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What you need to know about NorthamptonNorthampton is the county town of Northamptonshire, lying on the River Nene midway between London and Birmingham in the East Midlands.
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Its location in the heart of England gave Northampton great strategic importance in Norman times, and it remains an important Midlands commercial hub. Much of the mediaeval town was destroyed by fire in 1675, and was rebuilt in the Georgian style in the 18th century. Huge post-war development has buried some of Northampton’s charms in concrete and housing estates, but it’s still a vibrant, bustling and charming market town with a rich heritage and history.
Food and drink
Northampton offers an eclectic mix of places to eat and drink, from High Street restaurant chains to foodie paradises serving the very best local ingredients. Like many Midlands towns, Northampton has a diverse community, so there are plenty of opportunities to sample world cuisines and authentic dishes from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Lots of new bars and restaurants have recently popped up in Northampton’s new Cultural Quarter – ideal if you’re taking in a show at one of the theatres.
Northampton’s market square is one of Britain’s largest and most historic, dating back to 1235. There are over a hundred of stalls open Monday to Saturday, selling fruit, food, clothes and household goods. Northampton’s High Street shopping covers Abington Street and the town’s two central shopping malls, the Grosvenor Centre and Market Walk. There are also several out-of-town shopping centres, and some great independent stores around Market Walk and Guildhall Road.
Northampton was historically a centre for shoemaking, but now only specialist cobblers like Tricker’s and Crockett & Jones survive. Now Northampton’s economy is driven by financial services, construction and FMCG – companies like Barclaycard, Blacks Leisure Group, Panasonic, Travis Perkins Coca-Cola Schweppes and Carlsberg are all based in or around the town.
Northampton is just off the M1 motorway and only an hour from London Euston, so it’s an easy town to reach by car or train. Once you’re here, you’ll find it’s a nicely compact town that’s easy to explore on foot, or there is a good bus service around the town centre and out to local suburbs and villages. Northampton and the surrounding area are great for exploring by bike, particularly if you head out onto the canal paths of the Grand Union Canal.
Things to watch out for
Northampton’s Cultural Quarter is well worth a visit – it’s home to the Northampton’s excellent museum, as well as the Royal & Derngate theatre complex and several historic houses and galleries. The area has undergone huge redevelopment in recent years, and is now home to some great shops, bars and restaurants too.