Newtown, Powys

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Newtown, Wales.jpg
Newtown town centre
Newtown is located in Powys
Newtown shown within Powys
Population 11,357 (2011)[1]
OS grid reference SO115915
Principal area
Ceremonial county
  • Powys
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town NEWTOWN
Postcode district SY16
Dialling code 01686
Police Dyfed-Powys
Fire Mid and West Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament
Welsh Assembly
List of places
52°30′48″N 3°18′51″W / 52.5132°N 3.3141°W / 52.5132; -3.3141Coordinates: 52°30′48″N 3°18′51″W / 52.5132°N 3.3141°W / 52.5132; -3.3141

Newtown (Welsh: Y Drenewydd) is the largest town in the county of Powys, Wales. It had a population of 12,783 in 2001, which fell to 11,357 at the 2011 census. It lies on the River Severn within the historic boundaries of Montgomeryshire. The town is known as the birthplace of Robert Owen in 1771,[2] whose former house stood on what is now the site of the HSBC Bank. The Robert Owen Museum is across the road on the ground floor of the council offices. Newtown is also the home of Theatr Hafren and of Oriel Davies, a major public gallery, which displays national and international contemporary arts and crafts.


Newtown was founded at the end of the 13th century when Edward I of England commissioned Roger de Montgomerie to construct a centre for the hamlet of Llanfair-yng-Nghedewain. It was situated near a ford on the River Severn, below the Long Bridge and close to the church of St Mary in Bettws Cedewain. This gave Newtown its original Welsh name.[3]

The foundation is intimately connected to the fate of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales, whose new administrative centre at Dolforwyn Castle near Abermule so alarmed Edward I that it was besieged. He seized Llywelyn's lands and granted them to the Mortimers. They transferred the administration of the cantref of Cedewain and the commote of Ceri from Dolforwyn Castle to the new settlement at Newtown.

Newtown street scene c.1890

The town grew in the 18th and 19th centuries around the textile and flannel industry, stimulated by completion of the Montgomeryshire Canal. In 1838, the town saw Wales's first Chartist demonstration.

The Cambrian Mills, which opened in 1856, were the first steam-driven mills in Newtown.[4] The mills stood beside the canal terminus on the east bank of the Severn.[5] They expanded to become the largest of the Welsh woollen mills.[4] However, by the end of the 19th century the Newtown mills were no longer competitive with those in the north of England.[4] There was a disastrous fire in 1910 and another in 1912, after which the Cambrian Mills were not rebuilt.[5] After they closed, Newtown was no longer an important centre of the woollen industry and many of the workers moved elsewhere.[6]

The town was designated as a "new town" in 1967. It saw a large population growth as companies and people settled, changing its rural market town character. Newtown hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1965.


Newtown was governed at local level by Newtown Urban District Council, until it was replaced by Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council under the Local Government Act 1972.

Today's Town Council consists of 16 elected members, serving a five-year term, and employs a staff of about ten.[7]. It primarily deals with green spaces and public facilities, and acts as a representative voice for Newtown. The Chair of the Council or Mayor, elected by the councillors, has been Councillor Sue Newham since 2017.

The community is represented on Powys County Council by five county councillors representing five different wards.


Newtown lies about 8 miles (13 km) from the Wales-England border, in the narrow valley of the river Severn, which restricts development north and south of the town. It is surrounded by small villages often referred to collectively as the Newtown area.

The Newtown post town area, including surrounding villages, has a population approaching 16,000.[citation needed] The villages include Aberhafesp, Adfa, Bettws Cedewain, Bwlch-y-ffridd, Cefn-gwyn, Dolfor, Glanmule, Kerry, Llanllwchaiarn, Llanwyddelan, Mochdre, New Mills, Pentre, Rhydlydan, Sarn and Tregynon.[8]

Buildings and monuments[edit]

The Baptist Chapel

Built by Pryce Pryce-Jones, the Pryce Jones Royal Welsh Warehouse remains the tallest building in Newtown. The two towering structures housed the world's first mail order service depot.[9]

Bear Lanes, the town's main shopping centre, has a Tudor-style entrance. The building was once a hotel, The Bear, which contributes to the centre's appearance today.

A statue of Robert Owen was erected in 1956 in a small park off Shortbridge Street and Gas Street. A replica statue of this was later built in Manchester, England.

The Free Library building, designed by the architect Frank Shayler of Shrewsbury, was built in 1902.

The Baptist Chapel, dating from 1881, is a fine example of nonconformist architecture from that period.

The Back Lane drill hall was completed in 1897.[10]


Newtown is twinned with:

Theatres, museums and galleries[edit]

  • Theatr Hafren – a 555-seat capacity venue
  • Powys Theatre – home of the Newtown Amateur Dramatic Society
  • Robert Owen Museum
  • Textile Museum
  • W H Smith Museum
  • Oriel Davies – the largest visual arts venue in the region


Newtown's station on the Shrewsbury–Aberystwyth line is currently served by Arriva Trains Wales. Most of the local bus services, within the town and serving nearby locations, are operated by local, privately owned companies. Newtown has one National Express bus per day in each direction: Aberystwyth to London and back. Two major roads cross in Newtown town centre: the A483 from Swansea to Chester and the A489 from Machynlleth to Craven Arms.

The Montgomery Canal originally terminated in Newtown. Following its closure in 1944, the Newtown section was sold and used as building land. It gave its name to Newtown's Canal Road and Lower Canal Road.

Notable people[edit]

In birth order:


Newtown A.F.C. is Newtown's association football club, and was a founding member of the Welsh Premier League in 1992. The club was founded in 1875 as Newtown White Stars and won the Welsh FA Cup in 1879 and 1895.[11] The club also entered the qualifying stages of the UEFA Cup on three occasions. It plays at Latham Park, which has a capacity of 5,000 (1,750 seated). The stadium has a full UEFA licence, allowing under-21 international games and European games to be played. Despite these facilities, the club struggles to attract fans, with gates averaging about 300. In 2007, another 250-seat stand was built next to the media gantry. Further developments are planned.

Newtown RFC is the town's rugby union club, which was established in 1925. It presently fields First, Second, Third, Youth and Junior teams.

Newtown also has lawn bowls, cricket, and tennis clubs. A basketball club, the Newtown Titans was established in 2005, before being reconstituted as Mid-Wales Basketball Club in 2009.


There are several schools in Newtown: Ysgol Cedewain (special needs school), Ladywell Green school (ages 4–7), Hafren Junior school (ages 7–11), Ysgol Dafydd Llwyd (ages 4–11), St Mary's (ages 4–11), Penygloddfa (ages 4–11), Maesyrhandir (4-11), Treowen (4–11) and Newtown High School and Sixth Form (ages 12–18). The High School recently received an outstanding ESTYN inspection report in October 2015, noting many outstanding features, including the teacher/sixth-form pupil relationship and the school's support for a wide range of post-16 vocational and academic subjects. As of 2011, it was proposed that Newtown High School, along with several other schools in Powys, should merge with another county high school as part of Powys County Council's secondary school and post-16 modernisation programme.


  1. ^ "Town population 2011". Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  2. ^ [1][permanent dead link] Robert Owen Biography
  3. ^ Jones, D "Old town, Newtown", in About Wales, November 2007. Civic Trust for Wales.
  4. ^ a b c Newtown Local History Group (2014-02-28), Newtown Through Time, Amberley Publishing Limited, p. 144, ISBN 978-1-4456-1701-5, retrieved 2016-03-31 
  5. ^ a b Waiters, Mark (March 2003), An historical and archaeological study of the industrial heritage of Newtown, Powys, Mid Wales, Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust, Curatorial Section, p. 16, retrieved 2016-03-31 
  6. ^ Cowey, Carolyn (2016), Pryce-Jones: Pioneer of the Mail Order Industry, BBC, retrieved 2016-03-31 
  7. ^ Town Council information
  8. ^ SY16 postcode information
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-11. Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  10. ^ "Newtown". The Drill Hall Project. Retrieved 21 August 2017. 
  11. ^ Wales – List of Cup Finals

External links[edit]