St Neots

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Not to be confused with St Neot, Cornwall.
For other uses, see St Neot (disambiguation).
St Neots
St. Neots Sign.jpg
St Neots sign
St Neots is located in Cambridgeshire
St Neots
St Neots
 St Neots shown within Cambridgeshire
Population 40,000 (2014)
OS grid reference TL185605
   – London  49 miles (79 km) S 
Civil parish St Neots
District Huntingdonshire
Shire county Cambridgeshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ST. NEOTS
Postcode district PE19
Dialling code 01480
Police Cambridgeshire
Fire Cambridgeshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Huntingdon
List of places
UK
England
Cambridgeshire

Coordinates: 52°14′N 0°16′W / 52.23°N 0.26°W / 52.23; -0.26

St Neots /sɨnt ˈnʊts/ is a town and civil parish in the non metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire, England, within the historic county of Huntingdonshire, next to the Bedfordshire county border. It lies on the River Great Ouse in the Huntingdonshire District, 15 miles (24 km) west of Cambridge and 49 miles (79 km) north of central London. St Neots is the largest town in Cambridgeshire (Cambridge and Peterborough are both cities) with a population of 40,000. The town is named after the Cornish monk Saint Neot whose bones were subject to translation from the hamlet of St Neot on Bodmin Moor on consecration of the Priory of St Neots c.980 AD.[1]

Pilgrimage to St Neots brought prosperity for the town, and it was granted a market charter in 1130. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the town enjoyed further prosperity through corn milling, brewing, stagecoach traffic and railways. After the Second World War, the town and its industry grew rapidly as London councils paid for new housing to be built in the town to rehouse families from London. The first London overspill housing was completed in the early 1960s. Today, St Neots is a thriving market town and an attractive destination for tourism. A range of bed and breakfast hotels are supplemented by larger chain hotels to the west of the town, and one of the UK's largest inland Camping and Caravanning Club sites is situated on the banks of the River Great Ouse.[2]

Today[edit]

Today, St Neots is a thriving commercial centre which boasts a wide selection of retailers and good restaurants but retains its market town charm. In 2013, St Neots was named by the Telegraph newspaper as the fourth best place in the UK for 'Foodies'[3]. St Neots is often referred to as the Jewel of the Ouse, the name stemming from a combination of its serene location astride the banks of the River Great Ouse, acres of public riverside parklands and its historical use of the Alfred Jewel as the towns emblem.[4] The town has three Anglican churches all confusingly called St Mary's. The largest St Mary's Church is referred to as the Cathedral of Huntingdonshire and features the life of Christ depicted in stained glass windows.[5]

The modern town incorporates Eynesbury (one of the oldest parts of the town) and two areas across the river, Eaton Ford and Eaton Socon, which were originally separate villages across the county boundary (formed by the River Great Ouse) in Bedfordshire. Already the largest town in Cambridgeshire, after the cities of Cambridge and Peterborough, St Neots continues to grow rapidly due to a demand for modern housing and the town's transport links.

Technology-based industries are located in some of the town's light industrial estates, and there is a gas turbine power station at Little Barford on the edge of the town. Recent development has added Eynesbury Manor, Love's Farm, and the Island, Little Paxton bringing the population above 40,000. It is projected that the population of the town will be 65,000 by the end of the Huntingdonshire Local Plan period (2036).

Geography[edit]

River Great Ouse, St Neots

St Neots is situated approximately 49 miles north of London. It lies close to the south-western boundary of Huntingdonshire District, in the valley of the River Great Ouse, partly on the flood plain and partly on slightly higher ground a little further from the water. The Great Ouse is a mature river, once wide and shallow but now controlled by weirs and sluices and usually constrained in a well-defined channel.

Tributaries entering the Great Ouse in the town are the River Kym, Hen Brook, Duloe Brook and Colmworth Brook. The area is generally low-lying. The Riverside Fields, an amenity area adjacent to St Neots Bridge, is designed as a flood buffer area, and is under water at times of flood, protecting dwelling and commercial property from flood.

St Neots developed at the site of a ford where overland routes converged. This was replaced by a medieval bridge, and today there are two further crossings just outside the town, one to the north and another to the south.

The soil is mainly light, overlying gravel beds, and gravel extraction is one of the local industries. Older disused gravel pits form useful nature reserves and amenity areas at nearby Paxton Pits and at the Wyboston Leisure Park. Away from the river, the higher land is mainly a heavy clay soil with few large settlements. Much of the land is used for arable farming.

St Neots is close to Cambridge and Bedford.

Transport[edit]

Rail[edit]

St Neots railway station is located on the East Coast Main Line and provides half-hourly trains south to London (London King's Cross and Finsbury Park) and north to Peterborough. Journey times between St Neots and London King's Cross typically range from 36 minutes to one hour. The station is managed and served by First Capital Connect.

A new footbridge opened in February 2014, linking the Love's Farm housing development and Rowley Park Stadium to the railway station and the rest of the town, as well as providing lifts to all platforms.

St Neots Railway Station

Road[edit]

St Neots Market Square
Riverside Park, St Neots

St Neots is bypassed by the A1 which links the town by road with London to the South and Peterborough to the North, while the nearby A14 provides access to the Midlands and East Anglia.

Until the three-mile £8m A45 St Neots Bypass opened in December 1985 (subsequently re-designated as the A428), traffic to and from Cambridge had to pass through the town centre.

The A421 begins at Black Cat Roundabout on the A1 just South of the town, connecting with Bedford and Milton Keynes, and carrying much of the traffic between Oxford and Cambridge.

Bus[edit]

Regular local buses are provided by Stagecoach in Huntingdonshire and Go Whippet. St Neots is served by the cross country X5 service that runs between Cambridge and Oxford.

There is also the Route 66, run by Stagecoach which goes into Huntingdon.

Air[edit]

St Neots is within an hour's drive from London Luton Airport and London Stansted Airport

St Neots Foot and Cycle Bridge
St Neots Southern Foot and Cycle route.png
The route and location of the St Neots (Southern) Foot and Cycle Bridge.
Location Cambridgeshire
Geometry KML

Cycling[edit]

St Neots is on Route 51 of the Sustrans national cycle route that connects Colchester and Oxford via Harwich, Felixstowe, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Sandy, Bedford and Milton Keynes.

Recent developments[edit]

St Neots (Southern) Foot and Cycle Bridge[edit]

A new foot and cycle bridge across the River Great Ouse has recently been completed, connecting the communities of Eaton Socon and Eynesbury. A public consultation on the scheme was held in 2003 with public exhibitions held in December 2008. The new bow string arch bridge has a span of 346 m (including access ramps), and includes street lighting and improvements to the connecting cycle paths. The scheme was supported by Cambridgeshire County Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and is a Sustrans Connect2 project. The bridge had an estimated construction cost of £3.5 million with Sustrans contributing an additional £700,000.[6] The construction started in January 2011 and was completed on time and within budget during September 2011. The use of a Compulsory Purchase Order for the necessary land was approved. The route of the cycle way has connected Shakespeare Road, in Eaton Socon, to Barford Road, in Eynesbury and follows the southern boundary of St Neots Community School.[7]

History[edit]

Main article: History of St Neots
Remains of the Norman castle at Eaton Socon

In 2012, archaeological excavations discovered prehistoric Mesolithic, Early Neolithic era, Iron Age, Roman and Early Middle Saxon items at the new town centre cinema development.[8] Some five years earlier, Cambridge University Archaeologists uncovered significant remains of an Iron Age settlement of Round Houses during eastern town excavations. These findings confirm settlements having existed for over 3,000 years. Roman Saxon and Medieval finds have also been made in and around St Neots. Early Saxon developments were in Eynesbury, Eaton Socon and Eaton Ford, which still exist as part of the town today; and Maltman's Green and Crosshall Ford which are no longer recognised.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicles record that in 917 the Danish King of East Anglia left Huntingdon to attack Saxon settlements but was defeated and killed at the battle of Tempsford near St Neots.[9][10]

The Normans rebuilt the Priory near the river and the town of St Neots grew up against its southern wall.

A castle was built in the 1100s on the riverbank at Eaton (modern Eaton Socon). The earth mound remnants of this still exist today.

The parish church was rebuilt in the 15th century.

St.Neots Parish Church

John Bellingham, the only man to successfully assassinate a British Prime Minister, was reputedly born in the town.

Sport and leisure[edit]

St Neots has a semi-professional non-League football team, St Neots Town F.C., who play at Rowley Park Stadium. The club are currently members of the Southern Football League Premier Division. The town also has a Rugby club St Neots RUFC, a rowing club St Neots Rowing Club and a Dragon Boat team.

The Rowley Arts Centre was opened in May 2014. The development includes a piazza walkway line with popular national chain restaurants and state-of-the-art cinema complex. The development is named after Peter Rowley, an American playwright, author and critic who was Lord of the Manor of St Neots. He donated £1 million towards the development.

The cinema contains six screens capable of accommodating a total 900 people. The build specification is in accordance with Cineworld deluxe standard and nearly all screens are equipped with latest 3-D projection. The Rowley Auditorium also provides a venue for live performances which has adapted seating area and spotlighting. There are also lifts and box seating for disabled visitors.

Notable residents[edit]

  • High jumper Robbie Grabarz 2012 Helsinki European Championship Gold and Summer Olympics (London 2012) Bronze Medallist, lived in Saint Neots and attended Longsands Academy
  • England/QPR/Aston Villa footballer and Aston Villa manager John Gregory attended St Neots' Longsands Academy. One of his iconic 'Admiral' England shirts from the 1980s is in the St Neots Museum in the centre of St Neots Town
  • Rob Harris, guitarist with the band Jamiroquai.
  • John Bellingham, the only man to assassinate a British Prime Minister (Spencer Perceval on 11 May in 1812), lived in St Neots. He had been unhappy that he was unable to obtain compensation for being unfairly imprisoned in Russia. He was found guilty and hanged on Monday, 18 May 1812.[11]
  • Olympic swimmer Mark Foster lives in St Neots.[12]
  • The St Neots Quads became famous as the first surviving quadruplets in Britain. They were born 28 November 1935
  • Actress Rula Lenska was born in St Neots.
  • Fencer Graham Paul, who competed at four Olympic Games.
  • Leicester City Footballer Lee Philpott who also attended Longsands Academy
  • Children's author Michael Lawrence was born in Eynesbury. His grandfather managed the St Neots paper mill at the time.

Expansion[edit]

St Neots has undergone two major expansion projects within recent years; at Love's Farm to the east of the railway line with some 1,250 new homes, and on the site of the former Samuel Jones paper mill at Little Paxton. Further expansion is currently underway to the south of town in the Eynesbury area.

Nearby settlements[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]