History of Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, England

Victorian Newark

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In the period up to Victoria's accession in 1837 much of the town area was occupied by stables and warehouses. The site which became Christ Church, for example, was used in this way until 1836, and so were much of the grounds of the castle, where there were also extensive wharves, as well as houses, a bowling green and a few gardens, all obscuring the view of the lower part of the castle from the road. Across the road from the castle were the cattle market, slaughterhouses, pig styes, tallow chandlers and stone masons, all on Beastmarket Hill. This situation reflected the commercial realities of life in Newark, where much of the prosperity came from passing traffic by road and water, together with the then still surviving wool trade. Malt production, brewing and flour milling were also important industries, with beer being exported as far as Russia (apparently the Empress Catherine was fond of Newark beer). As well as the water mill, there was a large steam mill in Farndon Road, a smaller steam mill nearer to Farndon and no less than 24 windmills around the town. Other significant industries at that time were high quality linen weaving and bleaching, dyeing, tanning, an iron foundry, brushmaking, wood-turning and boat building, with plaster making just outside the town at Hawton.

The river was one of the two major arteries for traffic, with boats of around 36 to 44 tons carrying timber, grain and coal to Newark and taking out malt, flour and plaster. The other main route was the Great North Road, with seven coaches per day to and from London, in addition to the coaches going the other way between Lincoln and Nottingham. That was in addition, of course, to all the private coaches, farmers' carts, and wagons carrying goods to and from the wharves and warehouses. As a result of all this traffic Newark supported numerous coaching inns, each with its own stables and sometimes other associated businesses.

Many of the old buildings were swept away during the Victorian period, old industries dwindled and new ones came into being. The following enterprises opened in Newark during the years 1837 to 1900 (links are, with one exception, to photos and brief descriptions in the relevant section of my Newark Buildings pages):
Midland Railway (Nottingham to Lincoln) (Castle Station) 1846
Corn Exchange 1848
W.N. Nicholson Trent Ironworks (making agricultural machinery) 1840s
Great Northern Railway (London to Edinburgh) (Northgate Station) 1851
Newark Advertiser (local newspaper) founded
New cemetery opened in London Road 1856
Newark to Melton Mowbray railway 1879
Hospital opened 1881
Ossington Coffee Palace 1882
Gilstrap Free Library 1883
Market Hall 1884
First telephone 1885
Fire station 1889
New waterworks 1898
New School of Science and Art 1900
Messrs Alan Ransome & Co opened 1900 (moved from London) - this manufacturer of bearings became Ransome and Marles (with a famous brass band) and more recently Ransome, Hoffmann and Pollard, then NSK-RHP Bearings Ltd. From January 2001 it will be called NSK, in recognition of its ownership since 1990 by Nippon Seiko KK.
Messrs. Simpson & Co opened 1900 (from London) - this pump making business became (and still is) Worthington-Simpsons Ltd.

In 1839 the cattle market was moved from Beastmarket Hill across the road to the castle grounds, but in 1886 it was moved again, across the river this time. The various buildings, apart from the castle itself and the Gilstrap Library, were then swept away, and the grounds were laid out as a public garden with lawns and flower beds which remain there today.

The nineteenth century also saw a flurry of activity in building new churches and chapels, with the following new establishments (again links are to my Newark Buildings page):
Independent Chapel, Lombard Street 1822
Holy Trinity (Catholic), Parliament Street 1836-7
Christ Church (Anglican), Lombard Street 1837
Wesleyan Chapel, Barnbygate 1846
Methodist New Connexion Chapel, Barnbygate 1848
North End Wesleyan Chapel, Lovers Lane 1868
St. Leonard's (new Anglican parish), Northgate 1873
Baptist Chapel, Albert Street 1876
Primitive Methodist Chapel, Charles Street? 1878
Unitarian Chapel 1884

One of the most famous names of Victorian Britain was Prime Minister W.E. Gladstone. He first entered Parliament as MP for Newark in 1832, and was re-elected in 1835, 1837 and 1841 (twice), but broke his association with the town in 1846, when he knew his opposition to the Corn Laws would be locally unacceptable.

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This page last updated 1st September 2003