Friday, May 2, 2008
Northamptonshire (abbreviated Northants or N'hants) is a landlocked county in central England with a population of 629,676 (2001 census). It has borders with Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire (including the Borough of Milton Keynes), Oxfordshire, and Lincolnshire (England's shortest county boundary: 19 metres). The county town is Northampton.
Northamptonshire has often been called the county of "squires and spires" due to its wide variety of historic buildings and country houses. The county has also been described as "England's Pancreas", most notably by the popular presenter Alan Titchmarsh in has 2007 series The Nature of Britain. This is due to its shape and location within the UK, and because it is regularly overlooked, especially compared to neighbouring Warwickshire, known as "The Heart of England".
Northamptonshire's county flower is the Cowslip.
Peter Bone (C)
Tim Boswell (C)
Brian Binley (C)
Philip Hollobone (C)
Phil Hope (L)/(Co-op)
Sally Keeble (L)
East Northamptonshire Geography
These are the main settlements in Northamptonshire with a town charter, a population over 5,000, or otherwise notable. For a complete list of settlements see List of places in Northamptonshire
Brackley, Braunston, Brixworth,
Raunds, Rothwell, Rushden
Weedon Bec, Wellingborough Places
The Soke of Peterborough, including the City of Peterborough, was historically associated with Northamptonshire as the county diocese is focused upon the cathedral there. Under the Local Government Act 1972 Peterborough became a district of Cambridgeshire.
Main article History of Northamptonshire
Pre-Celtic and Celtic peoples settled in the region, and there are some traces of Roman settlements and roads. Most notably the Watling Street passed through the county, and there was an important Roman settlement called Lactodorum on the site of modern day Towcester. There were other Roman settlements at the site of Northampton, and along the Nene Valley near Raunds.
After the Romans left, the area became part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, and Northampton functioned as an administrative centre. The area was overrun by the Danes (Vikings) in the 9th century and briefly became part of the Danelaw, but was later re-claimed by the Saxons. Consequently, it is one of the few counties in England to have both Saxon and Danish town-names and settlements.
The county was first recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (1011), as Hamtunscire: the scire (shire) of Hamtun (the homestead). The "North" was added to distinguish Northampton from the other important Hamtun further south: Southampton.
Later, Rockingham Castle was built for William the Conqueror and was used as a Royal fortress until Elizabethan times. The now-ruined Fotheringhay castle was used to imprison Mary, Queen of Scots before her execution. In 1460, during the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Northampton took place and King Henry VI was captured.
During the English Civil War Northamptonshire strongly supported the Parliamentarian cause, and the Royalist forces suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Naseby in 1645 in the north of the county. King Charles I was later imprisoned at Holdenby House.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, parts of Northamptonshire became industrialized. Northampton and its surrounding areas, gained a sizeable shoe making and leather industry and by the end of the nineteenth century it was almost definitely the boot and shoe making capital of the world. And in the north of the county a large ironstone quarrying industry developed. In the 20th century, during the 1930s, the town of Corby was established as a major centre of the steel industry. Much of Northamptonshire nevertheless remains largely rural.
After the Second World War Northampton and Corby were designated as new towns. As of 2005 the government is encouraging development in the South Midlands area, including Kettering and Corby.
Northamptonshire returns six members of Parliament. Following the 2005 general election, four MPs belong to the Conservative Party, while the other two represent the Labour Party.
Like most English shire counties, Northamptonshire has a two-tier structure of local government. The county has an elected county council based in Northampton, and is also divided into seven districts each with their own district councils.
These districts are: Corby, Daventry district, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire, Wellingborough (see map). The district council offices for East Northamptonshire are based in Thrapston, and those for South Northamptonshire are based in Towcester. Northamptonshire also has a large number of civil parishes.
Until 2005, Northamptonshire County Council, for which each of the 73 electoral divisions in the county elects a single councillor, had been held by the Labour Party since 1993; before then it had been under no overall control since 1981. The councils of the rural districts — Daventry, East Northamptonshire, and South Northamptonshire — are strongly Conservative, whereas composition in the urban districts is more mixed. At the 2003 local elections, Labour lost control of Kettering, Northampton, and Wellingborough, retaining only Corby. Elections for the entire County Council are held every four years — the last were held on 5 May 2005 when control of the County Council changed from the Labour Party to the Conservatives. The County Council uses a leader and cabinet executive system and has recently (from April 2006) abolished its area committees.
Northampton itself is somewhat unusual in being the most populous urban district in England not to be administered as a unitary authority (even though several smaller districts are unitary). During the 1990s local government reform, Northampton Borough Council petitioned strongly for unitary status, which led to fractured relations with the County Council.
Northamptonshire is policed by Northamptonshire Police, and is covered by Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Before 1974, the Soke of Peterborough was considered part of Northamptonshire for ceremonial purposes, although it had had a separate county council since the 19th century, and separate Quarter Sessions courts before then. The City of Peterborough is now part of the county of Cambridgeshire.
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Northamptonshire at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Northamptonshire has some nationally important companies. Historically, it is home to footwear manufacturing companies. The Dr. Martens company in the UK is based in Wollaston near Wellingborough, where the boots used to be made. Weetabix is made at Burton Latimer near Kettering. Carlsberg is brewed in Northampton. Daventry has many distribution centres.
Northamptonshire operates a complete comprehensive system with 30 state secondary schools and 4 independent schools. There are no selective schools. However, selection by house price instead may be taking place. At GCSE, for those obtaining 5 GCSEs at grades A-C including Maths and English, the England average is 45.8%; the Northamptonshire average is 42.1% - below average. The best state school in Northamptonshire is Brooke Weston CTC in Corby with 89%, followed by the Bishop Stopford School in Kettering with 81% and then the Northampton School For Boys with 80%. These are excellent results for comprehensive schools. For the Brooke Weston result, this is substantially (three times) better than other schools in Corby, and Brooke Weston is often in the top five comprehensives in England. It is almost like a selective system in Corby. The same could be said for Northampton, with only the Northampton schools for boys and girls producing good results. Wellingborough is also the same to a lesser extent, with only the Sir Christopher Hatton School producing good results. At A level, the best state schools are the Campion School in Bugbrooke, South Northamptonshire; followed by the Ferrers Specialist Arts College in Higham Ferrers; then the Moulton Schools and Science College in Moulton, Daventry district; and then the Northampton School for Boys. These produce good results for comprehensives. The Brooke Weston CTC does not achieve particularly high results at A level, but above average. Overall at A-level, the independent Northampton High School (girls school) in Hardingstone is the best.
Northamptonshire boasts an extensive music and performing arts service that provides peripatetic music teaching to schools in the area. It also supports 15 local Saturday morning music and performing arts centres around the county as well as providing a range of county level music groups.
% of pupils with 5 grades A-C including English and Maths; compare this table to average house price by district.
1. South Northamptonshire 51.5
2. East Northamptonshire 48.4
3. Kettering 47.8
4. Daventry 44.0
5. Northampton 37.5
6. Corby 36.2
7. Wellingborough 34.8 Average score at GCSE by council district (%)
The gap in the hills at Watford Gap meant that many southeast to northwest routes passed through Northamptonshire. The Roman Road Watling Street (now part of the A5) passed through here, as did later canals, railways and major roads.
Major roads such as the M1 motorway and the A14 provide Northamptonshire with valuable transport links, both north-south and east-west. The A43 joins the M1 to the M40, passing through the south of the county to the Junction west of Brackley. The former steelworks town of Corby is now home to large areas of warehousing and distribution companies.
See also: Rivers in Northamptonshire
Two major canals - the Oxford and the Grand Union — join in the county at Braunston. Notable features include a flight of 17 locks on the Grand Union at Rothersthorpe, the canal museum at Stoke Bruerne, and a tunnel at Blisworth which, at 3076 yards (2813 m), is the third-longest navigable canal tunnel on the UK canal network.
A branch of the Grand Union Canal connects to the River Nene in Northampton and has been upgraded to a "wide canal" in places and is known as the Nene Navigation. It is famous for its guillotine locks.
For last five years Northamptonshire County Council is in partnership with WS Atkins, Europe's largest Engineering Consultants to manage and maintain all highways functions.
Rivers and Canals
Two trunk railway routes, the West Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line traverse the county. At its peak, Northamptonshire had 75 railway stations. It now has only five, at Northampton and Long Buckby (on the WCML), Kettering and Wellingborough (on the Midland Main Line), along with King's Sutton, which is a matter of yards from the boundary with Oxfordshire on the London-Banbury line.
Corby is one of the largest towns in Britain without a railway station. A railway runs through the town (from Kettering to Oakham in Rutland), but is currently used only by freight traffic and occasional diverted passenger trains (which do not call). The line through Corby was once part of a main line to Nottingham via Melton Mowbray but the stretch between Melton and Nottingham was closed in 1968. In the 1980s, an experimental passenger shuttle service was tried between Corby and Kettering, but this was proved unsuccessful. A bus link operated by Midland Mainline provides access to Corby from Kettering station. As of 2005, there are plans to build a new station in Corby - one providing direct access to St Pancras in London and not just a branch line service to Kettering, but these are not yet off the ground.
Northamptonshire was hit hard by the Beeching Axe in the 1960s, with stations such as Towcester's being slowly left to rot.  One of the most notable closures was that of the line connecting Northampton to Peterborough by way of Wellingborough, Thrapston, and Oundle. Its closure left eastern Northamptonshire devoid of railways. Part of this route has been re-opened as the Nene Valley Railway, with a small section of line, and the station at Yarwell junction being within Northamptonshire.
A section of one of the closed lines, the Northampton to Market Harborough line, is now the Northampton & Lamport heritage railway, while the route as a whole forms a part of the National Cycle Network, as the Brampton Valley Way.
As early as 1897 Northamptonshire had its own putative Channel Tunnel rail link with the creation of the Great Central Railway, which was intended to connect to a tunnel under the English Channel. Although the complete project never came to fruition, the rail link through Northamptonshire was constructed, and had stations at Charwelton, Woodford Halse, Helmdon, and Brackley. It became part of the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923 (and of British Railways in 1948) before its closure in 1966.
Before nationalization of the railways in 1948 and the creation of British Railways), Northamptonshire was home to three of the "Big Four" railway companies; the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, London and North Eastern Railway and Great Western Railway. Only the Southern Railway was not represented. Post nationalisation, it is served by Silverlink, London Midland, Chiltern Railways and Midland Mainline. So from having 75 stations in 1948 and three operators it has 5 stations with four operators.
Northamptonshire has a local BBC radio station, BBC Radio Northampton, which broadcasts on two FM frequencies — 104.2 MHz for the south and west of the county (including Northampton and surrounding area) and 103.6 MHz for the north of the county (including Kettering and Corby). There are three commercial radio stations. Northants 96 (96.6 MHz FM) is part of GCap Media, whilst AM station Classic Gold (1557 kHz) also forms part of a national network. The former Kettering and Corby Broadcasting Company (KCBC) station originally broadcast on 1530 (later 1584) kHz AM before eventually moving to 107.4 MHz FM. Its studios and FM frequency are still in use following a merger with Wellingborough-based Connect FM which now broadcasts on 97.2 and 107.4 MHz.
National digital radio is also available in Northamptonshire, though coverage is limited. As of 2005 a multiplex for local DAB stations had yet to be set up.
In regional radio and television terms, the county is not usually considered as part of the East Midlands; unusually, it is associated with East Anglia, being part of the BBC East region and the Anglia Television region of ITV, the latter having an office adjacent to BBC Radio Northampton in Abington Street, Northampton. These services are broadcast from the Sandy Heath transmitter.
Northamptonshire is home to a number of football teams, the most prominent being the professional sides Northampton Town F.C. of League One and Rushden & Diamonds F.C., who are in the Football Conference. Other teams include Kettering Town F.C., who play in the Conference North, though having been higher. Wellingborough Town F.C. claims to be the sixth oldest in the country.
Northamptonshire is more successful in rugby union, though Northampton Saints were relegated from the Guinness Premiership (the highest league) at the end of the 2006/2007 season. Northamptonshire County Cricket Club is presently in Division Two of the County Championship.
Silverstone has a major motor racing circuit, notably used for the British Grand Prix.
Rockingham Speedway in Corby is the largest stadium in the UK with 130,000 seats. It is a US-style elliptical racing circuit (the largest of its kind outside of the US), and is used extensively for all kinds of Motor Racing events.
Places of interest
British Grand Prix at Silverstone
Burghley Horse Trials
Crick Boat Show
Hollowell Steam Rally
Northampton Balloon Festival
St Crispin Street Fair Colleges
People from Northamptonshire
History of Northamptonshire
Posted by yummy255 at 10:06 AM
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Walcheren is a former island in the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands at the mouth of the Scheldt estuary. It lies between the Oosterschelde in the north and the Westerschelde in the south and is roughly the shape of a rhombus. The two sides on the side of the North Sea consist of dunes; the rest of its coastline is made up of dykes. Middelburg ("Middleborough") lies at its centre; this city is the provincial capital and Vlissingen 9 km to the south is the main harbour. The third municipality is Veere.
Originally, Walcheren was an island, but polders and a dam across the Sloe strait have connected it to the (former) island of Zuid-Beveland, which in turn has been connected to the North Brabant mainland.
Already in Roman days, the island was the point of departure for ships going to England and it had a temple of the goddess Nehalennia who was popular with those who wished to brave the waters of the North Sea. The Romans called it "Wallacra". Walcheren was the seat of the Danish Viking Harald, who conquered the present Netherlands together with his compatriate Rorik (or Rurik) in the 9th century. One fringe theory has it that it was the island described by Ibn Rustah as the seat of the khagan of the Rus'.
Starting on July 30, 1809 a British armed force of 39,000 men landed on Walcheren, the Walcheren Campaign, with a view to assisting the Austrians in their war against Napoleon, and attacking the French fleet moored at Flushing (Vlissingen). The expedition was a disaster - the Austrians had already been defeated at the Battle of Wagram and were suing for peace, the French fleet had moved to Antwerp, and the British lost over 4,000 men to a disease called "Walcheren Fever", thought to be a combination of malaria and typhus. The force was withdrawn in December.
During World War II, the area was fought over in 1940 by Dutch and German troops. The area was again contested in 1944 during the Battle of the Scheldt in the Battle of Walcheren Island. The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division cleared South Beveland to the east and approached the island on 31 October 1944. The plan was to cross the Slooe Channel, but leading troops of the 5th Canadian Brigade found that assault boats were useless in the deep much of the channel. The only route open was the 40 metre wide Walcheren Causeway, a mile-long land bridge from South Beveland to the Island. The Canadian Black Watch sent a company across on the evening of 31 October but were stopped. The Calgary Highlanders sent two companies over in succession, the second attack opening up a bridgehead on the island. The Highlanders were eventually thrown back, having lost 64 killed and wounded. Le Regiment de Maisonneuve relieved them on the causeway, followed by the Glasgow Highlanders of the British Army. Meanwhile, on November 1, 1944, the British Special Service Brigade landed on the western end of the island in order to silence the German coastal batteries looking out over the Scheldt, which was the key opening shipping lanes to Antwerp. The amphibious assault (Operation Infatuate) proved a success and by November 8 all German resistance on the island had been overrun.
Posted by yummy255 at 9:22 AM