Crewe town centre looking towards the Market Hall (mainly red brick building).
Crewe shown within Cheshire
|Population||83,650 + (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|– London||174 mi (280 km)|
|Unitary authority||Cheshire East|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||CW1, CW2, CW3, CW4, CW98|
|EU Parliament||North West England|
|UK Parliament||Crewe and Nantwich|
Crewe is a Railway town within the unitary authority area of Cheshire East and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England. According to the 2001 census the urban area had a population of 67,683. Crewe is perhaps best known as a large railway junction and home to Crewe Works, for many years a major railway engineering facility for manufacturing and overhauling locomotives, but now much reduced in size. From 1946 until 2002 it was also the home of Rolls-Royce motor car production. The Pyms Lane factory on the west of the town now produces Bentley motor cars exclusively.
Although the name Creu first appears in the Domesday Book, the modern urban settlement of Crewe was not formally planned out until 1843 by Joseph Locke to consolidate the "railway colony" that had grown up since around 1840–41 in the area near to the railway junction station opened in 1837, even though it was called Crewe by many, from the start. Crewe was thus named after the railway station, rather than the other way round.
Crewe was founded in the township of Monks Coppenhall which, with the township of Church Coppenhall, formed the ancient parish of Coppenhall. The railway station was named after the township of Crewe (then, part of the ancient parish of Barthomley) in which it was located. Eventually, the township of Crewe became a civil parish in its own right also named, rather confusingly, Crewe. This civil parish changed its name to Crewe Green in 1974 to avoid confusion with the adjacent town, which had been made a municipal borough in 1877.
The railway station remained part of the civil parish of Crewe, outside the boundary of the municipal borough until 1936. So, throughout its history, the town of Crewe has neither been part of, nor has it encompassed first the township of Crewe, later the civil parish of Crewe, and later still the civil parish of Crewe Green adjacent to it, even though these places were the direct origin of the name of the town via the railway station which was also not part of the town before 1936. An old, local riddle describes the somewhat unusual states of affairs: "The place which is Crewe is not Crewe, and the place which is not Crewe is Crewe."
Until the Grand Junction Railway (GJR) company chose Crewe as the site for its locomotive works and railway station in the late 1830s, Crewe was a village with a population (c. 1831) of just 70 residents. Winsford, 7 miles (11 km) to the north, had rejected an earlier proposal, as had local landowners in neighbouring Nantwich, 4 miles (6 km) away. Crewe railway station was built in fields near to Crewe Hall and was completed in 1837.
A new town grew up, in the parishes of Monks Coppenhall and Church Coppenhall, alongside the increasingly busy station, with the population expanding to reach 40,000 by 1871. GJR chief engineer Joseph Locke helped lay out the town.
The town has a large park, Queen's Park (laid out by engineer Francis Webb), the land for which was donated by the London and North Western Railway, the successor to the GJR. It has been suggested that their motivation was to prevent the rival Great Western Railway building a station on the site, but the available evidence indicates otherwise.
The railway provided an endowment towards the building and upkeep of Christ Church. Until 1897 its vicar, non-conformist ministers and schoolteachers received concessionary passes, the school having been established in 1842. The company provided a doctor's surgery with a scheme of health insurance. A gasworks was built and the works water supply was adapted to provide drinking water and a public baths. The railway also opened a cheese market in 1854 and a clothing factory for John Compton who provided the company uniforms, while McCorquodale of Liverpool set up a printing works.
During World War II the strategic presence of the railways and Rolls-Royce engineering works (turned over to producing aircraft engines) made Crewe a target for enemy air raids, and it was in the flight path to Liverpool. The borough lost 35 civilians to these, the worst raid was on 29 August 1940 when some 50 houses were destroyed, close to the station.
Crewe crater on Mars is named after the town of Crewe. Crewe was described by author Alan Garner in his novel Red Shift as "the ultimate reality". Bill Bryson described Crewe as "the armpit of Cheshire" in his 1995 book Notes from a Small Island.
The railways still play a part in local industry at Crewe Works, which carries out train maintenance and inspection. It has been owned by Bombardier Transportation since 2001. At its height, the site employed over 20,000 people; in 2005 fewer than 1,000 remained, with a further 270 redundancies announced in November of that year. Much of the site once occupied by the works has been sold off and is now occupied by a supermarket, leisure park, and a large new health centre.
There is still an electric locomotive maintenance depot to the north of the railway station, operated by DB Schenker Rail. The diesel locomotive maintenance depot is now closed and is used for storing surplus rolling stock.
The Bentley car factory is on Pyms Lane to the west of town. As of early 2010, there are about 3,500 working at the site. The factory used to produce Rolls-Royce cars, until the licence for the brand transferred from Bentley's owners Volkswagen to rival BMW in 2003.
The headquarters of the off-licence chain Bargain Booze is in the town, as was the head office of Focus DIY plc, which went into administration in 2011.
There are a number of business parks around the town hosting light industry and offices. Crewe Business Park is a 67 acre site with offices, research and IT manufacturing. Major presences on the site include Air Products, Barclay's Bank and Fujitsu Services Ltd. The 12 acre Crewe Gates Industrial Estate is adjacent to Crewe Business Park, with smaller industry including the ice cream van manufacturer Whitby Morrison. The Weston Gate area has light industry and distribution. Marshfield Bank Employment Park is to the west of the town, and includes offices, manufacturing and distribution. There are industrial and light industrial units at Radway Green.
The town has two small shopping centres: the Victoria Centre and the Market Centre. There are indoor and outdoor markets throughout the week. Grand Junction Retail Park is just outside the centre of town. Nantwich Road provides a wide range of secondary local shops, with a variety of small retailers and estate agents. The Market Shopping Centre is the largest shopping centre in Crewe. It is situated in the heart the town centre with 20 national retailers including River Island, Wilkinsons, Argos, Iceland and Dorothy Perkins. There are three large car parks and Crewe Bus Station is a five-minutes walk from the shopping centre. It has a weekly footfall of approximately 100,000 visitors.
A planned redevelopment of Crewe's town centre, including the current bus station and main shopping area have currently been abandoned because of "difficult economic conditions".
There were also plans to revamp the railway station moving it to Basford. This was pending a public consultation by Network Rail scheduled for autumn 2008, however, no such public consultation was made. The plan has now been abandoned and instead maintenance work is being carried out on the current station.
Cheshire East Council is completing a new regeneration master plan for Crewe.
Crewe railway station is less than a mile from Crewe town centre, although it was not incorporated into the then Borough of Crewe until 1937. It is one of the largest stations in the North West and a major interchange station on the West Coast Main Line. It has 12 platforms in use and has a direct service to London (Euston) (average journey time of around 1 hour 35 minutes), Edinburgh, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Derby, Stoke-on-Trent, Chester, Wrexham, Holyhead for the ferry connections to Dún Laoghaire and Dublin Port. Many other towns and cities also have railway connections to Crewe.
The main bus company in Crewe is D&G Coach and Bus following the reduction of funding given to Arriva, who still run longer distance services to Chester, Northwich and Winsford. Other operators include GHA Coaches and Bakerbus, as well as a single First bus service running into Stoke-on-Trent.
The Crewe Heritage Centre is located in the old LMS railway yard for Crewe railway station. The museum has three signal boxes and an extensive miniature railway with steam, diesel and electric traction. The most prominent exhibit of the museum is the British Rail Class 370 Advanced Passenger Train.
The Grade II-listed Edwardian Lyceum Theatre is in the centre of Crewe. It was built in 1911 and shows drama, ballet, opera, music, comedy and pantomime. The theatre was originally located on Heath Street from 1882. The http://www.axisartscentre.org.uk Axis Arts Centre is on the Manchester Metropolitan University campus in Crewe. It relocated from the university's Alsager Campus when it closed. The centre has a programme of touring new performance and visual art work. The Box on Pedley Street is the town's main local music venue.
Both the Lyceum Theatre and the Axis Arts Centre feature galleries. The private Livingroom art gallery is on Prince Albert Street. The town's main library is on Prince Albert Square, opposite the Municipal Buildings.
The Jacobean mansion Crewe Hall is located to the east of the town near Crewe Green. It is a grade I listed building, built in 1615–36 for Sir Randolph Crewe. Today, it is used as a hotel, restaurant and health club.
There is a multiplex ODEON cinema on Phoenix Leisure Park on the edge of the town centre, as well as a bowling alley.
Queen's Park is the town's main park, and is currently undergoing a £6.5 million transformation. It features walkways, a children's play area, crown green bowling, putting, a boating lake, grassed areas, memorials and a café. Jubilee Gardens are in Hightown and there is also a park on Westminster Street.
Crewe Carnival does not take place each summer now due to lack of funding by CEC.
The weekly Crewe Chronicle, the Crewe and Nantwich Guardian and the daily Sentinel newspapers all cover the town. Local radio stations are Silk 106.9 from Macclesfield, Signal 1 and Signal 2 from Stoke-on-Trent and BBC Radio Stoke. Crewe-based RedShift Radio and The Cat are both community internet radio stations covering Crewe, with The Cat starting FM Broadcasting in the Crewe and Nantwich area on 107.9FM in February 2015. Crewe TV and The Crewe News are Hyperlocal blogs covering local events and issues.
Cheshire has adopted the comprehensive school model of secondary education, so all of the schools under its control cater for pupils of all levels of ability. Until the late 1970s Crewe had two grammar schools, Crewe Grammar School for Boys, now Ruskin High School and Crewe Grammar School for Girls, now King's Grove High School. The town's two other secondary schools are Sir William Stanier Community School, a specialist technology and arts academy, and St Thomas More Catholic High School, specialising in mathematics and computing and modern foreign languages.
Although there are eight schools for those aged 11–16 in Crewe and its surrounding area, South Cheshire College is one of only two local providers of education for pupils aged 16 and over, and the only one in Crewe. The college also provides educational programmes for adults, leading to qualifications such as Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) or foundation degrees. In the 2006–07 academic year 2,532 students aged 16–18 were enrolled, along with 3,721 adults.
Manchester Metropolitan University's (MMU) Cheshire Faculty is based in Crewe, in a part of town which has been rebranded as the University Quadrant. The campus offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in five areas: business and management, contemporary arts, exercise and sport science, interdisciplinary studies, education and teacher training. The campus has recently undergone a £70 million investment in its facilities and buildings. The campus was used as a pre-games training camp for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Crewe's local football club is Crewe Alexandra. During the late 20th century the club enjoyed something of a renaissance under the management of Dario Gradi, playing in the First Division – the second tier of the professional pyramid – for five seasons from 1997–2002. Crewe Alexandra currently play in League One (the third tier) having gained promotion via the play-offs in May 2012 after a 19-game unbeaten run, In 2013 the club also won its first-ever major silverware after beating Southend United 2-0 in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final at Wembley.
Crewe Alexandra has a reputation of developing young players through its youth ranks; in recent times the likes of Geoff Thomas, Danny Murphy, Craig Hignett, David Platt, Rob Jones, Neil Lennon, Dean Ashton and Nick Powell have all passed through the club, whilst internationals Bruce Grobbelaar and Stan Bowles were also on the books at one time in their careers. Possibly their most famous home-grown player was Frank Blunstone, born in the town in 1934, who was transferred from "The Alex" to Chelsea in 1953, and went on to win five England caps.
Crewe's local rugby clubs are both based in or near Nantwich. The Crewe & Nantwich Steamers (formerly Crewe Wolves), who play in the Rugby League Conference, are based at Barony Park, Nantwich, while Crewe and Nantwich RUFC play their home games at the Vagrants Sports Ground in Willaston.
Speedway racing was staged in Crewe in the pioneer days of the late-1920s/early-1930s. The venue was the stadium in Earle Street which also operated in the 1970s. The Crewe Kings raced in the lower division – British League Division Two, then the National League – from 1969 until 1975. At the time the track was the longest and fastest in the UK. Amongst their riders were Phil Crump (father of Jason Crump), Les Collins (brother of Peter Collins), Dave Morton (brother of Chris Morton), Geoff Curtis, John Jackson, Jack Millen and Dave Parry. The stadium has since been demolished to be replaced by a retail park housing a number of national companies.
Crewe's main leisure facilities are at Sir William Stanier Leisure Centre and Victoria Community Centre. Crewe Swimming Pool is on Flag Lane.
- Jimmy MacDonald, voice of Mickey Mouse.
- Carl Ashmore, children's author.
- Richard Beckinsale, actor, worked at the repertory theatre in Crewe before start of his television career.
- Neil Brooks, Australian Olympic swimming gold medallist.
- Ada Nield Chew, suffragette who began her activism in Crewe by writing a series of letters to the Crewe Chronicle, signed "A Crewe Factory Girl", critical of the pay and conditions of women working in factories. At that time in 1894 she was working in Compton Brothers' clothing factory in Crewe.
- Mark Cueto, international rugby and lions player currently playing for the Sale Sharks
- David Gilford, European Tour and Ryder Cup golfer (1991, 1995) is from Crewe.
- Chris Hughes one of Britain's top quizzers, featuring in Eggheads, and noted karaoke singer with four octave vocal range.
- John Edward Morris, former English cricketer who played in 3 Tests and 8 ODIs from 1990 to 1991. A stocky, right-handed, middle-order batsman, Morris played most of his first-class cricket for Derbyshire.
- Shanaze Reade, world BMX and track cycling champion.
- Adam Rickitt, former Coronation Street actor.
- Beth Tweddle, world champion gymnast, was coached in her formative years at the Camm Street Gymnastics Centre in Crewe.
In popular culture
In Threads (1984), Crewe is destroyed by a single megaton Soviet Union nuclear weapon, given its strategic roles as a transport hub and manufacturer of small arms for the British Army. Fallout from the ground-burst blast contaminates Sheffield and other adjacent cities, worsening their existing problems after being hit in a fictional nuclear exchange between NATO and the USSR in this television drama.
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- Ollerhead (2008, pp. 7, 10, 16); Chambers (2007, pp. 76, 94)
- Youngs (1991, pp. 15–16); Dunn (1989, p. 26); Ollerhead (2008, p. 10)
- Youngs (1991, p. 16); Chambers (2007, pp. 76, 94)
- Youngs (1991, p. 16)
- Crewe (near Wybunbury), GENUKI (UK & Ireland Genealogy), retrieved 3 February 2009
- Ollerhead (2008, p. 10)
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-  states: "This can now be totally dispelled as records show the LNWR Co. originally thought their line to Chester would run alongside the river. However, it was discovered the ground was not firm enough and a more northerly route was decided upon. Had the original thought gone ahead it would have taken the land that was eventually used for Queens Park. It is obvious that a rumour became mixed with a proposal to open a station on the present Chester line called Queens Park Halt. To further clarify the situation an entry on the 18th December, 1886, in the Minute Book of the board of directors of the LNWR, refers to the area being given for a public park."
- Discovering Wartime Cheshire 1939-1945. Cheshire County Council Countryside and Recreation. 1985. pp. 47–48. ISBN 0-906759-20-X.
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- "The Sentinel". Retrieved 13 October 2010.
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- Lyceum Theatre website
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- Linked Towns, Crewe & Nantwich Twinning Association
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- Dunn, F. I. (1987), The ancient parishes, townships and chapelries of Cheshire, Chester: Cheshire Record Office and Cheshire Diocesan Record Office, ISBN 0-906758-14-9
- Langston, K (2006), Made in Crewe: 150 years of engineering excellence, Horncastle, Lincolnshire: Mortons Media Group, ISBN 978-0-9552868-0-3
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- Youngs, F. A. (1991), Guide to the local administrative units of England. (Volume 1: Northern England), London: Royal Historical Society, ISBN 0-86193-127-0