One of the most compelling features about Bradford on Avon is its unique position on the edge of the Cotswolds facing the River Avon.
The ancient bridge in the centre of the town remains its natural focus and the bridge still retains two of its original 13th-century arches. The historical view from the main bridge incorporates the hill above the town which is dotted with the old weavers' cottages and the river bank flanked with the 19th-century former cloth mills.
Visiting Bradford on Avon means the visitor gets the best of everything, shopping, accommodation; restaurants and inns; river; canal and most of all an amazing history that can be found at every turn.
Bradford on Avon on the Great West Way
Bradford on Avon is proud to be featured on this route of discovery. So, if you fancy exploring our town as part of a road, rail, hiking or boat trip, the Great West Way is your ultimate guide!
You needn’t always bring a car when visiting Bradford on Avon. We are well connected by rail between London and Bristol – GWR from Paddington, South-Western from Waterloo – with regular services from elsewhere in the country. If you do drive, however, we are close to both the M4 and M5 motorways, with many nearby attractions to explore.
If you choose to visit us as part of a longer cross-country trip, the Great West Way can act as your guide via London, Bath and Bristol, taking a day or two along the way in Bradford on Avon.
Must sees and dos in Bradford on Avon
Tithe Barn, Barton Manor, Kennet & Avon Canal Boat Trips, K & A Cottage by Lock, Bradford on Avon Museum, the Town Lock-up, Westwood Manor, Moulton Hall, the Moulton Bicycle Factory, Wiltshire Music Centre, River Avon, weekly Farmers' Markets every Thursday morning in the Library car park, the Shambles, Lambs Yard Artisan market every Friday.
Things to Do in Bradford on Avon
* Family Fun,
* Afternoon Teas,
* Food and Drinks
* Parks & Recreation,
* Walking Tours,
* Stately Homes & Gardens,
* History & Heritage,
* Art & Culture,
* Entertainment & Nightlife,
* Tours & Sightseeing
Annual events in Bradford on Avon
Pancake Race across the Town Bridge (February), Lions Annual Fun Day, Duck Race (April), Victory Field (May), Green Man Folk Festival (May), Preservations Trust Gardens Open Day (July), Food & Drink Festival (July), Secret Gardens on the last Sunday of May and June, Heritage Open Days (September): Walking Festival (September); Arts Festival, Christmas Light Switch on and Gift Fair (last Friday of November).
The History of Bradford on Avon
With the River Avon at its heart, the golden town of Bradford on Avon lies at the southern edge of the Cotswolds, surrounded by glorious countryside. It is no wonder that this special place has drawn people to the area since the Iron Age – for many different reasons.
The Saxons drove their carts across the ‘broad ford’ that gave the town its name, and you can follow in their path today, on your way to the impressive Tithe Barn – described by English Heritage as "one of the largest medieval barns in England, and architecturally one of the finest." Wander back into town along the canal or riverside, and you can’t miss the superb town bridge – parts of which date back to the 13th century – that replaced the ford. Its nine arches span the Avon, and at its centre is a medieval pilgrim chapel, later converted into a ‘lock-up’ for undesirables. Although the Town Council hold the keys, rest assured it is now only open to visitors on World Heritage Open Days!
Bradford on Avon’s staple industry for six centuries was wool and weaving, starting in the 14th century. The mechanisation of the wool industry in the late 18th century saw the construction of the great mills that still dominate the town’s architecture, along with the rows – or ‘ranks’ – of weavers’ cottages lining the hillsides and streets, punctuated by the grand houses of wealthy clothiers.
As the wool industry declined, largely because of the development of highly mechanised and large-scale wool mills in the north of England, it was replaced from 1848 by pioneering rubber works, which operated in the town until 1994 and form yet another of the architectural layers that give Bradford its unique character.
Nowadays, the cottages, mills and industrial premises of old are joined by independent shops, accommodation and a host of great places to wine and dine. The town is well connected by road, rail, water – and even hot air balloon – to other nearby tourist destinations making it the perfect place to visit, whether for just a day or as a base for your stay in the South West.
Parking in Bradford on Avon
Local Bradford on Avon car parks can be found HERE.
Off street car parks in Bradford on Avon include:
Barton Farm - Maximum stay 10 hours
Bridge Street - Maximum stay 2 hours
Budbury Place - Maximum stay 24 hours
Newtown - Maximum stay 2 hours
St Margaret's - Maximum stay 3 hours
Station Zone A - Maximum stay 3 hours
Station Zone B - Maximum stay all day
Over 24 hour car parking can be found at the Canal and River Trust Car Park at the end of Baileys Barn.
Coach parks in Bradford on Avon:
Station coach - Maximum stay all day
Public Transport to/from Bradford on Avon
You needn’t always bring a car when visiting Bradford on Avon. We are well connected by rail between London and Bristol – GWR from Paddington, South-Western from Waterloo – with regular services from elsewhere in the country. Find out more.
Tourist Information Centre details
Explore Bradford on Avon Visitor Information Centre can provide you with comprehensive information on day trips to Bradford on Avon with any group accommodating to any requirements and put you in touch with suppliers for the following:
* Canal boat trips
* Canal boat private day hire
* Blue Badge local guided walks
* Nature & ecology guided walks
* Events and Entertainment
* Group friendly restaurants and accommodation
* Family Friendly Activities
* Leisure and Relaxation Excursions
* Paddleboard tours
* Shopping and Cuisine
* Local historic houses and gardens
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Bradford on Avon is only 18 miles from the M4 motorway which links Wiltshire with London and Bristol and the main M5 artery leading north and south.
There is a railway station at Bradford on Avon, situated within walking distance of the town itself. The station is only one stop from the World Heritage City of Bath and serves the West Country and Wales with links to London from Westbury. Local buses from Bradford on Avon direct to Bath and surrounding area.
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