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Southam is a small market town in the Stratford-on-Avon districtmarker of Warwickshiremarker, Englandmarker. The 2001 census recorded a population of 6,509 in the town .

The nearest sizeable town to Southam is Leamington Spamarker, located roughly 7 miles (11 km) to the west. The towns of Rugbymarker and Daventrymarker are also within 10 miles (16 km) of Southam, with Banburymarker 14 miles (22.5 km) to the south and the major city of Coventrymarker some 13 miles (21 km) to the north.

Southam is located on the River Stowe (known by many of the locals as "The Brook"), which flows from Napton-on-the-Hillmarker and joins the Warwickshire River Itchenmarker just outside of the town, which in turn flows into the River Leammarker.

History

Southam can trace its history back to Anglo-Saxon times; a charter exists from 998 granted by King Ethelred the Unready. Southam was mentioned in the Domesday Book as "Sucham" . A market was established in 1227.

In the 1540s the town was visited by John Leland, who described it as 'a modest market town of a single street' . Southam is also mentioned in Henry VI, part 3 by William Shakespeare in Act V, Scene I (Lines 10–16).

King Charles I passed through Southam just prior to the outbreak of the English Civil War, and apparently was not made welcome by the townsfolk, who refused to ring the church bells.

On 23 August 1642, a skirmish took place outside of the town between Parliamentary forces led by Lord Brooke and Royalist forces commanded by the Earl of Northampton. Later in 1642, Charles stayed in Southam before the Battle of Edgehillmarker, and in 1645, Oliver Cromwell stayed in the town along with 7,000 Roundhead troops .

In the days of the stagecoach Southam became an important stop on the coaching road from Coventrymarker to Oxfordmarker, and many old coaching inns remain in the town. Few buildings in Southam date from before 1741, for in that year a large fire devastated the town.

A historical curiosity about Southam is that in mediaeval times, the town minted its own local currency . This was done because local people found ordinary coins too high in value for everyday use. The old mint house is now a pub called 'the Old Mint'. During the Civil War King Charles used the mint to make new coins to pay his soldiers.

Between 1894 and 1974 Southam was the administrative centre of the Southam Rural Districtmarker.

Historic population

Year Population
1801 900
1901 1,800
1971 4,435
1991 5,304
2001 6,509


Economy

Due to its good road links, Southam has become a commuter town in recent years due in part to its location. Taxi firms and minicab companies operate within the area and frequent bus services serve Southam and the local villages.

To the south of the town there is a small industrial estate which is a significant source of employment in Southam. Europe's largest privately owned video games company Codemasters is also based nearby, having been started by two locals.

The dominant rock type for the area is blue lias clay. Hence until quite recently there was a medium sized cement factory with associated quarrying a mile north of the town. This works was served by both rail and canal transport - the latter being a short arm from the Grand Union Canalmarker. Cement production was halted and moved to nearby Rugbymarker, in the late-1990s. However, quarrying at the site continues.

Facilities

Southam has three primary schools, and a secondary school (Southam College) that has around 1000 students from Southam and the local villages. There is a leisure centre with a swimming pool and gym next to the school. The shopping area of the town straddles the Coventry-Banbury road, now bypassed; at the southern end is Market Hill which hosts a Farmers' Market on the 2nd Saturday of each month. Every Tuesday there is a market in the Wood Street Car Park. There is a fair range of shops, including a couple of small supermarkets and several banks. The town's pubs include The Old Mint, one of the oldest inns in the county. Southam also has a retained fire station and a now 24 hour police station.

There are four Christian places of worship. St James parish church is behind Market Hill. Both the Catholic church and the Congregational chapel are on Wood Street, and the new Community Church is accessed directly from the main shopping street. There is also a small but active Bahá´í group in the town.

Additionally Southam is home to 2028 (Southam) Squadron Air Training Corps. A RAF (Royal Air Force) sponsored youth organisation for 13–20 years olds. The squadron is based in Millar House, Wattons Lane.

Transport links

Southam is located between Leamington Spamarker and Daventrymarker (on the A425) and between Coventrymarker and Banburymarker (on the A423). The A426 connects it to Rugbymarker. Southam is roughly fifteen miles from Stratford-upon-Avonmarker, the birthplace of Shakespeare. About eight miles from Southam is the M40 motorway.

Southam was never directly served by a railway and had no station itself. However, the ex-LNWR (later British Railways) line from Weedonmarker to Leamington Spa ran a couple of miles to the north of Southam, the nearest station being Southam and Long Itchington railway stationmarker. The GWR (later British Railways) London to Birmingham main line (the Chiltern Line as it is now called) passed three miles south-west of Southam and the nearest station was at Harburymarker ( Southam Road & Harbury). Today, the closest railway station is at Leamington Spa railway stationmarker.

Famous people

Despite Southam's relatively small size it is home to two winners of the World Professional Darts Championship. Steve Beaton (in 1996) and Trina Gulliver (in seven consecutive years between 2001 and 2007 for the women's championship).

The EastEnders actor Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale) has a home in Southam, some considerable distance from Borehamwoodmarker, Hertfordshiremarker, where the programme is filmed.

Nearby places







References

See also



External links




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