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History of Newbury

History of Newbury

Newbury was founded sometime after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Newbury was founded at a time when trade and commerce were increasing and there were many new towns created. Newbury was created by the Lord of the Manor, who divided the land into plots for building houses. There weren’t many shops at this time in Newbury therefore he also started a market. The start of the market brought more people to settle in the area.

The new settlement was called New Burgh. Burgh is an old English word and originally it meant a fort or fortified settlement. Then it came to mean town. In time the name New Burgh became Newbury.

In the Middle Ages the main industry in Newbury was that of making wool, and some leather tanning.

In 1596 Elizabeth I granted a Newbury charter which gave the townspeople certain rights, Newbury was given a town council and a Guildhall was built in 1611.

In the 17th century the economy saw a decline in the cloth industry which had been the mainstay of Newbury’s economy. Newbury suffered much poverty as a result. Like most towns in the 17th century, Newbury suffered from outbreaks of the plague, there was a severe outbreak in 1604 and another outbreak in 1665.

In 1642 there was a civil war between King and Parliament. There were two battles of Newbury, the first in September 1643 and the second in October 1644.

Newbury remained a small market town in the 18th Century and its industries were helped when the River Kennet was made navigable as far as Reading in 1723. There was a clock making industry in the town. Newbury was also known for malting, other industries were brick making and tanning leather.

At the time of the first census in 1801, the population of Newbury was 4,725. From 1825 the streets were lit by gas.

Cheap Street in 1932

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