Malton

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Malton is a market town and civil parish in North Yorkshire, England. The town is the location of the offices of Ryedale District Council and has a population of around 4,000 people.

It is located to the north of the River Derwent which forms the historic boundary between the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire.

Facing Malton on the other side of the Derwent is Norton. Malton Bacon Factory, Malton bus station and Malton railway station are actually located in Norton-on-Derwent.

Malton is the local commercial centre. In the town centre there are lots of small traditional independent shops. The market place has recently become a meeting area with a number of coffee bars and cafés opening all day to complement the public houses.

The town stands on the site of a former Roman settlement, although no firm conclusion has been agreed upon as to which this settlement actually was. The uncertainty surrounds, in particular, the exact location of the Roman town of Derventio. Contradictory records describe Derventio as being either 7 or 17 miles east of York. The former is consistent with the site of a Roman settlement known to have existed in proximity to the current village of Stamford Bridge, in which case the settlement at Malton is more likely to have been Delgovicia. The latter places Derventio at Malton.

If there is still academic debate about the name, what is certain is that Roman Malton was, from the second half of the first century, a busy and a lively place. Consisting firstly of the important cavalry fort whose remains lie in Old Malton under the former pasture land known as Orchard Fields, right beside a disused railway cutting, it eventually extended to include an adjoining area of civil settlement or vicus on the north bank, immediately south of the fort and sited above the necessary river crossing or bridge(s) below. Right opposite, on the southern side of the modern river Derwent (whose name is immediately traceable back to that Derventio commonly suggested as most likely place name in Roman times) was an area of ‘grid iron’ street planning and metal workshops which we know from an inscription included a goldsmith’s shop managed for its owner by a young slave. These ‘planned’ Roman streets on the south bank therefore seem natural precursor to the more industrial atmosphere and activity which modern Norton still retains to this day, whilst Roman Malton across the river could boast at least one fine townhouse that was furnished with painted walls, mosaic floors, heated rooms and sculptural architectural decoration, examples of which are held by the Malton Museum, but are not on public view. The Museum’s premises in the Old Town Hall closed at the end of February 2012, and the Trustees are currently looking for a new home for the collection.

Likewise, what we know of Roman horse-keeping activity seems to echo modern Malton’s continuing reputation as another Yorkshire town famous for racehorse breeding and training. Derventio itself was a strategically important cavalry fort, 17 miles from the Legionary fortress at York (Eboracum) and standing at the very hub of Roman road networks extending right across North and East Yorkshire. Its known garrison, the Ala Picentiana, was a regiment or cavalry ‘wing’ of some repute, one arguably traceable from its first being raised in Gaul (modern France) under Julius Caesar himself; to its later serving in the Balkans (under a man called Picens whom the regiment is believed to be named after) before eventual posting to Britain. Marcus Claudius Bassus was a known commander of the regiment whilst in Malton, but another man called Candidus and his own links with the Ala at Derventio receive permanent record in a beautifully lettered fragmentary dedication stone set up by the unit commander outside the south-east gate of the fort, then eventually found in 1970 before going on display in the Old Town Hall today.

As well as York itself, their road network shows us what key strategic and social links there were for Malton to the only other important Roman town located within the territory of the local Celtic tribe, the Parisii; namely their tribal capital, Roman naval-base and major ferry-crossing sited at Brough-on-Humber (Petuaria). As the historical novelist Clive Ashman so vividly puts it in “MOSAIC – the Pavement that Walked” (Voreda Books) his fictionalised account of not only the true-life, 1948 theft of a Roman mosaic from Brough, but also the original fate of the Roman villa it came from (and of the Ala Picentiana itself): “As for the glorious Ala traceable back to Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars, it is an inevitable truth that hundreds of years later there came one final day when its men rode jingling out of Derventio fort, never to be seen there again.”

Once the Ala had gone, it was replaced towards the end of the Romans’ 350-year occupation by an irregular unit sent up from Brough – the Numerus Supervenientum Petuarensium. This proved just a temporary measure in what became ever darker times. From 367 AD until the last Roman troops withdrew around 405 AD, Roman Malton was attacked and ruined several times – by the end it was not much better than an enclosure of fallen rubble they were vainly cutting their fresh defensive ditches around. What they made of it all we can only guess, but we do know that these people living amongst the ruins of Roman Malton were about to enter that long period known to us now as the Dark Ages.

In the 11th century, a wooden Norman castle was built in what is now castle Garden. This had been rebuilt in stone by Eustace de Vescy by the time Richard the Lionheart visited the castle in 1189. Other visitors included Edward II, in 1307 and Robert the Bruce in 1322. The great house subsequently became ruined.

The castle site was inherited by Lord William Eure in 1544, when he was also made a baron. In 1569, Ralph, 3rd Lord Eure built a new house on the castle site and in 1602, the house was rebuilt in much grander style. This was a spectacular property and it was described by the diarist and gunpowder plotter Sir Henry Slingsby as the rival of many other great houses, including that at Audley End.

The house was subsequently demolished 1674 and the stones divided between two sisters, Mary and Margaret Eure. They had quarrelled over their inheritance and the demolition was the settlement ordered by Sheriff Henry Marwood. The Old Lodge Hotel is the remaining fragment of the original Jacobean “prodigy house” and its size hints at the grandeur of the complete structure.

In Mediaeval times, Malton was briefly a parliamentary borough in the 13th century, and again from 1640 to 1885; the borough was sometimes referred to as New Malton. It was represented by two Members of Parliament until 1868, among them the political philosopher Edmund Burke, and by one member from 1868 to 1885.

Attractions in modern Malton include the signposted remains of the Roman fort at ‘Orchard Fields’, and Malton Priory a Gilbertine priory. Eden Camp, a military themed museum, is located just outside the town.

Both towns are known in connection with Charles Dickens who made regular visits to the area to see his friend Charles Smithson, he also wrote the famous novel A Christmas Carol while staying in Malton. There have been recent revivals of Dickens-related festivals.

Malton and the neighbouring village of Old Malton provide the settings for the collection of stories told in the book, “All is Bright – A Yorkshire Lad’s Christmas” by Dave Preston.

In 2007 WSP Group and Atisreal for Ryedale District Council and Yorkshire Forward revealed new regeneration plans for Malton.

These plans include;

  • The Mount Hotel – to be modified and renovated into high quality Residential Apartments
  • York House – to be changed for community use/offices/Tourist Information/museum?
  • Livestock Market – area to be relocated to Pasture Lane. Once completed the old livestock market area will be in mixed use for retail, residential and parking.
  • The Market Place – Improved public realm and new pedestrian priority areas
  • Wheelgate – Improved pedestrian / shopping environment
  • Greengate – New delivery route for eastern section of Wheelgate
  • East Mount – New residential apartments and housing
  • Wentworth Street Car Park – Mixed use development (supermarket / residential / parking)

However, major property owners, the Fitzwilliam Estate, considers that taking a more traditionalist approach is a more appropriate option for the town.

Malton holds a market every Saturday, as well as a farmers’ market once every month. The town has a war memorial and several historical churches (Norton-on-Derwent also holds large church buildings). The town is served by Malton railway station.

Malton is a popular destination for people visiting North Yorkshire because of the nearby village of Kirby Misperton, the location of the largest amusement park in the region, Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo.

Malton is the middle-ground between York, Pickering (access to the North Yorkshire Moors and also a terminus of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway), Scarborough, Filey and Whitby.

The route of The White Rose Way, a long distance walk from Leeds to Scarborough, North Yorkshire also passes through.

The Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate owns and manages commercial, residential and agricultural property in and around the town of Malton. The Estate, whilst it has a commercial property business to manage, has a strong community focus with the aim of improving the town both socially and economically for the benefit of its tenants and the wider community.

Local community organisations are supported by charitable donations through the Earl Fitzwilliam Charitable Trust.

The ‘We Love Malton’ campaign was launched in March 2009. It aims to reinvigorate the town of Malton as a ‘Food Lovers’ destination and raise its appeal with both residents and tourists. We Love Malton host events throughout the year, the flagship of these being the Malton Food Lovers Festival. This annual event entices over 10,000 visitors to the North Yorkshire town and features Michelin-starred and celebrity chefs and patrons. As well as this there are over 100 producers stalls, beer, wine and cider festival and family entertainment. The festival is now know as Yorkshire’s Finest. The next Food Lovers Festival will take place on 19 and 20 May 2012.

Malton is on the A64, which runs from Leeds and York to Scarborough, at the junction with the A169 to Pickering and Whitby. A by-pass was built in 1979, but the narrow streets through the town centre are still very congested.

Malton railway station is on the TransPennine Express route, with fast trains every hour running from Scarborough to York, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.

There are plans to re-open the rail link between Malton and Pickering, which would create a new service from Malton to Whitby.

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