The largest town in the county of Powys (12,800), Newtown's origin as a market town was in 1279, when King Edward I granted a charter to hold a market on Tuesdays and a street market is still held on that day.
The previous administrative centre had been the Prince of Wales' Dolforwyn Castle, near Abermule, which was besieged by the King. The town grew in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries around the textile and flannel industry; Newtown has a Textile Museum and the Pryce Jones Royal Welsh Warehouse near to the railway station sold flannel by post, the world's first mail order firm.
In the house where the 19th century social reformer was born is the Robert Owen Memorial Museum and WH Smith have a small museum over their shop in the High Street. The Oriel Davies Gallery is the largest and most significant visual arts venue in the region and a key gallery of Wales, showing groundbreaking national and international contemporary art and craft.
Theatr Hafren is one of the most popular theatres in Mid Wales and facilities at the Maldwyn Sports Centre include a swimming pool, squash courts and a fitness suite.