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Newcastle-under-Lyme

Newcastle-under-Lyme, known simply as "castle" to many local people, is a market town in Staffordshire, England, and is the principal town of the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. It is part of The Potteries Urban Area and North Staffordshire. In the 2001 census the town had a population of 73,944. It is not to be confused with the larger city of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Railway

Although the town was served by a railway until 1965, it is now 'Britain's largest town without a railway station'.

Geography and climate

Situated in a valley alongside the Lyme Brook, the town is immediately west of the neighbouring city of Stoke-on-Trent, its suburbs running into those of the city. Newcastle town centre is just 2 miles (3km) from Stoke-on-Trent and less than 4 miles (6 km) from Hanley. Newcastle-under-Lyme is about 17 miles (27 km) north of the county town of Stafford.

These are the average rainfall and temperatures from the Met Office weather station at Penkridge, some 24 miles (39km) to the south. They show the averages from 1971 to 2000.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average max. temperature
°CF)
6.5
(43.7)
6.9
(44.42)
9.5
(49.1)
12.0
(56)
15.7
(60.26)
18.4
(65.12)
21.1
(69.98)
20.8
(69.44)
17.5
(63.5)
13.5
(56.3)
9.5
(49.1)
7.4
(45.32)
13.3
(55.94)
Average min. temperature
°C (°F)
1.0
(33.8)
1.0
(33.8)
2.5
(36.5)
3.5
(38.3)
6.2
(43.16)
8.9
(48.02)
11.1
(51.98)
10.9
(51.62)
9.0
(48.2)
6.4
(43.52)
3.3
(37.94)
1.8
(35.24)
5.5
(41.9)
Rainfall
mm (inches)
62.7
(2.46)
44.4
(1.75)
51.2
(2.02)
48.5
(1.91)
52.7
(2.07)
59.3
(2.33)
46.7
(1.84)
57.7
(2.27)
63.6
(2.50)
60.5
(2.38)
62.0
(2.44)
66.8
(2.63)
676.0
(22.61)
Sunshine
(hours per month)
45.3 59.0 89.9 129.9 179.5 160.8 183.5 168.6 122.1 94.6 58.5 38.4 1330.1
Source: Met Office

History

Etymology

The Newcastle part of the name derives from being the location of a 'new' castle, built in the 12th century by . The Lyme section could refer to the Lyme Brook or the extensive lime forests that covered the area in mediæval period. Lyme is derived from the Latin "Limes", the ditch that the advancing Romans put across Britannia every time winter approached, to keep them protected from the undeveloped country further North.

1100s-1800s

Newcastle is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, as it grew up around the 12th century castle, but it must early have become a place of importance, for a charter, known only through a reference in a charter to Preston, was given to the town by Henry II of England in 1173. The 'new' castle was built to supersede an older fortress at Chesterton about 2 miles to the north, the ruins of which were to be seen up to the end of the 16th century.

In 1235 Henry III constituted it a free borough, granting a guild merchant and other privileges. In 1251 he leased it at fee-farm to the burgesses. In 1265 Newcastle was granted by the Crown to Simon de Montfort, and subsequently to Edmund Crouchback, through whom it passed to Henry IV. In John Leland's time the castle had disappeared "save one great Toure".

Newcastle did not feature much in the English Civil War, save a Royalist plundering. During the Civil War, Major Thomas Harrison a Cromwellian army officer and leader of the fanatical Fifth Monarchy Men, rose to prominence.

The governing charter in 1835 which created the Newcastle-under-Lyme Municipal Borough absorbed the previous borough created through the charters of 1590 and 1664, under which the title of the corporation, was the "mayor, bailiffs and burgesses of Newcastle-under-Lyme."

Recent

When Stoke-on-Trent was formed by the 1910 amalgamation of the "six towns" (Stoke, Hanley, Fenton, Longton, Burslem and Tunstall) Newcastle remained separate. Despite its close proximity, it was not directly involved in the pottery industry, and it strongly opposed attempts to add it at a later date with a postcard poll showing residents opposing it by a majority of 97.4%. Although passed by the House of Commons, it was rejected by the House of Lords. Newcastle sent two members to parliament from 1355 to 1885, when it lost one representative.

Following the Local Government Act 1972 it became the principal settlement of the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Economy

Like neighbouring Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle's early economy was based around hatting trade, silk and cotton mills. Later coal mining, brick manufacture, iron casting and engineering rose to prominence. Very fine red earthenware and also soft-paste porcelain tableware (the first such production in Staffordshire) was produced in Newcastle at Samuel Bell's factory in Lower Street between 1724 and 1754 when all production ceased. With the exception of a failed enterprise between 1790 and 1797, which then switched to brewing, there was no further commercial production of pottery within the town of Newcastle. Production of earthenware tiles however continued at several locations within the borough. Manufacture of fine bone china was re-established in the borough in 1963 by Mayfair Pottery at Chesterton.

The manufacture in the borough of clay tobacco smoking pipes started about 1637 and grew rapidly and was second only to hatting within the borough. Nationally, the town was ranked with Chester, York and Kingston upon Hull as the four major pipe producers. This industry continued until the mid-19th century when decline set in rapidly and by 1881 only one tobacco pipe maker was left.

In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries the town had a flourishing felt hat manufacturing industry, which was probably at its peak locally in the 1820s when a third of the town's population were involved in the industry in over 20 factories but by 1892 there was only one manufacturer still in production in the town.

In 1944, the Rolls-Royce Derwent engine for the Gloster Meteor fighter was made in the borough.

Politics

The town has been the birthplace of several notable politicians and activists. Fanny Deakin was a campaigner for better nourishment for babies and young children and better maternity care for mothers. The former chairwoman of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Janet Bloomfield (née Hood) is a peace and disarmament campaigner. Vera Brittain writer, feminist (and mother of Liberal Democrat Shirley Williams) was born in the town.

There have been two particularly notable Members of Parliament (MPs). Josiah Wedgwood IV was a Liberal, Independent and Labour Party MP, who served as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the cabinet of Ramsay MacDonald, in the first ever Labour government. He was an MP from 1909 to 1942. John Golding was elected as a Labour MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme at a by-election in 1969. He served in the governments of Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan, as PPS to Eric Varley as Minister of Technology, a Labour whip in opposition, and Minister for Employment, stepping down in 1986. The current MP is Paul Farrelly.

Transport

The town was once served by the North Staffordshire Railway, its station being on a branch line from Stoke-on-Trent via Newcastle, Silverdale and Keele, to Market Drayton in Shropshire. Newcastle station opened in September, 1852 after numerous construction difficulties involving the two tunnels of 605 yards and 96 yards respectively at Hartshill. The section from Silverdale to Market Drayton closed to passengers in May, 1956 and the rest of the line in March, 1964. The line from Newcastle Junction to Silverdale has been removed, with the site of Newcastle station and the Hartshill tunnels being filled in. Newcastle was on the national canal network, but the canal, running from the Trent and Mersey Canal at Stoke-on-Trent to Sir Nigel Gresley's Canal has been disused since 1935 and most of it filled in.

Today

Demographics

Comparative Census Information
2001 UK Census Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough England
Total population 73.944 122,030 49,138,831
White 97.8% 98% 91%
Asian 0.6% 0.6% 4.6%
Black 0.2% 0.2% 2.3%
Christian 78.2% 78.5% 72%
Muslim 0.7% 0.5% 3.1%
Hindu 0.2% 0.2% 1.1%
No religion 14% 13.1% 15%
Unemployed 2.3% 2% 3.3%
Of the 73,944 residents recorded in the 2001 census, 51.7% (38,210) were female and 48.3% (35,734) male. 78.2% (57,819) stated their religion was Christian, with 12.9% (9,570) saying they had no religion. Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Sikh all recorded less than 1% of the population. 97.8% of the population defined themselves as white, with the balance being mixed race (0.6%), Indian (0.4%), Pakistani (0.2%), black (0.2%), Chinese (0.2%) with other ethnic groups forming 0.4%.

62.2% (21,586) of the population work full time and 19.4% (6,746) part time. The largest employment types are manufacturing with 7,058 (21.5%), wholesale and retail 6,157 (18.7%), health and social work 4,097 (12.5%) and financial, real estate & business activity 3,823 (11.6%).

Jewish residency of the area stretches back into the 19th century. In 1873 they purchased an old Welsh chapel to be used as a synagogue. In 1923 a new synagogue was built in Hanley. This was closed in 2004 and the Congregation moved to a smaller synagogue in Newcastle.

Economy

Newcastle's 20th century industries include: iron working, construction materials, clothing (especially military, police and transport uniforms), computers, publishing, electric motors, and machinery.

Near the turn of 21st century, the town received a major redevelopment to incorporate a new street (Castle Walk) in to the town centre, providing Newcastle with a new bus station and bringing in more companies.

A large number of pubs, clubs and bars provide Newcastle with a relatively strong nightlife, with students' night being on Wednesdays.

Transport

Newcastle-under-Lyme is served by the M6 motorway to the south and west of Newcastle and by the A500 road to the north and east. There are access points from the M6 at junctions 15 and 16, to the south and north respectively. The A34 trunk road runs through Newcastle from north to south and was the main road between Birmingham and Manchester until the M6 motorway opened. There is a large bus station in the town centre.

Newcastle does not have a railway station within the town, however Stoke-on-Trent railway station is located in-between Newcastle and Stoke, serving the Potteries as a whole. It is located on the West Coast Main Line.

Education

The town has an extensive number of both primary and secondary schools in the state sector. There is also Newcastle-under-Lyme School, an independent school established in the 17th century whose alumni includes T. E. Hulme, John Wain and William Watkiss Lloyd. The town has a further and tertiary education Newcastle-under-Lyme College established in the 1966. There is also a special school located in the town called Blackfriars School.

Sport

The town is home to a wide range of sports clubs and associations. Newcastle Town F.C., an association football club currently play in the North West Counties Football League Division One. The Lyme Valley area is home to Newcastle & Hartshill Cricket Club The largest Rugby Union club is Newcastle, Staffs Rugby Union Club. Cycle Staffordshire organises many local cycling events as does the Newcastle Track Cycling Association. The town has its own velodrome. Lyme Racing Club is a popular local cycle club with over 150 members with and increasing junior membership. The club is active in many areas of cycling including time trials, track racing, road racing, Audax riding, mountain biking as well as regular Sunday club runs and general leisure cycling. Newcastle Athletic Club is based at the Ashfield Road track and there are two golf courses in town.

Dominic Cork, the cricketer and Robbie Earle a former footballer were both born in the town.

Sites and attractions

Parks and gardens

Newcastle excels in the Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom competition. In 2005 it was the national winner in the ‘small city/large town’ category (35K-100K). The town features several parks including the Queen’s Gardens, at the eastern end of Ironmarket, was awarded the Britain in Bloom Judges’ Award for Horticultural Excellence in 2003 and is the only park within the ring road. Grosvenor Gardens in the centre of one of the town’s roundabouts, hidden away below road level. The Queen Elizabeth Garden is located outside the town centre and is to undergo refurbishment using National Lottery Heritage Fund money.

To the north west of the town centre is Brampton Park, home to the museum and art gallery.

Traditional market

Dating back to 1173 Newcastle’s market known as The Stones operates on High Street. The market was originally held on Sunday; in the reign of John it was changed to Saturday; by the charter of Elizabeth it was fixed on Monday. Grants of fairs were given by Edward I, Edward III and Henry VI. Today the market is open six-days a week, there are over 80 stalls on this open-air market. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays see a general market, on Tuesdays there is an antiques market and Thursdays are for the sale of bric-a-brac.

A cattle and livestock market was held on Mondays until the mid-1960s.

Culture

The New Vic Theatre was Europe’s first purpose-built theatre in the round. It is just outside the town centre and offers a full programme of entertainment, whether modern or classic plays or impressive concert performances.

The Borough Museum and Art Gallery depicts the civic history of the Borough of Newcastle under Lyme and an authentic, life-size Victorian street-scene whilst the art gallery hosts work by local and national artists as well as ‘travelling’ exhibitions. Until 2005, there was an annual carnival held on the Spring Bank Holiday but this has been cancelled due to rising policing costs.

Notable residents who contributed to the arts and entertainment include Philip Astley, founder of the ‘modern’ circus. Jackie Trent singer and songwriter was born in the town. Arnold Bennett the novelist, playwright, and essayist completed his schooling at the Middle School and called the town Oldcastle in his novels. Dinah Maria Mulock who wrote under her married name of Mrs. Craik, lived in the town in Lower Street and Mount Pleasant and attended Brampton House Academy. E S Turner, the social commentator was educated in the town.

Religion

The town has a long religious history. It was the birthplace of John James Blunt, a divine and Anglican priest. Josiah Wedgwood was a Unitarian and he and his family attended meetings at the 'Old Meeting House', connected to St. Giles' Church, which is still in use for this purpose.

The town itself has a large number of Anglican churches including St. Giles' Church, the mediæval parish church dating from 1290, as well as several Catholic churches, most notably Holy Trinity, whose style is Gothic in blue engineering bricks, described as... "the finest modern specimen of ornamental brickwork in the kingdom" at the time.

In the 18th century John Wesley made repeated visits to the area which was becoming more industrialised. He recruited many residents to Methodism. This is reflected in the large number of Methodist churches. The largest Baptist church in North Staffordshire is in Newcastle.

Of interest also is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), located across from the Brampton Park, which serves as the 'stake centre' for the church in the region and has an on-site Family History Centre where the public can research their ancestry for little or no charge.

International network

The town is part of a world-wide network of towns and cities with the name Newcastle. These include Neuburg an der Donau (Germany), Neuchâtel (Switzerland), Neufchâteau (France), New Castle, Indiana (USA), New Castle, Pennsylvania (USA),New Castle, Delaware (USA), Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) and Shinshiro (Japan).

This small international network of just eight towns, formed in 1998, is designed to encourage friendship and co-operation between the towns and to this end a school in the South African town benefited in 2004 from gifts of computing equipment surplus to Newcastle-under-Lyme's needs. The annual Newcastles of the World Summit was held in Newcastle-under-Lyme for six days from June 17 2006.

See also

References

Bibliography

  • Jenkins, J G (1983). A History of Newcastle-under-Lyme. Staffordshire County Library.
  • Briggs, J (1973). Newcastle-under-Lyme, 1173-1973. Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council. ISBN 978-0950274515.
  • Morris, Dennis; Anthony Priestley, Joy Priestley, Roger Simmons, Edward Watkin (1987). The Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme : A Portrait in Old Picture Postcards. Brampton Publications. ASIN B000IBSQAW.
  • (1988). Wartime Newcastle-under-Lyme. Hendon Publishing Co Ltd. ISBN 978-0860671138.
  • Adams, D W (1986). Newcastle-under-Lyme as it was. Hendon Publishing Co Ltd. ISBN 978-0860671060.

External links

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