The "Newcastle" part of the name derives from being the location of a new castle in the 12th century. The "Lyme" section could refer to the Lyme Brook or the extensive Forest of Lyme that covered the area with lime trees in the mediaeval period. The well-known Berlin street Unter den Linden is a cognate of 'under-Lyme'
Newcastle is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, as it grew up around the 12th century castle, but it must have rapidly become a place of importance because a charter, known only through a reference in another charter to Preston, was given to the town by Henry II in 1173. The new castle was built to supersede an older fortress at Chesterton about 2 miles (3 km) to the north, the ruins of which were visible up to the end of the 16th century.
In 1235 Henry III constituted it a free borough, granting a guild merchant and other privileges. In 1251 he leased it at fee-farm to the burgesses. In 1265 Newcastle was granted by the Crown to Simon de Montfort, and subsequently to Edmund Crouchback, through whom it passed to Henry IV. In John Leland's time the castle had disappeared "save one great Toure".
Newcastle did not feature much in the English Civil War, save a Royalist plundering. However, it was the hometown of Major General Thomas Harrison a Cromwellian army officer and leader of the Fifth Monarchy Men.
The governing charter in 1835 which created the Newcastle-under-Lyme Municipal Borough absorbed the previous borough created through the charters of 1590 and 1664, under which the title of the corporation, was the "mayor, bailiffs and burgesses of Newcastle-under-Lyme."
Newcastle sent two members to parliament from 1355 to 1885, when it lost one representative.
When Stoke-on-Trent was formed by the 1910 amalgamation of the "six towns" (Stoke, Hanley, Fenton, Longton, Burslem and Tunstall) Newcastle remained separate. Despite its close proximity, it was not directly involved in the pottery industry, and it strongly opposed attempts to add it in 1930 with a postcard poll showing residents opposing the Stoke-on-Trent Extension Bill by a majority of 97.4%. Although passed by the House of Commons, the Bill was rejected by the House of Lords.
Following the Local Government Act 1972 it became the principal settlement of the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Like neighbouring Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle's early economy was based around the hatting trade, silk and cotton mills. Later coal mining, brick manufacture, iron casting and engineering rose to prominence. Very fine red earthenware and also soft-paste porcelain tableware (the first such production in Staffordshire) was produced in Newcastle at Samuel Bell's factory in Lower Street between 1724 and 1754 when all production ceased. With the exception of a failed enterprise between 1790 and 1797, which then switched to brewing, there was no further commercial production of pottery within the town of Newcastle. Production of earthenware tiles however continued at several locations within the borough. Manufacture of fine bone china was re-established in the borough in 1963 by Mayfair Pottery at Chesterton.
The manufacture in the borough of clay tobacco smoking pipes started about 1637 and grew rapidly and was second only to hatting within the borough. Nationally, the town was ranked with Chester, York and Hull as the four major pipe producers. This industry continued until the mid-19th century when decline set in rapidly and by 1881 only one tobacco pipe maker was left.
In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries the town had a flourishing felt hat manufacturing industry, which was probably at its peak locally in the 1820s when a third of the town's population were involved in the industry in over 20 factories but by 1892 there was only one manufacturer still in production in the town.
In 1944, the Rolls-Royce Derwent engine for the Gloster Meteor fighter was made in the borough.
Newcastle's 20th century industries include: iron working, construction materials, clothing (especially military, police and transport uniforms), computers, publishing, electric motors and machinery.
Near the turn of the 20th to the 21st century, the town received a major redevelopment to incorporate a new street (Castle Walk) into the town centre, providing Newcastle with a new bus station and bringing in more companies. Various business centres in the town provide offices for companies that operate in the service sector.
A dwindling number of pubs, clubs and bars provides Newcastle with a relatively strong nightlife, with students' night being on Thursdays; this aspect of Newcastle has arguably eclipsed the shopping and market town it once was.
The town has been the birthplace of several notable politicians and activists. Fanny Deakin was a campaigner for better nourishment for babies and young children and better maternity care for mothers. The former chairwoman of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Janet Bloomfield (née Hood) is a peace and disarmament campaigner. Vera Brittain writer, feminist (and mother of Liberal Democrat Shirley Williams) was born in the town.
There have been two particularly notable Members of Parliament (MPs). Josiah Wedgwood IV was a Liberal, Independent and Labour Party MP, who served as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the cabinet of Ramsay MacDonald, in the first ever Labour government. He was an MP from 1909 to 1942. John Golding was elected as a Labour MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme at a by-election in 1969. He served in the governments of Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan, as PPS to Eric Varley as Minister of Technology, a Labour whip in opposition, and Minister for Employment, stepping down in 1986.
The current MP is Paul Farrelly.
The town was once served by the North Staffordshire Railway, its railway station being on a branch line from Stoke-on-Trent via Newcastle, Silverdale and Keele, to Market Drayton in Shropshire. Newcastle-under-Lyme railway station opened in September 1852, after numerous construction difficulties involving the two tunnels of 605 yards (553 m) and 96 yards (88 m) respectively at Hartshill. There were also two halts to the west of Newcastle railway station, located at Brampton and Liverpool Road.
The section from Silverdale to Market Drayton closed to passengers in May 1956 and the rest of the line in March 1964. Only small sections remained from Madeley to Silverdale, and from Silverdale to Holditch, for coal traffic from the local collieries. The line from Newcastle Junction to Silverdale has been removed, with the site of Newcastle railway station and the Hartshill tunnels being filled in.
Newcastle was on the national canal network, but the Newcastle-under-Lyme Canal, running from the Trent and Mersey Canal at Stoke-on-Trent to Sir Nigel Gresley's Canal has been disused since 1935 and most of it filled in.
Situated in a valley alongside the Lyme Brook, the town is immediately west of the neighbouring city of Stoke-on-Trent, its suburbs running into those of the city. Newcastle town centre is just 2 miles (3 km) from Stoke-upon-Trent and less than 4 miles (6 km) from Stoke-on-Trent City Centre (Hanley). Newcastle-under-Lyme is about 17 miles (27 km) north of the county town of Stafford.
These are the average rainfall and temperatures from the Met Office weather station at Penkridge, some 24 miles (39 km) to the south. They show the averages from 1971 to 2000.
Of the 73,944 residents recorded in the 2001 census, 51.7% (38,210) were female and 48.3% (35,734) male. 78.2% (57,819) stated their religion was Christian, with 12.9% (9,570) saying they had no religion. Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Sikh all recorded less than 1% of the population. 97.8% of the population defined themselves as white, with the balance being mixed race (0.6%), Indian (0.4%), Pakistani (0.2%), black (0.2%), Chinese (0.2%) with other ethnic groups forming 0.4%.
62.2% (21,586) of the population work full-time and 19.4% (6,746) part-time. The largest employment types are manufacturing with 7,058 (21.5%), wholesale and retail 6,157 (18.7%), health and social work 4,097 (12.5%) and financial, real estate & business activity 3,823 (11.6%).
Jewish residency of the area stretches back into the 19th century. In 1873 they purchased an old Welsh chapel to be used as a synagogue. In 1923 a new synagogue was built in Hanley. This was closed in 2004 and the congregation moved to a smaller synagogue in Newcastle.
Newcastle-under-Lyme is served by the M6 motorway to the south and west of Newcastle and by the A500 road to the north and east. There are access points from the M6 at junctions 15 and 16, to the south and north respectively. The A34 trunk road runs through Newcastle from north to south and was the main road between Birmingham and Manchester until the M6 motorway opened. There is a large bus station in the town centre.
Newcastle does not have a railway station within the town, but Stoke-on-Trent railway station is between the town centre of Newcastle and city centre of Stoke-on-Trent and serves the Potteries as a whole.
Most of the bus network is run by First Potteries Limited and D&G Bus.
The town has an extensive number of both primary and secondary schools in the state-funded sector. Secondary schools include Clayton Hall Academy, Newcastle Academy, St John Fisher Catholic College and Wolstanton High School. There is also a special school located in the town called Blackfriars Academy.
Newcastle-under-Lyme School is an independent school established in the 17th century whose alumni includes T. E. Hulme, John Wain and William Watkiss Lloyd. Edenhurst Prep School, founded in 1961, is situated in the residential area known as the Westlands
The town has a further and tertiary education Newcastle-under-Lyme College established in the 1966. In January 2010 the new £60 million college campus was unveiled.
Keele University is situated 3 miles (5 km) west of central Newcastle.
Newcastle excels in the Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom competition. In 2005 it was the national winner in the 'small city/large town' category (35K-100K). The town features several parks including the 'Queen's Gardens' at the eastern end of Ironmarket, which was awarded the Britain in Bloom Judges' Award for Horticultural Excellence in 2003. Queens Gardens now contains the statue of Queen Victoria which was funded by Sir Alfred Seale Haslam and was unveiled by Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia on 5 November 1903. It is the only park within the ring road.
Grosvenor Gardens in the centre of one of the town's roundabouts, hidden away below road level. Queen Elizabeth Garden is located outside the town centre and is to undergo refurbishment using National Lottery Heritage Fund money.
To the north west of the town centre is Brampton Park, home to the museum and art gallery.
Dating back to 1173 Newcastle's market, known as the Stones, operates on the High Street. The market was originally held on Sunday; in the reign of John it was changed to Saturday; by the charter of Elizabeth it was fixed on Monday. Grants of fairs were given by Edward I, Edward III and Henry VI. Today the market is open six days a week, and there are over 80 stalls. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays see a general market, on Tuesdays there is an antiques market and Thursdays are for the sale of bric-a-brac.
A cattle and livestock market was held on Mondays until the early 1990s; the site of the cattle market is now a branch of Morrison's supermarket.
The current Guildhall was built in 1713 and has undergone a number of changes. Originally the ground floor was open and was used for markets, until the Market Hall was built in 1854. In 1860, in order to provide more space, the ground floor arches were bricked up and clock tower with four clocks were added. The top rooms in the Guildhall were used for meetings by the Borough council and its committees, until 1860. It is now a grade II listed building.
The Italian styled Militia Barracks were built in 1855 from red brick. The Barracks were the headquarters of the 3rd King's Own Staffordshire Rifle Regiment until 1880. In 1882 W.H. Dalton bought the Barracks and settled them in trust for use by the Rifle Volunteers of Newcastle, which became the Territorial Force in 1907. In 2002 the Barracks were let to contained small businesses.
There are at least four Working Men's Club in Newcastle - in Bradwell, at Cross Heath, in Silverdale and Wolstanton.
The New Vic Theatre was Europe's first purpose-built theatre in the round. It is just outside the town centre and offers a full programme of entertainment, including modern or classic plays and concert performances.
The Borough Museum and Art Gallery (Brampton Museum) depicts the civic history of the Borough of Newcastle under Lyme and an authentic, life-size Victorian street-scene whilst the art gallery hosts work by local and national artists as well as 'travelling' exhibitions.
Until 2005, there was an annual carnival held on the Spring Bank Holiday but this has been cancelled due to rising policing costs.
Notable residents who contributed to the arts and entertainment include Philip Astley, founder of the 'modern' circus. Jackie Trent, the singer and songwriter, was born in the town. Arnold Bennett, the novelist, playwright, and essayist, completed his schooling at the Middle School and called the town Oldcastle in his Clayhanger trilogy of novels. Dinah Maria Mulock, who wrote under her married name of Mrs. Craik, lived in the town (in Lower Street and Mount Pleasant) and attended Brampton House Academy.
E S Turner, the social commentator, was educated in the town. Newcastle was also home to Dr. Philip Willoughby-Higson (1933 - 2012), poet, translator and historian and author of 33 books. He was the founder and president (1974 - 1992) of the Chester Poets, the oldest poetry group in the North West. Dr. Higson was also the President of the Baudelaire Society of France from 1992 to 2012, the only Englishman ever to be honoured with this position.
Historically, the town had a strong tradition of festivities marking the start of a new municipal year.
The town is home to a wide range of sports clubs and associations. Newcastle Town F.C., an association football club currently play in the Northern Premier League First Division South. The Lyme Valley area is home to Newcastle & Hartshill Cricket Club. The largest rugby union club is Newcastle, Staffs Rugby Union Club.
Cycle Staffordshire organises many local cycling events as does the Newcastle Track Cycling Association. The town has its own velodrome used by the Lyme Racing Club which is a popular local cycle club with over 150 members with and increasing junior membership. The club is active in many areas of cycling including time trials, track racing, road racing, Audax riding, mountain biking as well as regular Sunday club runs and general leisure cycling.
Newcastle Athletic Club is based at the Ashfield Road track, next to Newcastle College. It was built in 1964 and is an ash track. The club competes in North Staffs XC League, Local, National and Heart of England League 3.
The town is also home to one of the largest and most successful volleyball clubs in England, Newcastle (Staffs) Volleyball Club, which was established in 1980 and has teams playing in the National Volleyball League, producing numerous England and Great Britain international players over the years. The college is home to Castle Korfball Club, one of the nation's oldest korfball clubs.
There are golf courses at Kidsgrove, Wolstanton, Keele and at the Westlands.
The town has a long religious history. It was the birthplace of John James Blunt, a divine and Anglican priest. Josiah Wedgwood was a Unitarian and he and his family attended meetings at the Old Meeting House, adjacent to St. Giles' Church, which is still in use for this purpose.
The town itself has a large number of Anglican churches, including St. Giles' Church, the mediaeval parish church dating from 1290. There are also several Catholic churches, most notably Holy Trinity, whose style is Gothic in blue engineering bricks, described as ..."the finest modern specimen of ornamental brickwork in the kingdom" at the time.
In the 18th century John Wesley made repeated visits to the area, which was becoming more industrialised. He recruited many residents to Methodism. This is reflected in the large number of Methodist churches. There is a Baptist church in Clayton.
Of interest also is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), located across from the Brampton Park, which serves as the 'Stake Centre' for the church in the region and has an on-site Family History Centre where the public can research their ancestry for little or no charge.
The town is part of a world-wide network of towns and cities with the name Newcastle. These include more well-known Newcastle upon Tyne (also in England), Neuburg an der Donau (Germany), Neuchâtel (Switzerland), Neufchâteau (France), New Castle, Indiana (US), New Castle, Pennsylvania (US), New Castle, Delaware (US), Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) and Shinshiro (Japan).
This small international network of just eight towns, formed in 1998, is designed to encourage friendship and co-operation between the towns and to this end a school in the South African town benefited in 2004 from gifts of computing equipment surplus to Newcastle-under-Lyme's needs. The annual Newcastles of the World Summit was held in Newcastle-under-Lyme for six days from 17 June 2006.Richard Smith (c.1516–1581), English politician and mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme 1547–48 and 1549–50, MP Newcastle-under-Lyme in November 1554 and 1555
Sir John Merrick (1584–1659) English politician and MP from 1640 to 1648. In 1640, he was elected MP for Newcastle under Lyme in the Short Parliament and was re-elected in 1640 for the Long Parliament
Robert Needham, 2nd Viscount Kilmorey, (1587/88 – 1653) supporter of Charles I He was a MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme in the Addled Parliament in 1614
Sir Richard Leveson (1598–1661) English politician, elected MP Newcastle under Lyme in the Long Parliament
Samuel Terrick, (1602 – 1675) local politician, in 1658 he went bankrupt for £20,000.
Major-General Thomas Harrison (1606 – 1660) sided with Parliament in the English Civil War. In 1649 he signed the death warrant of Charles I and in 1660, shortly after the Restoration, he was found guilty of regicide and hanged, drawn and quartered.
Sir Richard Lloyd (1606 – 1676) English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1628 and 1676. In April 1640, Lloyd was MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme in the Short Parliament.
Humphrey Wollrich (1633–1707) English Quaker writer.
Philip Astley, (1742 – 1814) equestrian, circus owner, inventor and father of the modern circus
Silvester Harding (1745 – 1809) English artist and publisher, at the age of 14 he ran away and joined a company of actors
Walter Sneyd (1752–1829) of Keele Hall MP for Castle Rising in 1784–1790
John James Blunt (1794 – 1855) English Anglican priest. His writings included studies of the early Church.
Henry Moseley (1801 – 1872) English churchman, mathematician, and scientist.
Joseph Mayer (antiquary) (1803–1886) English goldsmith, antiquary and collector
Emma Darwin (née Wedgwood), (1808 – 1896) granddaughter of Josiah Wedgwood and wife of Charles Darwin
Hungerford Crewe, 3rd Baron Crewe FSA, FRS (1812 – 1894) English landowner and peer. Inherited the Jacobean mansion of Crewe Hall and unsuccessfully opposed the construction of a Silverdale and Madeley Railway Company line
Edward Stringer, (1819 - 1863) convict and prospector, discovered the Walhalla, Victoria goldfield in Australia
Dr. Henry Faulds, (1843 – 1930) medical missionary and fingerprint pioneer
Sir Alfred Seale Haslam (1844–1927) English engineer, three times Mayor of Newcastle and MP for Newcastle from 1900 to 1906
Sir Oliver Lodge, (1851 – 1940) physicist, inventor and writer
Enoch Edwards (1852 in Talke – 1912) British trade unionist, coal miner, member of Staffordshire County Council, Lib-Lab MP for Hanley from 1906 to 1909 then Labour MP from 1909 to 1912.
Douglas Harry Coghill (1855 – 1928) MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme from 1886 to 1892 and then Stoke-upon-Trent from 1895 to 1906. He was mostly a Liberal Unionist, then became a Conservative.
Arthur Howard Heath TD (1856 – 1930) industrialist, cricketer, Rugby Union international and Conservative Party politician.
Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia, (1861 - 1929) lived in Keele Hall from 1900 to 1909
Arnold Bennett, (1867 – 1931) writer
Henry Mosley (bishop) (1868–1948) Anglican cleric, Bishop of Stepney (1919-1928) and Bishop of Southwell (1928-1941).
Ada Nield Chew (1870 – 1945) British suffragist.
Alfred Herbert Richardson, (1874–1951) English policeman and Chief Constable of Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1901
Josiah Wedgwood, 1st Baron Wedgwood (1872 – 1943), Josiah Wedgwood IV, great-great-grandson of Josiah Wedgwood and Liberal MP for Newcastle from 1906 to 1919 then Labour MP for Newcastle from 1919 to 1942
Oliver William Foster Lodge (born Newcastle 1878 - 1955), poet and author
Reginald Somerset Ward (1881 - 1962) English Anglican priest, author and spiritual director, born in the town
Fanny Deakin (1883–1968) politician from Newcastle-under-Lyme noted for her campaigns for better nourishment of young children and maternity care for mothers.
Vera Brittain, (1893 – 1970) author, reformer and pacifist and mother of Shirley Williams
Reginald Mitchell, (1895 – 1937) aeroplane designer of the Spitfire
Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet (1896 – 1980) founder of British Union of Fascists lived in Apedale Hall in the early 1900's
John David Mack (c.1899 – 1957) was a Labour Party MP for Newcastle from 1942 to 1951
E. S. Turner, (1909 - 2006) freelance journalist and author went to school in the town
Stephen Swingler (1915 – 1969) Labour MP for Stafford from 1945 to 1950 and MP for Newcastle from 1951 to 1969
Fred Kite, (1921 – 1993) only Second World War British soldier to receive the Military Medal three times
Brenda Moon (1931 – 2011) Librarian to the University of Edinburgh from 1980 to 1996
John Golding (1931 – 1999) Labour MP for Newcastle from 1969 to 1986
Llinos Golding, Baroness Golding (born 1933) Labour MP for Newcastle from 1986 to 2001
Robert Alexander, Baron Alexander of Weedon QC, FRSA (born Newcastle 1936— 2005) British barrister, banker and Conservative politician and peer
Frederick "Freddie" Garrity (1936 – 2006), singer, frontman and comical element in Freddie and the Dreamers, lived in the town near the end of his life.
Jackie Trent, (1940 – 2015) singer, songwriter and actress
Neil Baldwin, (born 1946) clown, former Stoke City kit-man and honorary graduate of Keele University
Kevin John Dunn, (1950 – 2008) the twelfth Roman Catholic Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle
Judith Ann Bentinck (born Newcastle-Under-Lyme 1952), wife of actor Timothy Bentinck, couture milliner
Professor Alan J Sinclair (born 1952) clinical scientist and diabetes specialist from Newcastle-under-Lyme
Dylan Waldron (born 1953) artist who works in tradition techniques such as painting in egg tempera and silverpoint
Janet Bloomfield, (1953 – 2007) peace and disarmament campaigner
Jeremy John Elton Lefroy (born 1959) Westlands councillor, now MP for Stafford since 2010.
Paul Farrelly, (born 1962) MP for Newcastle constituency and former journalist
Mark Porter (born 1962 in Newcastle-under-Lyme) consultant anaesthetist and chairman of the British Medical Association
Emma Amos, (born 1967) actress
Karen Bradley, (born 1970) MP for the Staffordshire Moorlands and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Luke Butler, (born 1971) artist
Hugh Dancy, (born 1975), actor
Sam and Amanda Marchant, (born 1988) housemates in Big Brother in 2007
Dan Croll, (born 1990) singer-songwriter
Leon Cooke, (born 1991) actor, singer and dancer
Jake Shakeshaft, (born 1995) of Joe and Jake, singer in the Eurovision Song Contest 2016
Jimmy Jones (1876 – unknown) English footballer who played for Stoke City
Dick Ray (1876 – 1952) professional footballer and manager, played for Port Vale and Manchester City
Bert Miller (1880–1953) English footballer who played for Stoke City
Archie Dyke, (1886 – 1955) footballer, played for Stoke, Port Vale, Aston Villa and Stafford Rangers
Frederick Bailey (1919 – 1985) left-handed English cricketer, born in the town.
John Jackson (1923 – 1992) English footballer who played for Stoke City
Don Ratcliffe (1934 – 2014) English footballer who played for Crewe Alexandra and Stoke City
John Lawton (born 1936) English footballer who played for Stoke City
Graham Matthews (born 1942) former footballer who played for Crewe Alexandra, Stoke City and Walsall
George Longstaff (c.1947 - 2003) British bicycle builder of tandem bicycles, tricycles and handbuilt touring bicycles. He founded the Longstaff Cycle Centre in Chesterton
Mohammed Ishaq "Mo" Chaudry (born 1960) British/Asian entrepreneur, property investor, former financial advisor, motivational speaker and fitness enthusiast.
Robbie Earle, (born 1965) former footballer, played for Port Vale and Wimbledon
Graham Shaw (born 1967) English former footballer who played for Stoke City and Preston North End
Dominic Cork, (born 1971) cricketer
Simon Wakefield, (born 1974) professional golfer
Robert Heath (born 1978) former English footballer who played for Stoke City
Peter Wilshaw, (born 1987) cricketer
Eddie Hall, (born 1988) professional strongman
Curtis Nelson (born 1993) footballer played for Plymouth Argyle F.C.