testing Thursday, June 12, 2008 11:30 AM

newsletter imageIt is a frequent misconception that Cheddar is a town, presumably based on its present-day size and importance. Officially, however, Cheddar is a village. The adjacent settlement of Axbridge, although only about a third the size of Cheddar, is a town. This apparently illogical situation is explained by the relative importance of the two places in historic times. While Axbridge grew in importance as a centre for cloth manufacture in the Tudor period and gained a charter from King John, Cheddar remained a more dispersed mining and dairy-farming village until the advent of tourism and the arrival of the railway in the Victorian era.

Cheddar's other main produce is the strawberry, which gave name to the now disused Strawberry Line railway that ran from Yatton to Wells. In the 1960s, when the rest of the line was closed and all passenger services ceased, the section of the line between Cheddar and Yatton remained open for goods traffic, to provide a fast link with the main markets for the strawberries in Birmingham and London. The former station has become housing and a trading estate, and is the starting point for a cycle path along the old track to Axbridge, passing the Cheddar Reservoir, an SSSI for its large population of wintering waterfowl, and the home of a sailing club.

Cheddar Ales is a small brewery, based in the village, which produces beer for pubs in the local area.