St Neots' village sign
|Area||8.12 km2 (3.14 sq mi)|
|Population||30,811 (2011 Census)|
|o Density||3,794/km2 (9,830/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|o London||49 miles (79 km) S|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||ST. NEOTS[a]|
|Ambulance||East of England|
St Neots [b] is a town and civil parish in the Huntingdonshire District of the county of Cambridgeshire, England 14 miles (23 km) west of Cambridge, to which it is linked by a near-straight arterial road and 50 miles (80 km) north of central London. It has a railway station, a minor stop, on the East Coast Main Line.[c]
It straddles the River Great Ouse and has its market place and high street on the right (east) bank in the historic, no longer ceremonial county of Huntingdonshire. It has officially taken in as suburbs long-settled parts of Bedfordshire: Eaton Socon and Eaton Ford. The latter linked by a high bridge and causeway has the town's main riverside parkland and golf course. It is the largest town in Cambridgeshire only surpassed by its two cities.[d]
The town is named after the Cornish monk Saint Neot, whose bones were subject to translation from the hamlet of St Neot on Bodmin Moor on consecration of the, now ruinous, Priory of St Neots (St Neots Priory) circa 980. Pilgrimage to the priory church and parish church brought prosperity to the settlement and it was granted a market charter in 1130. Within the compact town centre is the church of Eynesbury, covering an Anglican parish reaching more than a kilometre to the south-east.
In the 18th and 19th centuries the town enjoyed further prosperity through corn milling, brewing, stagecoach traffic and railways. After the Second World War the town and its industry were chosen for rapid growth as London councils paid for new housing to be built in the town to rehouse families from London. The first London overspill housing was completed in the early 1960s and new housing has continued at a slightly lower rate such that the population, even with the additions from Bedfordshire and their former headcounts, is approximately four times that of the 1920s.
In 2012, archaeological excavations discovered prehistoric Mesolithic, Early Neolithic era, Iron Age, Roman and Early Middle Saxon items at the new town centre cinema development. Some five years earlier, Cambridge University Archaeologists uncovered significant remains of an Iron Age settlement of Round Houses during eastern town excavations. These findings confirm settlements having existed for over 3,000 years.
Roman, Saxon and Medieval finds have also been made in and around St Neots. Early Saxon developments were in Eynesbury, Eaton Socon and Eaton Ford, which still exist as part of the town today; and Maltman's Green and Crosshall Ford which are no longer recognised.
The Anglo Saxon Chronicles record that in 917 the Danish King of East Anglia left Huntingdon to attack Saxon settlements but was defeated and killed at the Battle of Tempsford near St Neots. The Normans rebuilt the Priory near the river and, in 1113, the Priory of St Neots was given its own manor, separate from Eyenesbury, which it had previously been part of. The town formed was named St Neots and remained partially entwined with Eynesbury until approximately 1204, when the two parishes were formally separated. A castle was built in the 12th century on the riverbank at Eaton (modern Eaton Socon); the earth-mound remnants still exist today.
The parish church was rebuilt in the 15th century. It is among the minority that survive without restoration amounting to rebuilding of their bulk in England. Work of that era includes stained glass windows depicting the life of Christ.
The Great Ouse was made navigable from St Ives to Bedford, via St Neots, in 1629, increasing river-borne trade in the town.
The separate village of Eynesbury became re-incorporated into St Neots in 1876.
Recent development has added Eynesbury Manor, Love's Farm and the Island, Little Paxton bringing the population to about 40,000, which will be exceeded on completion and sale of 2,800 homes at Wintringham Park in the early 2020s. It is projected that the population of the town will be 65,000 by the end of the Huntingdonshire Local Plan period (2036).
St Neots is a civil parish the geographical form of its lowest tier of governance, town council, which consists of twenty-one elected councillors including a town mayor and a deputy town mayor, its remit is mainly cultural, celebratory, supervisory and advisory.
The second tier locally is Huntingdonshire District Council which is a non-metropolitan district of Cambridgeshire for which body of councillors the town splits into four wards, subject to re-warding which are: St Neots Eaton Ford, St Neots Eaton Socon, St Neots Eynesbury and St Neots Priory Park, each served by two councillors. The highest tier of local government is Cambridgeshire County Council. St Neots is part of two electoral divisions; Little Paxton and St Neots North; and St Neots Eaton Socon and Eynesbury, each of which is represented on the county council by two councillors.
In parliamentary elections voters contribute to the Huntingdon seat (constituency). This is represented (in the House of Commons) by Jonathan Djanogly (Con.) since 2001, succeeding Sir John Major (Con.) (1983 to 2001).
St Neots lies in the valley of the River Great Ouse, partly on the flood plain and partly on slightly higher ground a little further from the water. The Great Ouse is a mature river, once wide and shallow but now controlled by weirs and sluices and usually constrained in a well-defined channel.
Tributaries entering the Great Ouse in the town are the River Kym, Hen Brook, Duloe Brook and Colmworth Brook. The area is generally low-lying. Riverside Fields, an amenity adjacent to St Neots Bridge, remains set aside as a flood-meadow, subject to flood, protecting dwellings and commercial property from a swollen reach.
The town developed next to a key ford where roads converged. This was replaced by a medieval bridge, in turn a newer one and wider bridges to the north and south of the town take most of the traffic.
The soil is mainly light, overlying gravel beds – gravel extraction is a local industry. Older disused gravel pits are mainly converted to nature reserves and amenity areas at nearby Paxton Pits and at the Wyboston Leisure Park. Away from the river, the higher land is mainly a heavy clay soil with few large settlements. Much of the land is used for arable farming.
The climate in the United Kingdom is defined as a temperate oceanic climate, or Cfb on the Köppen climate classification system, a classification it shares with most of northwest Europe. Eastern areas of the United Kingdom, such as East Anglia, are drier, cooler, less windy and also experience the greatest daily and seasonal temperature variations. Protected from the cool onshore coastal breezes, Cambridgeshire is warm in summer and cold, usually seeing a long frosty spell, in winter.
|Climate data for St Neots, 2000-2012|
|Average high °C (°F)||8
|Average low °C (°F)||3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||27.3
|Average precipitation days||4||3||4||3||4||5||5||5||5||4||6||4||52|
|Source: World Weather Online|
From 1801-1901, the population of St Neots was recorded every ten years through the UK census. During this time, the population was in the range of 1,752 (the lowest recorded level was in 1801) and 3,321 (the highest was in 1861).
From 1901, a census was taken in the UK every ten years with the exception of 1941 due to the Second World War.
|Whole house or bungalow: Detached||3,650||27.4%|
|Whole house or bungalow: Semi-detached||3,928||29.5%|
|Whole house or bungalow: Terraced (including end-terrace)||3,595||27.0%|
|Flat, maisonette or apartment: Purpose-built block of flats or tenement||1,811||13.6%|
Most, 68.7%, of housing is owned (with/without mortgage); the next largest category is 15.9% which is socially rented, including 3.5% from the district council directly. 2.2% of the 13,306 homes had (in 2011) no usual residents.
St Neots railway station is a minor stop on the East Coast Main Line and provides half-hourly trains south to London (London King's Cross) and north to Peterborough. Journeys to London King's Cross typically range from 36 minutes to one hour. The station is managed and served by Great Northern.
A new footbridge opened in February 2014, linking Love's Farm (a neighbourhood) and Rowley Park Stadium to the station and the rest of the town, as well as providing lifts to all platforms.
There is also the Route 66, run by Stagecoach which goes into Huntingdon.
The route and location of the St Neots (Southern) Foot and Cycle Bridge.
St Neots is on Route 12 of the Sustrans national cycle route that connects Colchester and Oxford via Harwich, Felixstowe, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Sandy, Bedford and Milton Keynes.
A foot and cycle bridge across the River Great Ouse was opened in 2011, linking Eaton Socon and Eynesbury and enabling the town to enjoy the riverside park using this crossing. A public consultation on the scheme was held in 2003 with public exhibitions held in December 2008. The new bow string arch bridge has a span of 346 m (1,135 ft) (including access ramps) and includes lighting and improvements to the connecting cycle paths.
The scheme was supported by Cambridgeshire County Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and is a Sustrans Connect2 project. The bridge had an estimated construction cost of £3.5 million with Sustrans contributing an additional £700,000. The construction started in January 2011 and was completed on time and within budget during September 2011. The use of a Compulsory Purchase Order for the necessary land was approved. The route of the cycle way has connected Shakespeare Road, in Eaton Socon, to Barford Road, in Eynesbury and follows the southern boundary of St Neots Community School.
A public consultation carried out in August 2018 looked at three separate designs for a planned pedestrian/bicycle bridge and asked for residents opinions. A decision was made in November 2018 to progress with the suspension bridge option. Construction is due to start in October 2020 and estimated to take around eight to ten months.
St Neots has a semi-professional non-League football team, St Neots Town F.C., who play at Rowley Park Stadium. The club are currently members of the Southern Football League Premier Division. The town also has a rugby club St Neots RUFC, a rowing club St Neots Rowing Club, two Dragon Boat teams and a table tennis club, the St Neots Table Tennis club, which plays in both the Bedford and District Table Tennis League and the Cambridgeshire Table Tennis League. The town's Pocket Park hosts weekly parkrun and junior parkrun events.
The Rowley Arts Centre was opened in May 2014 and named Peter Rowley, an American playwright, author and critic who was Lord of the Manor of St Neots and who donated £1 million towards the development. The centre includes a six-screen cinema, a live auditorium and its neighbours include a piazza and walkway lined with restaurants.
St Neots Museum, housed in the town's Victorian Police Station and Magistrates Court, has local history collections covering the town's rich past including a display about James Toller, the Eynesbury Giant, a resident from the 18th century who measured over 8 ft in height. There is also a gallery with temporary exhibitions by local creatives including fine art, ceramics, sculpture and illustration.
Local notable music venues include the Priory Centre, and has been host to many great entertainers as well as holding productions by local amateur dramatic groups and the Pig and Falcon, which has live music every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and regular open mic nights.
The town has a community radio station which was granted an FM radio licence by Ofcom in 2015. The station has been broadcasting under the name Black Cat 107 regularly since April 2017.
There is a thriving theatre community with various active groups - Riverside Theatre Company who stage productions, run workshops and have groups for all ages; VAMPS formed in 1961 as the St Neots and District Operatic Society and stage popular musicals and variety shows; award-winning, St Neots Players, formed in the late 1920s as a play-reading group with past members who used to perform the annual Shakespeare, Pantomime and other mid-season productions at the Kings Head Hotel in the Stables Theatre; and Stageworks, a performing arts group offering classes, holiday programmes, workshops and a college offering full-time training to students aged 16 years and over that prepares students for musical theatre and acting, SJ School of Dance, Pocket Productions and Peppercorns Academy
The local creative community is served by Neotists, a Community Interest Company for creative professionals with members covering design, illustration, art, photography and IT, which commissions local creatives to collaborate on projects, run workshops and events for the community and provide opportunities and connections for professionals working in the creative industry.
Footballers John Gregory, Lee Philpott and Tim Breacker are from the town, as well as Olympic High Jump Bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz and Olympic fencer Graham Paul. Multiple World short course swimming champion Mark Foster also lives in St Neots. Rob Harris, the guitarist of the popular musical group Jamiroquai, is also from the town.  Other people from the town include actor Rula Lenska.