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A Study of Newbury

Towards the end of last year, I was invited to display some images of Newbury in the newly renovated Fox and Hounds pub in Donnington.

Having lived in Newbury for the last fifteen years I’ve built up quite a portfolio of the area, but there were still a few local landmarks missing. A great reason to get out with the camera and tick a few more off the list!

For the pub’s display I was asked to provide around a dozen black and white images that reflect the local sights of Newbury. Here are the ones I selected:

Newbury Racecourse

I think if you ask anyone in the UK what they picture when they think of Newbury, most would say horseracing. So I absolutely had to include the racecourse in my selection. For this image I arrived early in the morning to catch the sun rising over my right shoulder, lighting up the grandstand.

Combe Gibbet

A replica of the original gibbet that was only ever used to hang two people convicted of murder. Set on top of Gallows Down near Inkpen, it’s a popular walking spot and a great place to watch paragliders in action. For this image I used a neutral density filter to allow me to increase the exposure time and capture movement in the clouds and grass.

Highclere Castle

Highclere is the home of Lord and Lady Carnarvon, with grounds designed by Capability Brown. Made famous by the TV show Downton Abbey it’s become a huge local tourist attraction, particularly for visiting Americans. A few years ago I was lucky enough to photograph a friend’s wedding at the castle. I arrived early in the morning to find the fog still lingering, so quickly stopped the car and jumped out to take this shot. The black and white processing adds to the drama of the image.

Donnington Castle

On the outskirts of Newbury is the ruined medieval Donnington Castle, where the gatehouse survives surrounded by earthworks. It was founded in the 14th century and saw action in the English Civil War in the two Battles of Newbury. This image was taken from the far side of the castle and shows one of the gates to the site in the foreground.

The Clock Tower

At one end of Northbrook Street you’ll find this Victorian clock tower or clock house, built in 1929 on the site of an earlier clock erected for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1187.

High Street

Northbrook Street is one of the three old streets of Newbury. It is lined with shops that are being ever-modernised, but some buildings still retain their original features. These include the house once occupied by John Winchcombe, the famous ‘Jack of Newbury’, which retains its original late 16th century north gabled front. This image was taken before the pandemic on a busy market day.

St Nicholas Church

The first mention of a church at this site was in a grant from William the Conqueror in 1086. The present church was rebuilt on the site of the original Norman building and is thought to have been built between 1509 and 1533. The church also features an impressive stained glass window, installed during restoration by the Victorians during the 19th century.

Snelsmore Common

Snelsmore Common is managed by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust. It is a 96-hectare site that contains a wide range of habitats including heathland, wet mires and woodland, home to some rare birdlife such as nightjars, woodlarks and tree pipits. This image shows the watch tower that was constructed to help protect the heathland from fires.

The Bridges of Newbury

With the Kennet and Avon Canal running through the centre of the town, Newbury is blessed with a number of bridges to allow people and traffic to flow to either side…

West Mills Swing Bridge

This bridge is the only means of crossing the Kennet and Avon Canal onto the residential ‘island’ from West Mills. Historically this residential area was the site of a water mill but was closed in 1972 prior to being redeveloped.

The American Bridge

The image below shows the replacement bridge built in 2001. The original American bridge was built in 1940 by the US Air Force based at Greenham Common, due to concerns that Newbury Bridge could be damaged or destroyed in an air raid. This ‘temporary’ bridge lasted until the new one was built in 2001.

Newbury Bridge

According to records there has been a bridge at this site since the 14th century. The current bridge was built between 1769 and 1772. The bridge is in fact a three arch design, but the arches either side of the main span are now hidden by the buildings either side.

What other local sights would you like to see included?

All these images are available to buy from my Shop here

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