Rugby, Warwickshire

Rugby, Warwickshire

Infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Rugby
latitude= 52.37
longitude= -1.26
population = 61,988 (2001 Census)
shire_district= Rugby
shire_county= Warwickshire
region= West Midlands
constituency_westminster= Rugby and Kenilworth
post_town= RUGBY
postcode_district = CV21, CV22, CV23
postcode_area= CV
dial_code= 01788
os_grid_reference= SP5075

static_image_caption= Rugby Market Place, looking west from Church Street

Rugby is a market town in Warwickshire, in the West Midlands of England, on the River Avon. The town has a population of 61,988(2001 census [ [ 2001 urban areas headcounts] ] ) making it the second largest town in the county. The larger borough of Rugby has a population of 91,600 (2005 estimate).

Rugby is 13 miles (21 km) east of Coventry, on the eastern edge of Warwickshire, near the borders with Northamptonshire and Leicestershire.

The town is credited with being the birthplace of rugby football.


:"Main article History of Rugby"

Early Iron age settlement existed in the Rugby area, and a few miles outside what is now Rugby, existed a Roman settlement known as "Tripontium". Rugby was originally a small Anglo-Saxon farming settlement, and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Rocheberie". Rugby obtained a charter to hold a market in 1255, and soon developed into a small country market town.

The name's likeliest origin is Anglo-Saxon "Hrōca burh" or similar = "Rook fort", where Rook may be the birds or may be a man's name. Another theory is that the name is originally derived from an old Celtic name "Droche-brig" meaning "wild hilltop". The change to -"by" is because of Viking influence: there are other place names ending in "-by" in the area ('By' meaning town in Danish language even today).

Rugby School was founded in 1567 by money left in the will of Lawrence Sheriff, a locally-born grocer, who moved to London and earned his fortune. Rugby School was originally intended as a school for local boys, but over time became a mostly fee-paying private school. The Lawrence Sheriff School was eventually founded in the late 19th century to carry on Sheriff's original intentions.

Rugby remained a sleepy country market town until the 19th century and the coming of the railways. In 1838 the London and Birmingham Railway was constructed around the town, and in 1840 the Midland Counties Railway made a junction with the London and Birmingham at Rugby. Rugby became an important railway junction, and the proliferation of rail yards and workshops attracted workers to the town. Rugby's population grew from just 2,500 in 1835, to over 10,000 by the 1880s. [ [ Rugby local history group] ]

In the 1890s and 1900s heavy engineering industries began to set up in the town, and Rugby rapidly grew into a major industrial centre. Rugby expanded rapidly in the early decades of the 20th century as workers moved into the town. By the 1940s, the population of Rugby had grown to over 40,000. [ [ Rugby local history group] ]

In the postwar years, Rugby became well served by the motorway network, with the M1 and M6 merging close to the town.

Historical claims to fame

Rugby is most famous for the invention of rugby football, which is played throughout the world. Legend has it that the game was invented by William Webb Ellis in 1823 at Rugby School, which is near the centre of Rugby.

Rugby School is one of England's oldest and most prestigious public schools, and was the setting of Thomas Hughes's semi-autobiographical masterpiece "Tom Brown's Schooldays". A substantial part of the 2004 dramatisation of the novel, starring Stephen Fry, was filmed on location at Rugby School.

Rugby is also a birthplace of the jet engine. In April 1937 Frank Whittle built the world's first prototype jet engine at the British Thomson-Houston works in Rugby, and between 1936-41 based himself at Brownsover Hall on the outskirts of the town, where he designed and developed early prototype engines. [cite web |title= The Papers of Sir Frank Whittle |url= |publisher= Janus |format= HTTP |accessdate= 2007-09-15] Much of his work was also carried out at nearby Lutterworth. Holography was also invented in Rugby by the Hungarian inventor Dennis Gabor in 1947. [ Nobel Prize Winner Denis Garbor, inventor of holography]

In the 19th century, Rugby became famous for its once hugely important railway junction which was the setting for Charles Dickens's story Mugby Junction.

Rugby today

The modern town of Rugby is an amalgamation of the original town with the former villages of Bilton, Hillmorton, Brownsover and Newbold-on-Avon which were incorporated into Rugby in 1932 when the town became a borough; [ [;jsessionid=E23CCC271601732AAC9B20DF4AA61813?u_id=10002485] ] all except Brownsover still have their former village centres. Rugby also includes the areas of New Bilton and Overslade. The spread of Rugby has nearly reached the villages of Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, Cawston, Dunchurch and Long Lawford.

The town centre is mostly Victorian and early 20th century, however a few much older buildings survive, along with some more modern developments. Rugby was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as 'Butterfieldtown' Allen, Geoff, (2000) "Warwickshire Towns & Villages", ISBN 1 85058 642 X] due to the number of buildings designed by William Butterfield in the 19th century, including much of Rugby School and the extension of St Andrews church.

Rugby town centre includes numerous restaurants of various kinds, many pubs, and a nightclub. In 2002, Brownsover Fish Bar on Hollowell Way, Brownsover, was named as the best seller of Fish and Chips in the country. [ Fish & Chip Shop of the Year Competition] The town centre is noted for its large number of pubs; in the 1960s it was recorded as having the second-highest number of pubs per square mile in England. [] The main shopping area in Rugby is in the streets around the Clock Tower, two of which - High Street and Sheep Street - are pedestrianised. The town centre has an indoor shopping centre called The Clock Towers which opened in 1980. A street market is held in the town centre several days a week. In recent years several out-of-town retail centres have opened to the north of the town. Rugby also contains several large parks, most notably Caldecott Park near the town hall. The borough council along with Warwickshire County Council currently have plans to pedestrianise North Street, a busy road through the town centre as part of the town centre's regeneration. This has proved to be very controversial, with the town's major bus operator Stagecoach in Warwickshire threatening that if the road is closed to all traffic, they will have to dramatically reduce many bus services because the main bus stops will have to be relocate further away meaning the services become less attractive to passengers. Thus meaning loss of patronage.

Politics and governance

Rugby is administered by two local authorities: Rugby Borough Council which covers Rugby and its surrounding countryside, and Warwickshire County Council. The two authorities are responsible for different aspects of local government. Rugby is an unparished area and so does not have its own town council.

In 1983 Rugby became part of the parliamentary constituency of Rugby and Kenilworth, one of the Midlands' most marginal seats. Between 1983 and 1997 Jim Pawsey was the Conservative Member of Parliament, losing in 1997 to Labour's Andy King.

At the 2005 general election Jeremy Wright regained the seat for the Conservatives.

From 1885 until 1983 Rugby was a constituency in itself. Following the recommendations of the Boundary Commission for England, Warwickshire was allocated a sixth parliamentary seat. At the next general election, the existing Rugby and Kenilworth constituency will be abolished and split in two. A new Rugby constituency will be created, and a new constituency of Kenilworth and Southam will be created to the south of Rugby, and as a result the town will regain its pre-1983 status of returning its own member of parliament. The new Rugby constituency is expected to continue to be a marginal constituency and Jeremy Wright has indicated his intention of standing for the new Kenilworth and Southam seat at the next general election.


Nearby places

*Nearby cities: Coventry, Leicester, Birmingham
*Nearby towns: Lutterworth, Daventry, Hinckley, Kenilworth, Nuneaton, Leamington Spa, Northampton, Southam


Rugby's economy is mainly industrial. It is an engineering centre and has a long history of producing gas and steam turbines at the GEC and at the AEI. The AEI was earlier British Thomson-Houston or BTH. They used to dominate employment in the town. They are now amalgamated to form Alstom. Engineering in Rugby has declined in recent years and the future of the Alstom works is uncertain, but it is still the largest private employer in Rugby. Alstom have now sold off the power conversion division of the business to become Converteam, which remains a large private employer in Rugby.Another major industry in Rugby is cement making; Rugby Cement works, on the western outskirts of the town, makes cement from the local Jurassic Lias limestone. The cement industry in Rugby dates back to the 1860s. In the 1990s the Rugby Cement works was dramatically expanded, and in 2000 other Rugby Cement plants at Southam and Rochester were closed, with all production moved to the Rugby plant, [ [] (PDF)] now one of the largest of its type in Europe.

Since the 1980s several large industrial estates have been built to the north of the town, and warehousing and distribution have become major employers.

Further afield, within the Rugby borough is the Rolls-Royce engineering works near Ansty. This is nearer to Coventry than Rugby, but is a major employer to the Rugby population.

Tourism is also important to the town's economy, especially related to Rugby football. [ Rugby BC Action on Tourism]

A link to Rugby's rural past can still be found in the cattle market held near the railway station. A cattle market has been held in Rugby since medieval times.

Rugby is to some extent a dormitory town for nearby places such as Coventry, Leicester, and Birmingham.Fact|date=February 2007.


One of the most notable landmarks around Rugby was, until August 2007, the Rugby VLF transmitter, a large radio transmitting station located just to the east of the town. The station was opened in 1926 and was used to transmit the MSF time signal. Several of the masts however were decommissioned and demolished by explosives in 2004, although a few including four of the biggest masts remained until 2007. (Firing the explosive charges was delayed by rabbits gnawing the wires). [cite web |title= Rabbits delay masts' demolition | url= | publisher= BBC News | date= 20 June 2004 | accessdate= 2007-09-15] The remaining four 'tall' masts were demolished on the afternoon of August 2 2007 with no prior publicity.

Rugby Cement works, to the west of the town, can be seen for many miles. Standing at just 115 metres high, the landmark is not a popular one—in 2005 it came in the top ten of a poll of buildings people would like to see demolished on the Channel 4 television series Demolition. [cite web |title= The dirty dozen |url= |publisher= Channel 4 |format= HTTP |accessdate= 2007-09-15] The works are also the subject of certain local controversy, as some residents believe the emissions from the works have caused health problems for local people. In October 2006, the owners of the Rugby Cement works, Cemex, were fined £400,000 for excessive pollution after a court case brought by the Environment Agency. [cite web | title= EA Court Case details | url= | publisher= Environment Agency | accessdate= 2007-09-15]

The town has statues of three famous locals: Rupert Brooke, Thomas Hughes and William Webb Ellis. The Rupert Brooke statue is situated at the forked junction of Regent Street on the green and commemorates his contribution to poetry. Since England won the Rugby World Cup, the William Webb Ellis statue outside Rugby School is one of the most visited parts of the town.St Andrew's Church, in the town centre, is Rugby's original parish church. A church has stood on the site since the 13th century. The church was extensively re-built and expanded in the 19th century, designed by William Butterfield. The expanded church included a new east tower, which has a spire 182 feet (55 metres) high. However some parts of the older medieval church were retained, most notably the 22 metre high west tower which bears strong resemblance to a castle turret. The west tower was probably built during the reign of Henry III (1216-1272) to serve a defensive as well as religious role, and is Rugby's oldest building. The church has other artefacts of medieval Rugby including the 13th-century parish chest, and a medieval font."Rugby, Aspects of the Past". Rugby Local History Group] Rugby's main Roman Catholic church is St. Maries [] on Dunchurch Road. It is one of the town's most well-known landmarks as it is quite dominant on the skyline. Its spire is the tallest in Warwickshire. The church was built in 1872, designed by Pugin in the Early English style.

Places of interest

Places of interest in the town include:
*The Rugby School Museum, which has audio-visual displays about the history of Rugby School and of the town.
*The combined art gallery and museum. The art gallery contains a nationally-recognised collection of contemporary art. The museum contains, amongst other things, Roman artefacts dug up from the nearby Roman settlement of Tripontium.
*The Rugby Football Museum, where traditional rugby balls are hand made. It contains much rugby football memorabilia.
*The commercial town centre is modest but noted for its Clinton Cards Superstore, the third largest in England and Wales.

Places of interest around Rugby include:
*Brandon Marsh
*Coombe Abbey and Coombe Country Park
*Dunchurch - Historic village
*Draycote Water - Reservoir and nature reserve
*Oxford Canal
*Rugby School
*Stanford Hall
*Ryton Organic Gardens []


Hillmorton, Overslade, Brownsover, Bilton, New Bilton, Newbold-on-Avon.


*By road, Rugby is near several major trunk routes including the M6, M1 and M45 motorways and the A45 road. Other less important main roads include the A426 road and the A428 road.Most Traffic from the industrial estates & the cement works has to travel through the town centre, this should be alleviated with the current building of a Western Relief Road, linking the A45 with the Leicester Road, that connects with the Motorway at Junction 1 of the M6.
*By rail Rugby is served by the West Coast Main Line railway, and has services to London - Birmingham and the North West of England (see Rugby railway station).
*The nearest airport to Rugby is Coventry Airport. The town also has a direct rail link to Birmingham International Airport.
*The Oxford Canal runs along the north edge of Rugby, but south of the new housing estates round Brownsover.
*Buses run to Coventry, Southam, Leamington Spa, Daventry, Banbury, Leicester and Northampton as well as serving the major estates of the town on a regular basis.


Schools in Rugby include the Lawrence Sheriff School for boys (which came 4th in the country for all schools, on 2006 GCSE results) [,,1858159,00.html Gardian league table] and Rugby High School for Girls, both of which are grammar schools. Perhaps the most renowned school is Rugby School,Fact|date=September 2008 home of rugby footbal and the top co-educational boarding school in the country.Fact|date=September 2008 There are also several comprehensive schools, including Ashlawn School (formerly Dunsmore School for Boys and Dunsmore School for Girls), Bilton School (formerly Herbert Kay & Westlands School, and Bilton High School), Avon Valley School (formerly 'Newbold School'), Bishop Wulstan School (now shut), and Harris School. Rugby is also home to a college, which is now a part of the Warwickshire College group.


*Rugby has a number of rugby union teams including; the Rugby Lions, [ Newbold] and [ Old Laurentian RFC] .
*Rugby also has a non-leaguefootball club, Rugby Town F.C., (formerly known as VS Rugby) which currently plays in the Southern League Premier Division.

Notable people

Famous or notable people born in Rugby include the poet Rupert Brooke, actor Tim Pigott-Smith and writer Rose Macaulay.

The scientist Joseph Norman Lockyer who discovered helium and founded the science journal "Nature" was born in Rugby, as was the inventor of the 'oval' football Richard Lindon.

The band Spacemen 3 and the related spin off bands from its various members Spiritualized (Jason Pierce); Spectrum (Peter Kember) Freelovebabies (Will Carruthers) arose from Rugby, as does the singer/songwriter James Morrison.

The sprinter Katharine Merry and British Judokas Neil and Christopher Adams were natives of Rugby. The former two both won Olympic medals.

Many famous people attended Rugby School, including Neville Chamberlain, Lewis Carroll, Salman Rushdie and Matthew Arnold. Arnold's father Thomas Arnold was a noted headmaster of the school.

England cricketer Ian Bell was born in Dunchurch (near Rugby) and attended Princethorpe College.

'Allo 'Allo actor Arthur Bostrom was born in Rugby and attended Lawrence Sheriff School.

Clive Mason of the programme for the deaf See Hear used to live in Rugby.

Bill Maynard (Claude Greengrass in the Heartbeat TV series) lives locally.

Ben Croshaw, better known as 'Yahtzee', a comedic video games reviewer in charge of his own Zero Punctuation segment of The Escapist was born in Rugby. He currently lives in Australia.

Twin towns

Rugby is twinned with:

* Évreux, France.
* Rüsselsheim, Germany.

ee also

*Rugby, North Dakota
*Rugby, Tennessee


Further reading

*cite book
title = Rugby, Aspects of the Past
publisher = Rugby Local History Group

*cite book
last = Timmins
first = E.W.
year = 1990
title = Rugby: A Pictorial History
id = ISBN 0-85033-700-3

*cite book
last = Elliot
first = Peter H
year = 1985
title = Rugby's Railway Heritage
id = ISBN 0-907917-06-2

*cite book
last = Rawlins
first = Eddy
coauthors = Andy Osborne
year = 1988
title = Rugby Growth Of A Town
id = ISBN 0-907917-06-2

External links

* [ The Local Newspaper
* [ The Rugby Observer] A free newspaper
* [ Yourhomepagein Rugby] Local Community Website
* [ Visit Rugby]
* [ Rugby Tourism]
* [ Rugby Borough Council]
* [ Rugby's Clock Towers Shopping Centre]
* [ Rugby Local History Group]
* [ Subterranea Britannica on Rugby Radio Station]

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