History of Northampton

History of Northampton

Northampton started as a Saxon village, called Hamm tun, In the late 9th century Northampton was a fortified settlement, it was also a place of trade where craftsmen worked and where goods were brought and sold at a market.

After a fire and being captured in 1010, Northampton recovered with a population of approximately 1,500 which continued to grow and then doubled in the 12th and 13th centuries. A stone wall was built around it along with a castle to safeguard the town. Northampton was given its first mayor in 1215. Medieval Northampton had weekly markets, and a fair once a year which was held over a few days and attracted buyers and sellers from The Midlands.

The main industry in Medieval Northampton was wool making, woven and dyed in Northampton, the importance is highlighted using street names such as Woolmonger Street and The Drapery. Records mention the first shoemaker of Northampton in the early 13th century but this was common across all towns and did not become a major industry in Northampton until quite a lot later.

A large fire broke out in 1516 destroying many houses, although easily rebuilt with wood and thatched roofs. Battling through this and illness Northampton continued to grow.

In the 17th Century Northampton was recognised for shoemaking, taking over from the importance of wool.

Another fire wiped out over 600 houses and public buildings in the Town in 1675, however many of the wealthier people paid for the Town to be rebuilt with a population of over 5,000 by the mid-18th century.

The railway links were created in 1845, the first public library was built in 1877 and by the 19th century there was a piped water supply and sewers. The Guildhall was built in 1864 and the Royal Theatre was made in 1884.

Industry in the 19th century was dominated by show making more than a third of the men in the Town worked within this industry. Another key industry at this time was brewing.

Northampton’s boundaries were extended in 1901, shoe making was still leading however many men were laid off and so by the 1930s the Council tried to attract new industries but with little success.

In 1965 Northampton was labelled a new town and this triggered a huge increase in population.  New leisure facilities were built around the Town, and extension to the Theatre was constructed, new areas were built and included industrial estates to attract new businesses to Northampton. The leading ones today are financial services, soft drinks, cosmetics and brewing.


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