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Between Sherbourne and Wimbourne in the east of Dorset, on the edge of the Blackmore Vale, Blandford Forum is a fine example of a Georgian town, offering an unusual uniformity of architecture and style, thanks to a near-total rebuilding of the original town which was ravaged by fire during the eighteenth century. Today, this market town on the banks of the river Stour is a busy one, with a variety of shops and services, many of which cater for the nearby military base as well as for locals and holidaymakers.
There are a number of tourist attractions which draw visitors, not least of which is the annual five day extravaganza, the Blandford Carnival, and the Great Dorset Steam Fair in September, an extremely popular event which draws over a quarter of a million people each year. It showcases a variety of heritage vehicles whilst celebrating the rural life of yesteryear, complete with displays of steam tractors and other engines alongside plenty of stalls, attractions and family fun events.
The Royal Signals Museum just outside the town is a popular draw. This museum tells the history of Army communications from the Napoleonic wars right up to present military campaigns. There are displays, audio-visual panels, exhibitions, interactive games, a shop and cafeteria on site. An altogether different experience is to be had at Blandford’s remarkable Mrs Penny’s Cavalcade of Costume museum, set in one of the town’s fine Georgian buildings. Here, dedicated fashionistas and casually curious visitors alike will appreciate the treasure trove of a collection on display. There are garments dating from the eighteenth century through to more modern couture pieces, lace work, dolls in historic dress, accessories, the works of well-known contemporary fashion designers; in all, the museum offers a comprehensive insight into the ever-changing world of fashion and clothing. Blandford town museum is also worth a look, whilst the Hall & Woodhouse Brewery museum is an exhibition dedicated to the production of the town’s local ale, Badger Brew. There are also many opportunities for walking and cycling in the countryside surrounding Blandford, with the North Dorset Cycleway passing through the town centre.