From Academic Kids

Template:GBmap Wellingborough is a town in Northamptonshire, England situated some eleven miles from the county town of Northampton. It has a population of 48,428 (2001 census), and is the seat for the larger Borough of Wellingborough.

It is situated on the north side of the River Nene (locally pronounced as by its c.17th spelling of "Nen"), with most of the older town being sited on the flanks of the hills above the river's flood plain.

Wellingborough dates from the 6th Century. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book under the name of Wendelburie, and was granted a market charter in 1201.



As mentioned above, the town was founded in the early Saxon period. The name is formed from elements which translate, roughly, as "the town of the people of Waendel", or Waendel-ingas-burgh. Many newcomers to the town mistakenly think that the name comes from the 5 wells that are found around the town (Red Well, Hemming Well, Stanwell, Lady's Well, Whyte Well, Rising Sun Well), which appear on its coat of arms.

The mediaeval history of Wellingborough had no features that stand out from any other small town in the country. It housed a modest monastery which was an offshoot of the much larger and better known monastery of Crowland, near Peterborough, some 30 miles down-river. This part of the town is known these days as "Croyland".

In Elizabethian times the Lord of the Manor, Sir Christopher Hatton was a sponsor of Sir Francis Drake's expeditions, which is why Drake renamed one of his ships the Golden Hind. A modern connection with this is that the main hotel in the centre of town is still named the "Hind Hotel" (no web page I can find).

In the Civil war there was little of note (the largest substantial battle in the area was Naseby in 1645). However, after the Civil War Wellingborough was home to a substantial colony of Diggers. Little information about this period is available, which causes some local historians to suspect deliberate suppression.

More recent history has been undistinguished save by economic changes, many of which are more widely shared with the eastern end of the county of Northamptonshire. Wellingborough town centre had some re-development in the 1960's and 70's - including an Arndale Centre (now remained Swansgate) which is now often regarded as ugly.

(Cues for future contributors with more time to hand: Economics -- boot & Shoe; Iron/Steel (xref Corby); 1980s slump; revival consequent on the development of the A45 and A14 M1-A1 link roads, which run to either side of the town.)


Agrarian hinterland.

Boot & Shoe industry. Iron & Steel smelting (1920s - 1990s).

Light manufacturing (Scott Bader (http://www.scottbader.com/pub.nsf) chemical plant - xref to industrial relations; British Leyland plant at the foot of Sidegate Lane.).

Since late 1980s, considerable distribution centres for national organisations predicated on improvements to road network - the A45 upgrades (southern A1-M1 link road) and since mid-1990s, the A14 (northern A1-M1 link road).

Wellingborough School

Missing image
Wellingborough School - Main Building

Wellingborough School was founded in 1595 and is one of the oldest schools in the country.

The school is a mixed, independant (fee-paying) day school teaching pupils of between the ages of 3 and 18. The school is split into 3 separate units:

  • pre-prep (aged 3-8),
  • preparatory (aged 8-13) and
  • senior school (aged 13-18).

The school roll is currently over 800 pupils. The catchment are for the school covers Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and North Buckinghamshire.

Wellingborough School Website (http://www.wellingboroughschool.org)

Famous Wellingburians


The geology of the area has had only relatively minor influences on the development of Wellingborough. As noted above, the town is sited on the hills adjoining the flood plain of the River Nene. In the predominantly agrarian mediaeval period, this combination of access to fertile, if flood-prone, valley bottom soils and drier (but heavier and more clay-rich) hillside/ hilltop soils seems to have been good for a mixed agricultural base.

The clay-rich hilltop soils are primarily a consequence of blanketing of the area with boulder clay or glacial till during the recent glaciations. On the valley sides and valley floor however, these deposits have been largely washed away in the late glacial period, and in the valley bottom extensive deposits of gravels were laid down, which have largely been exploited for building aggregate in the last century. While important for the environment of the area, in economic and employment terms, this industry was pretty minor.

Iron Ore

Undoubtedly though the most economically important aspect of the geology of the area is the Northampton Sands ironstone formation. This is a marine sand of Jurassic age (Bajocian stage), deposited as part of a estuary sequence and overlain by a sequence of limestones and mudrocks.

Significant amounts of the sand have been replaced or displaced by iron minerals giving an average ore grade of around 25% wt/wt iron. To the west the iron ores have been moderately exploited for a very long time, but their high phosphorus content made them difficult to smelt and produced iron of poor quality until the development of the Bessemer steel making process and the "basic slag" smelting chemistry, which combine to make high quality steelmaking possible from these unpreposessing ores.

The Northampton Sands were a strategic resource for the UK in the run-up to World War Two, being the best developed bulk iron producing processes wholly free from dependance on imported materials. However, because the Northampton Sands share in the regional dip of all the sediments of this part of Britain to the east-south-east, they become increasingly difficult to work as one progresses east across the county.

Around Wellingborough it was possible to extract the ore by systematically stripping the overburden of mudrocks and limestone off the ore bed, then removing the ore, and finally replacing the overburden (often the cleaner limestone was removed to make the lime for the "basic slag" process) in the exposed cavity. This left distinctive arcuate quarries across much of the landscape around Wellingborough and north-north-east towards Corby (visit Irchester Country Park (http://www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/Leisure/Countryside/cparks/Irchester.htm) to see a much overgrown abandoned quarry redeveloped as a leisure site). Further east, around Finedon, Raunds and Chelveston, quarrying was carried out during the Second World War by underground "pillar and stall" mining. These mines were abandoned and sealed in the 1950s, and the number of people who even know of their existence is rapidly decreasing.

This regional dip spelt the ultimate death knell of the iron and steel industry in the area - ultimately it was going to become uneconomic to extract such ores. For a time the Corby smelters continued using ore imported through Humberside, but they finally closed in the late-1980s.

External links

Borough Council of Wellingborough (http://www.wellingborough.gov.uk) Northamptonshire County Council (http://www.northamptonshire.gov.uk)


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