A BRIEF HISTORY OF NEWPORT PAGNELL

 

There has been a settlement at Newport Pagnell since before the Iron Age, it being inevitable that a community should spring up at the junction of two rivers, the Ouse and the Lovat, both fordable at this point. It was a town of some importance at the time of the Doomsday survey and by the end of the 12th century was known by its present name–Newport (new town) Pagnell (after Fulk Paynell who was given ownership of the land by William the Conqueror).The Paynells founded Tickford Priory and through this the town grew in importance. By 1394 local burgesses had taken over the responsibility for maintenance of the town market.

During the Civil War, Newport was first a Royalist stronghold. The King’s men were routed and the Parliamentary forces took charge, fortifying the town with earthworks, some of which can still be seen on the town Common, Bury Field. John Bunyan was said to have served in the Commonwealth forces here. There is a rumour that Oliver Cromwell’s second son, Oliver, died of smallpox in the town in 1644 but this has never been proven. Civil War Map The map shown in the link is reproduced by the kind permission of Paul Woodfield and comes from the publication called “Stony Stratford the Last Skirmish” produced in 1994. Paul’s map shows the Civil War defences superimposed over a modern day map but with the river as it was in 1644 (note the length of the river bridge at Tickford) . At that time there were buildings in the middle of the High Street (the town shambles) and it was here that the Parliamentary forces had their headquarters close to the Swan.The original map of 1644 is held at the Bodlean Library but a copy can be seen in the town museum Chandos Hall.

Newport Pagnell was at one time the centre of the lace industry, but it was through its importance as a transport centre that the town grew, being on direct routes between Leicester and London and Cambridge and Oxford. By the late 17th century over 180 goods and coach services a week passed through the town and it was well provided with coaching inns. Such was the importance of the coaching trade to the town that the Tickford Iron Bridge and the stone North Bridge were erected in 1810 to cater for the heavier traffic and able to avoid turning over through the river ford when the waters were swollen.

 

The coming of the branch of the Grand Union Canal in 1817 reduced the reliance on road traffic for heavy goods, but the railways dealt a death blow to coaches and narrow boats. The waterway link had already fallen into disuse when the branch railway line from Wolverton was opened in 1865. The town was by then a busy centre with a thriving coachworks owned by Salmons later the home of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd, a focal point for the local farming industry and to some extent a dormitory for workers at the Railway Works at Wolverton.

Newport Pagnell’s next major expansion took place in the 1950’s when large housing estates were built to cope with the post-war population surge. This fact, coupled with the coming of the M1 in 1959 and the establishment of the new city of Milton Keynes, has seen the town’s population rise from 4,500 to over 16,000.
Bury Field – the great 185 acre common whose grazing rights are still attached to certain properties in the town still attracts walkers today.

 Fire Insurance Records for Newport Pagnell

 

Until the end of the 17th century fire insurance did not exist. The Great Fire of London in 1666 devastated the city and resulted in many thousands of people becoming homeless. Tradesmen who lost workshops and tools of trade had no means of earning a living and many became destitute. It was not until 1680 that fire insurance first became available when the Fire Office was established. This was renamed the Phoenix Office in 1705. This company was wound up in 1722 and no records survive. In 1683 The Society for Insuring Houses from Loss by Fire was established and later renamed The Friendly Society. This appears to have been wound up some time after 1740 with no records being located but some fire insurance marks (plaques) survive.
In 1696 The Contributors for Insuring Houses, Chambers and Rooms from Loss by Fire by Amicable Contributions was founded. This rather long title was given the name The Hand in Hand Fire Office in 1713 but initially only houses in London were insured.
The next fire insurance company, The Sun Fire Office was formed in 1710 and issued cover for the whole of Great Britain and policy records survive from that date. Two other companies, The London Assurance Corporation and the Royal Exchange Assurance both formed in 1720 competed with the Sun Fire and offered nationwide cover.
When insurance was taken out a fire mark was affixed to the property insured and it was only these properties that the fire brigade would attend to. Early on it was just the very wealthy that purchased an insurance policy but they did insure most of their tenanted properties as well. Later on the proprietors of the houses insured the property and not the owner.
Sun Fire Office records are held at the Guildhall Library, London and exist from 1711 onwards. However other than the policy number for many years they are not indexed. There has been some work undertaken by students and the years 1714-31 and 1775-1787 are indexed. These are the years for Newport Pagnell that I have looked at. If the policy number is known it is much easier to find the property but there are not many fire marks left now and they have become collector’s items.
The policies have been invaluable in helping with my research into the history of houses in the town as they give the name of the occupier in the place concerned, the trade of the policy holder and value of the property.
There have been several notable fires in Newport over the years. The town mill at North Square burned down twice, the Saracen’s Head next to the Swan was completely destroyed in 1880. The old railway station burned in a fire and Coales Mill in Broad Street perished in December 1973. Others include the original Unionist Club in St John Street in 1912 and Gibson’s clothing shop in the High St in 1939. There are of course others and must be some we don’t know about! Sometimes accidentally on purpose!


1725

Anne Hartley, widow, Vol.20/315, 1725
On property of Edward Woodward, surgeon of St Paul’s Yard Kensington, London House, kitchen & Malthouse in the occupation of Ann Hartley, widow £
500
Brewhouse and Stables £
60
Woodhouse and barns £
60
The Malting Office £
180
Total
£
800
81, High Street during the 1950’s. The town Vicarage from 1875-1983.

1773

William Paine, Innholder, Policy, 330955 dated 5th October 1773
On his house only in the tenure of Freeman Sanders collar maker, plaster and tiled £
90
Stable only belonging, timber & tiled £
10
Two houses only adjoining brick & tiled near the aforesaid both empty £ 200
House & brewhouse only adjoining empty brick & tiled £ 200
Stables adjoining & granaries over in his own tenure,brick & tiled not exceeding one hundred pounds £ 100
Stock therein £
80
Brewhouse only adjoining brick & tiled £
20
Total
£ 700
The premises owned by the Co-op at 13, St John Street were demolished in 1958. Formerly the Marquis of Granby then the Three Cranes.

1780

Thomas Godfrey Forster, surgeon, Vol.287, 434393, 1780
On his two houses adjoining each other in tenure of himself and John Gable, Gent £
800
Kitchen with Laundry over, behind above £
80
Summer House, and Privy, distant, brick and slated £
80
Stables adjoining in the yard brick timber & tiled £
40
Total
£
1000
St John Street during the demolition of 1958. The large white building at the time was the Electra cinema. The old fire insurance also insured the property to the left.
The cinema is now the Tickford Arcade.

1781

George Knibb, joiner and cabinet maker, Vol.284, 430703, 1781
His house, brewhouse, tenement and woodhouse and stable adjoining … in tenure of John Pearson lacemaker and undertenant, brick timber and tiled £ 200
Knibb’s old premises at 26, High Street later Wagstaff’s Antique shop. The photo shows Florrie Wagstaff during the 1950’s. The old house now demolished.

1782

Christopher Saxby, Gent, Vol.303, 463668, 16/8/1782
On his house and offices adjoining in the tenure of Thomas Price, farmer, brick, brick panelled & tiled £
130
House & offices adjoining in the tenure of….Pettit excise officer, brick, brick panelled & tiled £
70
Stable only in yard, brick and tiled £
20
Barn and Dovehouse over in the yard, brick & tiled £
20
Malthouse, barns, stable and hovel in the same yard, thatched £
260
Total
£
400
Saxby’s house later a public house. Details are in the society publication “One More for the Road

1786

John Atterbury, farmer and maltster, Vol.341, 523324, 1786
His goods in his dwelling house and office brick and tiled £
70
Wearing apparel £
30
The following are thatched:
Utensils and stock in Malthouse and chamber communicating near but separate from above
£
250
Stable near £
40
Two barns near £
40
Barn near £
40
Rickyard near £
100
Large barn in farm yard in Abbey End £
10
Small barn near in above farmyard £
10
Total
£
690
27, Priory Street c1895. Formerly a farmhouse, a beerhouse called the Chimney Sweeps Arms, a bus depot and now a private house.

1923

2630953 David Cook, woolstapler, Tickford Street
Range of buildings on two floors adjoining the River Ousel used as a warehouse for wool-brick part timber, iron, roofed with tile slate and metal £
900
Building adjoining above at one end at right angles brick, stone and slate £
50
Range of buildings on other side of yard £
300
Cartshed £
10
Building formerly a wash house and stables £
100
Stock in trade £
4000
Total
£
5410
This drawing of 1820 show the premises on the opposite side of the Iron Bridge. The property this side on the left is Bridge House. The premises were originally a fellmongers yard and tannery in the occupation of the Yates family.

1923

2666522 Lawrence Newman Cole, baker
House, brick & tile, 41, Tickford Street occupied by Cyril Cole £ 250
Building adjoining above occupied on top floor as a storehouse for flour, ground floor as cart shed in Priory Street occupied by L.N Cole & N, S Cole £ 100
Cottage adjoining east in Priory Street occupied by Albert Harris £ 150
Total
£ 500
This picture shows Newman Cole (son of above) on the cart
delivering the newly baked bread.

1923

2670333 The Trustees of the Loyal Chandos Lodge of the Independent Order of Oddfellows (1977)
Four cottages, brick, slate or tile 50/52/54/56, Silver St £
1000
Mayne’s Free Church at rear of above lighted by gas £
100
Three cottages adjoining the last mention property 2/3/4, Chandos Court £
250
Four cottages, 15/17/19/21, Priory Street £
800
Two cottages, 15/17, Union Street £
300
Total
£
2450
Mayne’s Free Church originally built in 1856 as the Chapel of the United Brothers later owned and run by the Oddfellows Society of Manchester. In 1993 it was purchased by the Newport Pagnell Historical Society as their headquarters and renamed Chandos Hall.

1924

2679868 Jane Dudeney
Two private houses, brick & tile, Brooklands & Ousebank Occupied by Jane Dudeney & Mrs Bull £
2600
Garage & outbuildings in the yard £
250
Garage in garden near £
150
Total
£
3000
Now the Royal British Legion Club formerly the local Library and Doctors Surgery. Once two private house we believe this to be the site of a Manor House called Waterhall.

1925

2707388 Arthur Francis Line, house painter
Four houses, brick & slate, 1 & 45/47/49, Greenfield Rd £ 800
This old photograph taken in 1910 show the construction of the houses described above. The scaffolding shows the building taking place the “even” side already built.

1926

2741984 Frederick Sidney Moore, hairdresser
House, brick & slate, 2, High Street, occupied by W.J Moore £ 400
Large coach-house adjoining above, timber & tile occupied by Blackwell & Sons £ 100
Cycle repair shop occupied by Blackwell & Sons £ 100
Total
£ 600
This picture shows Worsley’s Café and Sweetshop at 2, High Street
shortly before demolition in 1971.

1927

2751478 Trustees “for the time being” of the Congregational Church (Sept 29th 1926)
Church, brick & slate £
5000
Pulpit, pews, lectern & fittings £
520
Books & church effects £
350
Organ £
50
Architects fees £
200
Building of new school in course of erection £
2000
Rebuilding of old school detached £
500
Forms, desks & furniture £
270
Two sets of W.C’s £
40
Coal shed £
20
House near church formerly known as The Manse Brick, stone & tile, occupied as the Childs Welfare Centre by the Urban District Council £
1000
Total
£
10000
The photo shows the Manse centrally near the lamp-post. The Congregational Church now called the United Reformed Church is through the archway.

1930

2847287 John Joel Wagstaff, furniture dealer
Chapel, brick, slate or tile, High Street £
400
Pulpit, pews & fittings £
50
Musical instruments £`
10
Total
£
460
The old Baptist Chapel now the site of a Chinese Restaurant in the High Street. In 1929 the bodies from the little graveyard at the back of the Chapel were reburied in cemetery in Tickford Street.
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