Jobs in Taunton, United Kingdom
Town on the River Tone
Taunton is the largest town in Somerset country. It obtained status as the county town in 1366, and was granted a charter of incorporation in 1627. During the 18th century its woollen trade declined and in 1792 the town charter was allowed to lapse. In the early 19th century, the Somerset section of the Grand Western Canal was constructed, following opening of the Bridgewater and Taunton Canal and invention of steam-powered boat lifts. Tub boats carried limestone from Taunton to Tiverton from 1838 to 1867, when the Somerset section of the canal closed due to competition from railroads.
Taunton reincorporated in 1877 and a permanent military presence was established there in 1881. A battalion-sized Commando unit of the Royal Marines has been based near Taunton since 1942, and the town has been home to the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office since 1968. The UKHO employs many specialised professionals who provide navigational and other hydrographic information for national and civil defence requirements. Taunton’s medieval and Tudor buildings were mostly destroyed during the 17th-century Civil Wars. Although the town still possesses several religious and other historic sites, it is not a touristic destination, other than offering visitors a hot-air balloon ride over the beautiful Somerset countryside.
The Somerset County Cricket Club is an important local institution. It was founded in 1875 and has played on the Taunton County Ground since 1882, gaining first class status in 1891. To celebrate the area’s cricketing history, the Somerset Cricket Museum opened in 1989 in the Old Priory Barn. Two other national-league cricket clubs play elsewhere in Taunton and local teams compete at various levels in rugby, football, basketball, and volleyball. Skateboarding, motorsport, and mountain biking are popular individual sports. The Country Ground is being expanded to accommodate up to 15,000 spectators and qualify to host Test Matches. The current capacity is 8,500 and large performances and special events are sometimes held there.
In 1974 Taunton merged with Wellington to form the Borough of Taunton Deane, and became its administrative centre. Following Taunton’s designation as a ‘Strategically Important Town or City’ for the South West Region, the borough council launched Project Taunton, a major regeneration initiative for the town centre. The 2006 plans called for development of new housing, employment and retail space that would create 7,000 new jobs and 18,000 new homes. Implementation was delayed due to the economic downturn in 2008, but is now moving ahead.
The first scheme to be completed was the regeneration of Somerset Square at the heart of the cultural quarter on the banks of the River Tone. A multiuse complex with restaurant, shops and apartments opened in 2009, with new landscaping and plantings and improvements to footpaths and cycle routes along the river. Taunton Theatre Association has developed a proposal for a new Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre adjacent to the Square which would preserve the old theatre and add new live performance venues, cinema, studios, an art gallery and riverfront space for pop-up performances, markets and events. Plans for development of Coal Orchard were approved in mid-2017. They envision preserving Coal Orchard’s niche shops and Bohemian feel along the stretch of riverfront linking the town centre to Firepool, protecting space for realising the Brewhouse Centre proposal, and allowing for a mixed-use development project.
Vacated riverside land in the Tangier quarter near the bus station has been designated for housing and business uses, and the Tangier Central Business Park recently opened there. The site of the Old Market in town centre (a farmers’ market where produce, cattle and pigs were traded) is now occupied by a large indoor shopping mall, and the market itself has moved to the new Firepool Commercial Centre. Waterfront villas built by the Firepool Lock Development, are already available for purchase.
A portion of the river bank has been set aside as a protected urban wetland and a corridor for movement of riverine animals. Riverside Retail Park on the outskirts is a large complex which complements the new retail space in the town centre. To relieve traffic congestion, one new link road (Taunton’s Third Way) was completed in 2011, and another (the Northern Inner Distributor Road) opened in mid-2017, after several delays.
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