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Knighton - Broad Street - - 876640.jpg
Broad Street
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Population 3,033 (2020)
- in Powys: 2,909
- in Shropshire: 124
OS grid reference SO286723
Civil parish
  • Stowe
  • Knighton
Principal area
Unitary authority
  • Shropshire
Ceremonial county
Ceremonial county
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Knighton
Postcode district LD7
Dialling code 01547
Police Dyfed-Powys
Fire Mid and West Wales
Ambulance Welsh
  West Midlands
EU Parliament Wales
West Midlands
UK Parliament
  • Brecon & Radnorshire
  • Ludlow
Welsh Assembly
  • Brecon & Radnorshire
List of places
52°20′38″N 3°03′00″W / 52.344°N 3.050°W / 52.344; -3.050

Knighton (Welsh: Tref-y-clawdd or Trefyclo) is a border market town and community in Powys, Wales and Shropshire, England, on the River Teme. It lies on the England–Wales border. The Teme is not navigable in its higher reaches and the border does not follow its course exactly. Originally an Anglo-Saxon settlement, Knighton is located on Offa's Dyke, the ancient earthwork that divided the two countries. It later became a Norman defensive border town.


The name Knighton probably derives from the Old English words cniht and tūn meaning, respectively, "... a soldier, personal follower, young man, servant, thane, freeman" and "... farm, settlement, homestead". This implies that the settlement was perhaps founded as the result of a grant of land to freemen. By contrast the Welsh name officially given to the town in 1971 (Tref-y-Clawdd) is more straightforward and translates simply as the town on the dyke.

Inhabitants are Knightonians, Knightoners or merely from Knighton.

Inevitably, Knighton's earliest history is obscure but there are local clues: Caer Caradoc (an Iron Age hillfort associated with Caradoc or Caractacus) is 2 miles (3 km) away and just off the road towards Clun. Watling Street, a Roman road, passes a few miles to the east at Leintwardine. Any settlements around the Knighton area would have been part of the Iron Age kingdom of Cornovii which consisted of the modern-day counties as Cheshire, Shropshire, North Staffordshire, North Herefordshire, parts of Powys and Worcestershire.

Knighton is known for a well-preserved section of Offa's Dyke. Intriguingly, Wat's Dyke also runs parallel to Offa's Dyke and a few miles to the east. An earthwork that runs north-south along the English/Welsh border from Basingwerk near Holywell to Oswestry. The dykes aside, two Norman castles, constructed in the 12th century, are the oldest survivors in modern Knighton. The town became a borough in 1203, with a charter permitting a weekly market and annual fair. The castle was besieged by Owain Glyndŵr in 1402 and the castle and much of the town were destroyed. The major battle of the rebellion was fought at Pilleth (Welsh: Bryn Glas) 3 miles (5 km) south of the town in the same year.

Broad St. Knighton (1294418)
Broad St. Knighton, c.1910

The town's church dates from the 11th century, but much of it was rebuilt in the 19th century. It is one of only two in Wales dedicated to St Edward; the patron saint of England before St George. This dedication to an English saint is a symptom of the dual English/Welsh nature of the town that was not legally resolved until 1535 when Knighton was finally confirmed as part of Wales by the Acts of Union. Knighton also has a Baptist chapel and a small Catholic church.

Arrival of the railway

Knighton first prospered as a centre of the wool trade in the 15th century and was later an important point on the two drover routes from Montgomery to Hereford, and from London to Aberystwyth. Otherwise, Knighton was remote from the centres of commerce. It seemed likely that the railway revolution would also fail to reach the town; the 1840s and 1850s saw considerable railway building right across Great Britain but Radnorshire had a small population and little industry. The construction of the railway was made economically viable – just – by an entrepreneurial drive to connect the Mumbles and Milford Haven with the cities and factories of the industrial Midlands. The Knighton Railway Company was formed by local landowners and businessmen to build a line from Craven Arms to the town. Work began in August 1858 and the line reached Knighton in March 1861. The station itself was built in 1865.
To mark the accession of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 the initials "ER" were planted out in deciduous trees within an evergreen forest on the hill to the north of the town.

In August 1970, Knighton hosted a rock festival with bands such as The Move and the somewhat more obscure Pete Brown & Piblokto, Roger Bunn, Forever More, Clark-Hutchinson, James Litherland's Brotherhood (James was originally part of Colosseum) and Killing Floor. Comperes were radio DJ Pete Drummond and local resident and bluesman Alexis Korner, who also performed.


Religion  %
Buddhist 0.13
Christian 74.33
Hindu 0.00
Jewish 0.00
Muslim 0.13
No religion 16.14
Other 0.32
Sikh 0.00
Not stated 8.91
Age Percentage
0–15 16.6
16+17 2.5
18–44 27.8
45–59 20.6
60–84 29.7
85+ 2.9
Year Population:
1841 1,404
1851 1,566
1861 1,853
1871 1,946
1881 1,905
1891 1,813
1901 2,139
2001 3,043
2005 3,336
Knighton Compared
2011 UK Census Knighton Powys Wales
Total population 3,007 132,976 3,063,456,
Speaks and or reads Welsh 12.3% 28.0% 26.7%
Non-white 0.7% 0.8% 4.4%
Born in Wales 32.9% 49.8% 72.7%
Welsh ethnicity (self-declared) 28.2% 43.3% 57.5%
Welsh or Welsh and British ethnicity 31.5% 48.5% 64.6%
Unemployed 2.88% 4.12% 3.30%
No qualifications 33.63% 22.60% 23.61%

Statistics confirm Knighton's slow growth since the early 19th century. The population was estimated in 2019 at 2,912. The 2001 Census provides a snapshot of Knighton today and allows comparisons with the county and Wales as a whole. Knightonians are less likely to describe their identity as Welsh than inhabitants of other parts of Wales. It is also more homogenous and enjoys higher employment rates.



Knighton - street
Clock Tower

On the last Saturday in August the town holds its annual Carnival and Show, which attracts thousands of visitors to the town from all over the world. It features two parades, one at midday, and another at around 8 pm; these consist of various themed carnival floats and people dressed in fancy dress. The show takes place at the town's showground at Bryn-y-Castell; also home to Knighton Town F.C., Knighton Cricket Club and Knighton Hockey Club.

Knighton Community Centre is the towns largest venue and plays host to many events such as discos, performances, wrestling, bands, artists along with local clubs and organisations.

Within the town are the visible remains of two early castle mottes. One at Bryn-y-Castell and the other hidden behind the fire station and in a private garden.

Just outside Knighton and visible for many miles, is an observatory with a telescope, Europe's largest camera obscura and a planetarium. The observatory is part of the Spaceguard UK project which searches for asteroids that might threaten the earth.

The Clock Tower– similar to those in Rhayader, Hay on Wye and Machynlleth– built in 1872 is a central landmark and visible in the picture above.

Knighton is at the centre or the start of two National Trails; Glyndŵr's Way and Offa's Dyke Path. The Offa's Dyke Association has a visitors' centre in the town alongside the site of the ceremony at which John Hunt, Baron Hunt of Llanfair Waterdine inaugurated the long distance footpath in 1971. Much of the route has higher status than footpath, though, so horse riders and vehicles can use it,. It is a walk recommended by the Daily Telegraph. A further trail– the Jack Mytton Way– passes nearby and yet another– Wat's Dyke Way– is proposed.


Bowling Club
Bowling Club

In common with many small towns, Knighton has rugby, cricket, football and hockey teams. It also has a 9-hole Golf course established in 1906, and designed by Harry Vardon.

The football club, Knighton Town, plays in the Mid Wales League and Aspidistra Radnorshire Cup. The footballer Arthur Rowley, brother of England international Jack– managed the town's football team.
For recreational sportsmen and women a swimming pool and leisure centre are available.

In July 2009, Knighton hosted round 2 of the British Enduro Championship.

The Tour of Britain passed through Knighton in 2014


Knighton sign
Entry to Knighton


Knighton is 137 miles (220 km) from the UK capital city, London; 86 miles (138 km) from the Welsh capital of Cardiff; and, 19 miles (31 km) from the county town, Llandrindod Wells. For the smaller part of Knighton that is in Shropshire, the district administrative centre of Ludlow is 16 miles (26 km) distant and the county town of Shrewsbury is 34 miles (55 km) away. The town is remote but is connected with the following towns and villages.

Knighton is a nucleated settlement centred on the clock tower with limited ribbon development along the A roads.

Geology and geomorphology

River Teme in spate

Knighton is at 52°20′40″N 3°03′0″W / 52.34444°N 3.05000°W / 52.34444; -3.05000. It is in a sparsely populated tract of mid-Wales and the English border characterised by a hilly plateau cut by narrow river-valleys with a broadly east-west axis. To the west, ground rises steeply towards Radnor Forest, and to the north, more gently, to the summit of Clun Forest. Turning east, the elevation falls gently to the Shropshire Plain. To the south of the town stands Llan Wen hill.
The town centre lies at circa 174 metres (571 ft) above sea level although the surrounding hills – Bailey Hill the highest – rise to 418 metres (1,371 ft) above sea level. The only major river is the River Teme.
According to Samuel Lewis (a mid 19th century visitor):

.... at the head of a deep vale sheltered on all sides by hills of lofty elevation, crowned with timber of luxuriant growth, and commanding extensive and finely varied prospects over the surrounding country

Knighton rests on Ludlovian rocks of the Silurian Period and was close to the southern edge of the ice-sheet during the last ice age.


The average temperature and rainfall figures taken between 1971 and 2000 at the Met Office weather station in Shawbury, can be seen on that page. Although 35 miles (56 km) away, Shawbury is the nearest recording station and has a similar climate. Knighton is in the rain shadow of the Cambrian Mountains and consequently is slightly warmer and substantially drier than the Wales average.

On 18 August 2004, fish fell from the sky in one of the most recent instances of raining animals within the United Kingdom.


Knighton is about 30 miles (48 km) midway between Shrewsbury and Hereford, at the junction of the A4113 and the A488 road.

Local bus services are limited and subsidised.

Knighton railway station is on the Heart of Wales Line. Transport for Wales Rail provides direct trains to Shrewsbury and to Swansea via Llandrindod. The station itself is just inside Shropshire, England.

The nearest international airport is at Birmingham. Light aircraft can fly from Welshpool Airport and Shobdon Aerodrome.


The town's shops serve a large rural hinterland and employ 18 per cent of the active population – almost as many as manufacturing, at 18.81 per cent. Otherwise Knighton has little industry. Most young people leave after completing their education. Tourism is a crucial area hit hard by the foot and mouth epidemic of 2001.
Although wages are low and over 20 per cent of families have no car, Knighton has an unemployment rate (2001) of just 2.88 per cent.

Responsibility for economic development lies with the Welsh Assembly Government. The town's remoteness means it has few commuters. Most of the employed (69.45 per cent in 2001) work within a 12 miles (19 km) area.


Knighton has a primary school, but for state secondary education pupils travel by bus 8 miles (13 km) to John Beddoes School in Presteigne. Until 1974 Knighton had a secondary modern school, on the site of the current primary school. Knighton Church in Wales Primary School (until 1998 Knighton Voluntary Primary School) had 299 pupils in 2008. In its most recent Estyn inspection it was graded Good or Satisfactory, the inspectors being largely positive, but critical of "low expectations".

Notable residents

In birth order:

  • Alfred Edwards (1850–1923), businessman, was with Herbert Kilpin one of the charter members of the Italian club A.C. Milan, originally named Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club. He was also elected its first president.
  • Kenneth Turpin (1915–2005), a former Provost of Oriel College, Oxford and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, retired to the town.
  • Saxophonist and composer Dick Heckstall-Smith (1934–2004) was raised near the town.
  • Emma, Duchess of Rutland (born 1963), estranged wife of the 11th Duke of Rutland and châtelain of Belvoir Castle, was born and raised locally. Her maiden name was Emma Watkins.
  • Ed James (born 1976) was born in Knighton. He has been Chairman of Birmingham Press Club since 2012 and a radio presenter of Heart West Midlands.
  • Chaz Davies (born 1987), motorcycle racer, was born in Knighton. He was the 2011 World Supersport champion.

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