Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- For other places called Newbury, see Newbury.
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|Population:||32,000 (2004 est.)|
|Region:||South East England|
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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.
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.
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.
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 a new bypass was proposed in 1981. The plans were passed in a closed Parliament session in 1990 after a pro forma hearing, a procedure by many considered undemocratic. Despite massive resistance (1), the road was built and finally opened in 1998. This decision was highly controversial and led to a major environmentalist campaign to oppose the development. The confrontation between demonstrators (many veterans of the protest against M3 extension at Twyford Down) and contractors was dubbed the Third Battle of Newbury (following those in the civil war -- see above). More than 800 arrests were made, making it one of the largest environmental conflicts in European history. On February 11 1996, 5,000 people marched along the route in objection to the road (2).
Some of the protesters at Newbury had been living in tree top shacks for up to a year in advance. They became known as tree sitters.
- 53% of respondents to a national poll said that "work should stop immediately to allow time for alternatives to be tried" (Newbury Weekly News, March 10 1996).
- The Guardian, February 12 1996.
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.
Newbury is home to the world headquarters of mobile phone company Vodafone, which is the town's largest employer with 4,000 people, the UK headquarters of the pharmaceutical company Bayer AG, and 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.
It is also home to a major horse-racing fixture, Newbury Racecourse.
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 .
Newbury is twinned with:
- Braunfels in Germany (1963)
- Bagnols-sur-Ceze in France (1970)
- Eeklo in Belgium (1974)
- Feltre in Italy (2003)
- List of places in Berkshire
- List of civil parishes in Berkshire
- List of towns in England
- Battle of Newbury
- Greenham Common
- Newbury Town Council
- Third Battle of Newbury in the press
- Newbury Library's web page
- Local news and discussion site for Newbury
- Web site of St Bartholomew's School in Newbury, a Business and Enterprise College
- Twin Town Association
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