John Carr was born at Horbury, near Wakefield, Yorkshire, the eldest of nine children. Much of his early experience came from working with his father, Robert Carr, who was a prosperous mason owning two quarries. By 1755 he had established himself as Yorkshire’s up and coming architect. One of Carr’s principal patrons was the Marquis of Rockingham who introduced him to the dukes of Devonshire, Portland and Kingston. All of whom commissioned him in designing new country houses and public buildings.
Carr’s drawings were included in Vitruvius Britannicus, a reference book of plates on major architectural designs of the time.
His designs were predominantly neo-classical, in particular after the style of Andreo Palladio, a 16th century Renaissance architect.
The first stone for Newark Town Hall & Assembly Room was laid in 1773 and the building was completed in 1776 at a cost of around £17,000. Two private houses were attached on the north and south sides of the Town Hall. By the early 19th century the two town houses were incorporated into the central civic building.