History of Newport Pagnell


A Thousand Years of History

For over 1,000 years Newport Pagnell, with its major roads and two rivers, has played an important part in the life of North Bucks. We hope to show you some of the attractions and the heritage of this historic market town.

How did the town get its name? William the Conqueror gave Newport (new-town) and surrounding land to Fulk Pagnell who founded a Priory. The town became so closely associated with his family that it eventually adopted the name.

A market was established and during the Civil War the town became a garrison for the Parliamentary forces who were anxious to control its important road links. Traces of the fortifications can still be found in the town’s great common, Bury Field and are a registered Ancient Monument (ref 1021389)

Oliver Cromwell had good reason to be thankful to the garrison at Newport Pagnell. In the momentous Civil War of the 17th century the town’s location was a great strategic importance on the Front Line between the opposing armies.

The controversial General always had an affinity for the place – fighting alongside its troops, sending his son to join the young conscripts, frequently visiting his friend the governor and selecting it as the muster point for much of his army on the eve of the decisive Battle of Naseby.

A new book entitled “Newport Pagnell Cromwell’s Garrison Town” written by Jack Reynolds, a local author, gives lots of interesting facts and information about this period in our town’s history. On sale for £10 and available at Ken’s Collectables and the Newport Pagnell Post Office.

The road links between Leicester and London and Oxford and Cambridge later brought prosperity to the town. It became the centre for the lace industry. Coaching inns sprang up to cater for travellers. New bridges were built including in 1810 one across the Lovat which is the oldest cast iron bridge in Britain still carrying main road traffic.

Newport Pagnell used to have its own canal and, in the late 19th Century its own branch railway line. This was axed in 1967 and the track is now part of the cycle and pedestrian network for Milton Keynes. Thousands of motorists became familiar with the town’s name when, in 1960, Newport Pagnell was chosen as the site of the first motorway service area in the country.

New housing estates have seen the town more than double in size in recent years. New schools have been built to cope with the educational needs of the district and though some traditional industries and trades may have disappeared the town is finding new commercial life and attractiveness with high-class restaurants and specialist shops.

Follow the Heritage Trail and you will find many historic buildings and some long-established businesses including a coach building firm that now bears the Aston Martin name. And tucked away, on the River Lovat is the last parchment-making works in Britain.

Salmons and Sons, the Tickford Coachbuilders

This book tells the story of the development of Salmons and Sons, the Tickford Coachbuilders, of Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire.

Founded around 1830 by Joseph Salmons, the company became famous for its coaches, dog-carts and ralli–carts, achieving worldwide sales.

From 1898 it built bespoke motor coachwork of high quality for all makes of chassis. From 1909 onwards Salmons were leading exhibitors at the Olympia Motor Show. The company expanded rapidly and from 1902 had extensive premises in the City of London, with showrooms in the West End from the mid-1920s.

Several important developments in car hood design, patented by the company, ensured continuing success. In 1911 Salmons pioneered an all-weather body as snug as a saloon with the hood closed. Three years later they designed a spring-assisted hood and by 1914 were building some 553 carbodies a year. A major development was the “Tickford” winding hood, patented in 1925, and fitted to their “Sunshine Saloon.” The hood was raised or lowered by turning a cranked winding handle. Both the all-weather body and the Sunshine Saloon were built under licence in several European countries.

Throughout the 1930s production concentrated on 2-door drophead coupes which Salmons called their “foursome” coupe. In 1939 the family business became a limited company, Salmons and Sons Coachbuilders Ltd. After the retirement of the Salmons brothers, grandsons of the founder, the company was renamed Tickford Ltd in 1943.

The company resumed construction of quality coachwork after the 1939-45 war. Alvis, Daimler and Humber coupes and a Healey 2-door saloon were built. Development work, carried out for several companies, included the body for Jet 1, the Rover gas-turbine car, and the prototype of the Austin Healey sports car.

Tickford designed and built station wagons on the Land Rover chassis. Luxurious convertibles were built on the Alvis and Lagonda chassis, together with saloons on the latter. The success of the Tickford-built Lagonda cars led to the acquisition of the company by David Brown in 1955.

The company now became part of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd and the works produced cars of both marques. The long-established tradition of high quality coachwork construction in Newport Pagnell has continued to the present day.

This interesting book is a useful contribution to motoring history and records a major chapter in the history of Newport Pagnell.

The price is £25 plus postage £3.50, 10% discount will be given on the purchase price for online orders, from the publishers Phillimore & Co Ltd. Shopwyke Manor Barn, Chichester, West Sussex, PO20 6BG.

Signed copies can be ordered direct from the author, at 24, Woodland Rise West, Sheringham, Norfolk, NR26 8PF, at £25 plus postage £3.50, please make cheque payable to D.C.Mynard.

William Cowley Parchment Works

A family business making the finest quality parchment and vellum since 1870. Cowleys are proud to continue the ancient parchment making skills passed down through the generations in an unbroken line, by word of mouth, to the present day. Situated on the River Lovat the works is the last remaining establishment of its kind in the country.

For more information on William Cowley and how parchment is made click on http://www.williamcowley.co.uk/

Facts and Figures

  • Diarist Samuel Pepys stayed at the Swan Hotel in 1668 and described the Parish Church as “cathedral -like.”
  • ” Taylor’s Prepared Mustard, a nationally famous brand, was produced in a factory off the High Street for over a century. “
  • During the Plague of 1666 nearly 700 townspeople died, 257 in the month of July ” John Newton, composer of “Amazing Grace,” and Olney poet William Cowper regularly visited the Rev William Bull at The Manse. “
  • In 1700 Thomas Cox declared more bone lace was made in Newport Pagnell “than in any town in England.” An early Victoria Cross was won by a local man, Sergeant George Walters. A plaque can be found near the Parish Church. “
  • Scale models of Aston Martin cars, presented to the Queen (1966) and Prince Charles (1988) when they visited the Tickford Works, are now on display at the Sandringham Museum. “
  • Britain’s first motorway service area was built at Newport Pagnell.”
  • Oliver Cromwell’s son died here while serving in the Parliamentary Army.”
  • John Bunyan, author of “Pilgrim’s Progress,” served here as a garrison solder in 1643 ” Newport Pagnell, with its many hotels and inns, was an important stopping place for travellers in the coaching era. In the 1820s 33 four-horse coaches used to travel through the town each day to London, Liverpool, Holyhead, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds. “
  • One hundred years ago there were over 30 licensed premises in the town serving a population of around 4,000 “

About Newport Pagnell

Newport Pagnell is an historic, thriving market town situated in the North East of Buckinghamshire, at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Ousel (or Lovat).

The history of the area dates from the iron age, and the town itself from the Roman period. The town is entered in the Domesday book as ‘Newport’ – meaning ‘new market’, and ‘Pagnell’ comes from the family of Ralph Paganell to whom the manor eventually passed through marriage. The Paganells also founded Tickford Priory, the site of which lies to the East of the town, and is now occupied by Tickford Abbey.

The strategic position of the town, commanding the bridges over the two rivers, has greatly influenced its history and development. For many centuries it has been a centre for transport, and an important staging post for the coaching trade. During the Civil War it was occupied and fortified by the parliamentary forces, and held as a key position guarding a principal supply route to London.

In more recent times the canals and railways have added to the town’s importance. Many links with the past still survive. Newport boasts the oldest working iron bridge in the country, and several of the town’s hotels and public houses were founded as coaching inns in past centuries.

Today’s Newport Pagnell also offers visitors and residents all the amenities of a modern town. It boasts a large range of sporting and leisure activities, along with a full programme of events throughout the year. From the Summer Festival, through the July Carnival, to the ceremonial switching on of the Christmas lights, the town is always busy. Furthermore, its position adjacent to the M1, close to the new city of Milton Keynes, and in the midst of the Buckinghamshire countryside makes Newport Pagnell an ideal centre to visit.

Local history publications by local authors include:-

Bond in Bucks

Now it can be told… Ian Fleming, author of the mega-selling James Bond books spent much of his lifetime in Buckinghamshire… visiting the car-makers at Newport Pagnell, the Codebreakers at Bletchley Park, secretly training his ‘Red Indian’ commandos on a disused farm near Amersham, and later golfing with Jock Campbell, the ‘godfather’ of Milton Keynes. Cost £5 RRP

Bury Field

A thousand years of history lie behind the rolling parkland of Newport Pagnell’s green ‘oasis’. From an ancient burial ground to civil war defences, horse-racing festivals, first-class cricket, an Observation Post in WWII and a railway train that never arrived. (Complete with a five-year plan.) Cost £6 RRP

Salmons & Sons and Aston Martin

Special anniversary edition celebrating the remarkable contribution of Newport Pagnell to UK transport across 200 years from the founding Salmons family to the Aston Martin sports car phenomenon. Completely updated with many new photos, details of the parent company’s Stock Market Flotation, new ventures with Red Bull and Cranfield and re-making James Bond’s Goldfinger car. Comes with special supplement. Cost £10 RRP

Cromwell’s Garrison Town

The ‘hidden history’ of Newport Pagnell, a Front Line fortress for Cromwell in the Civil War where 1500 men lived out a violent and often brutal life, where the controversial General sent his oldest son, and where many of his troops mustered on the eve of Naseby, one of our nation’s most important battles.Cost £10 RRP

All books are available from ken’s Collectables and the Post office in the High Street, Newport Pagnell.