Northamptonshire facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Time zone||UTC±00:00 (Greenwich Mean Time)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+01:00 (British Summer Time)|
|Members of Parliament|
Northamptonshire ( abbreviated Northants.), is a ceremonial county in the East Midlands of England. In 2015, it had a population of 723,000. The county is administered by two unitary authorities: North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire. It is known as "The Rose of the Shires".
Covering an area of 2,364 square kilometres (913 sq mi), Northamptonshire is landlocked between eight other counties: Warwickshire to the west, Leicestershire and Rutland to the north, Cambridgeshire to the east, Bedfordshire to the south-east, Buckinghamshire to the south, Oxfordshire to the south-west and Lincolnshire to the north-east – England's shortest administrative county boundary at 20 yards (19 metres). Northamptonshire is the southernmost county in the East Midlands.
Apart from the county town of Northampton, other major population centres include Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough, Rushden and Daventry. Northamptonshire's county flower is the cowslip. The Soke of Peterborough falls within the historic boundaries of the county, but its area has been part of the ceremonial county of Cambridgeshire since 1974.
- Places of interest
- Annual events
- Images for kids
Much of Northamptonshire's countryside appears to have remained somewhat intractable with regards to early human occupation, resulting in an apparently sparse population and relatively few finds from the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods. In about 500 BC the Iron Age was introduced into the area by a continental people in the form of the Hallstatt culture, and over the next century a series of hill-forts were constructed at Arbury Camp, Rainsborough camp, Borough Hill, Castle Dykes, Guilsborough, Irthlingborough, and most notably of all, Hunsbury Hill. There are two more possible hill-forts at Arbury Hill (Badby) and Thenford.
In the 1st century BC, most of what later became Northamptonshire became part of the territory of the Catuvellauni, a Belgic tribe, the Northamptonshire area forming their most northerly possession. The Catuvellauni were in turn conquered by the Romans in 43 AD.
The Roman road of Watling Street passed through the county, and an important Roman settlement, Lactodorum, stood on the site of modern-day Towcester. There were other Roman settlements at Northampton, Kettering and along the Nene Valley near Raunds. A large fort was built at Longthorpe.
After the Romans left, the area eventually became part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, and Northampton functioned as an administrative centre. The Mercians converted to Christianity in 654 AD with the death of the pagan king Penda. From about 889 the area was conquered by the Danes (as at one point almost all of England was, except for Athelney marsh in Somerset) and became part of the Danelaw - with Watling Street serving as the boundary - until being recaptured by the English under the Wessex king Edward the Elder, son of Alfred the Great, in 917. Northamptonshire was conquered again in 940, this time by the Vikings of York, who devastated the area, only for the county to be retaken by the English in 942. Consequently, it is one of the few counties in England to have both Saxon and Danish town-names and settlements.
The county was first recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (1011), as Hamtunscire: the scire (shire) of Hamtun (the homestead). The "North" was added to distinguish Northampton from the other important Hamtun further south: Southampton - though the origins of the two names are in fact different.
Rockingham Castle was built for William the Conqueror and was used as a Royal fortress until Elizabethan times. In 1460, during the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Northampton took place and King Henry VI was captured. The now-ruined Fotheringhay Castle was used to imprison Mary, Queen of Scots, before her execution.
George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, was born into the Washington family who had migrated to America from Northamptonshire in 1656. George Washington's ancestor, Lawrence Washington, was Mayor of Northampton on several occasions and it was he who bought Sulgrave Manor from Henry VIII in 1539. It was George Washington's great-grandfather, John Washington, who emigrated in 1656 from Northants to Virginia. Before Washington's ancestors moved to Sulgrave, they lived in Warton, Lancashire.
During the English Civil War, Northamptonshire strongly supported the Parliamentarian cause, and the Royalist forces suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Naseby in 1645 in the north of the county. King Charles I was imprisoned at Holdenby House in 1647.
In 1823 Northamptonshire was said to "[enjoy] a very pure and wholesome air" because of its dryness and distance from the sea. Its livestock were celebrated: "Horned cattle, and other animals, are fed to extraordinary sizes: and many horses of the large black breed are reared."
Nine years later, the county was described as "a county enjoying the reputation of being one of the healthiest and pleasantest parts of England" although the towns were "of small importance" with the exceptions of Peterborough and Northampton. In summer, the county hosted "a great number of wealthy families... country seats and villas are to be seen at every step." Northamptonshire is still referred to as the county of "spires and squires" because of the numbers of stately homes and ancient churches.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, parts of Northamptonshire and the surrounding area became industrialised. The local specialisation was shoemaking and the leather industry and by the end of the 19th century it was almost definitively the boot and shoe making capital of the world.
Corby was designated a new town in 1950 and Northampton followed in 1968. As of 2005[update] the government is encouraging development in the South Midlands area, including Northamptonshire.
The Soke of Peterborough was historically associated with and considered part of Northamptonshire, as the county diocese is focused upon the cathedral there. However, Peterborough had its own Quarter Sessions and, later, county council, and in 1965 it was merged with the neighbouring small county of Huntingdonshire. Under the Local Government Act 1972 the city of Peterborough became a district of Cambridgeshire.
Northamptonshire is a landlocked county located in the southern part of the East Midlands region which is sometimes known as the South Midlands. The county contains the watershed between the River Severn and The Wash while several important rivers have their sources in the north-west of the county, including the River Nene, which flows north-eastwards to The Wash, and the "Warwickshire Avon", which flows south-west to the Severn. In 1830 it was boasted that "not a single brook, however insignificant, flows into it from any other district". The highest point in the county is Arbury Hill at 225 metres (738 ft).
There are several towns in the county with Northampton being the largest and most populous. At the time of the 2011 census, a population of 691,952 lived in the county with 212,069 living in Northampton. The table below shows all towns with over 10,000 inhabitants.
|1||Northampton||212,100 (2011)||Northampton Borough Council|
|2||Kettering||67,635 (2011)||Kettering Borough Council|
|3||Corby||56,514 (2011)||Corby Borough Council|
|4||Wellingborough||49,087 (2011)||Borough Council of Wellingborough|
|5||Rushden||29,265 (2011)||East Northamptonshire District Council|
|6||Daventry||25,026 (2011)||Daventry District Council|
|7||Brackley||13,018 (2011)||South Northamptonshire District Council|
|8||Desborough||10,697 (2011)||Kettering Borough Council|
As of 2010 there are 16 settlements in Northamptonshire with a town charter:
- Brackley, Burton Latimer, Corby, Daventry, Desborough, Higham Ferrers, Irthlingborough, Kettering, Northampton, Oundle, Raunds, Rothwell, Rushden, Towcester, Thrapston and Wellingborough.
Like the rest of the British Isles, Northamptonshire has an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification). The table below shows the average weather for Northamptonshire from the Moulton weather station.
|Climate data for Moulton, Northants|
|Average high °C (°F)||7
|Average low °C (°F)||2
|Precipitation cm (inches)||4.51
The gap in the hills at Watford Gap meant that many south-east to north-west routes passed through Northamptonshire. The Roman Road Watling Street (now part of the A5) passes through here, as did later canals, railways and major roads.
Major national roads including the M1 motorway (London to Leeds) and the A14 (Rugby to Felixstowe), provide Northamptonshire with transport links, both north–south and east–west. The A43 joins the M1 to the M40 motorway, passing through the south of the county to the junction west of Brackley, and the A45 links Northampton with Wellingborough and Peterborough.
The county road network, managed by Northamptonshire County Council includes the A45 west of the M1 motorway, the A43 between Northampton and the county boundary near Stamford, the A361 between Kilsby and Banbury (Oxon) and all B, C and Unclassified Roads. Since 2009 these highways have been managed on behalf of the county council by MGWSP, a joint venture between May Gurney and WSP.
Rivers and canals
Two major canals – the Oxford and the Grand Union – join in the county at Braunston. Notable features include a flight of 17 locks on the Grand Union at Rothersthorpe, the canal museum at Stoke Bruerne, and a tunnel at Blisworth which, at 2,813 metres (3,076 yd), is the third-longest navigable canal tunnel on the UK canal network.
A branch of the Grand Union Canal connects to the River Nene in Northampton and has been upgraded to a "wide canal" in places and is known as the Nene Navigation. It is famous for its guillotine locks.
Two trunk railway routes, the Midland Main Line and the West Coast Main Line, cross the county. At its peak, Northamptonshire had 75 railway stations. It now has only six, at Northampton and Long Buckby on the West Coast Main Line, Kettering, Wellingborough and Corby on the Midland Main Line, along with King's Sutton, only a few yards from the boundary with Oxfordshire on the Chiltern Main Line.
Before nationalisation of the railways in 1948 and the creation of British Railways, three of the "Big Four" railway companies operated in Northamptonshire: the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, London and North Eastern Railway and Great Western Railway. Only the Southern Railway was not represented. As of 2019, it is served by Chiltern Railways, East Midlands Railway, Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Trains.
- Corby rail history
Corby was described as the largest town in Britain without a railway station. The railway running through the town from Kettering to Oakham in Rutland was previously used only by freight traffic and occasional diverted passenger trains that did not stop at the station. The line through Corby was once part of a main line to Nottingham through Melton Mowbray, but the stretch between Melton and Nottingham was closed in 1968. In the 1980s, an experimental passenger shuttle service ran between Corby and Kettering but was withdrawn a few years later. On 23 February 2009, a new railway station opened, providing direct hourly access to London St Pancras. Following the opening of Corby Station, Rushden then became the largest town in the United Kingdom without a direct railway station.
- Closed lines and stations
Railway services in Northamptonshire were reduced by the Beeching cuts in the 1960s. Closure of the line connecting Northampton to Peterborough by way of Wellingborough, Thrapston, and Oundle left eastern Northamptonshire devoid of railways. Part of this route was reopened in 1977 as the Nene Valley Railway. A section of one of the closed lines, the Northampton to Market Harborough line, is now the Northampton & Lamport heritage railway, while the route as a whole forms a part of the National Cycle Network, as the Brampton Valley Way.
As early as 1897 Northamptonshire would have had its own Channel Tunnel rail link with the creation of the Great Central Railway, which was intended to connect to a tunnel under the English Channel. Although the complete project never came to fruition, the rail link through Northamptonshire was constructed, and had stations at Charwelton, Woodford Halse, Helmdon and Brackley. It became part of the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923 (and of British Railways in 1948) before its closure in 1966.
In June 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) recommended opening a new station on the former Irchester railway station site for Rushden, Higham Ferrers and Irchester, called Rushden Parkway. Network Rail is electrifying the Midland Main Line north of Bedford, to Kettering and Corby. An open access company has approached Network Rail for services to Oakham in Rutland to London via the county.
The Rushden Historical Transport Society, operators of the Rushden, Higham and Wellingborough Railway, would like to see the railway fully reopen between Wellingborough and Higham Ferrers.
The route of the planned High Speed 2 railway line (between London and Birmingham) will go through the southern part of the county but without any stations.
Most buses are operated by Stagecoach Midlands. Some town area routes have been named the Corby Star, Connect Kettering, Connect Wellingborough and Daventry Dart; the last three of these routes have route designations that include a letter (such as A, D1, W1, W2). Stagecoach's X4 route provides interurban links across the county, running between Northampton, Wellingborough, Kettering, Corby, Oundle, and Peterborough.
Sywell Aerodrome, on the edge of Sywell village, has three grass runways and one concrete all-weather runway. It is, however, only 1000 metres long and therefore cannot be served by passenger jets.
Rock and pop bands originating in the area have included Bauhaus, The Departure, New Cassettes, Raging Speedhorn and Defenestration.
Kinky Boots, the 2005 British-American film and subsequent stage musical adaptation, was based on the true story of a traditional Northamptonshire shoe factory.
Richard Coles, the English Musician who partnered in the 1980s with Jimmy Somerville to create The Communards band. They made three Top Ten Hits and made the Number 1 record in 1986 with their song 'Don't Leave me this way'. In 2012, The University of Northampton awarded him an honorary doctorate. He is now a vicar of Finedon in Northamptonshire.
Places of interest
|Owned by the National Trust|
|Owned by English Heritage|
|Owned by the Forestry Commission|
|A Country Park|
|An Accessible open space|
|Museum (charges entry fee)|
- 78 Derngate
- Barnwell Country Park
- Barnwell Manor
- Billing Aquadrome
- Borough Hill Daventry (Iron Age hill fort)
- Boughton House (home of the Dukes of Buccleuch)
- Blisworth tunnel
- Brampton Valley Way (linear park on a disused railway line)
- Brixworth Country Park
- Burghley House (in the Soke of Peterborough, so formerly in Northants),
- Canons Ashby House
- Castle Ashby (home of the Marquess of Northampton),
- Coton Manor Garden
- Cottesbrooke Hall
- Daventry Country Park
- Deene Park
- Delapré Abbey
- Derngate and Royal Theatre
- Easton Neston
- Elton Hall
- Fermyn Woods Country Park
- Fotheringhay Castle & Church
- Franklin's Gardens
- Geddington's Eleanor cross
- Holdenby House
- Irchester Country Park
- Jurassic Way (long-distance footpath)
- Kelmarsh Hall
- Kirby Hall
- Knuston Hall
- Lamport Hall
- Lilford Hall
- Lyveden New Bield
- Pitsford Reservoir
- Prebendal Manor House, Nassington
- Naseby Field
- Northampton Cathedral
- Northampton & Lamport Railway
- Northamptonshire Ironstone Railway
- Piddington Roman Villa
- Rockingham Castle
- Rockingham Forest
- Rockingham Motor Speedway
- Rushden Hall
- Rushden, Higham and Wellingborough Railway
- Rushden Station Railway Museum
- Rushton Triangular Lodge
- Salcey Forest
- Silverstone Circuit
- Southwick Hall
- Stanwick Lakes
- Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum
- Sulgrave Manor
- Summer Leys nature reserve
- Sywell Country Park
- The Castle Theatre
- Watford Locks
- Wellingborough Museum
- Whittlewood Forest
- Wicksteed Park
- Gretton Barn dance
- British Grand Prix at Silverstone
- Burghley Horse Trials
- Crick Boat Show
- Hollowell Steam Rally
- Northampton Balloon Festival
- Rothwell Fair
- Rushden Cavalcade
- St Crispin Street Fair
- Wellingborough Carnival
- World Conker Championships
Historically, Northamptonshire's main industry was manufacturing of boots and shoes. Many of the manufacturers closed down in the Thatcher era which in turn left many county people unemployed. Although R Griggs and Co Ltd, the manufacturer of Dr. Martens, still has its UK base in Wollaston near Wellingborough, the shoe industry in the county is now nearly gone. Large employers include the breakfast cereal manufacturers Weetabix, in Burton Latimer, the Carlsberg brewery in Northampton, Avon Products, Siemens, Barclaycard, Saxby Bros Ltd and Golden Wonder. In the west of the county is the Daventry International Railfreight Terminal; which is a major rail freight terminal located on the West Coast Main Line near Rugby. Wellingborough also has a smaller railfreight depot on Finedon Road, called Nelisons sidings.
This is a chart of trend of the regional gross value added of Northamptonshire at current basic prices in millions of British Pounds Sterling (correct on 21 December 2005):
|Year||Regional Gross Value Added||Agriculture||Industry||Services|
The region of Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and the South Midlands has been described as "Motorsport Valley... a global hub" for the motor sport industry. The Mercedes GP and Force India Formula One teams have their bases at Brackley and Silverstone respectively, while Cosworth and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines are also in the county at Northampton and Brixworth.
International motor racing takes place at Silverstone Circuit and Rockingham Motor Speedway; Santa Pod Raceway is just over the border in Bedfordshire but has a Northants postcode. A study commissioned by Northamptonshire Enterprise Ltd (NEL) reported that Northamptonshire's motorsport sites attract more than 2.1 million visitors per year who spend a total of more than £131 million within the county.
Milton Keynes and South Midlands Growth area
Northamptonshire forms part of the Milton Keynes and South Midlands Growth area which also includes Milton Keynes, Aylesbury Vale and Bedfordshire. This area has been identified as an area which is due to have tens of thousands additional homes built between 2010 and 2020. In North Northamptonshire (Boroughs of Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and East Northants), over 52,000 homes are planned or newly built and 47,000 new jobs are also planned. In West Northamptonshire (boroughs of Northampton, Daventry and South Northants), over 48,000 homes are planned or newly built and 37,000 new jobs are planned. To oversee the planned developments, two urban regeneration companies have been created: North Northants Development Company (NNDC) and the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation. The NNDC launched a controversial campaign called North Londonshire to attract people from London to the county. There is also a county-wide tourism campaign with the slogan Northamptonshire, Let yourself grow.
Northamptonshire has many rugby union clubs. Its premier team Northampton Saints, competes in the Aviva Premiership and won the European championship in 2000 by defeating Munster for the Heineken Cup, 9–8. Saints are based at the 15,249 capacity Franklin's Gardens ground. In 2014 the club won the Aviva Premiership as well as the Challenge Cup. For the 2014/15 campaign the team finished top of the table for the first time in the premiership, eventually losing 24–29 to Saracens in the playoff semi-final.
Northamptonshire has twenty four football clubs operating in the top ten levels of the English football league system. The sport in the area is administered by the Northamptonshire Football Association, which is affiliated with the United Counties League, the Northamptonshire Combination Football League, the Northampton Town Football League, as well as the Peterborough and District Football League in neighbouring Cambridgeshire. Only two clubs in Northamptonshire to have competed in The Football League are Northampton Town and the defunct Rushden & Diamonds.
Northampton Town F.C.
The only fully-professional English football league club in the county is Northampton Town, which attracts between 4,000 and 6,000 fans on an average game day and has been part of the Football League since 1920. Their home ground is Sixfields Stadium which opened in 1994. The first match there took place on 15 October against Barnet Football Club. The stadium can hold up to 7,500 people, with provisions for disabled fans.
The county also a number of semi-professional sides that compete in levels 6 to 8 of the football pyramid. These are Kettering Town, Brackley Town, AFC Rushden & Diamonds, and Corby Town F.C. Nineteen teams compete in the United Counties League (UCL), a league operating at levels 9 and 10 of the English League system, and which encompasses all of Northamptonshire and parts of neighbouring counties.
Northamptonshire County Cricket Club (also known as The Steelbacks) is in Division Two of the County Championship, and play their home games at the County Cricket Ground, Northampton. They finished as runners-up in the Championship on four occasions in the period before it split into two divisions.
In 2013 the club won the Friends Life t20, beating Surrey in the final. Appearing in their 3rd final in 4 years, the Steelbacks to beat Durham by 4 wickets at Edgbaston in 2016 to lift the Natwest t20 Blast trophy for the second time. It also won the NatWest Trophy on two occasions and the Benson & Hedges Cup once.
Silverstone is a major motor racing circuit, most notably used for the British Grand Prix. There is also a dedicated radio station for the circuit which broadcasts on 87.7 FM or 1602 MW when events are taking place. However, part of the circuit is across the border in Buckinghamshire. Rockingham Speedway, located near Corby, was one of the largest motor sport venues in the United Kingdom with 52,000 seats until it was closed permanently in 2018 to make way for a logistics hub for the automotive industry, hosting its last race in November of that year. It was a US-style elliptical racing circuit (the largest of its kind outside of the United States), and is used extensively for all kinds of motor racing events. The Santa Pod drag racing circuit, venue for the FIA European Drag Racing Championships is just across the border in Bedfordshire but has a NN postcode. Cosworth, the high-performance engineering company, is based in Northampton.
Two Formula One teams are based in Northamptonshire, with Mercedes at Brackley and Aston Martin in Silverstone. Aston Martin also have a secondary facility in Brackley, while Mercedes build engines for themselves, Aston Martin and Williams at Brixworth.
Swimming and diving
There are seven competitive swimming clubs in the county: Northampton Swimming Club, Wellingborough Amateur Swimming Club, Rushden Swimming Club, Kettering Amateur Swimming Club, Corby Amateur Swimming Club, Daventry Dolphins Swimming Club, and Nene Valley Swimming Club. There is also one diving club: Corby Steel Diving Club. The main pool in the county is Corby East Midlands International Pool, which has an 8-lane 50m swimming pool with a floor that can adjust in depth to provide a 25m pool. The pool is home to the Northamptonshire Amateur Association's County Championships as well as some of the Youth Midland Championships.
Northamptonshire is home to 2016 paralympian Ellie Robinson. She was talent-spotted in July 2012 and developed at Northampton Swimming Club, and was selected to compete for Great Britain at the 2016 IPC Swimming European Championships. It was here she won three bronze and one silver medal.
Northamptonshire County Council previously operated a comprehensive system of state-funded secondary schools. From May 2021 compulsory education in the county is administered by North Northamptonshire Council and West Northamptonshire Council.
The county's music and performing arts trust provides peripatetic music teaching to schools. It also supports 15 local Saturday morning music and performing arts centres around the county and provides a range of county-level music groups.
There are seven colleges across the county, with the Tresham College of Further and Higher Education having four campuses in three towns: Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough. Tresham, which was taken over by Bedford College in 2017 due to failed Ofsted inspections, provides further education and offers vocational courses and re-sit GCSEs. It also offers Higher Education options in conjunction with several universities. Other colleges in the county are: Fletton House, Knuston Hall, Moulton College, Northampton College, Northampton New College and The East Northamptonshire College.
Northamptonshire has one university, the University of Northampton. It has two campuses 2.5 miles (4.0 km) apart and 10,000 students. It offers courses for needs and interests from foundation and undergraduate level to postgraduate, professional and doctoral qualifications. Subjects include traditional arts, humanities and sciences subjects, as well as entrepreneurship, product design and advertising.
Images for kids
|Mary the Jewess|