From Stamps of the World
Bridgwater is a market town and civil parish in Somerset, England.
Bridgwater is at the edge of the Somerset Levels, in level and well-wooded country; to the north are the Mendips and to the west the Quantock hills. The town lies along both sides of the River Parrett, 10 miles (16 km) from its mouth, has been a major port and trading centre and maintains a large industrial base. It is linked to Taunton by the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. Bridgwater is between two junctions of the M5 motorway and Bridgwater railway station is on the main railway line between Bristol and Taunton.
Historically, the town had a politically radical tendency. The Battle of Sedgemoor, where the Monmouth Rebellion was finally crushed in 1685, was fought nearby. Notable buildings include the Church of St Mary and the house in Blake Street, largely restored, which was the birthplace of Admiral Blake in 1598, and is now the Blake Museum. The town has an arts centre and plays host to the annual Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival.
Bridgwater is mentioned both in the Domesday Book and in the earlier Anglo-Saxon Chronicle dating from around 800, owing its origin as a trade centre to its position at the mouth of the chief river in Somerset. It was formerly part of the Hundred of North Petherton. In a legend of Alfred the Great, he burnt some cakes while hiding in the marshes of Athelney near Bridgwater, after the Danish invasion in 875, while in 878 the major engagement of the Battle of Cynwit may have been at nearby Cannington.
Bridgwater became the first town in Britain to petition the government to ban slavery, in 1785.
In 1896, the trade unionists of Bridgwater's brick and tile industry were involved a number of strikes. The Salisbury government sent troops to the town to clear the barricades by force after the reading of the Riot Act.
In World War II the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal formed part of the Taunton Stop Line, designed to prevent the advance of a German invasion. Pillboxes can still be seen along its length. The first bombs fell on Bridgwater on 24 August 1940, destroying houses on Old Taunton Road, and three men, three women and one child were killed. Later a prisoner of war camp was established at Colley Lane, holding Italian prisoners. During the preparations for the invasion of Europe, American troops were based in the town.