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County of Avon

The County of Avon was a short-lived administrative county in the west of England, named for the River Avon which ran through it.

Avon was formed from the City and County of Bristol and parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset by the Local Government Act 1972, and came into being on April 1, 1974. It had six districts: Bristol, Bath, Northavon, Kingswood, Woodspring and Wansdyke.

The area of Avon was 1347km2 (520mi2) and its population in 1991 was 919,800. Cities and towns in Avon included (in approximate order of population) Bristol, Bath, Weston-super-Mare, Yate, Clevedon, Midsomer Norton & Radstock, Bradley Stoke, Nailsea, Yatton, Keynsham and Thornbury.

The County of Avon was never a well-loved institution: many Bristolians regretted the removal of the "county" title from their city, and many people in former parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset felt they had been cut off from their traditional counties. In particular there was a long-running campaign to return Weston-Super-Mare to Somerset.

The County of Avon no longer exists; it was dissolved into four unitary authorities as a result of the Local Government Act 1992 and the Avon (Structural Change) Order 1995 on April 1, 1996. These four authorities are The City and County of Bristol, South Gloucestershire (formerly Kingswood, and Northavon), North Somerset (formerly Woodspring) and Bath and North East Somerset (formerly Bath and Wansdyke).

Some governmental bodies still cover the whole area of the former county of Avon - for example the Avon Fire Brigade, the Avon Coroner's District and the West of England Strategic Partnership. Additonally the whole of the area is covered by Avon and Somerset Constabulary. For ceremonial purposes, Bristol has regained its own Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff, while the other authorities were returned to their traditional counties.

See also