We Love Nuneaton!
We love Nuneaton, not least as it is bursting with cool, quirky and interesting facts.
Its main claim to fame is that author Mary Ann Evans, better known by her pen name of George Eliot, was born on a farm on the Arbury Estate just outside Nuneaton in 1819 and lived in the town for much of her early life. Many of her novels including Scenes of Clerical Life, depict or feature Nuneaton within the story.
There is a hospital named after her, The George Eliot Hospital, and a statue of her in the town centre.
However, long before George Eliot, Nuneaton was originally an Anglo-Saxon settlement known as Etone or Eaton which translates literally as “settlement by water” referring to the River Anker. It was listed in the Domesday Book as a small farming settlement with a population of around 150. Nowadays it is deemed to be the largest town in Warwickshire with more than 90,000 residents!
In the early 12th century the settlement came under the control of the Beaumont family. Around 1155 Robert de Beaumont granted his manor of Etone to the French Abbey of Fontevraud, who established what became knowns as Nuneaton Priory and then led to Etone becoming known as Nuneaton. Although the nunnery was closed in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, part of the Abbey church was rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Around 1160 the town was granted a market charter which allowed it to develop into a market town and become a focal point for local villages.
In the mid-17th century a silk ribbon weaving industry became established in the area and which was enhanced by the arrival of French Huguenot immigrants in the latter part of the century. The industry operated as a cottage industry, with the weavers working from top-shops, a type of building which was specific to the local area and had living space in the two lower floors with a workshop with very large windows on the top floor. It flourished for nearly 200 years but by the early 19th century ribbon weaving was struggling to compete with the factory produced textiles.
We love that Nuneaton’s industries are nothing if not diverse and as well as ribbon weaving, included coal mining, which began to develop on a large scale with the start of the industrial revolution, brick and tile making, brewing and the production of hats and leather goods.
As well as its diverse industrial heritage, we love the sportiness of Nuneaton. It has two non-league football teams, three rugby union clubs and a Bowling Club.
It also boasts the largest carnival in Warwickshire, three leisure centres, a museum and art gallery and the Abbey Theatre which hosts a wide variety of performances including visiting opera and ballet companies, touring shows, musicals, panto and drama. Actor Paul Bradley, director Ken Loach, entertainer Larry Grayson and footballer Trevor Peake were all born in Nuneaton.
Finally, we love that the Roanne Fountain which sits in the middle of a roundabout in the town centre features 385 spraying arms and sprays out 50,000 gallons of water per hour. In 2016 it was voted UK Roundabout of the Year by the Roundabout Appreciation Society!