Chelmsford is the county town of Essex, England. As well as being a thriving modern town, it is steeped in history and was one of the original settlements of Great Britain. The town is surrounded by many small villages that retain their original charm.
The town's name is derived from 'Ceolmaer's ford', which was near the site of the current High Street stone bridge. The modern town's origins stem from a market which opened in 1199, and an under-cover market remains a major feature of today's largely commercial town centre.
Chelmsford has been an important centre for industry since the 19th century, and is credited as the "birthplace of radio" after the world's first "wireless" factory was opened on Hall Street in 1899 by Guglielmo Marconi. From here the UK's first official publicised sound broadcast was made in 1920, and in 1922 the world's first regular wireless broadcasts for entertainment began from the Marconi laboratories at nearby Writtle.
Chelmsford was also home to the 'Arc Works', the UK's first electrical engineering works, and was one of the earliest towns to receive electric street lighting. The UK's first ball bearing factory, Hoffmann Ball Bearings, was established in Chelmsford in 1898, and other large companies e2v and Britvic also originated in the town.
Chelmsford's central Essex location and good public transport links (it is within easy reach of London and several airports) have attracted a range of national and international companies, and the town has almost equal numbers of commuters into and out of London.
Chelmsford also hosts a number of festivals, including V Festival, Essex Street Diversions (East Anglia's largest festival of international street theatre) and the 3 Foot People Festival (the UK's only 4-day festival exclusively for under-5-year-olds).
In 2007, the Channel 4 programme "Location, Location, Location" voted Chelmsford as the 8th best place to live in the UK.