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Newtown town centre
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Newtown (Welsh: Y Drenewydd) is the largest town in the county of Powys, Wales. It had a population of 12,783 in 2001, falling to 11,357 at the 2011 census. Lying on the River Severn, within the historic boundaries of Montgomeryshire, the town is best known as the birthplace of Robert Owen in 1771 His former house stood on what is now the site of the HSBC Bank. The Robert Owen Museum is across the road, occupying 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 art and craft.
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 the ford on the River Severn, below the Long Bridge and around the church of St Mary in Bettws Cedewain. This gave Newtown its original Welsh name. 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.
The town grew in the 18th and 19th centuries around the textile and flannel industry, stimulated by the completion of the Montgomeryshire Canal. In 1838, the town saw Wales' first Chartist demonstration.
The Cambrian Mills, which opened in 1856, were the first steam-driven mills in Newtown. The mill complex was beside the canal terminus on the east bank of the Severn. They expanded to become the largest Welsh woollen mills. However, by the end of the 19th century the mills in Newtown were no longer competitive with those in the north of England. There was a disastrous fire in 1910, and another in 1912, after which the Cambrian Mill was not rebuilt. After the Cambrian Mills closed, Newtown was no longer an important woollen industrial centre and many of the workers moved elsewhere.
The town was designated as a "new town" in 1967. It saw a large population growth as companies and people settled, changing the rural market town character. Newtown hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1965.
Newtown was governed at the parish level by the Newtown Urban District Council until it was replaced by the Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council as part of the Local Government Act 1972. The Town Council consists of 16 elected members and employs around 10 members of staff.
The community is represented on Powys County Council by 5 County Councillors being elected in 5 different electoral wards.
Newtown is approximately 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. Newtown is surrounded by small villages often referenced as the Newtown area. The Newtown post town area, including surrounding villages, has a population approaching 16,000. These villages include Aberhafesp, Adfa, Bettws Cedewain, Bwlch-y-ffridd, Cefn-gwyn, Dolfor, Glanmule, Kerry, Llanllwchaiarn, Llanwyddelan, Mochdre, New Mills, Pentre, Rhydlydan, Sarn and Tregynon.
Buildings and monuments
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.
The Baptist Chapel, dating from 1881, is a prime example of nonconformist architecture of the period.
Newtown is twinned with:
Theatres, museums and galleries
- 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, both within the town and serving nearby locations, are operated by privately owned, local 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 section in Newtown was sold and subsequently built on. Canal Road and Lower Canal Road in Newtown are named after it.
In birth order:
- Robert Owen (1771–1858), social reformer and a founder of Utopian socialism and the Co-operative Movement
- John Bentley (1822–1894), member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
- Pryce Pryce-Jones (1834–1920), mail-order entrepreneur born at Llanllwchaiarn, near Newtown
- George Latham (1881–1939), international footballer
- Harry Beadles (1897–1958), Welsh international footballer, born in Llanllwchaiarn, near Newtown
- Geraint Goodwin (1903–1942), novelist and short story writer in English, born in Llanllwchaiarn, near Newtown
- Barry Hoban (born 1940), professional cyclist with several stage wins in the Tour de France
- Philip Parkin (born 1961), professional golfer and commentator
- Phil Mills (born 1963), World Rally Championship winning co-driver
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. 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 there. Despite the 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 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[when?] received an outstanding ESTYN inspection report, with 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.
- "Town population 2011". Retrieved 14 November 2015.
- [permanent dead link] Robert Owen Biography
- Jones, D "Old town, Newtown", in About Wales, November 2007. Civic Trust for Wales.
- 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
- 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
- Cowey, Carolyn (2016), Pryce-Jones: Pioneer of the Mail Order Industry, BBC, retrieved 2016-03-31
- Town Council information
- SY16 postcode information
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-11. Retrieved 2013-11-11.
- "Newtown". The Drill Hall Project. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
- Wales - List of Cup Finals
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