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Warrington - A Town of Many Industries

mywarrington - created by Gordon I Gandy



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If history repeats itself, why are there never any re-runs of the six o'clock news?

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This page last updated Thursday, 16 January 2014
'History is the memory of things said and done'. - Carl L. Becker

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The Boteler Household

See Timeline page for a chronological list of events from Warrington's past.

Veratinum, Woeringtun, Walintune, Werynton, Weryngton, Wherington, Werinton, Warington

Don't panic Mister Mainwaring, my computer hasn't flipped! These are simply old variant spellings of Warrington.

Warrington is an industrial town in the north west of England with a population of 202,228 (2011 Census, 191,084 in the 2001 Census). It is situated on the River Mersey mid-way between Liverpool and Manchester. Its historical setting is in the county of Lancashire, but administrative changes by the government in 1974 meant that Warrington came under Cheshire County Council. Warrington became a Unitary Authority on 1 April, 1998. But the boundaries themselves haven't changed. The town is still in Lancashire. So although I was born in Lancashire in the 1960s, and haven't moved out of town, my mailing address is now Cheshire!

The name Warrington comes from the word "werid" meaning ford, "ford town", the town on the ford.* The Romans called their settlement at Wilderspool Veratinum when they moved to the area in  about AD 79, although there is no absolute evidence for this name. They left in about AD 410. The Anglo-Saxons moved in after the Romans. The town is called WALINTUNE in the Domesday Survey of 1086. Mark Olly in his book, Celtic Warrington and Other Mysteries (Book 2) (Churnet Valley Books) says that Walintune is made up of three Old English words:

WALH, WEALD OR WAL(L) - "Welshman, Briton, foreigner, serf or slave"
IEG or EG - "Island, peninsula, dry area in a fen, well-watered land"
TUNE or TUN - "enclosure, enclosed dwelling, farmstead, hamlet, village, estate and manor".

But there are also other theories on the Warrington name.

"Waer" is the personal name of a local ruler or chieftain, combined with "tun" a homestead or settlement. This then gives "Waerstun" or Waer's settlement.

Another theory is based on the Anglo-Saxon word "Waering" meaning a weir or dam. "Waering" combined with "tun" gives us "Waeringtun", the settlement of the weirs on the river.

But according to information I was given in connection with my show on www.radiowarrington.co.uk in 2012, there is another theory - connected to the Vikings. You can read more at http://wire-lect.blogspot.co.uk. In particular we have "Vǫrr-ing-tun" "Place to moor the boats".

*Please note that I am no expert in language or word origins and present these theories for reference (and there may be others).

welcome_to_warrington_lancashire_111227.JPG (90845 bytes) Many people still hold Warrington as belonging to Lancashire - and as some say, you can take Warrington out of Lancashire if you like but you'll never take the Warrington-born Lancashire folk out of Warrington. And there's nothing to stop you putting Warrington, Lancashire on your return address, as long as you use the post code. A good website for keeping the original Lancashire intact is The Friends of Real Lancashire (www.forl.co.uk). Another website you might find useful on the subject is The Association of British Counties www.abcounties.co.uk.

For a short period of time, the word 'Lancashire' was added to the sign above, but later removed. Photo taken December 2011.

Having said all that, this website concentrates on events that happen within those extended 1974 boundary changes. The local press often feature stories about Daresbury and Lewis Carroll, but Daresbury is administered by Halton Council, not Warrington - and that is why Lewis Carroll is not featured in Warrington People, even though he often visited Walton Hall estate and the Greenall family. The same goes for Moore village: it is outside the boundary of Warrington, but Moore Nature Reserve is within it, and therefore featured in Warrington Green. If the boundaries ever changed again I will reflect those changes on this website. Warrington townsfolk are known as "Warringtonians".

The first crossing point of the River Mersey was at Latchford, by way of a ford. See On The Waterfront for more. For centuries it was the only point west of Stretford, now in Greater Manchester, where a bridge could be built over the Mersey. Several pub names in Warrington had a connection with the waterways - The Ship, the Mermaid and the Packet House Inn; the latter is said to be the ticket office for boats travelling from here to Liverpool, located on the corner of Bridge Street and Mersey Street. By 1310, the Eighth Earl of Warrington, Sir William Fitz Henry le Boteler was empowered to collect tolls on Warrington Bridge, which lasted until the 16th century. The town has existed from early Celtic times. Local author and TV presenter Mark Olly has written a series of books about the Celtic history of the town. It has also had a Roman presence with many finds coming from the Wilderspool area in the south of the town.

The Winwick Pig: an old tale of how Winwick was named comes in this wonderful story. Kind Oswald, King of Northumbria, was killed here in battle in AD 642, and many tales were told in his honour. Travellers would stop by and pay their respects and the spot was cared for by the elders of the village. There was a large stone placed nearby which many bowed down to. It was decided to erect a church in honour of the great king, and so the plans were marked out on the ground. As it was being constructed nobody noticed a pig wandering around the site. Stone and timber were gathered for the construction and the pig went about its day hunting for food. At the end of the day the workers went home, but next day they noticed something had changed. Overnight it was reported that the pig was seen moving stones from the original site of Winwick church to its current site, crying We-ee-wick, We-ee-wick as it ran, hence Weewick, Winwick.

The nearest city to Warrington isn't Liverpool, or Manchester. It was the Saxon ruler King Edward the Elder who 'In the year 923...founded a cyty here and called it Thelwall'. He garrisoned and fortified Thelwall to secure his Saxon subjects here in order to repel the encroachments of the Northmen and others.

The historic market and industrial town of Warrington stands on the border of modern day Lancashire and Cheshire. In the ninth century this area was the border between the kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia. The river which flows through Warrington was called the Merse (click here and here for references to land between the rivers Ribble and the "Merse" in the county of Lancaster). The river's name comes from the Anglo-Saxon Maeres-ea meaning "border river". Today we call it the Mersey.

An entry in the Domesday Book of AD 1086 begins "In Walintune Hundred King Edward held Walintune with three berewicks".

The manors of Warrington were given to Peganus de Vilars, later created first Baron or Lord of Warrington in the 12th century. He died in 1156 and was succeeded by his son Matthew. Descendants of the first Baron, through their status of butler to the earl of Chester, adopted the name Le Boteleur, later Boteler (see Boteler Household section below). They continued to reside in the castle at Mote Hill behind the Parish Church of St Elphin on Church Street until it was destroyed by fire in 1260.

By 1255, Warrington was given a Royal Charter to hold an annual three day fair. See Warrington Market page for a more detailed history.

As the only crossing point into Lancashire from the south (or into Cheshire from the north), the bridge at Bridge Foot was a central theme in the development of the town. Oliver Cromwell stayed here at what eventually became the General Wolfe pub on Church Street, the centre of town in those days. The Earl of Derby based himself here in the 1640s and built up a Royalist force to fight from here.

Later, Warrington, the market town, and Latchford became major centres in the industrial revolution. Traditional industries include iron making (Dallam Forge), steel (British Steel, Lancashire Steel), copper-smelting, file making (Peter Stubs), soap (Lever Brothers, makers of Persil from 1909), glass making, tanning (check out Tanners Lane in the centre of town), pin making (Pinners Brow), cotton (Cockhedge Mill), sugar refining (near to the site of Warrington's bus station), sail-cloth, fustian cutting, brewing (Greenall Whitley, Tetley Walker, Burtonwood Ales, The Coach House Brewing Company), clock and watchmaking (James Carter 1780-1848 and John Kay), shipbuilding and wire manufacturing (Greenings, Rylands), to name just a few. The former Rylands factory on Church Street was originally a cotton mill.

One of the most influential people in the town's history was Thomas Patten, a merchant and industrialist, who was instrumental in making the River Mersey navigable from Runcorn to Bank Quay in the late 17th century to support his copper-smelting factory. His home, Bank Hall, was designed by James Gibbs and built in 1750. It is now our town hall, having been purchased from Colonel John Wilson Patten (later Lord Winmarleigh) in 1872.

The St Helens Canal, also known as the Sankey Canal, was the first commercial canal of the Industrial Revolution in England and opened in 1757. In 2007 it celebrated its first quarter-millennium. One of its main cargoes was sugar from Liverpool Docks to Sankey Sugar Works at Earlestown. Check out the Sankey Canal Restoration Society website. Some say the Bridgewater Canal flowing through south Warrington, which opened in 1761, was the first 'true' modern canal because it was a new waterway constructed independently of any existing watercourse except for the water supply, said to be the definition of a canal in one book I read. As the St Helens Canal was originally designed to make the Sankey Brook navigable, they say the Sankey was not the first. But the Sankey Canal people decided to build a totally separate channel of water alongside the Sankey Brook, so the reader must make their own mind up. I could throw a spanner in the works of both camps and say that the Romans built the Foss Dyke in Lincolnshire for drainage and navigation around AD 50...

Education was, and still is, an important part of Warrington's makeup. In 1757, Warrington Academy, the Athens of the North, was established at Bridge Foot; the National School was started by Rector Powys on Church Street in 1834 and Warrington Technical School opened in 1902 on Palmyra Square South, this being the forerunner of Warrington Collegiate, which was completely rebuilt for the 21st century on its Winwick Road site and opened in September 2006. The town library and museum on the corner of Bold Street and Museum Street was designed by John Dobson, a Tyneside architect in the mid 1800s. It was the first one in the country to be supported by the rates, the local tax-raising system in place at the time.

As the railways came into existence, Warrington became a major player in the transportation of goods and people from north to south and east to west. The first railway in the town was the Warrington and Newton Railway, opened on 25 July 1831, which ran from the Three Pigeons hotel on Tanners Lane to Newton Junction (now Earlestown), whilst the Grand Junction Railway ran from Birmingham to Warrington Bank Quay from 1837. The Cheshire Lines Committee was formed from existing railways in 1865 and its route crossed Warrington Central from 1873. Nowadays, the main West Coast Mainline travels via the town from London to Glasgow through Warrington Bank Quay, also supporting cross-country journeys from the south west (Devon and Cornwall) to the north east (Newcastle and Edinburgh), with the Trans-Pennine route from Liverpool to Yorkshire and the North East and the Midlands running via Warrington Central. See Making Tracks for more on the railways.

The town's parliamentary progress started out with borough status in 1832, becoming  a corporate borough in 1847. The Mersey became the borough boundary in St Austin's Ward as a result of the  Borough Extension Act, whilst in 1890 the town was divided into nine wards for municipal purposes. Its status was raised to County Borough in 1900. From 1974 the political boundaries were changed and Warrington came under the administration of Cheshire County Council. In 1998 Warrington became a Unitary Authority and is currently hoping for city status.

Burtonwood Air Base in the west of the town played a vital role in Britain's efforts during the Second World War and afterwards during the Berlin Airlift. The RAF station was taken over by the Americans as a repair and refuelling depot. Nowadays, the M62 motorway is built on part of the old runway, and the site is now being redeveloped for housing and employment. Steeplejack and TV personality, the late Fred Dibnah from Bolton, was given the task of pulling down the old control tower. In the south of the town there was an airfield at Stretton and RAF Padgate in the east. See RAF Burtonwood for more.

Public transport began in the tramway era between 1902 and 1935 and the modern Network Warrington fleet contains over 100 vehicles, many using new fuel-efficient eco-friendly engines with video recording and Real Time Passenger Information via satellite. See On The Buses for more.

The town's rugby league team used to be known as "The Wire" - it still is if you ask many of the fans - but since the rugby Super League set up in 1996, they are now known as Warrington Wolves. No longer playing at Wilderspool, a brand new 12 million stadium on the site of the former Tetley Walker brewery at Winwick Road became their new home in 2004. See Warrington Wolves for a history of the club.

In fact, sport is a major pastime for many of the townsfolk. Warrington Town Football Club (who have played at Wembley) are based in Latchford, one of the cricket clubs is at Walton - another is at Grappenhall and there is a third in Appleton, Warrington Golf Club is in Appleton and tennis facilities are available at Birchwood and Sankey. The town's premier athletics track is at Victoria Park, the home of Warrington Athletics Club, who use a synthetic 8-lane circuit which was installed in 1998. The Park also features a skateboard facility, football and rugby pitches, as well as the gentler game of crown green bowls. Nearby, Warrington Rowing Club are based at Howley on the River Mersey.

One of the saddest events in the town's recent history was the IRA bomb outside McDonalds in Bridge Street on 20 March 1993 when Johnathan Ball, aged three, and Tim Parry, aged 12, lost their lives in the atrocity. The River of Life street scene and sculpture on Bridge Street is a memorial for the two boys. The terror followed a failed plot to blow up the gas works on Winwick Road a few weeks earlier. In Old Hall, the Peace Centre was built to encourage children from all over the world to meet up and share their cultures. It opened on the seventh anniversary of the boys' deaths in 2000, and was renamed the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation.

Arts and entertainment takes place at the Parr Hall (opened in 1895) and the Pyramid Arts Centre (opened 2002), both on Palmyra Square South. Spectrum arena was an entertainment venue in Birchwood during the 1980s, which featured live snooker on ITV and live basketball on Channel 4, but is now the base for a national bookmaker.

Relaxation and recreation are available in the many parks, gardens and nature reserves around the town. Risley Moss and Birchwood Forest Park are built on the old munitions factory site in east Warrington. Walton Hall Gardens, once the home of the Greenall's brewing family, is in the south of the town, while Sankey Valley Park is in the west. Old farmland, industrial areas and disused railway lines have been put to excellent use as open green spaces for the benefit of all. See Warrington Green for more details. The Trans Pennine Trail cuts right through the heart of Warrington, and the waterways in the town are wonderful places to catch up on some of the industrial history, or simply to relax. See On The Waterfront for a history of the waterways. You can pick up leaflets about all the places mentioned from the town's Information Centres, or download them from the Warrington Borough Council website.

The only cinema in the town is in the out-of-town-centre district of Westbrook, but the planned revamp of the market and Bridge Street areas of town, due to start in 2013, will include a cinema in the town centre once more. An earlier scheme on Winwick Street called the Wire Works, which was approved by the government in 2007, should also have included a cinema, but the recession took hold and the plan was scrapped. The Wire Works would have been a mixed-use development of residential apartments, cinema, hotel, restaurants and gymnasium, which was due to start in late 2008. Mr Smiths nightclub was housed in the old Ritz/ABC cinema at Bridge Foot until it closed down in 2006, but then reopened under a new name, Synergy in 2008, and later became Halo. A group called Theatre 4 Warrington held a publicity campaign to open it as a theatre, as it had been many years earlier. The famous Hollywood comedy duo Laurel and Hardy visited the venue when they toured the UK in 1952. Click here for the Theatre 4 Warrington web presence on MySpace.

Other entertainment in the town includes a bowling alley at Winwick Quay (LA Bowl) and go-carting at Arpley. The town's nightclub scene is located around Bridge Street, Friars Gate, Barbauld Street and Rylands Street. For the steady gambler there is a large bingo hall built on the land once occupied by the large Armitage & Rigby Cotton Mill off Scotland Road.

Walking Day is an annual event which began in the 1830s to entice people away from the Newton Races. It is a religious walk of witness by the churches of the town. See Memory Lane for more.

Shoppers are catered for at Warrington Market, which has been running continuously for over 750 years, Cockhedge Shopping Park and the newly extended Golden Square shopping centre. The main town centre streets of Church Street, Mersey Street, Bold Street, Sankey Street, Bridge Street, Buttermarket Street, Horsemarket Street, Cairo Street and Rylands Street also cater for shoppers. A new state-of-the-art bus station, Warrington Interchange, complements the Golden Square and opened in 2006. During 2007, Warrington Borough Council profiled this website by displaying some of my photographs of the bus stations in the entrance of the Interchange. See On the Buses and Peter's Gallery for those images. Out-of-town shopping includes Gemini Retail Park in the west and Birchwood Shopping Centre in the east. Elsewhere, the villages of Culcheth in the east and Stockton Heath and Lymm in the south, provide many opportunities for shoppers. A market takes place in Lymm every Thursday.

Nowadays, due to its central location on three motorway networks, M6, M56 and M62, and two major rail routes, the West Coast Mainline and Trans-Pennine route, with links to the region's two international airports at Manchester and Liverpool, Warrington has once again become an important place for business. Swedish furniture company Ikea made Warrington their first UK location, at Gemini Retail Park mentioned earlier. In fact, they invented the flat-pack culture we all love (or hate!) back in 1956. One of the draughtsmen at the company took the legs off a table to get it into his car. He told his bosses and the rest is history. Close to Gemini is Chapelford Urban Village, a new area in west Warrington with 2,000 new houses built there in the early part of the 21st century. Later, the Omega Business Park will begin in the same area. Taking about 18 years to complete, Omega is a 1 billion redevelopment on the land formerly occupied by Burtonwood Air Base, which will attract businesses, housing and employment.

Many famous visitors have graced our pavements, including authors Daniel Defoe and Charles Dickens. Members of Royalty to visit include the Queen (who officially opened the original Golden Square shopping centre in 1979), Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1984 and the Queen Mother in her younger days. More recently the Earl and Countess of Wessex have visited, as well as Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, in 2006. TV and radio presenter Chris Evans was born here, as were actor Pete Postlethwaite and singer Kerry McFadden (nee Katona). Former Prime Minister John Major paid us a visit in June 2006. See Warrington People for more on the town's famous.

The three main newspapers in the town are South Warrington NewsWarrington-Worldwide and the Warrington Guardian. South Warrington News publish a monthly newspaper, which started out in 1993 as Shopfront, also available online in PDF format. Warrington-Worldwide is an online daily newspaper owned by Orbit News, which also publishes 5 free monthly magazines (Warrington-Worldwide, Lymm Life, Village Life, Culcheth Life and Frodsham Life). It now operates warrington.tv, which broadcasts online video news of local events. Warrington-Worldwide started out as Business Connections in April, 1999. See their website for further details.

Warrington has TWO radio stations:

Radio Warrington started out as Radio WORM (Warrington's Online Radio Media) in 2007 and broadcasts 24 hours a day on the internet. News is provided by Warrington-Worldwide. My friend DJKenny has his own website www.djkennylive.me.uk with photos of Warrington. He also has his own twice-weekly radio show on Radio Warrington (Tuesday evening 8-10 p.m. and Saturday evening 6-10 p.m.)

107.2 Wire FM broadcasts music news and views 24 hours a day, but is now based in Wigan. it broadcasts to its catchment area of Warrington, Runcorn and Widnes. It began broadcasting on 1 September 1998 and is owned by UTV.

Warrington is twinned with four cities:

Hilden, Germany
Lake County, Illinois, USA
Nachod, Czech Republic
Mwanza, Tanzania

Lymm is twinned with Meung-sur-Loire in France. Unlike most twinnings the link between Lymm and Meung-sur-Loire is not an official "municipal" link managed by the Council and funded by local taxpayers, but a voluntary association of friends in and around the two towns. Click here for more.

Publications still on sale in August 2010:

A History of Warrington by Alan Crosby, Phillimore & Co Ltd publishing 2002  ISBN 1 86077 222 6
Warrington at Work by Janice Hayes and Alan Crosby, Breedon Books publishing 2003  ISBN 1 85983 365 9
Celtic Warrington and Other Mysteries series by Mark Olly, published by Churnet Valley Books 01538 399033
Old Ordnance Survey Maps: Warrington 1905, Warrington (West) 1905, Thelwall 1908, Alan Godfrey Maps www.alangodfreymaps.co.uk

For more on the history of the town, I recommend the extensive archive of Warrington Library.




I am grateful to Tony at inschoolhistory-com for permission to use the text and images about the Botelers.

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One of the most important influences on the history of Warrington was during the period of the Boteler household. This family held the lordship of Warrington right up to the sixteen century. Their estates covered the townships of Warrington, Great and Little Sankey, Penketh, Culcheth, Rixton and Glazebrook, as well as other parts of north west England. Their main residence was at Mote Hill (close to where the Parish Church of St Elphin stands today) until the 13th century when they moved to Bewsey (Old) Hall. You can see more in Tour 1 and Tour 2.

The Boteler (Pincerna) Family & the Earls of Chester.

The name 'Pincerna' is first mentioned in the Domesday Book, when a man named Richard Pincerna is listed as being the holder of the manor of Poulton just outside Chester. The Pincerna family also held land and property in Chester itself.

The name 'Pincerna' is Latin for 'butler', and in the early to mid 12th century a Robert Pincerna was butler in the household of Ranulf of Gernons - Ranulf II - the 4th Earl of Chester. The post of butler in a noble household such as this was quite a high ranking and respectable position (the butler being responsible for the ordering in and service of the wine and other drink).

In the 1150's another Richard Pincerna - son of Robert - took up the position of butler to Earl Ranulf - this was shortly before or around the time of Ranulf's death in 1153. Richard is likely to have stayed on as butler to Hugh II - the 5th Earl of Chester and son of Ranulf II.

In - or around - the year 1160 this same Richard Pincerna became the second husband of Beatrix de Vilars - the 3rd baron of the town of Warrington. Therefore - through this marriage - Richard became known as the 4th lord/baron of Warrington, and subsequently the first of the line of 'Lord Botelers''.

The motto of the family was 'DEUS SPES NOSTRA' which means 'God is our Hope'.

The Boteler family continued to be the lords of the manor of Warrington until the year 1586.

Don't forget to check out the inschoolhistory-com website for more, including weapons and jewellery. The town's history is very important and the Boteler Household as a group was set up by Tony to help promote the town.

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If you are interested in doing your own history research, a good place to start is www.british-history.ac.uk

Warrington - A Town of Many Industries

mywarrington - created by Gordon I Gandy
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Rainbow After the Storm

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Where Mental Health Matters

Rainbow After the Storm is an award-winning mental health
support group and Community Interest Company.


Find Rainbow on Facebook

Nicky Price Mental Health Tips

Have a look at our new shop! www.rainbowafterthestorm.org/webshop/


Home History Timeline Downtown 1 Memory Lane Tour 1 Tour 2 Rainbow Shop! Nineteen Nineties Legh Street Baths At The Flicks Mr Smith's My Warrington Radio Warrington RAF Burtonwood On The Waterfront 1 On The Waterfront 2 Warrington Green 1 Warrington Green 2 Sankey Valley On The Buses Peter's Gallery Walk Through Time Making Tracks 1 Making Tracks 2 Making Tracks 3 Warrington People Entertaining People Sporting People Warrington Wolves Warrington Market Classic Motor Shows Events On Top of the World The Bewsian 19 Museum Street Hamilton Street Golden Square Feedback