St Neots

Missing image
St Neots Market Square
St Neots is a town of about 28,000 people on the River Great Ouse, the largest town in Cambridgeshire, England (Cambridge itself is a city). It is named after the Saxon monk St Neot whose bones were housed in the nearby priory of the same name.

The pilgrim trade brought prosperity for the town, and it was granted a market charter in 1130. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the town enjoyed further prosperity through corn milling, brewing, stagecoaching, and railways.

Today, St Neots is a thriving market town. The modern town incorporates Eynesbury (originally the main settlement and the oldest part of the town) and two areas across the river, Eaton Ford and Eaton Socon (originally separate villages). The town continues to grow rapidly, taking its share of the increasing population in the area near Cambridge. Technology-based industries now operate from some of the town's light industrial estates, and there is a gas turbine power station at Little Barford on the edge of the town.


Local geography

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St Neots lies close to the south-western edge of Huntingdonshire district and is situated 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 restrained in a well-defined channel. Tributaries entering the Ouse in the town are the River Kym, Hen Brook, Duloe Brook, and Colmworth Brook.

St Neots developed at the site of a ford where overland routes converged. This was replaced by a medieval bridge, and today there are two further crossings just outside the town, one to the north and another to the south.

The soil is mainly light, overlying gravel beds, and gravel extraction is one of the local industries. Older disused gravel pits form useful 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.

St Neots is close to Cambridge, Bedford and Peterborough. The A1 links the town by road with London to the south and Peterborough to the north while the nearby A14 provides access to the Midlands and East Anglia. There is also a good rail service from Peterborough via St Neots to London.


Although Roman and even pre-Roman finds have been made in and around St Neots, there was no significant settlement until Saxon times. Early developments were in Eynesbury, Eaton Socon and Eaton Ford.

The Normans rebuilt the Priory near the river and the town of St Neots grew up against its southern wall.

Main article: History of St Neots

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