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This article is about Northampton in England; for other places of the same name see Northampton


Northampton ( ) is a large market town and local government district in the East Midlands region of England. It is about north-west of London and around south-east of Birminghammarker, and lies on the River Nenemarker. It is the county town of Northamptonshiremarker.

The district's population is 200,100 and the town population is 189,474, making Northampton the 21st-largest settlement in England, and the UK's 3rd-largest town without official city status, after Readingmarker and Dudleymarker. Northampton is the most populous district in England that is not a unitary authority, a status it failed to obtain in the 1990s local government reform. Northampton's population has increased greatly since the 1960s, largely due to planned expansion under the New Towns Commission in the early 1960s.

Economy

Northampton was a major centre of shoemaking and other leather industries, although only specialist shoemaking companies such as Church's and Trickers, formerly located in nearby Earls Bartonmarker, survive. A large number of old shoe factories remain, mostly now converted to offices or accommodation, some of which are surrounded by terraced houses built for factory workers. Northampton's main private-sector employers are now in distribution and finance rather than manufacturing, and include Avon Products, Barclaycard, Blacks Leisure Group, Nationwide Building Society, Panasonic, Travis Perkins, Coca Cola, Schweppes, National Grid, Texas Instrumentsmarker and Carlsberg. The University of Northampton is also a major employer.

Anglia Building Society was formed by amalgamation of Northampton Town and County Building Society with Leicestershire Building Society in 1966 and subsequently merged with Nationwide Building Society in 1987.

History

Early history

Remains found here date from the Iron Age. Farming settlement probably began around the 7th century. In the 8th century it was an administrative centre for the kingdom of Merciamarker. The pre-Norman town was known as Hamtun and was only ca.60 acres.

Medieval

The town became significant in the 11th century, when the Normans built town walls and a large castle under the stewardship of the Norman earl, Simon de Senlis. The original defence line of the walls is preserved in today's street pattern (Bridge St, The Drapery, Bearward St and Scarletwell Street). The town grew rapidly after the Normans arrived, and beyond the early defences. By the time of the Domesday Book, the town had a population of about 1500 residents, living in 300 houses.

The town and its castle were important in the early 12th century and the King often held Court in the town. During his famous fall out with Henry II, Thomas Becket at one time escaped from Northampton Castlemarker through the unguarded Northern gate to flee the country,

Northampton had a large Jewish population in the 13th century, centred around Gold Street. In 1277 300 Jews were executed, allegedly for clipping the King's coin, and the Jews of Northampton were driven out of the town.

The town was originally controlled by officials acting for the King who collected taxes and upheld the law. In 1189 King Richard I gave the town its first charter. In 1215 King John authorised the appointment of William Tilly as the town's first Mayor and ordered that: 'twelve of the better and more discreet residents of the town join him as a council to assist him' . In 1176 the Assize of Northampton laid down new powers for dealing with law breakers.

A university was established in 1261 by scholars from Cambridgemarker. It briefly flourished, but was dissolved by Henry III in 1265 apparently as it posed a threat to Oxfordmarker.

The first Battle of Northamptonmarker took place at the site of Northampton Castle in 1264 - when the forces of Henry III overran the supporters of Simon de Montfort. In 1460, a second Battle of Northamptonmarker took place in the grounds of Delapré Abbeymarker - and was a decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, and King Henry VI was captured in the town by the Yorkists.

In May 1328 the Treaty of Northampton was signed - being a peace treaty between the English and the Scots in which Edward III recognised the authority of Robert the Bruce as King of Scotland and betrothed Bruce's still infant son to the king's sister Joanna.

A large network of medieval tunnelsmarker remains under the centre around All Saints church.

Civil War to 1900

Northampton supported the Parliamentarian during the English Civil War. For this reason the town walls and castle were later torn down on the orders of King Charles II as punishment. The railway station in Northampton stands on the site of the former castle, and used to be called "Northampton Castle Station".

The town was destroyed by fire in both 1516 and 1675 (for the latter see Great Fire of Northampton), and was rebuilt as a spacious and well-planned town. In the 18th century Northampton became a major centre of footwear and leather manufacture. The prosperity of the town was greatly aided by demand for footwear caused by the Napoleonic Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In his 18th century "Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain", Daniel Defoe described Northampton as, "...the handsomest town in all this part of England."

Northampton's growth was accelerated in the 19th century, first by the Grand Union Canalmarker, which reached the town in 1815 and later the coming of the railways. The first railway to be built into Northampton was a branch from the main London-Birmingham line at Blisworthmarker to Peterboroughmarker through Northampton which opened in 1845. This was followed by lines to Market Harboroughmarker (1859) and Bedfordmarker (1872). The Northampton loop of the West Coast Main Linemarker was built in the late 1870s. After 1850 the town grew beyond the old town walls. In 1800 the population was round 7,000 and was 87,000 a century later. In the 19th century Northampton acquired a reputation for political radicalism when radical non-conformist Charles Bradlaugh was elected as the town's MP.

20th Century

Growth after 1900 slowed until the 1960s. The shoe industry declined and other employment was slow to arrive. In the 1920s and 30s, council houses were built in the east of the town at Headlands; north at St Davids; and south in Far Cotton. The Borough boundary, first extended in 1900, expanded again in 1932. The population grew to 100,000 by 1961 and 130,000 by 1971. Northampton was designated a New Town in 1968, and the Northampton Development Corporation (NDC) was set up to almost double the size of the town, with a population target of 230,000 by 1981, rising to 260,000 in later years. In 1959 the M1 motorway was opened nearby. Growth was slower than planned. The 1960s and 70s saw the town centre change with development of a new bus station, the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, flats and hotels. By 1981 the population was 156,000. When NDC wound up after 20 years, another 40,000 residents and 20,000 houses had been added. The borough boundaries changed in 1974 with the abolition of Northampton county borough and its reconstitution as a non-metropolitan district also covering areas outside the former borough boundaries but inside the designated New Town.

Music in the 20th century

In the 1960s The Deco was an ABC cinema. The Beatles appeared there twice on stage in 1963, on Wednesday, 27 March as part of the Tommy Roe/Chris Montez Tour. Montez commented "Who are these guys The Beatles? I try to keep up with the British scene, but I don't know their work". The Beatles were back on Wednesday, 6 November, in their own right and on their own tour.

Late 20th century

Northampton's population increased greatly from the 1960s, with planned expansion under the New Towns Commission. The rail link and busy M1 motorway to London helped the growth as a commuter town for London. Northampton's housing expansion was east with the 1970s eastern district estates built mainly for the London overflow population and more recently, in the west at Upton and south near M1 junction 15 at Grange Parkmarker, initially of 1,500 houses actually in South Northants Councilmarker area.

21st Century

Another major expansion is planned, with the population projected to increase to 300,000 by 2018. Northampton asked, unsuccessfully, for city status as a part of the 'millennium cities' scheme. The University of Northampton was established in 2005 after several years as a University College and previously Nene College.

In 2006 Northampton became a government expansion zone with new growth by West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC), an unelected quango. The initial target is 37,000 new homes. Expansion began in 2007 at Upton and St Crispins.Some expansion will be on brownfield sites such as Ransome Road, Far Cottonmarker, an inner suburb, and in existing borough boundaries. WNDC will also oversee the redevelopment of Northampton into a primary regional centre to service the expanded population, and comparable to UK cities such as Coventrymarker, Leicestermarker and Nottinghammarker with a population of approximately 300,000 by 2018-2021.

Government and politics

Northampton is administered by both Northampton Borough Councilmarker, run from May 2007 for the first time by the Liberal Democrats, and also Northamptonshire County Councilmarker. From 2005 the latter has been controlled by the Conservative Party. The Borough Council runs services such as housing, waste collection and smaller planning items in the Borough. The County Council looks after social services, education and libraries in the whole county. Since April 2006 major planning decisions such as large housing schemes and new roads have been the responsibility of West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC), an appointed body.

Northampton is represented in Parliamentmarker by two MPs:

Both of these constituency boundaries change significantly from the next General Election after 2005 with the creation of a new constituency, South Northamptonshiremarker, which takes a large part of the south of Northampton borough.

Transport

This bridge carries Banbury Road over Swan Valley Way in the Pineham Park industrial estate, close to Junction 15A of the M1.
The bridge is unusual in that it carries one unclassified road over another, the purpose being to keep residential and industrial traffic away from each other.
Northampton is near junctions 15, 15a and 16 of the M1 London to North Yorkshire motorway. The A45 and A43 can be accessed by a partially completed ring road. The A14 is close by to the north.

Northampton railway stationmarker is on the Northampton Loop of the West Coast Main Linemarker, and has regular services to London and Birminghammarker provided by London Midland. Virgin Trains also provide some services to London and the north, with a small number of Pendolinos running each day.

Sywell Aerodromemarker is the nearest airfield but only has a grass runway. A concrete runway for jet aircraft is due to open mid 2009. For international links, East Midlands Airportmarker and Luton Airportmarker are quickly accessible by the M1; Birmingham International Airportmarker via the M1/M6 and also by train.

In the town, buses are operated by Stagecoach Northants, First Northampton and MK Metro (Arriva) from the Greyfriars bus stationmarker. Stagecoach provide travel to outlying villages and towns during the day. National Express cover routes between major towns. There are good local links to Daventrymarker, Wellingboroughmarker, Oxfordmarker, Rushdenmarker, Ketteringmarker, Corbymarker and Market Harboroughmarker.

Northampton is the terminus of an arm of the Grand Union Canalmarker. The arm connects to the River Nenemarker and from that to the River Great Ousemarker and the North Seamarker. No longer used for freight, the waterway is now popular with anglers and narrowboaters. Principal outlying villages on the canal include Gaytonmarker, Blisworthmarker, Braunstonmarker and Stoke Bruernemarker.

Northampton had a horse-drawn tramway which opened in 1881. The system was extended in stages and taken over by the council in 1897 and named Northampton Corporation Tramways. It was electrified in 1904, but closed in 1934 mainly as a result of competition from motor buses which were introduced in 1929. Two of the original tram shelters are preserved: one at the Racecourse park and another in Kingsthorpe opposite the Cock Hotel.

Education

Until 2004 the county operated a three-tier system involving lower, middle and upper schools. In 2001 the move to a two-tier system began, aiming at improving educational standards. A complete list of primary and secondary schools in the town and surrounding area is available on the County Council website.

University



Secondary schools

Northampton School for Boysmarker became the top performing comprehensive school in the country in 2007.

For a complete list see the NCC site.

Independent schools

Independent government reports on all schools can be obtained from the Ofsted website.

Leisure

Formal parks include: Abington Parkmarker; The Racecourse, which used to be home in summer to the Balloon Festivalmarker and originally used for horse-racing until 1904 and also used as a cricket ground between 1844-1885; Delapré Parkmarker; Bradlaugh Fields; Becket's Park, named after Thomas Becket as are nearby Becket's Well and Thomas á Becket pub. There is a parkmarker around an Iron Age fort in West Hunsburymarker.

Billing Aquadromemarker leisure park is on the eastern outskirts with a caravan site, marina, funfair, bar, riverside restaurant and converted water mill with original workings. Other smaller ones are Thorntons Park and Victoria Park.

The main shopping centre is the Grosvenor Centre built in the 1970s. The town has one of Britain's largest market squares, dating from 1235. Outside the centre the Weston Favellmarker Centre built in the 1970s is in the eastern district together with various out of town retail and leisure parks.

Contemporary culture

The Derngatemarker and Royalmarker theatres are in Guildhall Road, opposite Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. They were renovated and reopened in 2006, at a cost of £15 million. The Deco is a 900-seat theatre/conference centre based on the Grade-II listed former Cannon Cinema, in Abington Square used mainly by the voluntary and charitable sector. It was restored by the Jesus Army as part of their Jesus Centre project.

Northampton Market


Northampton Museum and Art Gallery has a world-class collection of historical footwear, and also Italian art, glass and ceramics, plus visiting exhibitions and local history. There is also a smaller historical museum in a former mansion within Abington Park.

The old Fishmarket, opposite the market square, was renovated by the NAC ( Arts Collective). As The Fishmarket Gallery it has three art gallery spaces, retail units, a cafe, and an arts studio and is host to exhibitions by leading artists and live music, community events and workshops.

An independent contemporary arts gallery is The Sanctuary, funded by the Arts Council, with eight studios. There is also the Avenue Gallery at the Avenue campus of Northampton University. Northamptonshire runs an annual county-wide Open Studios event in which artists' studios are open to the public.

The university is spending £3m on its Portfolio Innovation Centre, and by early 2009 it will house up to 45 creative freelancers, digital media developers, and designers.

Two commercial cinemas are also in the town: Vue (formerly UCI) at Sol Centralmarker, Cineworld (formerly UGC, Virgin Cinema and MGM) at Sixfieldsmarker. There is also the subsidised Forum Cinema at Lings Forummarker, whose film programme is widely varied and includes art-house and non-mainstream films.

Many local music venues provide events. One venue is The Roadmender, which used to be run and funded by the council and later brought by The Purplehaus group. It is host to mainstream touring bands and one off gigs.

Sport

The town is home to Premiership Rugby union club Northampton Saints, who play at Franklin's Gardensmarker in the St James area. "The Saints" had their greatest moment when it won the Heineken Cup in 2000 at Twickenhammarker, beating Munster 9-8. There are also a number of "Junior" rugby clubs in the area, the most successful of these at producing young players is Northampton Old Scouts RFC who have produced Ben Cohen and Steve Thompson amongst others.

League Two football club Northampton Town, known as "The Cobblers" from the town's shoemaking background, are based at Sixfields Stadiummarker. Established in 1897, in their centenary season of 1997 they reached Wembley through the play-offs and beat Swansea City 1-0 with an injury time winning free kick from John Frain. It was the first club to set up a trust for supporters to work with the club as many have done. There is an athletics track adjacent to the ground. There are also three non-league clubs in the United Counties Football League: Northampton Spencer; Northampton Sileby Rangersmarker; and Northampton Old Northamptonian Chenecksmarker.

Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, known in limited overs cricket as "The Steelbacks", play at the County Groundmarker, in the Abington area.

Nene Whitewater Centre provides an artificial whitewater course for canoes, kayaks and rafts.

Northampton Swimming Club trained the young Olympic swimmer Caitlin McClatchey.

Collingtreemarker Golf Club hosted the British Masters in 1995.

Northampton International Raceway near Brafield is a leading venue for stock-car racing and hosts the European Championships every July. Speedway racing has been staged at Brafield in the 1950s and again in the 1960s. In the 1950s the team was know as The Flying Foxes and in the 1960s they were known as The Badgers.

Speedway was also staged at the greyhound stadium in Northampton in the pioneer days of the late 1920s.

Notable buildings

Interior of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
  • Northampton's oldest standing building, the Church of The Holy Sepulchremarker, is one of the largest and best-preserved round churches in England. It was built in 1100 on the orders of the first Earl of Northampton, Simon de Senlis, who had just returned from the first Crusade. It is based on a plan of the original Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
  • The current All Saints' Churchmarker was built on the site of a great Norman church, All Hallows, which was almost completely destroyed by the Fire of Northampton in 1675. All that remained was the medieval tower and the fine vaulted crypt, but by 1680 All Saintsmarker had been rebuilt, with the help of donations from all over England, including 1,000 tons of timber from King Charles II, whose statue can be seen above the portico. Famously, the poet John Clare liked to sit beneath the portico of the church.
All Saints' Church in central Northampton
  • The Guildhallmarker in Northampton (see picture at top) was constructed mostly in the 1860s in Victorian Gothic architecture, and extended in the 1990s. It is built on the site of the old town hall.
  • 78 Derngatemarker contains an interior designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke and is the only major domestic commission outside Scotland. It is open to the public.
  • The tall Express Lift Towermarker is a dominant feature in the area. Terry Wogan conducted a radio phone-in during the 1980s to come up with a name for it: "Northampton Lighthouse" was suggested as Northampton is one of the furthest places from the sea. It is also known as the "Cobblers' Needle". It was built to facilitate the testing of new lifts at the Express Lifts factory. It is visible from most of the town, but is now redundant. The tower has however been listed as being of architectural importance in the town.
Express Lift Tower
  • Northampton Castle (now only remaining as a rebuilt postern gate in a wall outside the railway station and the hill on which it stood) was for many years one of the country's most important castles. The country's parliament sat here many times and Thomas Becket was imprisoned here until he escaped.
  • The Carlsberg UK brewery is located in the town.
  • Delapre Abbeymarker – former Cluniacmarker nunnery, founded by Simon de Senlis - later the County Records Office and site of the second Battle of Northamptonmarker.
  • Queen Eleanor's body rested here on its way to London – and the nearby Eleanor cross at Hardingstone commemorates this. The Cross is also referred to in Daniel Defoe's a "Tour through the whole island of Great Britain" where he describes the Great Fire of Northampton, "...a townsman being at Queen's Croos upon a hill on the south side of the town, about two miles off, saw the fire at one end of the town then newly begun, and that before he could get to the town it was burning at the remotest end, opposite where he first saw it."
  • Greyfriars Bus Station, built in the 1970s to replace the old Derngate station, was featured on Channel 4's Demolition programme and, cited as the ugliest transport station in the UK, was suggested worthy of demolition.
  • Northampton & County Club, established in 1873, was the old county hospital before becoming a private members' club; the cellars are medieval.
Other notable church buildings include: St Edmunds, closed 1978 and demolished 2007 with the bells now in Wellington Cathedralmarker, New Zealand; St Giles; St Matthew's, built 1893[10021]; Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate & St Thomas of Canterburymarker, the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northamptonmarker and seat of the Bishop of Northampton.

Related towns

Twin Towns Marburgmarker, in Hessenmarker, Germany; 75,000 inhabitants. Has links with the brothers Grimm and one of the oldest universities in Germany; Poitiersmarker, Viennemarker, south-west France 100,000 inhabitants.

US towns with the same name in several east coast states include: Marylandmarker, Massachusettsmarker, New Yorkmarker , North Carolinamarker, Pennsylvaniamarker and Virginiamarker.

Notable residents

Modern


Historical


Musical


Media

Newspapers The Northampton Chronicle & Echo is the town's only paid-for newspaper. It is published Monday to Saturday each week and has a daily circulation of approximately 21,000 copies. Newspapers issued free of charge, but with a town circulation only, are The Mercury (Thursday) and Northants on Sunday, both from the publishers of the Chronicle & Echo, and the Herald and Post (Thursday). These free papers tend to be mostly advertising media with limited news coverage. The Mercury is one of the oldest newspapers still in circulation, being first published in 1720. It is the fifth-oldest such newspaper in the UK and the tenth-oldest such in the world.

Radio Three stations are based in the town, two of which broadcast county-wide. BBC Radio Northampton broadcasts news, topical items and some music, switching to a regional network after 7pm. A commercial station, Heart 96.6 (formerly Northants 96), broadcasts mostly popular music. A community radio station, Inspiration FM was awarded a 5 year licence on 24 July 2008 and will soon be broadcasting in Northampton.

Regional TV news is broadcast on the BBC East (terrestrial and satellite) with a main programme, BBC Look East, and on ITV's Anglia News. From 1999-2004, Northants TV (NTV) on cable and later terrestrial showed local ads, sport, and limited local activities.

Film and TVNorthampton was the town location in the BBC's Keeping Up Appearances from 1990-1995. Parts of the 2005 film Kinky Boots were made in Northampton and featured shots of the statue outside the Grosvenor Centre in the Town Centre and inside RE Tricker's shoe factory in St. Michaels Road representing the original factory, in Earls Bartonmarker.

Geography

Northampton's closest towns are Wellingboroughmarker, Daventrymarker and Towcestermarker

See also



References

  1. Church's English Shoes
  2. 'Avon New European HQ to Open Autumn 2009' Northampton Chronicle & Echo report
  3. Avon cease manufacturing in Northampton - BBC report 2003
  4. English Partnerships
  5. Extract from Building Societies Yearbook 2009/10 (p.127) Building Societies Association (retrieved 17 November 2009)
  6. "Northampton Castle", The Gatehouse
  7. Sywell Aerodrome - new concrete runway to open
  8. BBC News - EDUCATION - Parents' concern over school closures
  9. Northampton Old Scouts RFC
  10. Anglian TV's Celebrity Going Home: Robert Llewellyn (2004))
  11. Sculpture celebrates DNA pioneers BBC News, 13 December 2005


External links




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