Welcome to the Northampton Chronicle & Echo News Review of the Year 2013. A month by month look at the local news stories that shaped 2013. Use the timeline menu across above to select a month, or use the left/right arows to navigate. For more details click on the hyperlinks to view the full articles on our website, along with more photos and video content.
In January, the Chron revealed a cash machine in Northampton was to be removed after police warned it was “in too dangerous an area”.
British Telecom had converted a telephone box in Wellingborough Road, close to Abington Square, into a cashpoint. However, both the police and council officials objected to the move due to the high crime rate in the area.
The town's noisiest neighbourhoods were also revealed following a Freedom Of Information request. In the Castle Ward, there were 292 complaints made in the 12 months prior because of music, noisy neighbours and commercial noise.
The future of Northampton's beer festival was also put in doubt because of health and safety fears.
Also in January, BBC pundit Steve Bunce came under fire from Northampton School For Boys for what was described as “grossly unfair” criticisms of the school during an edition of Fighting Talk on BBC Five Live.
In February, football legend Paul Gascoigne was forced to cut short a talk at a Northampton hotel after on ten minutes. Gascoigne claimed he couldn't remember the curtailed speaking engagement which fans had paid £100 a ticket for.
Audience members said he was trembling uncontrollably and swearing while answering questions put to him by his agent.
An organised gang who stole Land Rovers to order, shipped parts across the globe and snatched high-value cars while the owners were defrosting were given sentences totalling more than 30 years at Northampton Crown Court. The gang had targeted vehicles across the county.
A pub landlord became a frontrunner in the race to exploit the national food scandal by serving up burgers made from 100 per cent horse meat.
Russell Proctor, who runs The George at Tiffield, decided to serve up the food as a “bit of a laugh” for his customers.
Heavy snow caused problems on Northamptonshire's roads in March. Also in March, a toddler was taken to hospital in a “critical condition” after been found in one of Billing Aquadrome’s lakes.
In March a father suffered burns after helping rescue his disabled son from a house fire in a Northampton estate.
A number of properties in Arbour View Court, Thorplands, were evacuated following a blaze in a two-storey house.
The Red Lion at Pattishall was seriously seriously damaged after a van smashed into the front of the Northamptonshire pub and tributes were paid to popular musician Fay Howell, formerly of Northampton, who died suddenly at the age of 25.
She was well known across the town as a member of Milton Keynes band Roses & Pirates.
The remains of a building from Northampton’s Medieval castle were found on the site of the town’s railway station in April. Archaeologists working on the site ahead of the development of a new station, found three 12th Century walls from a stone building just feet underneath the station’s car park.
An ‘outstanding’ headteacher at an academy in Northampton resigned. Philip Cantwell, who took over at Malcolm Arnold Academy when it opened in September 2010, had been the driving force behind a rapid improvement of the school in the past three years.
Also in April, two sports clubs hit out at a water company after their pitches were flooded with “millions of litres of drinking water” from one of Northampton’s largest high pressure pipes.
The sports fields off Rushmere Road, used by Bold Dragoon Cricket Club and Northampton Old Scouts Rugby Club, were flooded after an underground pipe burst in nearby Tanfield Lane.
Meanwhile, historic Northampton ice cream manufacturer Gallone's announced plans for a dedicated ice cream parlour in the town.
May was a double disappointment for Sport fans. Saints went down to a 37-17 defeat to Leicester Tigers at Twickenham in the final of the Premiership. In the final seconds of the first half, Saints captain Dylan Hartley was sent off for using offensive language.
Football fans also endured an agonising day out at Wembley when Cobblers lost 3-0 in the final of the League Two Play-off final. Cobblers had more than 22,000 fans at the game against Bradford.
Also in May, the Conservatives retained control of Northamptonshire County Council following elections. The final results saw them take 36 seats compared to Labour who took 11, Liberal Democrats who took six, UKIP who took three and Independents who took one.
McDonalds revealed plans in May to convert one of its Northampton takeaways into a ‘dual-carriageway’ to cope with demand. The fast-food chain submitted plans to create an extra drive-thru lane at its 24-hour outlet at the Weston Favell Centre.
It was also announced The Disney Store in Northampton’s Grosvenor Centre would close. The store had been in the town for more than a decade.
In June, the University of Northampton unveiled plans for its new £330 million campus in the town centre. The university is planning to move out of its current sites in St George’s Avenue and Boughton Green Road to a 55-acre site in Nunn Mills Road, within the Waterside Enterprise Zone.
White & Bishop, a name synonymous with shopping in Northampton, revealed plans to close its Bridge Street store after 83 years in the town. The outdoor goods retailer took the decision to concentrate on its growing online business. The store was first opened by Walter White in 1930, supplying country and work wear to the farmers of the county.
Councillor Beverley Mennell expressed her fury at a homeless family from Northampton which had been left to live behind a disused toilet in a public car park. Bronwyn Chambers, aged 63, and her 33-year-old son, Acerelle had been living in the car park next to Northampton Crown Court since being forced out of their council house in March.
Nationwide announced plans which could see the firm move its Northampton head office from Moulton Park closer to the town centre. The company said it was exploring two possible multi-million-pound development plans which, one of which could see the firm’s current Moulton Park site redeveloped, while the second would see the company move into Northampton’s Enterprise Zone. Meanwhile, Northampton’s new Errol Flynn Filmhouse, named after the Hollywood legend who spent his early acting career with the Northampton Repertory Company, opened.
In July, thousands of people headed to Delapre Park in Northampton for the inaugural Alive At Delapre festival. Bands including Paul Weller, The Wanted and James Morrison played over three days.
Northampton Town and Coventry City signed an agreement to allow the Sky Blues play their home games at Sixfields for the next three seasons. Coventry’s owners, the Otium Entertainment Group were looking for a venue after failing to agree a deal with the owners of the Ricoh Arena.
In more football news, a deal was struck between the Cobblers and Northampton Borough Council which would see the authority loan the football club up to £12m for the redevelopment of the Sixfields Stadium. The deal will lead to the stadium’s east and west stand being redeveloped by August 2014 - ending years of frustration about delays in the development scheme, which was first announced in 2005.
The First Bus company revealed it was in talks to withdraw all its services from Northampton while Phipps brewery – a name associated with Northampton for generations – announced plants to restore an empty brewery building and bring the company back to the town.
In August, the Steelbacks claimed their first major trophy in more than two decades when the side lifted the Friends Life T20 trophy at Edgbaston, in Birmingham. The side also clinched promotion to Division One of the County Championship the month later after rivals Essex failed to pick up enough bonus points to overtake them.
Work started on Northampton's new £20m railway station. At twice the size of the present station, the 2,500 sqm building will offer more capacity and improved facilities, including bigger and better shops, cafés and waiting areas.
A Northampton nightclub had its licence stripped in August after bouncers were seen punching, kicking and spitting at revellers. Northamptonshire Police had raised “grave concerns” over the management of Lost, in St Peter’s Square, Northampton.
They heard 19 incidents were reported in a six month period including allegations of bouncers punching male and female revellers in the face, spitting repeatedly at a woman after goading her, and kicking a woman in the stomach.
The same month, Northamptonshire's first transgender landlady took over a popular village pub, eight years after the father-of-two started a new life as a woman. The 44-year-old, who was born Stuart Fitzhugh, is believed to be Northamptonshire’s first transgender landlady.
Gin drinkers were rejoicing in August when plans were revealed to transform the former Chanse Leathergoods shop in St Giles Street into a gin parlour.
September was dominated by the worldwide internet sensation which was the Northampton Clown. Mysterious spottings around the town sparked a web frenzy across the world. Chron reporter Callum Jones led the coverage and got in contact with the clown for a worldwide exclusive interview.
Callum subsequently appeared on TV stations across the world as rival media organisations raced to Northampton to cover the story. In his exclusive interview, the Clown said he could understand why people had been “extremely frightened” by him but he insisted his exploits were intended in good humour.
Also in September, ska legends Madness played at the County Ground in Northampton while a woman from Northampton had a lucky escape after she spotted Britain’s most venomous spider on her pillow shortly before she got into bed. Despite having a fear of spiders, Donna Bradbury, aged 31, grabbed an empty bottle and scooped up the spider inside it.
In other new, a historic pub in Northampton was renamed because of the “stigma” attached to the old name. The Fish Inn became Tommy Flynn’s. Work also started on the demolition of an entire row of houses in Tanner Street in Northampton. After the houses were demolished, work began on removing the adjacent business and gas holders.
In October, police launched a murder investigation after 26-year-old Jamie McMahon was found dead in St Giles churchyard in Northampton.
Mr McMahon, who had been on a night out with friends, was the victim of a violent attack. Police retraced mr McMahon's steps and people were later arrested and charged with his murder.
Also in October, James Bond legend Sir Roger Moore stopped for lunch at a countryside pub in Northamptonshire. Sir Roger, aged 86, who played 007 in seven films, including Octopussy and The Man With The Golden Gun, popped in for lunch at The Red Lion, in East Haddon where where he posed for pictures with staff and had a tour of the pub.
After reports of venomous spiders in Northamptonshire earlier in the year, a woman from Duston came forward claiming she had been bitten by the false widow. She managed to catch the spider in a glass and later released it.
In November Quadruple murderer Anxiang Du was sentenced to spend at least 40 years in jail for the murder of the Ding family at their home in Pioneer Close, Simpson Manor in 2011
The Chron also revealed a couple from Northampton could face trial because of a child’s playhouse they built in their back garden.
The controversial structure in Horton was dismantled and rebuilt differently, but councillors said it still broke planning laws.
Unisex toilets were installed at Moulton School in Northampton as a way of preventing bullying and vandalism and a shanty town which was created on the site of Northampton’s former power station by Eastern European warehouse workers was demolished by bailiffs.
A jury found Adam Kightley, aged 24, and Jacqueline Parker, aged 21, guilty of causing or allowing the death of their baby son in Northampton.
In Wootton, a new Waitrose supermarket opened and former BBC presenter Ray Gosling, from Northampton, who falsely claimed to have killed his dying partner, died.
In December, the House of Fraser announced it was leaving the Grosvenor Centre after talks with Legal & General to extend its lease failed. Primark and Next will move in to the vacant space over the next 18 months.
Meteorologists revealed a gust of wind measuring 67mph was recorded in the town as the strongest gale to blow through Northampton in more than a decade caused traffic headaches.
Five nurses were found guilty by a misconduct panel of neglect at a Northampton care home where pensioners lived on porridge and had pressure sores so deep their bones were exposed.
A major fire also destroyed the Red Hot World Buffet restaurant at Sixfields in Northampton.