Two County Down towns, Newcastle and Castlewellan
: A comparative study in social geography

  • William Rooney

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The purpose of this thesis is to illustrate certain trends in urban development in Ulster in the period from 1600 to the present time as shown by two small Co. Down towns - Newcastle and Castlewellan.

Altogether there are four main points of discussion in this study. The first topic is the morphology and urban growth of towns in Northern Ireland. Secondly there is the change of functions due to changes in standards of living and in transport. These changes have affected both Newcastle and Castlewellan, but a major contrast between the two towns lies in their non-service functions, in particular, manufacturing industry, dormitory and resort. A discussion of these changes comprises the third topic. A fourth comparison will be to consider the changing social climate of Northern Ireland due to rising standards of living and to contrast the earlier socioeconomic structure of an Ulster town with its structure today. These are some of the topics that will be examined in particular.

Superficially, it would seem that Northern Ireland are steadily increasing in importance despite rural depopulation. Certainly the majority have increased in population since the 1901 Census, and in 1961 the urban population was 52.1% of the total population compared with 42% at the beginning of the century. However, size of population is in itself not a sufficient indication of vigour in urban life. It seems that people may crowd into a town even though it has insufficient jobs and relatively poor social amenities. This, at least, seems to be the case in one of the examples chosen in this study, and the town of Castlewellan seems to be simply a residential growth point. Newcastle, on the other hand, while its population is also growing, is attracting residents of a higher social class. Its functions have changed considerably and the whole character of the town has altered in the past 200 years, whereas Castlewellan has undergone little basic change except in size.
Date of Award1965
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorRonald Buchanan (Supervisor)

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