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A372

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A372
Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (7)
From:  Bridgwater (ST302371)
To:  Podimore (ST534252)
Distance:  19.6 miles (31.5 km)
Meets:  A38, A361, A378, A37, A303
Former Number(s):  B3150
Old route now:  B3151, A303
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Somerset

Traditional Counties

Somerset

Route outline (key)
A372 Bridgwater - Podimore
A372 Kingsdon - Ilchester
A372 Podimore - West Camel

Route

The A372 is a modest A-road in central Somerset, connecting Bridgwater to Yeovil and the A303 via Langport. Its itinerary has undergone only a few minor changes since its inception in 1922.

Bridgwater - Langport

The A372 in winter

The road starts on the A38 close to the centre of Bridgwater, and heads eastwards along St John Street, past shops and residential streets. Almost immediately, we have our first diversion. The road used to go straight on past the railway station, but has at some time been diverted to bridge the Bristol-to-Exeter railway line. This was done before the Second World War, and probably before the road was even classified, but the bridge retains an interesting feature - there are large wartime pillboxes on both sides of the bridge.

The road heads out of Bridgwater and crosses over the M5. At this point, you realise that the M5 bridge is the highest point around, as you are on the Sedgemoor – a large flat area of wetlands and bogs, little of which is more than 25 feet above sea level, which has been progressively drained since medieval times. A notable feature is the large number of drainage ditches and rivers which help to keep the land drained. There are drainage ditches to either side of the carriageway, and in some places even barriers to prevent vehicles from falling into them. The road also passes under several sets of power cables, which betray the route's proximity to the Bridgwater electricity substation.

Westonzoyland Village

After a flat run characterised by long straights and some sweeping curves, the road arrives in the delightfully named village of Westonzoyland, which derives its name from being the western most settlement on the Isle of Sowy, an area of ground slightly higher than the surrounding area. The Westonzoyland Pumping Station museum (home of Somerset's earliest steam-powered pumping station) can be found here, and just north of the village is the location of the 1685 Battle of Sedgemoor. Between the Westonzoyland Village Stores and the appropriately-named Sedgemoor Inn, the road does a zigzag before leaving the village.

Just outside Westonzoyland, the A372 crosses the disused RAF Westonzoyland airfield, passing between two sets of runways, and running in parallel right next to one of them (which can still be seen to the left). The route then turns southward and reaches Middlezoy, the middle settlement on the Isle of Sowy. The road narrows down enough to lose its central markings as it skirts around the northern fringe of this settlement, with open farmland always in view to one side.

History
Lesson
The A372 passes close to the sites of two 17th-century battles. The Battle of Sedgemoor took place just outside Westonzoyland, and was the decisive encounter that ended the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685. During the Civil Wars the Battle of Langport saw the New Model Army defeat the Royalists, paving the way for the Parliamentarian siege of Bristol, in 1645.

At Othery, our route crosses the famous A361 at an acutely angled, staggered crossroads just to the north of the settlement. On approach from the A372 in either direction, a left-turn onto the A361 is so tight that it is better executed via an unclassified cut-through to either side of the staggered forks. The road largely avoids the village itself, and is soon crossing farmland again. About a mile further on, the carriageway turns southwards quite abruptly to skirt around Aller Hill, which has been visible on the horizon for some distance. It then passes through the village of Aller, again narrowing down to lose its central markings, before arriving in the town of Langport.

Langport - Podimore

The A372 negotiates a rather awkward course through Langport, the legacy of a pre-war rerouting to avoid the narrow centre of the town. The road meets the A378 from Taunton at a TOTSO next to a filling station, where we must give way to the mainline, and turn left to stay on the A372; at this point, the route is signed for Wincanton, a destination that it will never come close to reaching! We head gently uphill through the northern reaches of the town. At the Bartletts Elm Roundabout we encounter another TOTSO, located in a very leafy part of Langport, where the road ahead is the B3153 to Somerton, while the A372 turns right to head down the town's eastern side. In the process, it crosses the Reading-to-Taunton railway line, before turning sharply to the left near St Mary's Church. The road has zigged and zagged several times - from south, to east, to south, to east again - during its negotiation of Langport, and is probably somewhat relieved to leave it behind.

Before returning to open farmland, the A372 passes through the bizarrely-named settlement of Huish Episcopi, and makes another significant turn to the left to avoid running into the River Yeo. The roads winds its way between a number of hamlets, before the B3165 crosses its path, taking in a brief multiplex, at Long Sutton. The A372 avoids passing through this village, while the B-road heads south through its centre towards Martock and the A303, and - at the end of the multiplex - north to Somerton. Just south of Kingsdon, the B3151 also crosses our path, heading south to Ilchester, and north to Somerton and Street. After that, there is less than a mile to go before we meet both the A37 and A303 at the Podimore Roundabout, where the A372 comes to an end.

History

The A372 originally passed right through the historic centre of Langport. It approached from North Street, before running up The Hill past All Saints' Church and through the Hanging Chapel, before descending to meet its current course near St Mary's Church. For anybody who has driven though the Hanging Chapel, it will come as no surprise to learn that the A-road was redirected very early on to avoid the town centre via its current route.

In 1935, the MOT did consider re-routing the A372 away from Bridgwater and along the route of the then B3153 south to Ash Cross on the A358, thereby heading for Taunton. This would have seen the Langport-to-Bridgwater section renumbered, although no new number was ever suggested, and the plan never carried out. Instead, the Langport-to-Ash Cross road eventually upgraded to become the A378.

When RAF Westonzoyland was built during the Second World War, the A372 was diverted to a more southerly course between the villages of Westonzoyland and Middlezoy, running down Place Drove, through the hamlet of Thorngrove, and along Main Road in the village of Middlezoy, before rejoining its original route just north of Middlezoy. After the airfield was closed during the 1970s, the road was returned to its original course across the airfield.

In 1922, the eastern end of the A372 headed down Bondip Hill to meet the original alignment of the A37 in Ilchester, just north of the original alignment of the A303. In 1935, this final section became an extension of the B3151, while the A372 was re-routed along the former B3150, which crossed the A37 and carried on through Podimore to end on the A303 at Camel Cross. With the building of the Ilchester bypass, the A303 effectively replaced this final section of the A372, which was cut back to its present terminus at the roundabout with the A37, and the B3151 was extended to take over the old A303 through Yeovilton.




A372
Junctions
Roads
Places
Related Pictures
View gallery (7)
Westonzoyland village - Geograph - 768144.jpgIlchester-1946.jpgBridgwater-1946.jpgRed Post Cross - Kingsdon - Geograph - 444029.jpgA372 (Langport to Othery road) with winter frost - Geograph - 1127596.jpg
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