Newbury, Berkshire

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For other places called Newbury, see Newbury.
Newbury
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Newbury_-_Berkshire_dot.png
Newbury

OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
Lat/Lon:Template:Coor dm NW
Population: 32,000 (2004 est.)
Formal status:Town
Administration
District:West Berkshire
Region:South East England
Nation:England
Other
Ceremonial County:Berkshire
Traditional County:Berkshire
Post Office and Telephone
Post town:NEWBURY
Postcode:RG14
Dialling Code:01635

Newbury is the principal town in the west of the county of Berkshire in the United Kingdom. It is situated on the River Kennet and the Kennet and Avon Canal, and has a town centre containing many seventeenth century buildings.

Contents

Location

Newbury is situated on the River Kennet, the valley of which forms an important east-west transport route, served by the Kennet and Avon Canal, the Great Western Railway line from London to the West Country and the old A4 road from London to Bristol. The latter road has been replaced as a long distance route by the M4 motorway which here runs parallel five miles to the north.

At Newbury this east-west route is crossed by an equally important north-south route, from the major south coast port of Southampton to the industrial centres of the Midlands. Although this route was once served by a railway route, today it is only served by the A34 road, which today bypasses Newbury to the west on an alignment partially using the old rail route (see also 'History' below).

The town is surrounded on three sides (north, west and south) by the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the downland to the south rises steeply out of the river valley giving good views.

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The Kennet and Avon Canal runs through the heart of Newbury, Berkshire

Nearby towns and cities: Thatcham, Hungerford, Didcot, Reading, Oxford, Basingstoke, Winchester

Nearby villages: Speen, Shaw, Donnington, Bagnor, Greenham, Wash Common, Cold Ash, Chieveley, Highclere, Burghclere, Hermitage, Kintbury, Kingsclere, Lambourn

Nearby places of interest: Combe Gibbet, Donnington Castle, Sandham Memorial Chapel, Highclere Castle, Watermill Theatre, Watership Down

History

Newbury was founded late in the eleventh century and acquired its name through being new in the sense of postdating the Doomesday Survey.

Historically, the town's economic foundation was the cloth trade. This is reflected in the person of the fourteenth century cloth magnate Jack O'Newbury and the later tale of the Newbury Coat. The latter was the outcome of a bet as to whether a gentleman's suit could be produced by the end of a day from wool taken from the sheep's back earlier the same day.

Newbury was the site of two English Civil War battles, the First Battle of Newbury in 1643 and the Second Battle of Newbury in 1644. The nearby Donnington Castle was reduced in the aftermath of the second battle.

In 1795, local magistrates, meeting nearby, introduced the Speenhamland System which tied parish welfare payments to the cost of bread.

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Newbury is in the Kennet valley. (As viewed from Donnington Castle)

A large airforce base was established during the Second World War at Greenham Common on the edge of the town. In the 1950s it became home to US Air Force bombers and tankers, for which it was equipped with the longest military runway in the United Kingdom. In the 1980s it became one of only two bases in the United Kingdom equipped with ground-launched nuclear-armed cruise missiles, causing it to become the site of prolonged and vigorous protests by up to 40,000 protesters. With the end of the Cold War the base was closed, the runway broken for use as fill material in building the Newbury by-pass (see below), and much of the area restored to heathland.

The town's location at the intersection of the routes from London to Bristol and from Southampton to Birmingham made it, for many years, a transport bottleneck. Since the first bypass opened in 1963, the A34 road and M4 motorway trunk routes have intersected 5km north of the town, at Chieveley. The ring road around the town still suffered serious congestion and the Newbury bypass was proposed in 1981. The plans were approved in 1990 however they were extremely controversial and this led to a major environmentalist campaign (sometimes dubbed the Third battle of Newbury) opposing the development. In spite of this, the road was built and finally opened in 1998.

In August 2004, the improved A34-M4 junction was opened which allowed north-south traffic on the A34 to completely bypass the roundabout at the M4.

See also: Newbury Castle, Newbury bypass, Greenham Common

Economy

Today, Newbury town has a population of about 32,000 (2004), and with adjacent towns such as Thatcham is the centre of a continuously built up area with an overall population of around 60,000.

Newbury is home to the world headquarters of the mobile phone company Vodafone, which is the town's largest employer with 4,000 people. Before building their 129 million headquarters in the outskirts of the town in 2003, Vodafone used 64 buildings spread accross the town centre.

As well as Vodafone Newbury is also home to the UK headquarters of the pharmaceutical company Bayer AG, Newbury Racecourse, a major course on the British horse-racing calendar, Quantel, and Genesys Video Conferencing. It also is home to Newbury Building Society which operates in the local region.

Newbury benefits from good road communications, being at the junction of the M4 motorway between London and Bristol/South Wales, and the A34 major road between Southampton and the Midlands. Rail communications are adequate, with Newbury and Newbury Racecourse stations on the West of England Main Line line between London and the West Country.

Sport

Newbury is home to AFC Newbury, one of only two football clubs sponsored by Vodafone (the other being Manchester United).

Newbury is also home to the rugby union club Newbury R.F.C. (also sponsored by Vodafone). In the 2004/05 season the club finished second in the National Two division earning promotion to National One and is now in the top 26 clubs nationally. Newbury had previously won National Four South (now renamed as National Three South) in 1996/97 with a 100% win record. The club was founded in 1928 and moved several years ago to its new ground at Monks Lane which has hosted England U21 fixtures.

It is also home to a major horse-racing fixture, Newbury Racecourse. The most prestigious race in the calendar is the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup which normally takes place in late November.

Politics and local government

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Newbury town hall, where the town council meets.

Newbury is a civil parish in its own right, with parish council responsibilities undertaken by Newbury Town Council (since 1997). Newbury is part of, and the administrative centre of, the district administered by the unitary authority of West Berkshire.

Newbury Town Council currently has 23 councillors, representing 7 wards of the town. These are Brummel Grove, Clay Hill, Falkland, Northcroft, Pyle Hill, Victoria and St Johns. As of 2005 20 of the councillors represent the Liberal Democrats whilst 3 represent the Conservative Party.

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The reception area in Newbury's library.

Newbury Library, which moved to a new building in July 2000, provides internet access and a wide range of other services to its users and members.

Newbury is twinned with:

In Parliament, it is in the Newbury constituency. Since the election of May 2005 Newbury is represented by Richard Benyon, a Conservative.

Media

Newbury's main weekly newspaper is the Newbury Weekly News, however there are also two free papers available. The Kick FM radio station also broadcasts from Newbury to the local area.

The following local newspapers are distributed in Newbury (circulation in brackets):

Education

Newbury has two main secondary schools, St. Bartholomew's School and Park House School. There is also Newbury College, a further education college funded by private finance initiative.

See also

External links

Template:Commonscat

Template:West Berkshire

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