Ashchurch is a village in the Tewkesbury district of Gloucestershire, England, 2 miles (3.2 km) east of the town of Tewkesbury. The village and housing and industrial estates run directly into Tewkesbury itself to the west: Tewkesbury School, and a number of factories whose postal addresses read Tewkesbury were actually in Ashchurch.
Church of St. Nicholas
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The toponym is first recorded in 1287, in the form Asschirche, meaning "church near the ash-tree".
In the middle ages Ashchurch was part of the parish of Tewkesbury, but after the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century became a separate parish. It was a large parish, including the village of Ashchurch and the settlements of Northway, Aston Cross, Aston on Carrant, Pamington and Natton. The parish became a civil parish in 1866. The parish once extended even further west to include the area called Newtown, but this was transferred to Tewkesbury in 1931. From 1935 until 1 Apr 1974, Ashchurch was part of the Cheltenham Rural district, then was incorporated into the new Tewkesbury district.
At the 2001 UK census the parish had a population of 6,064. Ashchurch civil parish was abolished on 1 Apr 2008 when its area was divided between the new civil parishes of Northway and Ashchurch Rural.
The village is served by Ashchurch for Tewkesbury railway station on the Birmingham to Bristol main line, opened by the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway on 24 June 1840, later a part of the Midland Railway and later still the LMS. This was once a railway centre of some importance, as it was the spring-off point for two branches, one each side of the main line:
- The Evesham line, actually a lengthy loop serving Evesham, Alcester and Redditch, re-joining the main line at Barnt Green, near Bromsgrove. This line closed between Evesham and Redditch on 15 October 1962 due to poor condition of the track, while Ashchurch to Evesham followed on 17 June 1963 (Redditch to Barnt Green remains open on the electrified Birmingham suburban network).
- The line to Tewkesbury, Upton-upon-Severn and Malvern, closed beyond Upton on 1 December 1952, Ashchurch to Upton following on 14 August 1961. At this time Ashchurch station was renamed Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, but it too was to close, on 15 November 1971, reopening on 1 June 1997. There used to be a connecting curve linking the two branches, crossing the main line on the level just north of the station, creating a layout which may have been unique in Britain, but this curve closed in December 1957. There was an extensive goods yard to the south, and to the north west a large grain store.
The remains of the old line are still apparent, with much of its infrastructure in existence. The old connecting curve and the two branches it served can clearly be traced on a map. With much of the Ashchurch to Tewkesbury line now being used as a Segregated Cycle Path and Footpath, this section proved valuable during the 2007 floods as it was the only dry route into, and out of, Tewkesbury at the time.
The main road (formerly the A438) from Ledbury through Tewkesbury before meeting the old A46 at Toddington used to be one of the main transport routes East West from the Marches. Now itself renamed the A46, it crosses over the main railway line via a bridge which for decades was a thorn in the side of motorists owing to its narrowness, steep approaches and poor visibility. Tinkered with several times over the years but only providing limited improvement, a new wider bridge and minor bypass was built adjacent but to the north in 2003/4 to confirm its status as a through route. The old road now serves as a feeder for the primary school and houses, the bridge being dismantled.
DE&S Ashchurch, known locally as "Ashchurch Camp", is the UK MOD's primary vehicle storage and distribution site for all types of armoured and soft skinned vehicles, together with Royal Engineer bridges, boats and construction plant. The Centre is the only vehicle depot in the UK using Controlled Humidity Environments (CHE) for long-term vehicle storage.
In March 2012, the UK MOD's Defence Infrastructure Organisation, confirmed its intention to consult publicly on proposals to redevelop 'MOD Ashchurch' for creation of a sustainable mixed use development, likely to include new homes, community and local retail facilities, primary school, employment uses and open space.
Another key employer with a large premises at Ashchurch is the company founded by British inventor and businessman Sir George Dowty (1901-1975). Two divisions of the company were once based at Ashchurch: Dowty Seals and Dowty Mining, but only Seals maintains a current presence there.
Ashchurch pays host to more or less half of Tewkesbury's industry with several businesses growing up around the M5 motorway junction.
- Watts, Victor, ed. (2010), "Ashchurch", The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521168557
- C R Elrington (ed) (1968). "Parishes: Ashchurch". Victoria County History. A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 8. pp. 172–188. Retrieved 23 April 2018.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- The Tewkesbury (Parishes) Order 2007 Archived 2012-03-14 at the Wayback Machine
- "Homes on Ashchurch Army camp site looking likely". Gloucestershire Echo. 15 March 2012. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2012.