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Newark-on-Trent (generally shortened to Newark) is a market town in Nottinghamshiremarker in the East Midlands region of Englandmarker. It stands athwart the River Trent, the Great North Roadmarker and the East Coast Main Line railway.


Newark lies on the River Trent, with the River Devonmarker 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 Baldertonmarker 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 Ollertonmarker and the numerous villages of the district." To the south of the town, along the A46, is Farndonmarker, and to the north is Winthorpemarker.

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 Nottinghammarker to Lincolnmarker, 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 by the then Minsiter of Transport, Ernest Marples. The single-carriageway £34m A46 opened in October 1990. The junction with the A1 is very busy.


Signpost in Newark-on-Trent

Pre Norman history

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. The origins of the town itself, however, are possibly Roman and originate in its position on the great Roman road called the Fosse Way, in the valley of the Trent. In a document which purports to be a charter of 664, Newark is mentioned as having been granted to the Abbey of Peterboroughmarker by Wulfhere. A pagan Anglo-Saxon 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 it belonged to Godiva and her husband Leofric, Earl of Mercia, who granted it to the monastery of Stowmarker 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 burgess 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 (10-11 centuries AD).

Mediæval history

The 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".

Church of St. Mary Magdalene

Tudor era

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.

Stuart era

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.

The Civil War

During the English Civil War, Newark was a mainstay of the royalist cause, Charles I having raised his standard in nearby Nottinghammarker. 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 Nottinghammarker, Granthammarker, Northamptonmarker, Gainsboroughmarker, 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, Lincolnmarker and Derbymarker, the siege was only relieved in March by Prince Rupert of the Rhine.

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 Nasebymarker, near Leicestermarker 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.

Georgian era and early 19th century

Newark Castle and Bridge in the early 19th century.
Around 1770 the Great North Roadmarker around Newark (now the A1marker) 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. An account of his life by Alan Dorling is in the Nottinghamshire Historian journal, spring/summer 2000, pages 9–15 and further details in the autumn/winter edition of 2003, pages 8–12.

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.'"

Victorian era

The Victorian era saw a lot of new buildings and industry, 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). Most of these buildings can still be seen today.

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.

Recent history

The clothing, bearings, pumps, agricultural machinery, 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. The largest single employer 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 UK's largest 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 Tescomarker. 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. PJ Smoothies used to be a main manufacturer in the town until 2007, when production was moved by new owners Pepsico to Boxfordmarker 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.Newark on trent has its own youth football league.

Breweries in the town in the 20th century included James Hole and Warwicks-and-Richardsons.

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 Nottinghammarker (around twenty miles (32 km) away) and even increasingly for London (1 hour and 20 minutes by rail). Newark is also home of Newark Rugby Union Football Club, which has produced past players such as Dusty Hare, John Wells and Tom Ryder. The leisure centre is out towards Balderton at the Grove School.


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. Newark Castle is next to the river. The Queen's Head is an old pub.

Political history

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 E. 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's current MP is Patrick Mercer, Conservative. Mercer held the position of Shadow Minister for Homeland Security from June 2003 until March 2007, when he was forced to resign following racially contentious comments made to The Times.

Notable persons

Persons born or educated in the town include:

Twin towns

Since 1984 Newark has twinned with three European towns:

Emmendingenmarker and Sandomierzmarker are also formally twinned with each other.

Places of interest

  • Buttermarket
  • St. Mary Magdalene
  • Newark Cemetery
  • Riverside (Trent)
  • The Queens Sconce
  • Newark School of Violin Making


Church of England

Roman Catholic


Transport links


Newark has two railway stations linked to the national network. The East Coast Main Line runs through Newark North Gate railway stationmarker providing links to Londonmarker, Leedsmarker, Newcastle upon Tynemarker and Edinburghmarker. The Newark Castle railway stationmarker lies on the Leicestermarker - Nottinghammarker - Lincolnmarker line providing cross country regional links. These two lines cross on the level, which is the only such crossing in Britainmarker. A grade separation is proposed, but no funding has been found for it at present.


The A1marker and A46 roads have bypasses around Newark.

The A17, Newark to King's Lynnmarker, Norfolk

The A616, Newark to Huddersfieldmarker, Yorkshiremarker

The A617, Newark to Chesterfieldmarker, Derbyshiremarker

Bus services

Stagecoach East Midlands
  • 1: Balderton - Newark - Coddington
  • 2: Balderton - Newark - Lincoln Road Estates
  • 3: Newark - Hospital - Gill House - Newark
  • 3A: Newark - Hospital - Gill House - Hospital - Newark
  • 4: Newark - Gill House - Hospital - Newark
  • 29/29A: Mansfield - Southwell - Newark
  • 46: Newark - Swinderby - Lincoln

  • 33: Newark - Balderton - Fernwood
  • 37: Newark - Tuxford - Retford
  • 39/39A/39B: Newark - Sutton On Trent - Normanton - Tuxford
  • 77: Newark - Hawtonville Circluar
  • 90/90A: Nottingham - Farndon - Newark - Balderton

  • 66/67: Newark - Collingham - Harby
  • 227: Newark - Southwell - Bilsthorpe - Edwinstowe
  • S7L: Newark - Collingham - Newark

  • 87: Newark - Lincoln

Sherwood Countyrman Buses
  • CM1: Maplebeck - Eakring - Kirklington - Newark

  • 602: Newark - Grantham

Veolia (Dunn-Line)
  • 1A: Newark - Coddington - Newark
  • 2: Newark - Balderton - Newark
  • 3/3A: Newark - Hospital - Gill House - Newark
  • 29B: Newark - Southwell - Bilsthorpe
  • 32/32A: New Ollerton - Newark
  • 33: Tuxford - Newark, via Laxton
  • 61: Nottingham - Arnold - Calverton - Southwell - Newark
  • 67: Newark - Collingham
  • P1: Meden Vale - Newark - Grantham (New Service Starts 5 April 2009)

Premiere Travel
  • 54: Newark - Bingham
  • 56/56B: Newark - Shelton - Bingham/Bottesford
  • 3: Newark - Southwell - Lowdham




A comprehensive bibliography for Newark is available at the Thoroton Society website.

External links

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