Newtown (Welsh: Y Drenewydd), the largest town in the county of Powys, 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 large population growth as firms settled, changing its market town character. Its 2001 population of 12,783 eased to 11,357 at the 2011 census.[2] It is known as the birthplace of Robert Owen in 1771, whose house stood on the present site of the HSBC Bank.[3] The town has a theatre, Theatr Hafren,[4] and a public gallery, Oriel Davies, displaying contemporary arts and crafts.[5]

Newtown, Wales.jpg
Newtown town centre
Newtown is located in Powys
Location within Powys
Population11,357 (2011)
OS grid referenceSO115915
Principal area
Ceremonial county
  • Powys
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townNEWTOWN
Postcode districtSY16
Dialling code01686
FireMid and West Wales
EU ParliamentWales
UK Parliament
Welsh Assembly
List of places
52°30′48″N 3°18′51″W / 52.5132°N 3.3141°W / 52.5132; -3.3141Coordinates: 52°30′48″N 3°18′51″W / 52.5132°N 3.3141°W / 52.5132; -3.3141



At the end of the 13th century, Edward I commissioned Roger de Montgomerie to construct a centre for the hamlet of Llanfair-yng-Nghedewain. Situated near a River Severn ford below the Long Bridge and close to the church of St Mary in Bettws Cedewain gave Newtown its original Welsh name.[6]

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.

Newtown street scene c.1890

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

The Cambrian Mills, which opened in 1856, were the first steam-driven mills in Newtown.[7] The mills stood beside the canal terminus on the east bank of the Severn.[8] They expanded to become the largest of the Welsh woollen mills.[7] However, by the end of the 19th century the Newtown mills were no longer competitive with those in the north of England.[7] There was a disastrous fire in 1910 and another in 1912, after which the Cambrian Mills were not rebuilt.[8] After they closed, Newtown was no longer an important centre of the woollen industry and many of the workers moved elsewhere.[9] Newtown hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1965. In 1967, the town was designated a new town. It saw a large population growth as companies and people settled, changing its rural market town character.


Newtown was governed at local level by Newtown Urban District Council, until it was replaced by Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council under the Local Government Act 1972. The local government community is Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn[10] though commonly known as Newtown.

Today's Town Council consists of 16 elected members, serving a five-year term, and employs a staff of about ten.[11] It primarily deals with green spaces and public facilities, and acts as a representative voice for Newtown. The Chair of the Council or Mayor, elected by the councillors, has been Councillor Sue Newham since 2017.

The community is represented on Powys County Council by five county councillors each representing a ward: Newtown Central, Newtown East, Newtown Llanllwchaiarn West, Newtown Llanllwchaiarn West and Newtown South.[10]


Newtown lies 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. It is surrounded by small villages often referred to collectively as the Newtown area.

The Newtown post town area, including surrounding villages, has a population approaching 16,000.[citation needed] The villages include Aberhafesp, Adfa, Bettws Cedewain, Bwlch-y-ffridd, Cefn-gwyn, Dolfor, Glanmule, Kerry, Llanllwchaiarn, Llanwyddelan, Mochdre, New Mills, Pentre, Rhydlydan, Sarn and Tregynon.[12]

Buildings and monumentsEdit

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.[13]

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.

The Robert Owen Museum is on the ground floor of the council offices in Brisco House, Broad Street.[14] A statue of Robert Owen was erected in 1956 in a small park off Shortbridge Street and Gas Street. A replica statue of this was later built in Manchester, England.[15]

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

The Baptist Chapel, dating from 1881, is a fine example of nonconformist architecture from that period.

The Back Lane drill hall was completed in 1897.[16]


Newtown is twinned with:

Theatres, museums and galleriesEdit

  • Theatr Hafren – a 555-seat capacity venue[4]
  • Powys Theatre – home of the Newtown Amateur Dramatic Society[17]
  • Robert Owen Museum
  • Textile Museum[18]
  • W H Smith Museum (above the shop)[19]
  • Oriel Davies – largest visual arts venue in the region[5]


Newtown's station on the ShrewsburyAberystwyth line is served by Transport for Wales. The service is about once in two hours.

Most local bus services, within the town and serving nearby locations, are operated by local, privately owned companies. Newtown has one National Express bus per day in each direction, to Aberystwyth and to London. 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 terminated in Newtown. After its closure in 1944, the Newtown section was sold and used as building land. It gave its name to Newtown's Canal Road and Lower Canal Road.

Notable peopleEdit

In birth order:


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.[20] 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. In 2007, another 250-seat stand was built next to the media gantry. Further developments are planned.[21]

Newtown RFC is the town's rugby union club, which was established in 1925. It presently fields First, Second, Third, Youth and Junior teams.[22]

Newtown also has lawn bowls,[23] cricket,[24] and tennis clubs.[25] A basketball club, the Newtown Titans was established in 2005, before being reconstituted as Mid-Wales Basketball Club in 2009.[26]


The schools in Newtown 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.[27]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Town population 2011". Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  3. ^ Biography Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b Theatre site Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b Gallery site Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  6. ^ Jones, D "Old town, Newtown", in About Wales, November 2007. Civic Trust for Wales.
  7. ^ a b c Newtown Local History Group (28 February 2014), Newtown Through Time, Amberley Publishing Limited, p. 144, ISBN 978-1-4456-1701-5, retrieved 31 March 2016
  8. ^ a b 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 31 March 2016
  9. ^ Cowey, Carolyn (2016), Pryce-Jones: Pioneer of the Mail Order Industry, BBC, retrieved 31 March 2016
  10. ^ a b "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  11. ^ Town Council information
  12. ^ SY16 postcode information
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ Naomi Penrose (8 March 2017). "Plans to transform Newtown Council HQ". Shropshire Star. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  15. ^ Official site [1] Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Newtown". The Drill Hall Project. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  17. ^ Society site Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  18. ^ Museum site Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  19. ^ Lonely Planet Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  20. ^ Wales – List of Cup Finals
  21. ^ Official site Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  22. ^ Club site Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  23. ^ Club site Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  24. ^ Club site Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  25. ^ Club site Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  26. ^ Basketball site Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  27. ^ Powys CC plans Retrieved 15 September 2018.

External linksEdit