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Christchurch (Dorset) is a town in Hampshire that is often confused with being in New zealand. Due to chronic overcrowding of Hampshire, and the infamous "Youthening Project" of the early 1970s it was decided that Christchurch (Dorset), with it's abundance of elderly residents, should be donated to neighbouring Dorset to bring the average age of Hampshire residents down from 82 to 36. The flip side of this, of course, is that Dorset's average age catapulted from 42 up to 85 which is why Christchurch (Dorset) is now laying in an often disputed patch of no mans land with neither county wanting to claim responsibility.
With Hampshire apparently happy that it's gone, and Dorset generally referring to it as "that Hampshire town", Christchurch (Dorset) became the first town in the UK to adopt brackets in their name with the addition of (Dorset) in 1983. This meant that people searching for articles about Christchurch would, in fact, find the UK town, and secondly it formed a lasting link with a county giving the Alzheimers ridden residents something extra to add to their addresses.
Plus it sounded better that "Christchurch (No Mans Land)"
The origins of Christchurch (Dorset) began in 1922 when a young entrepreneur, Tommy Trip, decided that the local marshland would make an excellent location for a halfway house to serve thirsty travellers venturing on the A35 from Southampton to Bournemouth. Upon pulling up in his Model T, Tommy laughed and stated "That's a muddy Ford" and decided to name his new tavern "The Muddy Ford" in honour of it. Tommy built his tavern on the marshland, and sadly The Muddy Ford lasted a grand total of four days before sinking swiftly into the marsh. The chimney stack of The Muddy Ford can still be seen in the marshland and has been one of the two tourist attractions in the town owned by English Heritage since 1952.
For the next two decades, few ventured into the inhospitable area still known locally as The Muddy Ford, although frequently becoming abbreviated to simply Muddy Ford until a need arose in Southampton in the early 1950s to find a convenient location to dispose of elderly relatives. This location had to be close enough to Southampton to allow infrequent visits by family members, but far enough away that it would be a reasonably awkward Bus ride for the elderly relatives to visit family in Southampton. After deliberation and consultation, in 1954 Southampton Council agreed construction of a new town on the site of Muddy Ford.
The problems that the Council had in creating this new town were:-
- How to build a town on such inhospitable terrain
- How to convince elderly people to live in such inhospitable terrain
Upon consultation with a variety of engineering companies, researchers established that if foundations were dug to a depth of at least 175ft, buildings would actually survive the fate that befell The Muddy Ford. This, at least, solved the first issue. The second issue, however, took some additional research and both Bournemouth University and Southampton University were asked to conduct studies into how to entice elderly people to live in a new dwelling. The answer came from the 1955 study by Southampton University Geriactrics Studies which concluded that "If you build a big church, elderly people will flock to it like moths to a flame" and the construction of the new church commenced the following year.
Upon completion, a name had to be decided upon for the new structure. Flicking through Yellow Pages, Southampton Council were dismayed to find that every Saint, known and unknown, already had a church named after them and as a coffee break was looming someone muttering "Just call the bloody thing Christ Church" was met with rapturous applause and the new building was named.
The first elderly were transported to Christ Church in 1960, and due to a complete lack of ingenuity in thinking of a catchy name exhibited by the new residents, the town of Christchurch was formed.
edit Youthening Project
In 1972, a study was conducted by the Government to establish average ages of counties throughout Great Britain. This study was primarily to allocate new land for cemetery space, but also highlighted an issue for several counties. Whilst Wiltshire and Somerset had average ages of 54 and 46 respectively, Dorset had an average age of only 42 where as Hampshire had a vastly disproportionate average age of 82.
One reason given for this that whilst Christchurch (Dorset) had been constructed to effectively remove elderly Hampshire residents from society, it had the effect of attracting elderly residents from neighbouring counties as well, thus reducing their average ages and increasing Hampshire's.
The 1973 "Youthening Project" was enacted upon this study in an effort to reduce Hampshire's average age to a far more reasonable level. A poll was proposed for the residents of Hampshire to find out public opinion on the matter, and with 97.7% of the vote stating "Get rid of Christchurch" (supported by a variety of campaigns and demos) Christchurch was officially abandoned in 1974.
With Dorset not wishing to increase it's youthful average age of 42, it decided against adopting the disowned berg, which left Christchurch situated in an effective "No Mans Land" for several years. Despite campaigns to donate Christchurch to France, and an ever mounting international phone bill accrued by the local Tourist Information Office having to explain to people that they weren't located in New Zealand, in 1985 Christchurch Borough Council adopted the (Dorset) suffix to distinguish themselves from the southern hemisphere city, and force Dorset to take responsibility for their welfare.
edit Food, Drink & Nightlife
Christchurch (Dorset) enjoys a wide array of culinary and alcoholic establishments, including the British Legion, the Conservative Club, 46 restaurants and a few pubs. Drawing in people from as far afield as Burton and Somerford, Christchurch (Dorset) has the distinction of having more restaurants than population, a feat that is celebrated during the annual Food Festival once a year.
After dark, everything changes. Everyone goes home. Friday and Saturday nights in town are generally so quiet that even the Police get bored, park up their police cars and go for a drink to wind away the long nights.
Many tourists flock to Christchurch (Dorset) to attempt the World famous "Christchurch (Dorset) Pub Crawl" where they have a pint of beer in each of the town centre taverns. It garnered praise from anti-alcohol organisations as the world's only pub crawl that leaves the participant substantially under the drink-drive limit.
A popular nocturnal amongst the youth of Christchurch, all four of them, is catching a taxi to nearby Bournemouth which boasts a significantly louder and more violent night time culture. On weekend nights, Christchurch bears an eerie reminiscence to wartime Colditz as the inebriated youngsters attempt to evade front garden trip wires (cunningly disguised as garden hoses), motion detector enabled floodlights and a variety of gardening implements as they attempt to make it back inside their houses without their parents waking up.
edit Tourist Attractions
Christchurch (Dorset) has a wide range of attractions for old and elderly alike. These include Christchurch Castle, although actually just a brick wall situated on top of an overgrown hill built by a man called Norman in 1990. The world famous "Muddy Ford Chimney Stack", and the now defunct "Museum of Electricity" which demonstrated how electricity could be used to extend the lives of the elderly until euthanasia became the preferred method of dealing with them.
Given a lack of reasons for visiting Christchurch (Dorset), there have been recent plans to open a Morrisons in the town although local residents are currently blocking the plans stating that it would detract attention from their favoured Waitrose.
edit Transport Links
Transport forms an integral part of society in Christchurch (Dorset). With the railway station situated too far from town for most of the residents to walk to, taxis and buses are the common means of transport around the town.
Christchurch taxis are were cited in a recent study as having the shortest average journey distance yet longest average journey duration of any town in the UK. With the local council stipulating a 6mph speed limit on taxi journeys for local residents for fear of them having a heart attack, it can in fact take several weeks to cross from one side of town to the other with frequent toilet stops and passengers forgetting the reason they caught the taxi in the first place.
Buses, and bus routes, are specially adapted to meet the needs of local residents. There are in fact routes which only go one stop before terminating and returning in the other direction. Operated by That nice man who takes us to the Post Office Buses Limited, some of the more frequently used routes include:
|7||Town Centre to Post Office|
|8||Town Centre to The Stop The Other Side Of The Roundabout|
|9||Town Centre to I Just Fancied A Ride|
|10|| Town Centre to Town Centre|
Operated in association with Alzheimers UK