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NEWARK ON TRENT, Nottinghamshire
by Alex Nelson Stationmaster at Chester-le-Street and nationalrail.com
Monday, 9th October 2017
NEWARK ON TRENT, Nottinghamshire
On the day before my recent visit to Newark, the Daily Express was warning of England receiving the tail end of the American hurricanes with winds of 70mph. As it turned out, it was rather a pleasant Sunday, and there was much more rain on the walk back to the car at Durham station than all day in Newark-on- Trent.
I left Durham at 0938 on a direct Virgin Trains East Coast service to London, calling at Newark Northgate station at 1117. Many people on leaving the station turn right to walk along Northgate to the town centre. It’s quicker, though, to turn left on to Appleton Gate and enter the town past the Palace Theatre. Newark was built at the crossing of the Great North Road and the Fosse Way, two Roman routes which are now the A1 and the A46. When the railways arrived, two routes again emerged: the north-south East Coast Main Line calling at Newark Northgate and the east-west Nottingham to Lincoln line calling at Newark Castle. There is no rail service between the two stations, and the lines cross at the same level on one of the few flat-bed crossings left on the mainline network. Boat trips are availabe on the River Trent.
I first visited Newark Castle itself, the ruins of which are in an attractive park opened to celebrate Queen Victoria’s 70th birthday on 24 th May 1889. There was an interesting exhibition in the North West Tower of the Castle about bad King John, who suffered dysentery after a major feast in King’s Lynn and losing his treasures when crossing the Wash. He died in the room above the Gatehouse at Newark Castle on 18th October 1216 to be succeeded by his nine year old son, Henry III, who made a much better fist of being King than he had.
Time for lunch then and I chose the Danube restaurant, two excellent courses for £15 opposite the Registry Office on Castlegate, before poking round the Newark Antiques Centre and the shops which were mostly open on the Sunday. After a coffee I moved to the National Civil War Centre which incorporates the town museum. A Royalist town which suffered three sieges and a good dose of bubonic plague, Newark was a strategically important town for the King, and the exhibits were much more interesting than suggested by some tripadvisor reviews. The small cinema played some specially filmed sequences about the Civil War and characters from Newark who had a role in it (look up the story of Hercules Clay), and there was the pleasure of seeing plaques later in the same streets featured in the film. There was also a continuing exhibition about T. E. “Lawrence of Arabia”. I wish I had allocated more time before closing at 1700.
Evensong was a joy at 1800 in the Parish Church with the combined choirs of Newark and Grantham, followed by a tasty pizza on the Castle Barge, Newark’s floating pub. Go any day you want to Newark, but I am suggesting especially Sunday 26th November 2017 when a big fireworks display celebrates the turning on of the Christmas lights. On the way home, my intended 2048 train from Newark direct to Durham (2235) was cancelled so I had to take a following Leeds service to Leeds and transfer on to a TransPennine Express train which arrived at Durham at 2237, which meant I was 62 minutes late and able to claim a full refund on my ticket under the Delay Repay arrangements. No quibble, 100% refund of the £28.60 paid.