Newtown, Powys

Welsh: Y Drenewydd

Newtown town centre
 Newtown shown within Powys
Population 11,357 (2011)[1]
OS grid referenceSO115915
Principal areaPowys
Ceremonial countyPowys
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town NEWTOWN
Postcode district SY16
Dialling code 01686
Police Dyfed-Powys
Fire Mid and West Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK ParliamentMontgomeryshire
Welsh AssemblyMontgomeryshire
List of places

Coordinates: 52°30′48″N 3°18′51″W / 52.5132°N 3.3141°W / 52.5132; -3.3141

Newtown (Welsh: Y Drenewydd) is the largest town in the county of Powys, Wales. It had a population of 12,783 in 2001, falling to 11,357 at the 2011 census. Lying on the River Severn, within the historic boundaries of Montgomeryshire, the town is best known as the birthplace of Robert Owen in 1771[2] His former house stood on what is now the site of the HSBC Bank. The Robert Owen Museum is across the road, occupying the ground floor of the council offices. Newtown is also the home of Theatr Hafren and of Oriel Davies, a major public gallery, which displays national and international contemporary art and craft.


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.[3] 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 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 Newton.[4] The mill complex was beside the canal terminus on the east bank of the Severn.[5] They expanded to become the largest Welsh woollen mills.[4] However, by the end of the 19th century the mills in Newton were no longer competitive with those in the north of England.[4] There was a disastrous fire in 1910, and another in 1912, after which the Cambrian Mill was not rebuilt.[5] After the Cambrian Mills closed, Newtown was no longer an important woollen industrial centre and many of the workers moved elsewhere.[6]

The town was designated as a "new town" in 1967. It has seen a large population growth as companies and people have 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.[7]

Buildings and monuments

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


Newtown's station, on the Shrewsbury-Aberystwyth line, is currently served by Arriva Trains Wales. Most of the local bus services, both within the town and serving nearby locations, are operated by privately owned, local companies. Newtown has one National Express bus per day in each direction: Aberystwyth to London and back. Two major roads cross in Newtown town centre: the A483 from Swansea to Chester and the A489 from Machynlleth to Craven Arms.

The Montgomery Canal originally terminated in Newtown. Following its closure in 1944, the section in Newtown was sold and subsequently built on. Canal Road and Lower Canal Road in Newtown are named after it.

Notable people


Newtown A.F.C. is Newtown's association football club, and was 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.[9] The club also entered the qualifying stages of the UEFA Cup on three occasions. It plays at Latham Park, which has a capacity of 5,000 (1,750 seated). The stadium has a full UEFA licence, allowing under-21 international games and European games to be played there. Despite the facilities, the club struggles to attract fans, with gates averaging about 300. 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, which was established in 1925. It presently fields First, Second, Third, Youth and Junior teams.

Newtown also has lawn bowls, cricket, and tennis clubs. A basketball club, the Newtown Titans was established in 2005, before being reconstituted as Mid-Wales Basketball Club in 2009.


There are several schools in Newtown: Ysgol Cedewain (special needs school), Ladywell Green school (ages 4–7), Hafren Junior school (ages 7–11), Ysgol Dafydd Llwyd (ages 4–11), St Mary's (ages 4–11), Penygloddfa (ages 4–11), Maesyrhandir (4-11), Treowen (4–11) and Newtown High School and Sixth Form (ages 12–18). The High School recently received an outstanding ESTYN inspection report, with many outstanding features including the teacher–sixth form pupil relationship and the school's 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.


  1. "Town population 2011". Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  2. Robert Owen Biography
  3. Jones, D "Old town, Newtown", in About Wales, November 2007. Civic Trust for Wales.
  4. 1 2 3 Newtown Local History Group (2014-02-28), Newtown Through Time, Amberley Publishing Limited, p. 144, ISBN 978-1-4456-1701-5, retrieved 2016-03-31
  5. 1 2 Waiters, Mark (March 2003), An historical and archaeological study of the industrial heritage of Newtown, Powys, Mid Wales, Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust, Curatorial Section, p. 16, retrieved 2016-03-31
  6. Cowey, Carolyn (2016), Pryce-Jones: Pioneer of the Mail Order Industry, BBC, retrieved 2016-03-31
  7. SY16 postcode information
  8. "Thomas Powell". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  9. Wales - List of Cup Finals
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