Saffron Walden is an average-sized market town in the north-west of Essex, which dates back to the Bronze Age. Geographically, it is part of the county's Uttlesford district, and lies 43 miles north of London, 18 miles south of Cambridge, and 12 miles north of Bishops Stortford.
In medieval times, it was dominated by the wool trade, but it was only in the 16th and 17th century that it earned its current name, which was taken from the highly-desirable saffron crocus flowers that were widely grown in the area and their extract was sold for various uses.
The population is estimated at 14,313, and 24% of residents possess an NVQ Level 4 or higher. A high proportion of the town's employment is provided by the predominant industries of wholesale/retail (18%), manufacturing (17%), and real estate (16%), although other small industries include education, construction, health/social work, and public administration and defence. The town's main employers are local businesses, (situated at a number of industrial estates in the area), rather than large, national firms. Full-time staff receive an average annual wage of £28,637.
Over the past two years, the unemployment rate for the north of Essex has fallen significantly, leading recruitment agencies to believe that the local economy of Saffron Walden will continue to improve.