Blandford Forum is a small town in Dorset, a southern County of the United Kingdom. The following information may be of value even to people who have never been there and never intend to go there.

Population: roughly 9000.

Shops: Yes. Several. Apart from the usual stuff (like Post Office, Banks, etc, there is also. Urmm. No. That's it. Just the usual stuff.

Other features: With a military base nearby, Blandford earns the doubtful honour of being able to call itself a garrison town. Oh, there's a library too. That probably falls in with the 'usual stuff' bit above though.

Drugs: Blandford does have a bit of a 'drugs problem'. Something like (a figure I once heard, and will correct this if corrected) 2% of people in Blandford are registered heroin addicts. For a small town this is a LOT.

History: Those who who have studied Roman history will realise that Blandford Forum used to be a Roman town. The term Forum indicates that it was, or contained, a meeting place of some kind. The word Ford in Blandford indicates that the river was crossed by a ford in the town.

River? You never mentioned a river.

Sorry. The River Stour passes through Blandford. There are now two or three bridges crossing it within the town, the most recent being a spectacular blue suspension footbridge. Blandford also floods easily.

Errr, back to History? Blandford burned to the ground under the reign of King George (I don't know which one, but it was late 18th Century if that helps). No-one blames him, but that's when it happened. As a result, the town was completely rebuilt by two famous architects, the Bastard brothers. I'm not shitting you, it's their name. Emphasise the 2nd syllable more, "bastARD". Now the Georgian period was rather nice, and most of their work remains today (although in the town center you have to look up, above the signs that say Post Office, Bank etc) to see it. The town church was also rebuilt then, with a very large, symbolic Phoenix dominating the stained glass windows, which is unusual, as the Phoenix is not a Christian religious symbol but far older, and signifies the towns rising from the ashes.

Thomas Hardy, who did most of his work in the South of England, once wrote about Blandford in Tess of the d'Urbervilles, calling it Shottsford Forum to preserve its anonymity.

Trains: Blandford Forum is mentioned in Flanders and Swann's song "Slow Train" (about railway stations eliminated in The Beeching Plan). Blandford was among the many towns which lost 'railway connectivity' in this period. The old railway station is now a house, and the railway line today makes a nice walk.

Last fact: The sign you see as you approach Blandford says Blandford Forum. A unique Georgian town. It used to say interesting but was changed to unique a few years ago, which some argue makes it more accurate.

Thanks to Dhericean for extra info.

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