Yate is a reasonably quiet and unassuming town in south Gloucestershire (about 12 miles to the east and up a bit from Bristol). It gets the raw end of the deal in that it is considered a little less interesting than its neighbour, Chipping Sodbury1. A wide range of people seem to find it to their taste, however.
The Yate Shopping Centre
The shopping centre is the hub of the town, and claims to hold over 100 businesses. Most of these tend to be mobile phone or card shops, but it also contains fast-food restaurants, clothing retailers, charity shops, all-purpose shops, toy stores, a perfume store, a bakery, banks, a library, a pub (the White Lion), a large leisure centre - you get the idea.
There was once a bookshop, but there are no longer any in the area since rental prices shot up. Yate has been added to the official list of Fairtrade towns2 in the UK, however. Some of the bananas and chocolate stamped with the Fairtrade mark can be found scattered about the many, many shops.
Niceties and Not so Niceties
In the centre of Yate is a large café, which was built over a large covered platform (or bandstand) that was once nice. Children's entertainers would perform there at the weekend, or a large tree would be set up during the festive season. There are also a number of parks dotted around, some of which contain duck ponds and waterways. All are pleasant to walk through - with a dog, too, if you like - unless there is a loud, annoying group of teens playing football or skateboarding3.
Yate hosts frequent festivals, but the one that may attract most people is the South Cotswold Beer Festival. Held annually since 1995, the main event takes place in nearby Chipping Sodbury, but Yate caters for revellers (not to mention that the residents of Yate actually tend to do much of the organisation) by offering tickets and nearby accommodation for those who do not fancy camping.
People of Yate
Yate folk are generally your average English-types, with stiff upper lips and an intriguing accent. Most, if not all, are pretty friendly, although there are the usual number of teenagers who may appear a little disagreeable. There are quite a few students about the place, too, due to the closeness of Bristol University. These are sometimes better avoided, especially when they're jostling in the kebab van queue after they've had a few drinks.
Yate also boasts a few celebrities, the most well-known perhaps being JK Rowling (author of the Harry Potter books), who was born there. The graffiti artist Banksy and actor Alan Medcroft also hail from the town. And many a famous face has graced the shopping centre over the years for various community celebrations.
Worth a Visit?
Despite all of the previous wonders mentioned, Yate does not appear to have any strong tourist attractions. But the Yate Heritage Centre can prove otherwise. Opened in 1995, this little building allows the visitor a look into the history of Yate. The town was first mentioned in 770 and boasts the site of an Iron Age fort nearby. Yate's history also extends to its links with Parnall's Aircraft Factory, which built machines and components in the area during the World War I and World War II. Then there’s the Stanshawe family, whose manor house dominated the town until 1871, when it was knocked down and a rather imposing Victorian building put up in its place - now the Stanshawes Court Hotel.
Besides its mention in the Domesday Book, the town has a small claim to fame in being included in Douglas Adams and John Lloyd's farcical place-name book The Meaning of Liff. In it, a yate is defined as a:
Dishearteningly white piece of bread which sits limply in a pop-up toaster during a protracted throcking4 session.For those wanting to find Yate - perhaps visitors from its twinned town, Bad Salzdetfurth, Germany - the town is connected to the rest of the world by rail (the original station opened in 1844 and the Victorian façade is quite pretty), or road (follow the signs for Bath off the M4). However, most travel is out of Yate, and the community tends to be unoccupied most of the time. Those who live there usually commute to work or study during the week in Bristol, and then spend the weekend in the town. Yate is the kind of town you live in when you are trying to live somewhere else.