The history of Newbury
Newbury is a civil parish and the principal Town in the County of Berkshire, situated on the River Kennet and the Kennet and Avon Canal. Newbury is well known for its racecourse and the former USAF airbase at Greenham Common which was active in the Battle of Britain.
Newbury has a great and fascinating history and has become a thriving and vibrant Market Town with fabulous character. Located just off junction 13 of the M4 motorway there are excellent transport links.
Over the past few years the Town has grown considerably and now boasts many industries and is continuously attracting new businesses due to its location.
Newbury was founded shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Trade and commerce was increasing in England and hence New Towns were being created. Newbury was created by dividing two plots of land for building houses by the Lord Mayor. Shortly afterwards a market was started and merchants came to Newbury to live & Sell their goods.
This new settlement was called New Burgh – Burgh is an Old English word meaning ‘Fort’ or ‘Settlement’
By the Middle ages Newbury became a booming textile industry – producing wool and leather tanning. In 1956 Elizabeth I granted the Town a Charter – a document giving the people of the Town certain rights. A Town Council was formed consisting of a Mayor and Aldermen and a Guildhall was built in 1611.
During the 17th Century the cloth industry which was the mainstay of Newbury’s economy declined causing poverty. John Kenderick left money in his Will to be used to employ the poor and a building called the Castle was purchased and the poor were put to work weaving.
Like most Towns during this time Newbury also suffered from outbreaks of the plague in 1604 & 1665.
In 1642 there was a Civil War between the King and the Parliament and there were 2 battles of Newbury September 1643 & October 1644.
Newbury remained a small Market Town and in the 18th Century its industries were helped by the River Kennet. A clock making industry was also formed in the Town. Newbury was also known for Malting as well as brick making. At the first census in 1801 the population of Newbury was 4,725.
1847 the railway reached Newbury.
1867 Newbury gained its first Newspaper
1885 the hospital was built.
1904 Newbury gained a museum
1906 Public library
1910 Newbury had its first cinema
1944 during World war 2 Newbury was bombed -15 people killed and 26 houses destroyed.
1948 Newbury was given a coat of arms
For most of the 20th Century Newbury was noted for its engineering and as traditional industries declined they were replaced by hi tech industries such as Vodafone, Quantel, Micro focus & Bayer.
The famous Newbury Bypass was built in 1998.
Today the population of Newbury stands at over 35,000