority in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England. The council is based in Weston-super-Mare, the area's largest town. The district also contains the towns of Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead, along with a number of villages and surrounding rural areas. Some southern parts of the district fall within the Mendip Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The district was formed in 1974 as the Woodspring district of the county of Avon. Avon was abolished in 1996, when the district was renamed North Somerset and its council took on county-level functions from the abolished county council.

The district is on the coast, facing the Bristol Channel to the west. The neighbouring districts are Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and Somerset.


The district was created on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, covering four former districts and part of a fifth, which were all abolished at the same time:[3]

Woodspring Priory, which gave its name to the district as created in 1974.

The whole area had been part of Somerset prior to the 1974 reforms, but was transferred to the new county of Avon. The new district was named Woodspring after Woodspring Priory, an isolated medieval church near the coast in the parish of Kewstoke, north of Weston-super-Mare.[4]

Following the Banham Review, the county of Avon was abolished in 1996, with the area being divided into unitary authorities responsible for both district and county-level functions. Woodspring became one of the unitary authorities, and the government gave the district the new name "North West Somerset" as part of the reforms.[5] The area was also transferred back to Somerset for the ceremonial purposes of lieutenancy and shrievalty.[6]

In July 1995 the council resolved to change the name to "North Somerset" with effect from when the reforms came into effect on 1 April 1996. Some years later the government identified that the council's decision to rename in 1995 may not have been technically valid, and so in 2005 the council passed another resolution formally changing the name to put the matter beyond doubt.[7][8]


Main article: North Somerset Council

North Somerset Council provides both county-level and district-level services. The whole area is also covered by civil parishes, which form a second tier of local government.[9]

The area comprises the parliamentary constituencies of Weston-super-Mare and North Somerset.


Map of wards within North Somerset

The principal towns in the district are the coastal towns of Weston-super-Mare, Portishead, Clevedon and Nailsea.

Places of interest

North Somerset's natural environment and coastal towns attract visitors from nearby cities. Notable geographical features include:

Notable religious sites include Woodspring Priory.


Image Name Status Population Former local authority Coordinates Refs
Stone building with prominent three stage square tower. In the foreground is a grass area and road separated from the church by a stone wall. Abbots Leigh Civil parish 799 Long Ashton Rural District 51°28′N 2°39′W / 51.46°N 2.65°W / 51.46; -2.65 (Abbots Leigh) [10][11]
Road signs with Backwell in black writing on white background and below it another sign saying village of the year South West and Wales regional winner 1997. Backwell Civil parish 4,589 Long Ashton Rural District 51°25′N 2°44′W / 51.41°N 2.73°W / 51.41; -2.73 (Backwell) [10][11]
Stone building with slit windows and battlements. Foreground is road with grass verges. Banwell Civil parish 2,919 Axbridge Rural District 51°19′N 2°52′W / 51.32°N 2.86°W / 51.32; -2.86 (Banwell) [10][12]
Water contained within stone walls to the right of road. In the background stone house with red roof. Barrow Gurney Civil parish 349 Long Ashton Rural District 51°24′N 2°40′W / 51.40°N 2.67°W / 51.40; -2.67 (Barrow Gurney) [10][11]
Church tower surrounded by trees with water in the background. Blagdon Civil parish 1,116 Axbridge Rural District 51°20′N 2°43′W / 51.33°N 2.72°W / 51.33; -2.72 (Blagdon) [10][12]
Square three stage stone tower. To the right is a building with a white wall and in the foreground a parked car. Bleadon Civil parish 1,079 Axbridge Rural District 51°19′N 2°56′W / 51.31°N 2.94°W / 51.31; -2.94 (Bleadon) [10][12]
Brown field being ploughed by multiple red tractors. In the background it a hill with trees. Brockley Civil parish 277 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°46′W / 51.39°N 2.76°W / 51.39; -2.76 (Brockley, Somerset) [10][11]
Stone building with arched windows and a square tower. Burrington Civil parish 464 Axbridge Rural District 51°20′N 2°44′W / 51.33°N 2.74°W / 51.33; -2.74 (Burrington, Somerset) [10][12]
Stone building with arched windows and a square tower. Butcombe Civil parish 218 Axbridge Rural District 51°21′N 2°41′W / 51.35°N 2.69°W / 51.35; -2.69 (Butcombe) [10][12]
Multiple houses mostly with red roofs seen in a valley between the vegetation in the foreground and the hills beyond. Churchill Civil parish 2,235 Axbridge Rural District 51°20′N 2°47′W / 51.33°N 2.79°W / 51.33; -2.79 (Churchill, Somerset) [10][12]
Red brick building with tall chimneys. In the foreground is an arched gateway. Clapton in Gordano Civil parish 348 Long Ashton Rural District 51°28′N 2°45′W / 51.46°N 2.75°W / 51.46; -2.75 (Clapton in Gordano) [10][11]
Stone building with arched windows and central square tower.In the foreground are trees and a road. Cleeve Civil parish 902 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°46′W / 51.39°N 2.77°W / 51.39; -2.77 (Cleeve, Somerset) [10][11]
Metal pier standing on thin legs rising from the sea. Beach in the foreground Clevedon Town 21,281 Clevedon Urban District 51°26′N 2°51′W / 51.43°N 2.85°W / 51.43; -2.85 (Clevedon) [10][13]
Roofs of houses showing amongst tree with prominent church tower. In the foreground are green fields with hills behind. Congresbury Civil parish 3,497 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°49′W / 51.37°N 2.81°W / 51.37; -2.81 (Congresbury) [10][12]
Yellow stone church tower above other buildings of the same stone.In the foreground is a grassy field with cows. Dundry Civil parish 829 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°38′W / 51.39°N 2.64°W / 51.39; -2.64 (Dundry) [10][11]
Street sign with the words Welcome to Easton in Gordano & Pill. Easton in Gordano Civil parish 4,828 Long Ashton Rural District 51°29′N 2°41′W / 51.48°N 2.69°W / 51.48; -2.69 (Easton in Gordano) [10][11]
Three stage square stone church tower on the left. Red painted building on the right and a rainbow. Flax Bourton Civil parish 715 Long Ashton Rural District 51°25′N 2°43′W / 51.42°N 2.71°W / 51.42; -2.71 (Flax Bourton) [10][11]
Stone cross, with red wreaths, separated from a building behind by metal railings. Hutton Civil parish 2,582 Axbridge Rural District 51°19′N 2°56′W / 51.32°N 2.93°W / 51.32; -2.93 (Hutton, Somerset) [10][12]
Stone church with square tower in the background partially obscured by trees. To the left is a pink painted house with red roof and in the foreground a car and grass area. Kenn Civil parish 431 Long Ashton Rural District 51°25′N 2°50′W / 51.42°N 2.84°W / 51.42; -2.84 (Kenn, Somerset) [10][11]
Square stone tower and red roofed buildings behind a stone wall and partially obscured by trees. Kewstoke Civil parish 1,690 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°58′W / 51.37°N 2.96°W / 51.37; -2.96 (Kewstoke) [10][12]
Street scene with area between two roads containing trees and stone column behind a white fence. Kingston Seymour Civil parish 388 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°52′W / 51.39°N 2.86°W / 51.39; -2.86 (Kingston Seymour) [10][11]
Locking Civil parish 2,756 Axbridge Rural District 51°20′N 2°55′W / 51.33°N 2.91°W / 51.33; -2.91 (Locking, North Somerset) [10][12]
Yellow painted building fronting the road is nearest the camera. In the background is the square stone tower. Long Ashton Civil parish 6,044 Long Ashton Rural District 51°26′N 2°39′W / 51.43°N 2.65°W / 51.43; -2.65 (Long Ashton) [10][11]
The houses and church of a small village can be seen in the bottom left of the picture. It is surrounded by a patchwork of fields with some trees on a hillside. Large hills in the distance. Loxton Civil parish 192 Axbridge Rural District 51°17′N 2°53′W / 51.29°N 2.89°W / 51.29; -2.89 (Loxton, North Somerset) [10][12]
lots of house roofs, with trees and grass in the foreground and hills in the distance. Nailsea Town 15,630 Long Ashton Rural District 51°26′N 2°46′W / 51.43°N 2.76°W / 51.43; -2.76 (Nailsea) [10][11]
Square stone tower behind churchyard with cross and gravestones. Portbury Civil parish 827 Long Ashton Rural District 51°28′N 2°43′W / 51.47°N 2.72°W / 51.47; -2.72 (Portbury) [10][11]
Multiple buildings including terraces, detached houses and blocks of flats. In the foreground are fields and in the background water and then hills. Portishead Town 23,699 Portishead Urban District
Long Ashton Rural District
51°29′N 2°46′W / 51.48°N 2.77°W / 51.48; -2.77 (Portishead and North Weston) [10][11]
Low building with tiled roof and non-vertical square tower, surrounded by trees and with grass in the foreground. Puxton Civil parish 359 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°51′W / 51.37°N 2.85°W / 51.37; -2.85 (Puxton) [10][12]
White fronted shop with sign saying St Georges News St Georges Civil parish 3,379 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°54′W / 51.36°N 2.90°W / 51.36; -2.90 (St. Georges, North Somerset) [10][12]
Stone church view from a low angle. The church has a simple tower and there are gravestones in the churchyard surrounding it Tickenham Civil parish 910 Axbridge Rural District 51°26′N 2°48′W / 51.44°N 2.80°W / 51.44; -2.80 (Tickenham) [10][12]
The markings on a road junction around a tree are visible in the foreground, in front of a small shop with Christmas decorations in the window. A red K8 model telephone box and a red post box built into a wall are to the left. Walton in Gordano Civil parish 273 Axbridge Rural District 51°27′N 2°50′W / 51.45°N 2.83°W / 51.45; -2.83 (Walton in Gordano) [10][12]
Stone building with arched windows and square tower. In the foreground is a grass area with gravestones. Weston in Gordano Civil parish 301 Axbridge Rural District 51°28′N 2°47′W / 51.46°N 2.79°W / 51.46; -2.79 (Weston in Gordano) [10][12]
Multiple houses and other buildings around a bay into which a pier projects. In the background is a hill. Weston super Mare Town 76,143 Axbridge Rural District
Weston super Mare Municipal Borough
51°21′N 2°58′W / 51.35°N 2.97°W / 51.35; -2.97 (Weston-super-Mare) [10][12]
Stone steps up to a stone shaft which would once have had a cross at the top. To the left are yellow painted houses. To the right is an old stone church with a square tower partially obscured by trees. Wick St Lawrence Civil parish 1,331 Axbridge Rural District 51°23′N 2°55′W / 51.38°N 2.91°W / 51.38; -2.91 (Wick St. Lawrence) [10][12]
Stone building with tiled roof. Sign saying Prince of Waterloo. In the foreground are tables, benches and planters. Winford Civil parish 2,153 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°40′W / 51.38°N 2.66°W / 51.38; -2.66 (Winford) [10][11]
Street scene with houses and shops on both side of road on which there is a tractor. Winscombe and Sandford Civil parish 4,546 Axbridge Rural District 51°19′N 2°50′W / 51.31°N 2.83°W / 51.31; -2.83 (Winscombe and Sandford) [10][12]
Stone building with square tower. In the foreground are gravestones. Wraxall and Failand Civil parish 2,302 Long Ashton Rural District 51°26′N 2°44′W / 51.44°N 2.73°W / 51.44; -2.73 (Wraxall and Failand) [10][11]
Street scene showing shops and houses with cars. Wrington Civil parish 2,633 Axbridge Rural District 51°22′N 2°46′W / 51.36°N 2.76°W / 51.36; -2.76 (Wrington) [10][12]
Row of shops in pedestrianised precinct. In the foreground a bus shelter and tree. Yatton Civil parish 7,552 Long Ashton Rural District 51°23′N 2°50′W / 51.39°N 2.83°W / 51.39; -2.83 (Yatton) [10][11]


North Somerset's economy is traditionally based on agriculture, including sheep raised for wool on the Mendip Hills and dairy farming in the valleys. This is celebrated at the annual North Somerset Show. During the Georgian era tourism became a significant economic sector in the coastal towns, most notably Weston-super-Mare which grew from a small village to a large resort town. Though tourism declined in the mid to late-20th century, in common with most British coastal resorts, this sector of the economy has stabilised.

In the 19th century the major port city of Bristol found that modern ships had outgrown the narrow river approach and the Port of Bristol company began seeking locations for new docks on the coast. The first of these was Portishead Dock, which handled coal from South Wales, though this too has seen shipping outgrow its facilities. The newer Royal Portbury Dock is noted for the large volume of car imports.

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of North and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire at current basic prices (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling. [14]

Year Regional gross value added1 Agriculture2 Industry3 Services4
1995 5,916 125 1,919 3,872
2000 8,788 86 2,373 6,330
2003 10,854 67 2,873 7,914

^1 Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
^2 includes hunting and forestry
^3 includes energy and construction
^4 includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured


North Somerset compared
UK Census 2001 North Somerset UA[15] South West England[16] England[16]
Total population 188,564 4,928,434 49,138,831
Foreign born 9.5% 9.4% 9.2%
White 97.1% 97.7% 91%
Asian 1.7% 0.7% 4.6%
Black 0.9% 0.4% 2.3%
Christian 75.0% 74.0% 72%
Muslim 0.2% 0.5% 3.1%
Hindu 0.1% 0.2% 1.1%
No religion 16.6% 16.8% 15%
Over 75 years old 9.9% 9.3% 7.5%
Unemployed 2.1% 2.6% 3.3%

North Somerset covers an area of around 145 square miles (380 km2) and has a resident population of 193,000 (1.4% BME) living in 85,000 households.[17]

The population of North Somerset has doubled since the 1950s and is predicted to rise by 6,184 or 3.0% to 2011 and by 17% to 2026. Whilst the proportion of people in North Somerset who are under 45 is lower than the national average, population growth is predicted to be strongest in the 2034 age group. Conversely North Somerset has a 4.2% higher percentage of older people (60+ female, 65+ male) than the rest of England and Wales. This disparity increases with age with the percentage of the population over 75 years almost 30% higher than the national average, resulting in a relatively aged population.[18]

In 2001 there were 134,132 people of working age living in North Somerset and 91,767 were in employment; an economic activity rate of 68.4%. This is very close to the economic activity rate of the West of England sub-region which was 68.8% in the 2001 census.[17]

The 2001 census stated that 1.38% of North Somerset residents identified themselves as belonging to a visible ethnic group and a further 1.27% identified themselves as 'white other'.[19]

Population since 1801[20]
Year 1801 1851 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population North Somerset[21] 16,670 33,774 60,066 68,410 75,276 82,833 91,967 102,119 119,509 139,924 160,353 179,865 188,556


See also: List of schools in North Somerset

As of 2023, North Somerset Council is associated with 72 primary schools and 18 secondary schools.[22][23] There are also four independent (private) schools in the area.[24]

Weston College is the main provider of further education in the area. University Centre Weston offers higher education courses in conjunction with Bath Spa University and the University of the West of England.

See also


  1. ^ "Mid-Year Population Estimates, UK, June 2022". Office for National Statistics. 26 March 2024. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  2. ^ a b UK Census (2021). "2021 Census Area Profile – North Somerset Local Authority (E06000024)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  3. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan District (Definition) Order 1972",, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 17 November 2023
  4. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973",, The National Archives, SI 1973/551, retrieved 31 May 2023
  5. ^ "The Avon (Structural Change) Order 1995",, The National Archives, SI 1995/493, retrieved 14 December 2023
  6. ^ "Lieutenancies Act 1997",, The National Archives, 1997 c. 23, retrieved 14 December 2023
  7. ^ "Report to the Executive". 14 June 2005. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  8. ^ "Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Council". 28 June 2005. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 12 December 2023.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am "2011 Census Profile". North Somerset Council. Archived from the original (Excel) on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Long Ashton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Axbridge RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  13. ^ "Clevedon UD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  14. ^ "Regional Gross Value Added" (PDF). National Statistics. 21 December 2005. Retrieved 3 June 2007.
  15. ^ United Kingdom Census 2001 (2001). "Key Figures for 2001 Census: Census Area Statistics: Area: North Somerset". Retrieved 12 December 2007.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ a b United Kingdom Census 2001 (2001). "Key Figures for 2001 Census: Census Area Statistics: Area: Bath and North East Somerset". Retrieved 12 December 2007.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ a b "Local Area Agreement for North Somerset 2007–2010". North Somerset Partnership. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  18. ^ "Culture, Leisure and Tourism and Topic Paper" (PDF). North Somerset Core Strategy document. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  19. ^ "North Somerset Council Race Equality Scheme 2007–2010". North Somerset Council. Archived from the original (Word) on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  20. ^ A Vision of Britain through Time
  21. ^ "North Somerset: Total Population". A Vision of Britain Through Time. Great Britain Historical GIS Project. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  22. ^ "North Somerset schools and admissions data". Retrieved 2 April 2023.
  23. ^ "Find your local school". North Somerset Council. Retrieved 2 April 2023.
  24. ^ "School updates: Independent schools". North Somerset Council. Retrieved 2 April 2023.

51°23′N 2°48′W / 51.39°N 2.80°W / 51.39; -2.80