Here is another installment of the Small Town series. Today's country is the United Kingdom. All of these small towns have 50,000 inhabitants or less. I will be covering 5 different towns in today's post. I have included as much as I can about each small town.
Hayes is a town in west London, situated 13 miles (21 km) west of Charing Cross and part of the London Borough of Hillingdon. Hayes has a long history. The area appears in the Domesday Book (1086). Landmarks in the area include the Grade II* listed Parish Church, St Mary's – the central portion of the church survives from the twelfth century and it remains in use (the church dates back to 830 A.D.) – and Barra Hall, a Grade II listed manor house. The town's oldest public house – the Adam and Eve, on the Uxbridge Road – though not the original seventeenth-century structure, has remained on the same site since 1665. Hayes is formed of what originally were five separate villages: Botwell, Hayes Town, Hayes End, Wood End and Yeading. The name Hayes Town has come to be applied to the area around Station Road between Coldharbour Lane and Hayes & Harlington railway station, but this was historically the hamlet called Botwell. The original Hayes Town was the area to the east of St Mary's Church, centred around Church Road, Hemmen Lane and Freeman's Lane.
For some 700 years up to 1546, Hayes formed part of the Archbishop of Canterbury's estates, ostensibly owing to grants from the Mercian royal family. In that year, the then-Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was forced to surrender his land to King Henry VIII, who subsequently granted the estate to Edward North, 1st Baron North.The area changed hands several times thereafter, but by the eighteenth century, two family-names had established themselves as prominent and long-time landowners: Minet and Shackle. John Wesley (1703–1791) and Charles Wesley (1707–1788), founders of the evangelical Methodist movement, preached in Hayes on at least ten occasions between 1748 and 1753. The Salvation Army – founded in 1865 in London by William Booth – registered a barracks in Hayes between 1887 and 1896; their hall in Coldharbour Lane was registered in 1927. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Hayes was home to several private boarding schools catering for wealthy families.
The former Manor House on Church Road was by the 1820s a boys' school called Radnor House Academy (a.k.a. Manor House Academy); Grove Cottage, Wood End, a school for young men, opened in the 1830s; Belle House School for Boys opened on Botwell Lane in the 1850s (it is now St Mary's Convent); in the first half of the 19th century, the Wood End House School for Young Ladies stood on the site of what is now the Norman Leddy Memorial Gardens; the former Magdalen Hall on Hayes End Road was also a 19th-century private School for Young Ladies. Wood End House (before 1848, the site of the Wood End House School for Young Ladies) was used - from 1848 to c. 1905 - as an asylum.
Notable psychiatrist John Conolly (1794-1866) was one of its licensed proprietors, between 1848 and 1866. The building was demolished in 1961. Until the end of the nineteenth century, Hayes's key areas of work were agriculture and brickmaking. The Second Industrial Revolution brought change in the late nineteenth century, up to World War I. The town's location on the Grand Junction Canal (later called the Grand Union) and the Great Western Railway – Hayes & Harlington railway station had opened in 1868 – made it well-placed for industry.
Sittingbourne- 48,948 inhabitants
Sittingbourne is an industrial town in the borough of Swale in Kent, south-east England, 17 miles (27 km) from Canterbury and 45 miles (72 km) from London. The town sits beside the Roman Watling Street, an ancient British trackway used by the Romans and the Anglo-Saxons and next to the Swale, a strip of sea separating mainland Kent from the Isle of Sheppey. The town became prominent after the death of Thomas Becket in 1170, since it provided a convenient resting point on the road from London to Canterbury and Dover.
There is evidence of settlement in the area before 2000 BC, with farming and trading tribes living inland to avoid attack, yet close enough to access the sea at Milton Creek. In AD 43 the Romans invaded Kent, and to make access quicker between London and Dover, built Watling Street, which passed straight through Sittingbourne. As a point where sea access met road access, the port of Milton Regis became the Roman administrative centre for the area, with some 20 villas so far discovered, but Sittingbourne remained a minor hamlet throughout Roman times. Most Roman finds in this area were due to the efforts of 19th century brick makers who used topsoil to make bricks, and uncovered the finds; and preserved thanks to banker George Payne, who preserved or bought materials and published his works in 1893 in Collectanea Cantiana.
Morden is a district and town in south London, England, within the London Borough of Merton. It is around 8 miles (13 km) south-southwest of Charing Cross. Morden adjoins Merton Park and Wimbledon to the north, Mitcham to the east, Sutton to the south and Worcester Park to the west. Human activity in Morden dates back to the Iron Age period when Celtic tribes are known to have occupied areas around Wimbledon, but the first significant development in Morden was the construction of the Roman road called Stane Street from Chichester to London. The route of Stane Street through Morden followed the current A24, London Road up Stonecot Hill from the south west crossing Morden Park to the west of the current dual carriageway road and passing through the pitch and putt golf course and the grounds of St Lawrence's Church. The road then descended the other side of the hill towards the town centre passing west of the Underground station and crossing the north corner of Morden Hall Park heading in the direction of Colliers Wood and Tooting.
Small Roman artifacts, mainly coins and pottery, have been found at various locations within the area although there is no evidence of any settlement. Ethelstan the Etheling, son of Ethelred the Unready, left "land at Mordune" to the abbey of Christ and St. Peter in his will of 1015, which became the site of the first Saxon parish church of St Lawrence. In 1086, the Domesday Book recorded the manor as Mordone, part of Wallington Hundred. It was held by Westminster Abbey and its assets were: 3 hides; 1 mill worth £2 and 7 ploughs. It rendered £15 in total. Fourteen people were recorded as living in the area.
Despite London's suburban expansion, a little of the earlier rural nature of Morden has survived; for instance several grand period buildings remain, especially within Morden's parks. The area retains a good provision of parks and green spaces, many of them created from former country estates. The 125 acre Morden Hall Park is of particular note and is run by the National Trust. Its main entrance is only a quarter-of-a-mile from Morden Underground Station. The largest building in the town centre is Crown House, sixties-built and 14 storeys tall; designed in 1959 by A. Green ARIBA and built between 1960 and 1962. The concaved frontage of the building lends it some distinction, as does the "chessboard" style juxtaposition of its light and dark facade features. It incorporated The Crown public house, on which site part of the building covered. The building is home to Merton Civic Centre and a large adjoining library.
Durham- 47,785 inhabitants
Durham is a cathedral city and the county town of County Durham in North East England. The city lies on the River Wear, to the south-west of Sunderland, south of Newcastle upon Tyne and to the north of Darlington. Founded over the final resting place of St Cuthbert, its Norman cathedral became a centre of pilgrimage in medieval England. The cathedral and adjacent 11th-century castle were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. The castle has been the home of Durham University since 1832. HM Prison Durham is also located close to the city centre. City of Durham is the name of the civil parish. Archaeological evidence suggests a history of settlement in the area since roughly 2000 BC. The present city can clearly be traced back to AD 995, when a group of monks from Lindisfarne chose the strategic high peninsula as a place to settle with the body of Saint Cuthbert, that had previously lain in Chester-le-Street, founding a church there.
Perth is a city in central Scotland, on the banks of the River Tay. It is the administrative centre of Perth and Kinross council area and the historic county town of Perthshire. Perth has been known as The Fair City since the publication of the story Fair Maid of Perth by Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott in 1828. During the later medieval period the city was also called St John's Toun or Saint Johnstoun by its inhabitants in reference to the main church dedicated to St John the Baptist. This name is preserved by the city's football club, St Johnstone F.C.
There has been a settlement at Perth since prehistoric times, on a natural mound raised slightly above the flood plain of the Tay, where the river could be crossed at low tide. The area surrounding the modern city is known to have been occupied since Mesolithic hunter-gatherers arrived more than 8,000 years ago. Nearby Neolithic standing stones and circles also exist, dating from about 4000 BC, following the introduction of farming in the area.
The presence of Scone Abbey, home of the Stone of Scone (also known as the Stone of Destiny) where the King of Scots was crowned, enhanced the early importance of the city. Perth became known as a 'capital' of Scotland, due to the frequent residence of the royal court. Royal Burgh status was soon given to the city by King William the Lion in the early 12th century. The city became one of the richest burghs in the country, doing trade with France, the Low Countries and Baltic Countries for goods such as Spanish silk and French wine. The Scottish Reformation also played a big role in the city with the sacking of the Houses of the Greyfriars and Blackfriars, after a sermon given by John Knox in St John's Kirk in 1559.
The Act of Settlement later brought about Jacobite uprisings. The city was occupied by Jacobite supporters on three occasions (1689, 1715 and 1745). The founding of Perth Academy in 1760 helped to bring major industries, such as linen, leather, bleach and whisky, to the city. Given its location, Perth was perfectly placed to become a key transport centre with the coming of the railways, and its first station was built in 1848. Today, Perth serves as a retail centre for the surrounding area. The city has a thriving culinary scene and is known for its great selection of restaurants and eateries, having been awarded the title of 'Scotland's Food Town of 2018' by the Scottish Food Awards. Following the decline of the whisky industry locally and building upon its long established presence in the insurance sector, the city's economy has now diversified to include banking. Due to its location, the city is often referred to as the "Gateway to the Highlands".
Barrow-in-Furness is a town in Cumbria, North-West England. Historically part of Lancashire, it was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1867 and merged with Dalton-in-Furness Urban District in 1974 to form the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness. At the tip of the Furness peninsula, close to the Lake District, it is bordered by Morecambe Bay, the Duddon Estuary and the Irish Sea. Natives of Barrow, as well as the local dialect, are known as Barrovian.
In the Middle Ages, Barrow was a small hamlet within the parish of Dalton-in-Furness with Furness Abbey, now on the outskirts of the modern-day town, controlling the local economy before its dissolution in 1537. The iron prospector Henry Schneider arrived in Furness in 1839 and, with other investors, opened the Furness Railway in 1846 to transport iron ore and slate from local mines to the coast. Further hematite deposits were discovered, of sufficient size to develop factories for smelting and exporting steel. For a period of the late 19th century, the Barrow Hematite Steel Company-owned steelworks was the world's largest.
Barrow's location and the availability of steel allowed the town to develop into a significant producer of naval vessels, a shift that was accelerated during World War I and the local yard's specialisation in submarines. The original iron- and steel-making enterprises closed down after World War II, leaving Vickers shipyard as Barrow's main industry and employer. Several Royal Navy flagships, the vast majority of its nuclear submarines as well as numerous other naval vessels, ocean liners and oil tankers have been manufactured at the facility.
The end of the Cold War and subsequent decrease in military spending saw high unemployment in the town through lack of contracts; despite this, the BAE Systems shipyard remains operational as the UK's largest by workforce and is undergoing a major expansion associated with the Dreadnought-class submarine programme. Today Barrow is a hub for energy generation and handling. Offshore wind farms form one of the highest concentrations of turbines in the world, including the single largest with multiple operating bases in Barrow.
Dover- 41,709 inhabitants
Dover is a town and major ferry port in Kent, South East England. It faces France across the Strait of Dover, the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury and east of Maidstone. The town is the administrative centre of the Dover District and home of the Port of Dover. The surrounding chalk cliffs are known as the White Cliffs of Dover. Archaeological finds have revealed that the area has always been a focus for peoples entering and leaving Britain. The name derives from the River Dour that flows through it. The Port of Dover provides much of the town's employment, as does tourism.
Archaeological finds have shown that there were Stone Age people in the area, and that some Iron Age finds also exist. During the Roman period, the area became part of the Roman communications network. It was connected by road to Canterbury and Watling Street and it became Portus Dubris, a fortified port. Dover has a partly preserved Roman lighthouse (the tallest surviving Roman structure in Britain) and the remains of a villa with preserved Roman wall paintings. Dover later figured in the Domesday Book. Forts were built above the port and lighthouses were constructed to guide passing ships. It is one of the Cinque Ports, and has served as a bastion against various attackers: notably the French during the Napoleonic Wars and Germany during the Second World War.
Tonbridge is a market town in Kent, England,on the River Medway, 4 miles (6 km) north of Royal Tunbridge Wells, 12 miles (19 km) south west of Maidstone and 29 miles (47 km) south east of London. The town was recorded in the Domesday Book 1087 as Tonebrige, which may indicate a bridge belonging to the estate or manor (from the Old English tun), or alternatively a bridge belonging to Tunna, a common Anglo-Saxon man's name. Another theory suggests that the name is a contraction of "town of bridges", due to the large number of streams the High Street originally crossed.
Until 1870, the town's name was spelt Tunbridge, as shown on old maps including the 1871 Ordnance Survey map and contemporary issues of the Bradshaw railway guide. In 1870, this was changed to Tonbridge by the GPO due to confusion with nearby Tunbridge Wells, despite Tonbridge being a much older settlement. Tunbridge Wells has always maintained the same spelling.
Newtownards is a town,townland and civil parish in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies at the most northern tip of Strangford Lough, 10 miles (16 km) east of Belfast, on the Ards Peninsula. It is situated in the civil parish of Newtownards and the historic baronies of Ards Lower and Castlereagh Lower. Newtownards is in the Ards and North Down Borough. It is known colloquially by locals as"Ards".
In 540 AD, St. Finian founded Movilla Abbey, a monastery, on a hill overlooking Strangford Lough about a mile North-East of present-day Newtownards town centre. "Movilla" (Magh Bhile) means "the plain of the sacred tree," in Irish, which suggests that the land had previously been a sacred pagan site. It became a significant Christian settlement - a centre for worship, study, mission and commercial trade, well-known throughout Ireland. It was sacked by the Vikings sometime after AD 824, though survived for a thousand years as a monastic settlement (becoming part of the Augustinian Order in 1135), until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1542.
Around 1226, the Normans, who arrived in Ireland after 1169, established a new town around Movilla, naming it Nove Ville de Blathewyc ("New Town of Blathewyc" in reference to an earlier Irish territory). A Dominican priory was built in 1244 and was also dissolved in 1542. In 1572, both monasteries were burned by the Clanaboy O'Neills under Brian O'Neill as part of a campaign to deny buildings to the English, after which the urban settlement at Movilla disappeared and the area around it became known as "Ballylisnevin" ("the town land of the fort of the family of Nevin"). In 1605, Hugh Montgomery was granted the lands and set about rebuilding what was by then known as Newtown, later expanded to Newtownards. Official records show the town was established in 1606. Montgomery built a residence in the ruins of the old priory, the tower of which remains. Scottish settlers, particularly from Ayr, and to a lesser extent Irvine, in Ayrshire, arrived in large numbers and the town grew quickly.
Due to the shallow mud of Strangford Lough, Newtown never developed as a port, with goods instead transported from the nearby town of Donaghadee on the Irish Sea coast of the Ards Peninsula. Instead, it became a market town, with the Market House in Conway Square constructed in 1770. The market still operates today on a weekly basis. On the morning of Pike Sunday, 10 June 1798, during the Irish Rebellion of 1798, a force of United Irishmen, mainly from Bangor, Donaghadee, Greyabbey and Ballywalter, attempted to occupy the town of Newtownards. They were met with musket fire from the market house and were defeated. The early 19th century saw the reclamation of the marshlands south of the town. The Belfast and County Down Railway connected Newtownards to Belfast, via Comber and Dundonald, in 1850, and to Donaghadee in 1861. By the same year the town's population had risen to 9,500. (This rail line was closed in 1950.)
On 12 July 1867, despite the Party Processions Acts, the Orange Order paraded from Bangor to Newtownards. The parade was organised by William Johnston (sentenced to a short term in prison the next year for his actions) and about 30,000 took part. As the nineteenth century progressed the economy became increasingly tied to the growing city of Belfast and the town continued to prosper and by the 20th century had increasingly became a commuter town. Newtownards' population reached 13,100 in 1961 and had doubled to 27,800 by the end of the 20th century.
Derry, officially Londonderry, is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-largest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Old Irish name Daire meaning "oak grove". In 1613, the city was granted a Royal Charter by King James I and gained the "London" prefix to reflect the funding of its construction by the London guilds. While the city is more usually known colloquially as Derry, Londonderry is also commonly used and remains the legal name. The old walled city lies on the west bank of the River Foyle, which is spanned by two road bridges and one footbridge. The city now covers both banks (Cityside on the west and Waterside on the east). The district administered by Derry City and Strabane District Council contains both Londonderry Port and City of Derry Airport.
Derry is close to the border with County Donegal, with which it has had a close link for many centuries. The person traditionally seen as the founder of the original Derry is Saint Colmcille, a holy man from Tír Chonaill, the old name for almost all of modern County Donegal, of which the west bank of the Foyle was a part before 1610. In 2013, Derry was the inaugural UK City of Culture, having been awarded the title in 2010.