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Rugby, England

Rugby is a market town in the county of Warwickshire in central England. the 2001 census recorded a population of 62,100 in the town (87,000 in the surrounding district). Rugby is located roughly 15 miles (24 km) east of Coventry. The River Avon flows through the north of the town.

Table of contents
1 Introduction
2 Rugby today
3 History
4 External Links


The town is famous for a number of reasons, most notably the invention of Rugby football which is played throughout the world. Legend has it that the game was invented by William Webb Ellis (1807-1872) in 1823 at Rugby School which is located in the centre of the town.

The school was also the setting of the Thomas Hughes semi-autobiographical masterpiece Tom Brown's Schooldays.

Rugby became famous in the 19th century due to it's once highly important railway junction (see below).

Both the scientist and astronomer Norman Lockyer (1836-1920), who discovered helium, and the wartime poet Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) were born and lived in Rugby.

Rugby is also the site of a large antenna farm, which houses an atomic clock and is most notable for broadcasting the MSF time signal.

Rugby has also played a part in the history of aviation - Frank Whittle the inventor of the jet engine, built his first prototype jet engine in Rugby in 1937, and later worked in the nearby town of Lutterworth.

Rugby today

Rugby is a bustling town. The town centre includes a reasonable selection of shops, and also contains several large parks. A street market is held in the town centre several days a week. It is rumoured (by locals at least) that Rugby town centre has the highest density of pubs in England.

Places of interest in the town, include the combined art gallery and museum, the art gallery contains a nationally recognised collection of contemporary art. The museum contains amongst other things, Roman artefacts dug up from the nearby Roman settlement of Tripontium.

There is also the Gilbert Football museum, where traditional rugby balls are hand made, and which contains much rugby football memorabillia.

Rugby's main industries include engineering, tourism, warehousing, and cement production - Rugby has one of the largest cement works in Europe, and the headquarters of the Rugby Cement company are located in the town.

Places of interest around Rugby include:

The town is near the M6, M1 and M45 motorways and is served by the West Coast Mainline railway. It is aproximately two hours away from London. the Oxford Canal also flows through the north of the town.


Early History

A settlement existed on the site of Rugby in Celtic times known as Drochebrig on the south banks of the River Avon. The river provided a natural barrier between two opposing Celtic tribes.

In Roman times, two major Roman roads were built very close to the site of modern day Rugby: the Fosse Way and Watling Street.

Just outside modern day Rugby, remains have been found of a Roman settlement called Tripontium, situated on the original Watling Street which is now known as the A5. Historians believe that the settlement was a kind of ancient service station, providing stabling and accommodation to passing Roman armies and travellers.

Rugby was mentioned as a place in the Domesday Book in the 11th century, as a small Saxon farming settlement by then called Rocheberie. Over the centuries, the name was gradually corrupted and shortened to Rokeby, and eventually to Rugby. Rugby remained a small village of little significance for centuries.

Located at a meeting point of several trackways to Leicester, Northampton and Coventry, Rugby was in a convenient position for trade, and obtained a market charter in the 13th century.

Of the most significant events in the town's history. In 1567 Rugby School was founded by Lawrence Sheriff, a localy born grocer to Queen Elizabeth I, who left money in his will for the founding of a school in Rugby for local boys.

In the heyday of the stagecoach in the 18th century the nearby village of Dunchurch (which is now part of Rugby) was a major road junction and had many stables and Inns for travellers, situated on the main coaching road from London to Holyhead. Dunchurch was for a long time more important than Rugby.

In the 1770s, The Oxford Canal was built around the edges of Rugby, although it didn't pass near the town centre.

19th century development

Rugby really came into its own in the 19th century. Rugby School rose to national prominence in the 1820s under the headmastership of Dr Thomas Arnold, due to his teaching methods, Public School education in England underwent radical change. Most of the present school buildings date from this period.

Rugby developed rapidly with the coming of the railways. In the 1830s The London and Birmingham Railway, which was an early part of what later became the West Coast Mainline, was built through Rugby, which at the time was a small town with a population of around 2,500.

In the 1840s Rugby was chosen, as the point at which the Midland Counties Railway, which linked the East Midlands, and North East England, would form a junction to the London and Birmingham railway.

Immediately Rugby became the busiest and most important railway junction in Britain. It became even more important, when a railway line which linked to the north west of England, also formed a junction at Rugby. A number of other less important railways were also built into the town.

For 25 years Rugby was the most important railway junction in the country, with nearly all rail traffic between London, the Midlands, the north of England, Scotland, and north Wales passing through Rugby junction.

By the 1860s the railway through Rugby had become extremely congested, so much so, that it was not uncommon for trains to queue for hours to pass through Rugby, a situation which caused much anger and frustration amongst travelers, for whom Rugby became a byword for delays and frustration. Charles Dickens lampooned it in his short story Mugby Junction (1866).

In order to relieve this congestion a new line, now called the Midland Main Line, with a more direct route to London was built, avoiding Rugby. Much traffic was diverted onto the new line and Rugby's importance as a railway junction, although still important, was much diminished.

Rugby grew rapidly as a railway town with its population reaching 10,000 by the 1870s, with the railways employing most of the population. Due to its transport links, many engineering and manufacturing industries located in Rugby, the cement industry also began.

20th century

In the 20th century the population continued to grow reaching 40,000 by the 1930s. Rugby became a borough in 1932.

In the late 1930s the inventor of the jet engine Frank Whittle (1907-1996) worked at the British Thomson-Houston works in Rugby, and prototypes were built in Rugby of some of the world's first Turbojet engines. Some of his work was later carried out in the nearby town of Lutterworth.

In the postwar years Rugby became a centre of the national motorway network. Two of Britain's most important motorways, the M1 and M6 and also the M45, run close to the town.

At the same time several of the railway lines which radiated from Rugby were closed as part of the Beeching axe including the once hugely important Midland Counties Railway in 1961. As of 2003, only the West Coast Mainline still serves the town.

In the postwar years, Rugby gained a substantial Afro-Caribbean community, and a sizeable community from the Indian sub-continent making Rugby a multi-cultural town.

External Links

There are several places in the USA called Rugby. see, Rugby, North Dakota, Rugby, Tennessee.