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Newtown, Powys facts for kids

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Newtown, Wales.jpg
Newtown town centre
Newtown is located in Powys
Population 11,357 (2011)
OS grid reference SO115915
  • Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn
Principal area
Ceremonial county
  • Powys
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town NEWTOWN
Postcode district SY16
Dialling code 01686
Police Dyfed-Powys
Fire Mid and West Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament
  • Montgomeryshire
Welsh Assembly
  • Montgomeryshire
List of places
52°30′48″N 3°18′51″W / 52.5132°N 3.3141°W / 52.5132; -3.3141

Newtown (Welsh: Y Drenewydd), the largest town in the unitary authority of Powys, Mid Wales, lies on the River Severn in the community of Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn, within the historic boundaries of Montgomeryshire. It was designated a new town in 1967 and saw population growth as firms settled, changing its market-town character. Its 2001 population of 10,780 rose to 11,357 at the 2011 census. It was the birthplace of Robert Owen in 1771, whose house stood on the present site of the HSBC Bank. The town has a theatre, Theatr Hafren, and a public gallery, Oriel Davies, displaying contemporary arts and crafts.


Early period

Newtown was founded at the end of the 13th century when Edward I of England commissioned Roger de Montgomerie to construct a centre for the hamlet of Llanfair-yng-Nghedewain. It was situated near the ford on the River Severn, below the Long Bridge and around the church of St Mary in Bettws Cedewain. This gave Newtown its original Welsh name. The foundation is intimately connected to the fate of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales, whose new administrative centre at Dolforwyn Castle near Abermule so alarmed Edward I that it was besieged. He seized Llywelyn's lands and granted them to the Mortimers. They transferred the administration of the cantref of Cedewain and the commote of Ceri from Dolforwyn Castle to the new settlement at Newtown.

Later period

Newtown (1293382)
Newtown street scene c.1890

The town grew in the 18th and 19th centuries around the textile and flannel industry, stimulated by the completion of the Montgomeryshire Canal. In 1838, the town saw Wales' first Chartist demonstration.

The Cambrian Mills, which opened in 1856, were the first steam-driven mills in Newtown. The mill complex was beside the canal terminus on the east bank of the Severn. They expanded to become the largest Welsh woollen mills. However, by the end of the 19th century the mills in Newtown were no longer competitive with those in the north of England. There was a disastrous fire in 1910, and another in 1912, after which the Cambrian Mill was not rebuilt. After the Cambrian Mills closed, Newtown was no longer an important woollen industrial centre and many of the workers moved elsewhere.

The town was designated as a "new town" in 1967. It saw a large population growth as companies and people settled, changing the rural market town character. Newtown hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1965.


Newtown is about 8 miles (13 km) from the Wales-England border, in the narrow valley of the river Severn which restricts development north and south of the town. Newtown is surrounded by small villages often referenced as the Newtown area. The Newtown post town area, including surrounding villages, has a population approaching 16,000. These villages include Aberhafesp, Adfa, Bettws Cedewain, Bwlch-y-ffridd, Cefn-gwyn, Dolfor, Glanmule, Kerry, Llanllwchaiarn, Llanwyddelan, Mochdre, New Mills, Pentre, Rhydlydan, Sarn and Tregynon.

Buildings and monuments

Newtown Baptist Chapel, Powys
The Baptist Chapel

Built by Pryce Pryce-Jones, the Pryce Jones Royal Welsh Warehouse remains the tallest building in Newtown. The two towering structures housed the world's first mail order service depot.

Bear Lanes, the town's main shopping centre, has a Tudor-style entrance. The building was once a hotel, The Bear, which contributes to the centre's appearance today.

A statue of Robert Owen was erected in 1956 in a small park off Shortbridge Street and Gas Street. A replica statue was later built in Manchester, England.

The Free Library building, designed by the architect Frank Shayler of Shrewsbury, was built in 1902.

The Baptist Chapel, dating from 1881, is a prime example of nonconformist architecture of the period.


Newtown is twinned with:

Theatres, museums and galleries

  • Theatr Hafren – a 555-seat capacity venue
  • Powys Theatre – Home of the Newtown Amateur Dramatic Society
  • Robert Owen Museum
  • Textile Museum
  • W H Smith Museum
  • Oriel Davies – the largest visual arts venue in the region


Newtown's station is on the Shrewsbury–Aberystwyth line served by Transport for Wales. Trains run about once in two hours.

Local bus services in and around the town are operated by local, privately owned companies: Tanat Valley Coaches, Minsterley Motors, and Owen's Travelmaster. Newtown has one National Express bus per day in each direction, to Aberystwyth and to London. Newtown has one TrawsCymru route to Cardiff and a TrawsCymru Connect to Machynlleth and to Wrexham. Two major roads meet at Newtown: the A483 from Swansea to Chester and the A489 from Machynlleth to Craven Arms. The bypass to the south of Newtown opened on 14 February 2019, having been planned since 1949.

The Montgomery Canal terminated in Newtown. After its closure in 1944, the Newtown section was sold for building land, but it gave its name to Canal Road and Lower Canal Road.


Newtown A.F.C. is Newtown's association football club, and a founding member of the Welsh Premier League in 1992. The club was founded in 1875 as Newtown White Stars and won the Welsh FA Cup in 1879 and 1895. It also entered the qualifying stages of the UEFA Cup on three occasions. The club plays at Latham Park. This has a capacity of 5,000 (1,750 seated) and a full UEFA licence, allowing under-21 international games and European games to be played. In 2007, another 250-seat stand was built next to the media gantry. Further developments are planned.

Newtown RFC is the town's rugby union club, established in 1925. It currently fields first, second, third, youth and junior teams.

Newtown has facilities for lawn bowls, cricket, and for tennis. A basketball club, the Newtown Titans was set up in 2005, before being reconstituted as Mid-Wales Basketball Club in 2009.


The Newtown schools are Ysgol Cedewain (special needs), Ladywell Green (ages 4–7), Hafren Junior (7–11), Ysgol Dafydd Llwyd (4–11), St Mary's (4–11), Penygloddfa (4–11), Maesyrhandir (4-11), Treowen (4–11), and Newtown High School and Sixth Form (12–18). The last recently received an outstanding Estyn inspection report in October 2015, praising many features, including teacher/sixth-form pupil relations and school support for a wide range of post-16 vocational and academic subjects. As of 2011, it was proposed that Newtown High School, along with several other schools in Powys, should merge with another county high school, as part of Powys County Council's secondary school and post-16 modernisation programme.

Notable people

In birth order:

  • Robert Owen (1771–1858), social reformer and a founder of Utopian socialism and the Co-operative Movement
  • John Bentley (1822–1894), member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
  • Pryce Pryce-Jones (1834–1920), mail-order entrepreneur born at Llanllwchaiarn, near Newtown
  • George Latham (1881–1939), international footballer
  • Harry Beadles (1897–1958), Welsh international footballer, born in Llanllwchaiarn, near Newtown
  • Geraint Goodwin (1903–1941), novelist and short story writer in English, born in Llanllwchaiarn, near Newtown
  • James Crisp (1927–2005), cricketer
  • Barry Hoban (born 1940), professional cyclist with several stage wins in the Tour de France
  • Philip Parkin (born 1961), professional golfer and commentator
  • Phil Mills (born 1963), World Rally Championship winning co-driver

See also

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