The wide main street of Chipping Sodbury
|Thornbury and Yate|
Chipping Sodbury is a delightfully pretty market town in Gloucestershire. The town was founded in the 12th century by William Crassus (or le Gros) as a market place, whence it grew and superseded the original village, Old Sodbury, which is nearby. Little Sodbury is close by too. At the 2001 census the population of Chipping Sodbury was 5,066, but in the last decade the town has become part of a much larger built-up area due to the rapid expansion of nearby Yate. At the census the combined population of Yate and Chipping Sodbury was 26,855.
The town's name is from that of Old Sodbury, originally known just as "Sodbury", and this is recorded in Old English (in the dative case) as Soppanbyrig, meanin “Soppa's town”. “Chipping” (from the Old / English ceping) means a market place.
East of the town is the Chipping Sodbury Tunnel, a railway tunnel under the Cotswolds 2 miles 924 yards long, which was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1902. The tunnel is notorious for flooding in wet weather, often leading to disruption of services on the main railway line to and from Glamorgan. Chipping Sodbury itself had a railway station from 1903 to 1961. Yate station, on the Bristol to Birmingham main line, closed in January 1965 but reopened in May 1989.
Chipping Sodbury hosts a twice yearly Mop Fair, usually the last weekends of March and September. The town holds a Festival Week in early June. There is a farmers' market twice a month, on the second and fourth Saturdays.
A Victorian Evening is held on the first Friday in December. The event starts in the afternoon when school choirs perform in the street. The evening's events begin with the arrival of Father Christmas when snow is guaranteed (from a blower). The streets are lined with stalls from local charities and organisations and old time amusements, including a Ferris wheel, Helter Skelter and two children's rides. Choirs sing, bands play, and stalls bring a market feel. A Hog Roast is held.
The town is served by a community radio station, GLOSS FM which broadcasts 365 days a year on its webcasts and twice a year on 87.7 MHz FM.