Newark-on-Trent

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Newark-on-Trent (generally shortened to Newark) is a market town in Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands region of England. It stands on the River Trent, the A1 (on the route of the ancient Great North Road), and the East Coast Main Line railway. The origins of the town are possibly Roman as it lies on an important Roman road, the Fosse Way. The town grew around Newark Castle, now ruined, and a large marketplace, now lined with historic buildings. It was a local centre for the wool and cloth trade. During the English Civil War it was besieged by Parliamentary forces, and had to be relieved by Prince Rupert in a battle known as the Relief of Newark.

With its pleasant environment, including the surrounding villages, and its good transport links, the town is becoming a popular commuter town for the expanding city of Nottingham (around twenty miles (32 km) away) and increasingly for London (1 hour and 20 minutes by rail). Newark is the home of Newark Rugby Union Football Club, which has produced past players such as Dusty Hare and John Wells.

Estimated population (mid-2007, via NSDC Stats & Info) is 26,330 for the Newark Parish.

The origins of the town are possibly Roman due to its position on an important Roman road, the Fosse Way. In a document which purports to be a charter of 664, Newark is mentioned as having been granted to the Abbey of Peterborough by Wulfhere. An Anglo-Saxon pagan cemetery, used from the early 5th to the early 7th centuries, has been found in Millgate, in Newark, close to both the Fosse Way and the River Trent in which cremated remains were buried in pottery urns.

In the reign of Edward the Confessor Newark belonged to Godiva and her husband Leofric, Earl of Mercia, who granted it to the monastery of Stow in 1055, who retained its incomes even after the Norman Conquest as came under the control of the Norman Bishop Remigius de Fécamp. After his death it changed to, and remained in the hands of, the Bishops of Lincoln from 1092 until the reign of Edward VI. There were burgesses in Newark at the time of the Domesday survey, and in the reign of Edward III, there is evidence that it had long been a borough by prescription. The Newark wapentake in the east of Nottinghamshire was established during the period of Anglo-Saxon rule (10th to 11th centuries AD).

Newark Castle “was originally a Saxon fortified manor house, founded by King Edward the Elder. In 1073, Robert Bloet, bishop of Lincoln founded an earthwork motte and bailey fortress on the site. From 1123–33, Bishop Alexander the Magnificent completely rebuilt the castle, when founding a prominent stone structure of ornate construction.” The river bridge was built about the same time under charter from Henry I, also St. Leonard’s Hospital. He also gained from the king a charter to hold a five-day fair at the castle each year. He gained a charter under King Stephen to establish a mint in the town.

The town became a local centre for the wool and cloth trade, certainly by the time of Henry II a major market was established. Wednesday and Saturday markets in the town were established during the period 1156–1329 when a series of charters granted to the Bishop of Lincoln made them possible. King John died of dysentery in Newark in 1216. Following his death as Henry III tried to bring order to the country the mercenary Robert de Gaugy refused to yield Newark Castle to the Bishop of Lincoln, its rightful owner, leading to the Dauphin of France (later King Louis VIII of France) laying an eight day siege on behalf of the king, ended by an agreement to pay the mercenary to leave. Around the time of Edward III’s death, and excluding beggars and clergy, in “1377 – Poll tax records show adult population of 1,178 making Newark one of the biggest 25 or so towns in England”.

In 1457 a flood swept away the bridge over the Trent and, although there was no legal requirement for anyone to replace it, the Bishop of Lincoln, John Chaworth, financed the building of a new bridge, built of oak with stone defensive towers at either end.

Following the break with Rome in the 16th century, the subsequent establishment of the independent Church of England, and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Henry VIII had the Vicar of Newark, Henry Lytherland executed when he refused to acknowledge the king as head of the Church. The dissolution affected Newark’s political landscape heavily, and even more radical changes came in 1547 when the Bishop of Lincoln exchanged ownership of the town with the Crown. Newark was incorporated under an alderman and twelve assistants in 1549, and the charter was confirmed and extended by Elizabeth I.

Charles I, owing to the increasing commercial prosperity of the town, reincorporated it under a mayor and aldermen, and this charter, except for a temporary surrender under James II, continued to be the governing charter of the corporation until the Municipal Corporations Act 1835.

During the English Civil War, Newark was a mainstay of the royalist cause, Charles I having raised his standard in nearby Nottingham. It was attacked in February 1643 by two troops of horsemen, but beat them back. The town fielded at times as many as 600 soldiers, and raided Nottingham, Grantham, Northampton, Gainsborough, and others with mixed success, but enough to cause it to rise to national notice. At the end of 1644 it was besieged by forces from Nottingham, Lincoln and Derby, the siege was only relieved in March by Prince Rupert.

Parliament commenced a new siege towards the end of January 1645 following more raiding, but this was relieved by Sir Marmaduke Langdale after about a month. Newark cavalry fought with the king’s forces which were decisively defeated in the Battle of Naseby, near Leicester in June 1645.

The final siege began in November 1645, by which time the town’s defences had been greatly strengthened. Two major forts had been constructed just outside the town, one, called the Queen’s Sconce, to the south-west and another, the King’s Sconce to the north-east, both close to the river, together with defensive walls and a water filled ditch 2¼ miles in length, around the town. In May 1646 the town was ordered to surrender by Charles I, which was still only accepted under protest by the town’s garrison. After the surrender most of the defences were destroyed, including the castle which was left in essentially the state it can be seen today.

Around 1770 the Great North Road around Newark (now the A1) was raised on a long series of arches to ensure it remained clear of the regular floods it experienced. A special Act of Parliament in 1773 allowed the creation of a town hall next to the Market Place. Designed by John Carr of York and completed in 1776, Newark Town Hall is now a Grade 1 listed building. In 1775 the Duke of Newcastle, at the time the Lord of the Manor and a major landowner of the area, built a new brick bridge with stone facing to replace the dilapidated one next to the castle. This is still one of the major thoroughfares in the town today.

A noted advocate of reform in the late 18th century at Newark was the local-born printer and newspaper owner Daniel Holt (1766–1799). He was imprisoned for printing a leaflet advocating parliamentary reform and selling a Thomas Paine pamphlet.

In the milieu of parliamentary reform the duke of Newcastle evicted over a hundred tenants at Newark whom he believed supported directly or indirectly the Liberal/Radical candidate (Wilde) rather than his candidate (Michael Sadler, a progressive Conservative)at the 1829 elections. See the report in Cornelius BROWN 1907, ii, 243 following; and the report in the Times for 7 October 1829. A report in the Times of 10 September 1832 lists ten of the evicted people by name and address.

J.S. Baxter, who was a schoolboy in Newark from 1830 to 1840, contributed to The hungry forties: life under the bread tax (London, 1904), a book about the Corn Laws: “Chartists and rioters came from Nottingham into Newark, parading the streets with penny loaves dripped in blood carried on pikes, crying ‘Bread or blood.'”

During the Victorian era a lot of new buildings and industry were established, such as Independent Chapel (1822), Holy Trinity (1836–37), Christ Church (1837), Castle Railway Station (1846), Wesleyan Chapel (1846), The Corn Exchange (1848), Methodist New Connexion Chapel (1848), W.N. Nicholson Trent Ironworks (1840s), Northgate Railway Station (1851), North End Wesleyan Chapel (1868), St. Leonard’s Anglican Church (1873), Baptist Chapel (1876), Primitive Methodist Chapel (1878), Newark Hospital (1881), Ossington Coffee Palace (1882), Gilstrap Free Library (1883), Market Hall (1884), Unitarian Chapel (1884), The Fire Station (1889), Waterworks (1898) and the School of Science and Art (1900). These changes and the other industrial expansion that went with them saw the population of the town grow from under 7,000 in 1800 to over 15,000 by the end of the century.

During the Second World War there were a number of RAF stations within a few miles of Newark, from many of which operated squadrons of the Polish Air Force. A special plot was set aside in Newark Cemetery for RAF burials and this is now the war graves plot, where all but ten of the ninety Commonwealth and all of the 397 Polish burials were made. The cemetery also contains 49 scattered burials from the First World War. A memorial cross to the Polish airmen buried here was erected in the plot and was unveiled in 1941 by President Raczkiewicz, ex-President of the Polish Republic and head of the wartime Polish Government in London, supported by General Sikorski, head of the Polish Armed Forces and wartime Polish Prime Minister. When both men subsequently died, General Sikorski in 1943 and President Raczkiewicz in 1947, they were buried at the foot of the memorial. General Sikorski’s remains were returned to Poland in 1993, but there is still a memorial to him at Newark.

The clothing, bearings, pumps, agricultural machinery, pine furniture making and sugar refining were the main industries in Newark in the last 100 years or so. British Sugar still has one of its sugar beet processing factories to the north of the town near the A616 (Great North Road). There have been several factory closures, especially since the 1950s. Breweries in the town in the 20th century included James Hole and Warwicks-and-Richardsons.

Newark lies on the River Trent, with the River Devon also running through the town. Standing at the intersection of the Great North Road and the Fosse Way, Newark originally grew around Newark Castle – now ruined – and a large market place – now lined with historic buildings.

According to the 2001 census, it had a population of 25,376. The ONS Mid Year Population Estimates for 2007 indicate that the population had then increased to around 26,700.

However Newark forms a continuous built-up area with the neighbouring parish of Balderton to the south. “The population of Newark is approximately 35,000 and the rural area of Newark and Sherwood to the west of the town has an additional population of 75,000 in the small towns of Southwell and Ollerton and the numerous villages of the district.” To the south of the town, along the A46 road, is Farndon, and to the north is Winthorpe.

Newark’s position as one of the few bridges on the River Trent in the area, its location along the Great North Road, (the A1), and later with the advance of rail transport being at the junction between the East Coast Main Line and the route from Nottingham to Lincoln, and situated on a man-made navigable section of the River Trent, have all enhanced its growth and development. “Newark became a substantial inland port, particularly for the wool trade,” though it industrialised to some extent during the Victorian era, and later with an ironworks, engineering, brewing, and a sugar refinery. It was a major town standing for the Royalist cause during the Civil War, “Newark was besieged on three occasions and finally surrendered only when ordered to do so by the King after his own surrender.”

The A1 bypass was opened in 1964 . The single-carriageway £34m A46 opened in October 1990. The junction with the A1 is very busy.

Newark returned two representatives to the Unreformed House of Commons from 1673. It was the last borough to be created before the Reform Act. William Ewart Gladstone, later Prime Minister, was MP for Newark in 1832, and re-elected in 1835, 1837 and 1841 (twice), but possibly due to his support of the repeal of the Corn Laws and other issues he stood elsewhere after that time. Recently, Newark elections have been central to two interesting legal cases. In 1945, a challenge to Harold Laski, the Chairman of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, led Laski to sue the Daily Express when it reported him as saying that Labour might take power through violence if defeated at the polls. Laski vehemently denied saying this but lost the libel action. In the 1997 general election, Newark returned Fiona Jones of the Labour Party. The defeated Liberal Democrat candidate questioned her election expenses and the police investigated and eventually prosecuted. Jones and her election agent Des Whicher were convicted of submitting a fraudulent declaration of expenses, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. Had the conviction stood, Jones would have been disqualified from Parliament.

Newark is governed by Nottinghamshire County Council, and is in the Newark and Sherwood district, which returns ten councillors. The town has a locally elected council of eighteen members from five wards. Newark Town Council is responsible for local events such as the LocAle & Weinfest, as well as looking after the museum, and the allotments.

A major employer in the town is a bearings factory (part of the NSK group) with around 200 employees. Another notable employer in the town is Laurens Patisseries, part of the food group Bakkavör since May 2006 when bought for £130m, claims to be the largest cream cake manufacturer in Europe employing over 1000 people. It supplies desserts to Tesco. Dessert Company on Brunel Drive closed in March 2000 with the loss of 700 jobs when Laurens received the Tesco order which they had supplied. In 2007, Currys opened their £30m national distribution centre next to the A17 near the A46 roundabout, and Dixons moved its national distribution centre there in 2005, with over 1,400 staff employed at the site during peak times. PJ Smoothies used to be a main manufacturer in the town until 2007, when production was moved by new owners Pepsico to Boxford in Suffolk to be made by Copella. Ingersoll Dresser have a pumps factory. Project Telecom on Brunel Drive was bought by Vodafone in 2003 for a reported £163m. Since 1985 Newark has been host to the biggest antiques fair in Europe, the Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair, held bi-monthly at Newark Showground. Although much of the pine furniture making has ceased in the last 10 years Newark is still known for its antiques shops and centres.

With its pleasant environment, including the surrounding villages, and its good transport links, the town is becoming a popular commuter town for the expanding city of Nottingham (around twenty miles (32 km) away) and even increasingly for London (1 hour and 20 minutes by rail).

Newark’s new police station opened in October 2006. The Palace Theatre is on Appletongate. The Market Place is the focal point of the town. The Queen’s Head is an old pub.

  • The Church of St. Mary Magdalene is a Grade I listed building, notable for the tower and the octagonal spire (236 ft. high), the highest in Nottinghamshire. It was heavily restored in the mid-19th century by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The reredos was added by Sir Ninian Comper.
  • Newark Air Museum is an air museum located on the former Royal Air Force station, RAF Winthorpe, at Winthorpe village, just north of the town. The airfield was mainly used for training Lancaster crews.
  • Newark Castle was built alongside the Trent by Alexander of Lincoln, the Bishop of Lincoln in 1123, who established it as a mint. Of the original Norman stronghold the most important remains are the gate-house, a crypt and the tower at the south-west angle. King John died at this castle on the night of 18 October 1216. In the reign of Edward III it was used as a state prison. During the English Civil War it was garrisoned for Charles I, and endured three sieges. Its dismantling was begun in 1646, immediately after the surrender of the king.

The Newark Torc, a major silver and gold Iron Age torc, the first in Nottinghamshire and very similar to those found at Snettisham, was found in 2005 in what is now a field on the outskirts of Newark, and in 2008 was acquired by the town’s museum.

There are several churches in Newark, including the Grade I listed parish church, St. Mary Magdalene. Other Church of England buildings include Christ Church, on Boundary Road and St. Leonard’s, on Lincoln Road. The Catholic church, Holy Trinity, was consecrated in 1979. Other churches include the Baptist Church on Albert Street, and a Christian church, the Church of Promise, which was formed in 2007.

Newark has two railway stations linked to the national network. The East Coast Main Line runs through Newark North Gate railway station providing links to London, Leeds, Newcastle upon Tyne and Edinburgh. The Newark Castle railway station lies on the Leicester – Nottingham – Lincoln line providing cross-country regional links. These two lines cross on the level, which is one of a handful of flat crossings in Britain. A grade separation has been proposed by Network Rail.

There are several main roads around Newark. The A1 and A46 roads have bypasses around Newark. The A17 runs east from Newark to King’s Lynn in Norfolk, and the A616 runs north from Newark to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire.

The Newark Advertiser, founded in 1854, is the town’s weekly newspaper; it is owned by Newark Advertiser Co Ltd, who also publish local newspapers in Southwell, Ollerton and Bingham.

Newark is twinned with : Emmendingen, Germany; Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire, France; and Sandomierz, Poland.

 

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