Newport is a market town in the borough of Telford and Wrekin and ceremonial county of Shropshire, England. It lies some north of Telford and some west of Stafford, sitting on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border. The 2001 census recorded 10,814 people living in the town's parish, making it the second largest town in Telford and Wrekin and the fifth in the ceremonial county of Shropshire. An estimate in 2008 placed the population between 12,444 and 15,632.
Newport is a Britain in Bloom finalist and has been awarded the silver gilt award from the Heart of England regional, making it the first town in the country to win six gold awards in a row. The 2010 competition, wherein it won more points than any town in the United Kingdom. gave Newport its seventh consecutive gold medal.
Newport is located in the historic kingdom of Mercia, near where Wreocensæte, capital the Wrekin, was once situated. Humans inhabited this area long before the creation of the town. Once established, Newport became a market town in the centre of the rural farming area between Stafford and Shrewsbury.
In Saxon times there were two settlements in the location of the modern day town. The first, Eastun, has been identified as Church Aston and the second, Plesc, lies south of the town near the Mere-park Garden centre. In 963AD, Plesc was described as having a High Street, a stone quarry, and a religious community. The name Plesc means "fortified place" or "one with a palisade", suggesting that it was of some importance in the local area. Few signs of the Saxon settlement exist today, apart from the Quarry, which has now been built around.
At the time of the Norman Conquest, the land where Newport sits formed part of the manor of Edgmond, which William I gave as a gift along with the county of Shropshire to Roger, Earl of Shrewsbury. Henry I founded the borough, first called Newborough, after the manor came into his hands from Robert de Belesme.
The Normans planned the new town around the older one during the reign of Henry I. The wide main street was designed for its market, and the narrow burgage plots running at right angles to it are typical of Norman architecture and planning, though today only Guildhall and Smallwood Lodge are clear signs of Norman buildings, due to the 1665 fire which detroyed most of the High Street.
Medieval Newport flourished with trade in leather, wool and fish. Novoportans possessed the right to provide fish for the Royal table. The many half-timbered buildings surviving from the Late Medieval and Tudor periods confirm Newport's success, leading to the first market charter which was granted by Henry I.
The town is mentioned once by Leland in a list of castles, though now no visible remains of the castle exist; however, the most probable location for it would have been the traditional site of a manor house at Upper Bar, where there is a fragment of a square, broad moat, or on the higher ground along the Forton road, where the Castle House school stands. As regards the moat, nearly square, forming by measurement an area of 60 sq yds., two sides have been filled with rubbish. Nothing is known about the occupants of the moated site. It could have pre-dated the town or, perhaps more likely, could have been the manor house of the Audleys, who were granted the manor in 1227. By 1421, the manor house was in ruins.
One of the main reasons for Newport's early wealth was the surrounding fisheries and the chief service of the burgesses, being that of taking fish to the Royal court wherever it might be. This custom was continued after Henry III had granted the borough, with the manor of Edgmond, to Henry de Audley, but in the middle of the 13th century James, son of Henry de Audley, granted that the burgesses need not take the fish anywhere except within the county of Shropshire.
In 1665 many buildings were damaged in the Great Fire of Newport and only a few of the medieval structures remain. However, there remain many fine Regency and Georgian frontages, built on the site of the former Norman plots. This allows the main streets of Newport to be wider and less cluttered than those of the other towns of its age.
By the 19th century, Newport was surrounded by large estates that came right to the back door of the town, determining size and development. The vivary and open fields at Norbroom had gone making the town dependent on its rural hinterland. The few fields that remained were for hay or cattle, forming a small green belt. These estates exerted a powerful influence on the town, something obvious in the deference shown and respect paid to these landed families until at least the First World War.
Beginning in the south west of the town was the largest estate, the Lilleshall estate of the Duke of Sutherland. This dates from the dissolution of the monasteries, the lands of Lilleshall Abbey being purchased in 1539 by James Leveson of Wolverhampton.
The next estate is that in the south-east of Woodcote Hall, a smaller one belonging to the Cotes family.
The town was fortunate to avoid casualties when on Christmas Eve 1944, a V-1 flying bomb launched from a Heinkel bomber and aimed at Manchester landed in a field East of Newport, about 300 yards from the Newport to Gnosall road. This bomb is now on display at DCAE Cosford Royal Air Force Museum.
Modern Day Newport
From the 1960s very little in the way of redevelopment happened in the town, with attention going to surrounding towns including Wellington and Oakengates, which now make up the new town of Telford, but in 2007 the Telford and Wrekin council borough towns incentive was brought about and the town received major investments over the following years, including a major redevelopment of the canal and surrounding area, the lower bar of the High Street area, planned housing, bars and restaurants set to line the canal. New sporting facilities, including a climbing wall in the Springfield's area of the town. The High Street and St Mary's Street area were seeing new stores coming into the town to fill empty lots and some of the older ones being developed.
In the spring of 2010 the first stage of the towns was a £1.5m regeneration began with the redevelopment of Victoria Park to the rear of The Royal Victoria Hotel, this cost between £250,000 and £300,000. The park had a new seating and new play area for along the canal front and a new car park closer to the town centre with plans to build a museum/information centre on the old car park.
The next stage of the regeneration, which was mainly focused on the High Street area of the town and Central square, involved re-surfacing the High-Street pavements and changing the design of the High Street around the Puleston Cross, removing the cobblestones and replacing them with paving and the traced outline of the 1850s market hall.
On Stafford Street next to the car park, some derelict buildings were demolished to make way for a retirement development, which made the entrance to the High Street area more inviting and on the entrance to the town by Mere park a care village it being built on empty fields that lead onto Stafford street, across from the £5m Premier Inn and Beefeater (restaurant) "Three Fish" and were completed in 2010 on the Newport By-pass, near to where on derelict land there are plans to build an Aldi supermarket.
In July 2011, Telford & Wrekin Council unveiled massive plans for green land off the A518 bypass. The proposals included hundreds of new homes, a new supermarket, a business park and improvements to Burton Borough School.
House prices in the town are the highest in the TF post code area, (including the towns of Telford and Market Drayton) and amongst the highest in the county, due to high desirability because of the good local education establishments and easy commuting links to Birmingham, Telford, Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford.