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Tamworth is a town and local government district in Staffordshire, England, located 14 miles (23 km) north-east of Birmingham city centre and 103 miles (166 km) north-west of London. The town takes its name from the River Tame, which flows through the town, as does the River Anker. At the 2001 census the town had a population of 74,531.

Tamworth is the home of the historic Tamworth Castle and Moat House, and has a non-league football team, Tamworth FC. The Snowdome, the UK’s first full-sized real-snow indoor ski slope is located in Tamworth, and only a short distance away is Drayton Manor Theme Park.

The town’s main industries include logistics, engineering, clothing, brick, tile and paper manufacture. It was also home to the Reliant car company, which produced the famous three-wheeled Robin model and the Scimitar sports car for several decades.

Tamworth has existed since Saxon times  and in the reign of King Offa, was the capital of Mercia the largest of all English kingdoms of its time. It was by far the largest town in the English Midlands when today’s much larger city of Birmingham was still in its infancy. This is largely because of its strategic position at the meeting point of two rivers (the Tame and the Anker), which meant the town was perfectly placed as a centre of trade and industry.

The town was later sacked by Danes in 874. The town remained a ruin until 913 when Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, the daughter of King Alfred the Great, rebuilt the town and constructed a burh to defend the town against further Danish invaders. She made Tamworth her principal residence and died there in 918. In Tamworth church in 926, a sister of King Æthelstan, perhaps Saint Edith of Polesworth, was married to Sitric Cáech, the squint-eyed Norse King of York and Dublin.

In the 11th century, a Norman castle was built on the probable site of the Saxon fortwhich still stands to this day as an important tourist attraction. Grants of borough privileges, including rights to a third additional fair in 1588consolidated Tamworth’s historic importance as ‘the seat of Saxon kings’.

In the Middle Ages Tamworth was a small market town. However the king gave it charters in 1319. In the Middle Ages a charter was a document granting the townspeople certain rights or confirming existing ones. In 1337 Tamworth was granted the right to hold two annual fairs. In the Middle Ages fairs were like markets but they were held only once a year and they attracted buyers and sellers from far and wide.

In 1345 Tamworth suffered a disastrous fire, and much of the town burned.Fire was a constant hazard in the Middle Ages because most buildings were made of wood with thatched roofs. However, the town was soon rebuilt and grew in size.

Queen Elizabeth granted Tamworth another charter in 1560.

In the 16th and 17th centuries Tamworth, like all towns, suffered from outbreaks of plague. It struck in 1563, 1579, 1597–98, 1606 and 1626. Each time the plague struck many people died but each time the population recovered. Fortunately the 1626 outbreak was the last.

James I, the first Stuart king of England, visited Tamworth in 1619and whilst he was accommodated by Sir John Ferrers at Tamworth Castle, the Prince of Wales and future King Charles was entertained by William Comberford at the Moat House.

Tamworth castle was besieged by parliamentarian forces during the English Civil War in 1643. An order was issued for the castle to be destroyed but this was not carried out.

Tamworth continued to grow and remained one of the most populous towns in the Midlands by 1670, when the combined hearth tax returns from Warwickshire and Staffordshire list a total of some 320 households. Its strategic trade advantage lay with control of the two vital packhorse bridges across the Anker and the Tame on the route from London to Chester. While it remained a local market town, it did a brisk trade providing travellers with the staple bread, ale and accommodation, maintaining trading links as far afield as Bristol. Charles II’s reconfirmation of its borough’s privileges in 1663 gave the town an added boost, as confirmed by Richard Blome’s description of its celebrated market, well served with corn, provisions and lean cattle.

In 1678 the town’s future Member of Parliament Thomas Guy founded almshouses in Tamworth, rebuilt in 1913. He also built Tamworth Town Hall in 1701 and later founded Guy’s Hospital in London.

There are four cannons in the Castle Grounds, an indication of the town’s previously violent past.[citation needed]

In 1801, the population was a little over 3000.

There were a number of improvements to Tamworth during the 19th century. In 1807 the pavements were flagged. From 1835 Tamworth had gaslight. In the late 19th century a piped water supply was created.

The town grew rapidly in the 18th and 19th centuries during the Industrial Revolution, benefiting from the surrounding coal mines. It also became a hub of the canal network, with the Coventry Canal and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal being built through the town. Later, the railways arrived with the Midland Railway route from Derby to Birmingham arriving in Tamworth in 1847, and later the London and North Western Railway, which provided direct trains to the capital. A split-level station exists where the two main lines cross each another, the higher level platforms (on the Derby to Birmingham line), being at right angles to the lower ones on the main line to London.

The first municipal cemetery opened in 1876. The Assembly Rooms were built in 1889. In 1897 the corporation bought Tamworth Castle.

A hospital was built in Tamworth in 1880. An infirmary was built in 1903.

The Victorian Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel served as the town’s Member of Parliament from 1830 until his death in 1850. He lived at the nearby Drayton Manor. It was in Tamworth that Robert Peel unveiled his Tamworth Manifesto in 1834 which created what is now the modern Conservative Party. During the 19th century a breed of pig called Tamworth Pig was initially bred here using some imported Irish stock. Sir Robert Peel was a member of the historic Tamworth Castle Bowls club, founded in 1814, which still has an active membership.

Samuel Parkes who won the Victoria Cross in the Charge of the Light Brigade was born in Wigginton and baptised at St. Editha’s on 24 December 1815. His parents, Thomas and Lydia, are buried in its churchyard.

The first council houses in Tamworth were built in 1900. More were built in the 1920s and 1930s and after 1945.

The first public library in Tamworth was built in 1905. Tamworth gained an electricity supply in 1924.

Tamworth grew rapidly in the postwar years as it soaked up overspill from the West Midlands conurbation to the southwest. A population of about 7,000 in 1931 had risen to some 13,000 just after the Second World War; this figure remained fairly static until the late 1960s when a major expansion plan was implemented. Although not officially a “New Town”, Tamworth’s expansion resembled the development of many new towns. As part of this plan the town boundaries were expanded to include the industrial area around Wilnecote to the south. The 1961 population of the new enlarged area was 25,000. In 1971 it was 40,000; in 1981, 64,000; in 1991, 68,000 and in 2001, 74,000, meaning that the town’s population had almost doubled within 30 years.

The town of Fazeley merges almost completely into the town to the southwest, but belongs to the Lichfield District area rather than Tamworth Borough. It became a town, by holding a referendum, to prevent efforts from Tamworth to absorb it.

Tamworth was historically split between Staffordshire and Warwickshire, with the county boundary running through the town centre. Staffordshire was made to include the entire borough in 1888.

The Reliant Motor Company was founded in Tamworth in 1935 by T.L.Williams, and cars such as the Scimitar four wheeled sports cars and the Robin three wheeled economy cars were manufactured here until the company moved to Cannock in 1998. A year later the old factory was razed to the ground and a new housing estate built in its place called “Scimitar Park” with street names assuming names of Reliant vehicles (i.e. Robin Close).

The A5 £26,000,000 5 miles (8.0 km) dual-carriageway Fazeley, Two Gates and Wilnecote Bypass opened in July 1995, acting both as a bypass of Watling Street, and as a fast route for traffic into the town. This was further extended to meet the M6 Toll and A38 in 2005. The road’s official name is Thomas Guy Way.

Tamworth has two designated Local Nature Reserves, Hodge Lane (Amington) and Kettlebrook (Glascote/Wilnecote).[7] They were joined by Dosthill Park in 2010.

In 1868 The Tamworth Herald was launched by Daniel Addison, with its original premises in Silver Street. Mr Addison continued to publish the paper for nine years until 29 October 1877, when it was taken over by a consortium of leading townsmen. The paper now has its offices on the town’s Ventura Park industrial estate. Daniel Addison had a son Albert Christopher Addison who was a historical writer.

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