Knighton, Powys

Knighton, Powys

Infobox UK place
latitude= 52.344
longitude= -3.049
country= Wales
official_name= Knighton
unitary_wales= Powys
lieutenancy_wales= Powys
constituency_westminster= Brecon & Radnorshire
post_town= KNIGHTON
postcode_area= LD
postcode_district= LD7
dial_code= 01547
os_grid_reference= SO285725
population= 3,901

Knighton (pronEng|/naɪtɒn/) (Welsh: "Trefyclawdd" or "Trefyclo") is a small town situated chiefly in Powys, Wales. Lying on the River Teme, the town straddles the English-Welsh border; Knighton railway station, as well as a small part of the town's built-up area, lie in Shropshire, England.


The name Knighton probably derives from the Old English words "cniht" and "tūn" meaning, respectively, ". . . a soldier, personal follower, young man, servant, thane, freeman" and ". . . farm, settlement, homestead". This implies that the settlement was perhaps founded as the result of a grant of land to freemen [cite web | author= ||url=
accessdaymonth=11 March| accessyear=2008
] . By contrast the Welsh name ("Tref-y-Clawdd") is more straightforward and translates simply as the town on the dyke. [cite web | author= | title=InterTran|url=
accessdaymonth=11 March| accessyear=2008
Inhabitants are "Knightonians" or merely ". . . from Knighton".
Inevitably, Knighton's earliest history is obscure but there are local clues: Caer Caradoc (an Iron Age hillfort associated with Caradoc or Caractacus) is convert|2|mi|km|0 away and just off the road towards Clun. [cite web | author=| title= The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] Watling Street, a Roman road, passes a few miles to the east at Leintwardine. Knighton is known for a well preserved section of Offa's Dyke. [cite web | author= William Camden | title=Chorographicall Description of the most flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland (London, 1610)|url=
accessdaymonth=19 February| accessyear=2007
] . Intriguingly, Wat's Dyke also runs parallel to Offa's Dyke and a few miles to the east. An earthwork that runs north-south along the English/Welsh border from Basingwerk near Holywell to Oswestry. [cite web | author= | title=InfoPlease|url=
accessdaymonth=11 March| accessyear=2008
] The dykes aside, two Norman castles, constructed in the 12th century, are the oldest survivals in modern Knightoncite web | author= | title=Knighton On Line|url=
accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007
] The town became a borough in 1203, with a charter permitting a weekly market and annual fair.cite web | author= | title= Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust|url= | accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] The castle was besieged by Owain Glyndŵr in 1402 and the castle and much of the town were destroyed. [cite web | author= Christopher Catling, Ronnie Catling| title= Glyndwr's Way: A Welsh National Trail |url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] The major battle of the rebellion was fought at Pilleth (Welsh: Bryn Glas) convert|3|mi|km|0 south of the town in the same year.

The town’s church dates from the 11th century, but much of it was rebuilt in the 19th century. It is one of only two in Wales dedicated to St Edward; the patron saint of England before St George.. This dedication to an English saint is a symptom of a dual English/Welsh nature of the town that was not legally resolved until 1535 when Knighton was finally confirmed as part of Wales by the Acts of Union.

Knighton first prospered as a centre of the wool trade in the 15th century, and was later an important point on the two drover routes from Montgomery to Hereford, and from London to Aberystwyth. Otherwise, Knighton was remote from the centres of commerce. It seemed likely that the railway revolution would also fail to reach the town; the 1840s and 1850s saw considerable railway building right across Great Britain but Radnorshire had a small population and little industry. The construction of the railway was made economically viable - just - by an entrepreneurial drive to connect the Mumbles and Milford Haven with the cities and factories of the industrial Midlands. [cite web | author= | title=Powys Digital History Project|url=
accessdaymonth=11 March| accessyear=2008
] The Knighton Railway company was formed by local landowners and businessmen to build a line from Craven Arms to the town. [cite web | author= | title=Seal of the Knighton Railway company|url=
20 November| accessyear=2007
] cite web | author= | title=Powys County Council - transport in Knighton and district|url=| accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007 ] Work began in August 1858 and the line reached Knighton in March 1861. The station itself was built in 1865.To mark the accession of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 the initials "ER" were planted out in deciduous trees within an evergreen forest on the hill to the north of the town. [cite web | author= | title=Go2 Shropshire|url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007 ]

In August 1970, Knighton hosted a rock festival with bands such as, The Move and the somewhat more obscure Pete Brown & Piblokto, Roger Bunn, Forever More, Clark-Hutchinson, James Litherland’s Brotherhood (James was originally part of Colosseum) and Killing Floor. Comperes were radio DJ Pete Drummond and local resident and bluesman Alexis Korner, who also performed. [cite web | author= | title=Marmalade Skies - original poster of the Knighton Concert|url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007]


After the Acts of Union, Knighton was for nearly 450 years part of the traditional County of Radnorshire. In common with many ancient counties it ceased to exist in 1974 and was subsumed in the county of Powys [cite web | author= | title=Cyngor Sir Powys County Council |url=| accessdaymonth=7 July| accessyear=2008] .

The town council of 13 councillors elects a largely ceremonial mayor. [cite web | author= | title=Knighton Town Council |url=| accessdaymonth=23 January| accessyear=2008] The mayor for 2008 is Ken Fincham. [cite web | author= | title=Knighton Town Council |url=| accessdaymonth=23 January| accessyear=2008] Real municipal authority lies with Powys County Council. Above the county council, the National Assembly for Wales forms the next tier of government.

Knighton falls within the Westminster constituency of Brecon & Radnor and the current MP is Roger Williams - a Welsh Liberal Democrat. The Principality forms one large Wales European Parliamentary constituency. It is part of the National Assembly for Wales constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire and represented by Kirsty Williams AM; she is also a Welsh Liberal Democrat. The town returns a single councillor to Powys County Council; currently Mr K Harris(2008).

Knighton has a fire station served by a part-time crew and part of the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service. Knighton’s police station is also part-time; the local force is Dyfed-Powys Police.

Knighton has a hospital on Ffrydd Road on the site of and using some of the former buildings of the Workhouse. It has maternity facilities but no accident and emergency capacity. Primary care is provided by two GP practices and a pharmacy. [cite web | author= |title=BBC Wales microsite |url=| accessdaymonth=23 January|accessyear=2008]
Social housing is largely provided by two housing associations; one based in Wales (Mid Wales Housing Association) and another in England (South Shropshire Housing Association). [cite web | author= | title=Welsh Audit Office Report on Mid-Wales HA Wales|url=
accessdaymonth=01 February| accessyear=2008|format=PDF
] [cite web | author= | title=South Shropshire HA |url=
accessdaymonth=01 February| accessyear=2008


Dry statistics that confirm Knighton's slow growth since the early nineteenth century. The 2001 Census provides a snapshot of Knighton today and allows comparisons with the county and principality as a whole. [cite web | author= | title=Welsh Language Board |url=| accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007] Knightononians are not as "Welsh" as the rest of the Principality. It is also more homogenous and ill-educated yet enjoys higher rates of employment. [cite web | author= | title=Neighbourhood Statistics |url=| accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007]



On the last Saturday in August the town holds its annual Carnival and Show, which attracts thousands of visitors to the town from all over the world. [cite web | author= | title=BBC – comments on the carnival Project|url=
accessdaymonth=11 March| accessyear=2008
] It features two parades one at midday and another at around 8 pm; these consist of various themed carnival floats and people dressed in fancy dress. The show takes place at the town's showground at Bryn-y-Castell; also home to Knighton Town F.C., Knighton Cricket Club and Knighton Hockey Club.

Within the town are the visible remains of two early castle mottes. [cite web | author= | title=Castle Wales |url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007] One at Bryn-y-Castell and the other hidden behind the fire station and in a private garden. [cite web | author= | title=Castle Wales |url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007]

Just outside Knighton and visible for many miles, is an observatory with a telescope, Europe's largest camera obscura and a planetarium. The observatory is part of the Spaceguard UK [cite web | author= | title=SpaceGuard UK|url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007] project which searches for asteroids that might threaten the earth.

The Clock Towerndash similar to those in Rhayader, Hay on Wye and Machynllethndash built in 1872 is a central landmark [cite web | author= | title=BBC News - mid Wales|url= | accessdaymonth=02 February| accessyear=2008] [cite web | author= | title=Knighton On Line|url=
accessdaymonth=19 February| accessyear=2007
] and visible in the picture above.

Knighton is at the centre or the start of 2 National Trails; Glyndwr's Way and Offa's Dyke Path. The Offa's Dyke Association has a visitors' centre in the town alongside the site of the ceremony at which John Hunt, Baron Hunt of Llanfair Waterdine inaugurated the long distance footpath in 1971. [cite web | author= | title=Offa's Dyke Association|url=| accessdaymonth=17 December| accessyear=2007] It is a walk recommended by the "Daily Telegraph". [cite web | author= | title=Daily Telegraph|url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007] A further trailndash the Jack Mytton Wayndash passes nearby and yet anotherndash Wat's Dyke Wayndash is proposed. [cite web | author= | title=BBC Website|url= | accessdaymonth=17 December| accessyear=2007]

Cultural References

Knighton has served as a location for two major films. First, "Gone to Earth" (released 1950) and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger used the nearby location of | accessyear=2007] .

The Oscar winning actress Julie Christie lived nearby in the 1970s. [cite web | author= | title=the Guardian - ". . . lived in rural Wales"|url=,,2047296,00.html | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007] The less notable actor Richard Thorp, best known as the tubby publican Alan Turner in Emmerdale, lives at Skyborry. [cite web | author= | title=Hereford Times|url= | accessdaymonth=17 December| accessyear=2007]

Knighton is mentioned in A Shropshire Lad by A E Houseman: [cite web | author= | title=Teme Valley|url= | accessdaymonth=18 February| accessyear=2008] cquote|We still had sorrows to lighten,
One could not always be glad,
And lads knew trouble at Knighton,
When I was a Knighton lad
Of perhaps less literary note, Guy N Smith's book The "Knighton Vampires" is based locally. [cite web | author= | title=Fantastic Fiction|url= | accessdaymonth=18 February| accessyear=2008]
The musician, songwriter, historian, and broadcaster Alexis Korner also lived nearby in the 1970s. Finally, the writer Roy Kerridge often stayed in the town because it was cheap. [cite web | author= | title=Daily Telegraph|url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007]


In common with many small towns, Knighton has rugby, cricket [cite web | author= | title=Knighton CC|url=| accessdaymonth=31 Jul | accessyear=2008] , football and hockey teams. [cite web | author= | title=BBC Website |url=| accessdaymonth=23 January| accessyear=2008] [cite web | author= | title=Powys County Council, Hockey|url=| accessdaymonth=01 February| accessyear=2008] It also has a 9-hole Golf course established in 1906, and designed by Harry Vardon. [cite web | author= | title=Knighton GC|url=| accessdaymonth=01 February| accessyear=2008|format=PDF] [cite web | author= | title=Knighton GC website|url=| accessdaymonth=01 February| accessyear=2008]

The football club plays in the Mid Wales League and Aspidistra Radnorshire Cup. The footballer Arthur Rowleyndash brother of England international Jackndash managed the town's football team. [cite web | author= | title=Daily Telegraph - Obituary|url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007]
For recreational sportsmen and women a swimming pool and leisure centre are available. [cite web | author= | title=Knighton GC|url=| accessdaymonth=01 Feb | accessyear=2008] [cite web | author= | title=Powys County Council - Leisure Centre|url=| accessdaymonth=01 February| accessyear=2008]

Notable residents

Knighton has failed to generate many indigenous people of real historic note but many, such as Julie Christie, have been seduced by its rural charm. The famous few include the saxophonist and composer Dick Heckstall-Smith, who was raised near the town. [cite web | author= | title=Daily Telegraph |url=| accessdaymonth=20 November | accessyear=2007] Also, Commodore Paul Webb, one of three Spitfire pilots who took part in the shooting down of the first German aircraft attacking a target on British soil during World War II. [cite web | author= | title=Daily Telegraph - Obituary |url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007] Emma Watkins, wife of David Manners, 11th Duke of Rutland and chatelaine of Belvoir Castle, was born and raised locally. Finally, Sir Simon Gourlay former President of the NFU farms locally. [cite web | author= | title=Radnorshire Planning - including address of Sir Simon Gourlay | url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007] [cite web | author= | title=Better Regulation Taskforce - Bio of Sir Simon Gourlay |url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007|format=PDF]


The town has a variety of shops serving a large rural hinterland and employing 18% of the active population andndash after manufacturing (18.81%)ndash the largest single employment sector. [cite web | author= | title=Powys County Council |url=| accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007|format=PDF] Otherwise, and in common with many small towns, Knighton has little industry. [cite web | author= | title= Applegate - list of Knighton employers |url= | accessdaymonth=20 November|accessyear=2007] Most young people leave after completing their education. Tourism is crucial and, consequently, the area was hit hard by the Foot and Mouth epidemic of 2001. [cite web | author= | title=BBC - Knighton minisite|url= | accessdaymonth=20 November|accessyear=2007]
Although wages are low (e.g. 20%+ of homes have no car) Knighton has an unemployment rate (2001) of just 2.88%.
Responsibility for economic development lies with the Welsh Assembly Government.Knighton remoteness makes it an unilikely choice for the commuter and, consequently, the majority of the working population (69.45% in 2001) work within a convert|12|mi|km|0 Travel to Work Area. [cite web | author= | title=National Statistics|url=
accessdaymonth=11 March| accessyear=2008


seealso|Education in Wales
Knighton has a primary school [cite web | author= | title= Primary School|url=| accessdaymonth=01 February| accessyear=2008] but for state secondary education, pupils are bussed convert|8|mi|km|0 to John Beddoes School in Presteigne. Until 1974 Knighton had a secondary modern school, on the site of the current primary school. [cite web | author= | title=Archives Network Wales|url=| accessdaymonth=01 February| accessyear=2008]
Knighton Church in Wales Primary school has 287 pupils (2002) and in the most recent Estyn inspection was graded "Good" or "Satisfactory"; the inspectors were largely positive but criticised "low expectations". [cite web | author=Lona Thomas | title=Estyn Report Wales | url= accessdaymonth=01 February| accessyear=2008]



Knighton is convert|137|mi|km|0 from the UK capital city, London; convert|86|mi|km|0 from the Welsh capital of Cardiff; and, convert|19|mi|km|0 from the county town, Llandrindod Wells. [cite web | author= | title=Google mapping|url=,PCTA:2006-16,PCTA:en&q=knighton&um=1&sa=N&tab=wl
accessdaymonth=11 March| accessyear=2008

The town is remote but is connected with the following towns and villages.

Geographic Location (8-way)
North = flagicon|ENGClun
Northeast = flagicon|ENGChapel Lawn
Northwest = flagicon|WALKnucklas
West = flagicon|WALLlangunllo
Center = Knighton, Powys
East = flagicon|ENGBucknell
South = flagicon|WALPresteigne
Southwest = flagicon|WALMonaughty
Southeast = flagicon|ENGLingen & Wigmore

Knighton is a nucleated settlement centred on the clock tower with limited ribbon development along the A roads.

Geology and geomorphology

Knighton is at coor dms|52|34|40|N|3|04|90|W|city. It is in a sparsely populated tract of mid-Wales and the English border characterised by a hilly plateau cut by narrow river-valleys with a broadly east-west axis. To the west, ground rises steeply towards Radnor Forest, and to the north, more gently, to the summit of Clun Forest. Turning east, the elevation falls gently to the Shropshire Plain. To the south of the town stands Llan Wen hill.
The town centre lies at circa 174 metres above sea level although the surrounding hills - Bailey Hill the highest - rise to 418 metres above sea level. The only major river is the River Teme.
It is difficult to improve on the words of Samuel Lewis (a mid 19th century visitor):
. . . .at the head of a deep vale sheltered on all sides by hills of lofty elevation, crowned with timber of luxuriant growth, and commanding extensive and finely varied prospects over the surrounding country
[cite web | author= Samuel Lewis | title=Killymaenllwyd - Knighton - A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1849)|url=|accessdaymonth=19 February| accessyear=2007]
Knighton rests on Ludlovian rocks of the Silurian period and is at what was the southernmost edge of the ice-sheet during the last ice age. [cite web | author= | title=Shropshire Geology|url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007|format=PDF]


The average temperature and rainfall figures taken between 1971 and 2000 at the Met Office weather station in Shawbury, are set out in the table below. Although convert|35|mi|km|0 away, Shawbury is the nearest recording station and has a similar climate. Knighton is in the rain shadow of the Cambrian Mountains and consequently is slightly warmer and substantially drier than the Wales average. [ Met Office average weather statistics for Wales 1971 to 2000] ] Infobox Weather
location =Shawbury Weather Station, Shawbury, Shropshire, England
Jan_Hi_°C = 6.5 |Jan_REC_Hi_°C =
Feb_Hi_°C = 6.6 |Feb_REC_Hi_°C =
Mar_Hi_°C = 9.2 |Mar_REC_Hi_°C =
Apr_Hi_°C =11.9 |Apr_REC_Hi_°C =
May_Hi_°C =15.5 |May_REC_Hi_°C =
Jun_Hi_°C =18.5 |Jun_REC_Hi_°C =
Jul_Hi_°C =20.3 |Jul_REC_Hi_°C =
Aug_Hi_°C =20.0 |Aug_REC_Hi_°C =
Sep_Hi_°C =17.5 |Sep_REC_Hi_°C =
Oct_Hi_°C =13.9 |Oct_REC_Hi_°C =
Nov_Hi_°C =9.4 |Nov_REC_Hi_°C =
Dec_Hi_°C =7.3 |Dec_REC_Hi_°C =
Year_Hi_°C =13.1 |Year_REC_Hi_°C =
Jan_Lo_°C =0.3 |Jan_REC_Lo_°C =
Feb_Lo_°C =0.2 |Feb_REC_Lo_°C =
Mar_Lo_°C = 1.5 |Mar_REC_Lo_°C =
Apr_Lo_°C = 3.1 |Apr_REC_Lo_°C =
May_Lo_°C = 6.0 |May_REC_Lo_°C =
Jun_Lo_°C =8.9 |Jun_REC_Lo_°C =
Jul_Lo_°C =10.9 |Jul_REC_Lo_°C =
Aug_Lo_°C =10.6 |Aug_REC_Lo_°C =
Sep_Lo_°C =8.6 |Sep_REC_Lo_°C =
Oct_Lo_°C = 6.1 |Oct_REC_Lo_°C =
Nov_Lo_°C =2.6 |Nov_REC_Lo_°C =
Dec_Lo_°C =1.0 |Dec_REC_Lo_°C =
Year_Lo_°C =5.0 |Year_REC_Lo_°C =

Jan_Precip_cm = |Jan_Precip_mm = 54.8
Feb_Precip_cm = |Feb_Precip_mm = 41.9
Mar_Precip_cm = |Mar_Precip_mm = 49.3
Apr_Precip_cm = |Apr_Precip_mm = 46.9
May_Precip_cm = |May_Precip_mm = 56.5
Jun_Precip_cm = |Jun_Precip_mm = 53.9
Jul_Precip_cm = |Jul_Precip_mm = 52.9
Aug_Precip_cm = |Aug_Precip_mm = 58.2
Sep_Precip_cm = |Sep_Precip_mm = 58.0
Oct_Precip_cm = |Oct_Precip_mm = 55.8
Nov_Precip_cm = |Nov_Precip_mm = 62.0
Dec_Precip_cm = |Dec_Precip_mm = 62.9
Year_Precip_cm = |Year_Precip_mm =653.2
source =Met Officecite web
url = Met Office| title = Shawbury 1971-2000 averages | accessmonthday =Jan 9 | accessyear =2008
publisher =UK government | language =
accessdate = 2008-01-09

On 18 August 2004, fish fell from the sky in one of the most recent instances of raining animals within the United Kingdom. [cite web | author= | title=BBC - local news report|url= | accessdaymonth=20 November| accessyear=2007]


"See also": wikitravel|Powys|Knighton

Knighton is approximately convert|30|mi|km|0 west of the larger towns and cities of Shrewsbury and Hereford and at the junction of the A4113 road and the A488 road.

Local bus services are very limited and heavily subsidised [cite web | author= | title=Hereford Bus|url=| accessdaymonth=01 February| accessyear=2008] [cite web | author= | title=Sargeant Bros Bus|url=| accessdaymonth=01 February| accessyear=2008] but Knighton is fortunate to have a railway station on the Heart of Wales Line which puts the town within 4 hours of London, 2–3 hours of Cardiff and just 1 hour from Shrewsbury.

The nearest international airport is at Birmingham. Light aircraft can fly from Welshpool Airport and Shobdon Aerodrome.

The River Teme in its higher reaches is not navigable.


External links

* [ The town in Victorian times]
* [ Local Chamber of Trade]
* [ Offa's Dyke Association]
* [ BBC local page]
* [ Aerial photograph of Knighton looking West - East]
* [ Pictures of Knighton on Geograph]

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