Explore Bradford on Avon: Newtown

Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire




Newtown was a new development in the second half of the 17th century on land that belonged to the Methuen family, who then lived in the building later known as The Priory. After the first building lease was issued in 1661, the progress of development was slow and patchy, with houses built on individual parcels of land at various dates until the beginning of the 19th century. The oldest building is The Priory’s 15th century barn, which pre-dates the road itself. The earliest houses have gables facing the street in the manner of medieval town houses; later ones are in more classical Georgian style without gables. There were formerly four pubs, a big brewery and several shops here, but today there is none.

Look at >old photographs of Newtown

Click on the thumbnail pictures for a bigger view.

North side, westwards

The former Bell Inn, NewtownThe former Bell Inn, number 63, is at the junction of Newtown with the old road called Conigre Hill. Its façade looks as if it was a rank of three purely 18th century houses, but the left end with a forward bay has a 1695 date stone. Perhaps gabled earlier houses were rebuilt in more contemporary style. The public house had a small brewery at the back, of which some ground floor traces remain. There was once a skittle alley on the top floor. It closed as a pub in the 1960s and has been converted into several separate dwellings, although not as the original three houses. —

> climb Conigre Hill to Middle Rank and Tory

late 17th century houses in NewtownWest of the Bell Inn is a series of houses with gabled fronts. They have string courses between the floors and another above the top floor window. The windows would all have been of three lights with mullions, but most have been replaced. The first two houses seem to have been completely refronted with squared rubble stone in the 19th century. The next pair would have been built together, followed by the next four. All six are faced in sawn ashlar stone blocks and date from the late 1690s. The next house is of three bays and two floors, except for a large dormer at the centre. Numbers 54 to 57 were built by John Harding, a carpenter in Holt, whose initials, as “IH” and date 1697 are recorded on a panel in the wall; the others were built for other traders around the same time.

Masons' Arms pub, NewtownThe former Masons’ Arms public house must have originally have been a clothiers’ mansion. The building, with its crossed mullion-and-transom windows dates from the very end of the 17th century; The single-storey extension on the front is 19th century, from the period of use as a pub. At the rear are buildings that may have been used as a small woollen cloth factory. The building was a public house from at least 1773 and was the last on Newtown when it closed in 2007. It has now been divided into several separate dwellings, despite efforts by the Town Council to maintain its former use.

White Lion, NewtownThe former White Lion pub occupied number 39 Newtown, the right hand two bays of an ashlar-fronted three-bay building of three floors and an attic. It was recorded in 1765, when the building would have been quite recently constructed. However, it became the earliest of the four Newtown public houses to close and was W. Penny & Son’s bakery by 1911. It presumably had its own brewhouse as, on a dark strip of paint above the first-floor windows, the words “home brewed beer” can be made out. A long single-storey building across the rear could have been its skittle alley.

Well PathA short terrace of five houses that climb up the hill backs on to Well Path, an ancient route that descends from the hill top at Budbury and heads towards Barton Bridge. They were the work of builder Isaac Batten in the early 19th century. Where the path reaches Newtown is a natural spring known as Lady Well. This supplied water to this area of the town and was piped to the Methuens’ house and to some properties on Church Street. A scheme in the 1870s to provide all Bradford’s mains water from here failed because the flow would be insufficient and because of ownership problems. However, it later supplied water to the town’s public baths and settling tanks still exist underneath Well Path.

Steps on the other side lead down to > Barton Orchard.

Wilkins' Maltings and Brewery, NewtownBeyond Well Path, where Wine Street joins Newtown, was a large quarry that must have provided much of Bradford’s building stone. On the street in front were several houses, but in the 19th century The Wilkins Brothers’ brewery expanded and built a big malthouse against the main quarry face and demolished the houses, although part of their wall remains at the western end. The malthouse is of four low floors which have now been converted into flats. Underneath are large barrel vaults which were used for much of the 20th century as Long’s builder’s yard and as works for Royal Enfield motorcycles. On the Wine Street end was a brewery building, which is now offices.

> Royal Enfield motorcycles

The Seven Stars, NewtownThe fourth of the dead pubs on Newtown is the Seven Stars. There was a pub here at the foot of Wine Street in 1722, but this ashlar-fronted building dates from much later in the 18th century. Like many pubs it brewed its own beer, but under the Wilkins family, through much of the 19th century, this one developed into a major brewery that supplied other pubs. The brewery was at the back and there was a malthouse on the western side. Wilkins’ expanded into the old quarry and took over breweries elsewhere before being taken over itself by Usher’s of Trowbridge in 1914 and closed down. The pub itself closed in the 1960s.


South side, westwards.

The roof of Priory Barn, NewtownPriory Barn, the first building on the southern side of Newtown, was built in about 1470 as part of the medieval manor house on the corner. It would have been built to house all the produce from the property of the Rogers family. Succeeding owners may have used it to store wool and woollen cloths and perhaps for manufacture. Part of the building was a separate house, presumably for a retainer. Bradford’s Preservation Trust saved the building from dilapidation, inserting a floor to make a meeting and exhibition hall in 1969. The Trust still owns the barn.

Priory Steps, NewtownJust beyond the barn is what was originally the 18th century coach house, with two arched entrances for coaches (one now blocked up) and accommodation for the coachman. Next is the guest house called  Priory Steps, a series of six gables facing the street and on the other side. These, once called The Rise, may have been originally six separate 17th century houses. The street façade has been rebuilt or refronted in squared stone blocks to unify it, with just a single entrance. All original mullioned windows on the south front have been replaced with larger sash windows, but two remain on the north (one blocked).

The Ropewalk, NewtownThe Ropewalk (1988-9 designed by Fielden Clegg) is a large complex that was specially built as retirement accommodation, mostly flats with a few houses. It gets its name from a rope and twine twisting works that was once along the southern side of Newtown. Most of the site was formerly that of Trinity Secondary School, which was built in 1896 as an enlargement of the old National School in Church Street below.


The line of the road continues, through narrow bends, into > Belcombe Road.