Knutsford shown within Cheshire
|OS grid reference|
|Unitary authority||Cheshire East|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||North West England|
Knutsford is an affluent town and civil parish in the unitary authority area of Cheshire East and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, in North West England. It is about 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Manchester and 11 miles (18 km) northwest of Macclesfield.
Knutsford is situated on the Cheshire Plain, between the Peak District in the South Pennines to the east and the Clwydian Range in the Welsh mountains to the west. Knutsford's proximity to Manchester has both now and historically helped it become a commuter town for those employed in Manchester. Today the town's location gives residents easy access to Merseyside as well as Manchester. Knutsford is known for being in the Golden Triangle, and it has also been home to many notable residents such as Craig Cash, Barbara Knox and Gary Barlow.
Knutsford's main town centre streets, Princess Street (also known locally as Top Street) and King Street lower down (also known as Bottom Street), form the "hub" of the town. At one end of the narrow King Street is an entrance to Tatton Park. The Tatton estate was home to the Egerton family, and has given its name to Tatton parliamentary constituency, which also includes the neighbouring communities of Alderley Edge and Wilmslow. Former Parliamentary representatives include the BBC war correspondent Martin Bell, who stood as an Independent in 1997 to defeat the disgraced former Conservative Party MP, Neil Hamilton.
Knutsford was recorded in the William the Conqueror's Domesday Book of 1086 as Cunetesford ("Canute's ford"). King Canute (Knútr in Old Norse) was the king of England (1016–1035) and later king of Denmark, Norway and parts of Sweden as well. Local tradition says that King Canute forded the River Lily, which was said to be dangerous then, though other reports say it was the Birkin Brook at or near Booth Mill. The English Place-Name Society gives the name as being derived from the Old English for Knutr's ford or possibly hillock ford.
Knutsford was the place in which General George S. Patton, shortly before the Normandy invasion, delivered a speech perceived to be critical of the Soviets, and to have "slap(ped) the face of every one of the United Nations except Great Britain", which nearly ended his career.
After the Second World War overspill housing estates were created in the town to accommodate families from Manchester. The Longridge overspill estate was built in Over Ward by Manchester City Council in the 1950s. At the end of the 20th century, all of the homes on the estate that had not already been sold to their occupants were transferred to Manchester Methodist Housing.
In 2005 Knutsford was named as the most expensive town to buy a house in Northern England, followed by nearby town Altrincham. There is an extremely large range of house prices in Knutsford, currently varying from approximately £79,000 to £3,850,000.
Knutsford Town Council was created after the abolition of the Urban District Council in the Local Government Reorganisation of 1974. The town comprises four wards: Nether, Norbury Booths, Bexton, and Over. Each ward returns three councillors except for Over which, owing to its size and greater population, returns six. Each councillor serves a four-year term. The Town Council is elected whole every four years. The election held on 5 May 2011 returned fourteen Conservatives and one independent; a by-election was held in February 2013 following the resignation of a Conservative councillor, which saw one further independent member elected.
Knutsford has excellent access to the motorway network, with junctions to the M6 (Junction 19) and M56 (Junction 7) motorways. However, this can also have disadvantages as the A50 which runs through Knutsford town centre follows a similar route to the M6 between Warrington and Stoke-on-Trent, this means that if the M6 is closed due to an accident or roadworks then a large volume of traffic transfers to the A50 and causes major traffic jams in Knutsford.
Knutsford is served by Knutsford railway station which is situated on the Mid-Cheshire Line running from Chester to Manchester (via Altrincham). The station was built in 1862 by the Cheshire Midland Railway. The CMR was absorbed into the Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC) in August 1867, this entity continuing to serve Knutsford until nationalisation on 1 January 1948. The train service to Manchester was re-routed via a slower route when the Manchester Metrolink trams took over the CLC direct line between Altrincham and Manchester, with the heavy rail service being re-routed via Stockport to Manchester Piccadilly.
Currently there is an hourly service to Altrincham, Stockport and Manchester to the north and Northwich and Chester to the south-west, with extra trains to and from Stockport at peak times on weekdays. On Sundays there is a 2 hourly service to Chester and a 2 hourly service to Southport via Manchester, Bolton and Wigan. The number of weekday peak trains to Manchester was controversially cut back in December 2008 to allow Virgin Trains to run extra services between Manchester and London.
Knutsford is not well served by buses. The only routes with a regular service are Knutsford to Altrincham via Wilmslow (which runs hourly) and the Knutsford Town Circular (which runs mainly half hourly). There is also a Northwich-Tabley-Knutsford-High Legh-Altrincham bus and a Knutsford-Chelford-Macclesfield bus approximately every two hours. No buses operate in the town on Sundays.
In the past it was common for one bus operator to run most or all of the bus routes in Knutsford. This was once Crosville who ran buses across Cheshire and North Wales. Then later Star Line Travel took over services, who were based in Knutsford and at Manchester Airport. Star Line Travel were taken over by British Bus t/a North Western Road Car Company, who then later became part of Arriva Group. Star Line Travel's Knutsford depot had been closed which made running bus routes in Knutsford an unattractive proposition for Arriva, who ceased to serve the town in January 2009.
In December 2011 low cost coach operator Gorilla Bus will run direct services between Knutsford and Liverpool, Liverpool South Parkway, Stoke-on-Trent, Carlisle, Hamilton, Glasgow and East Midlands Airport including overnight services. However, these services have been suspended and it is not know whether or not they will start again later in 2012.
Knutsford town centre has several restaurants and pubs, coffee shops, boutiques, antique shops and art galleries.
Knutsford has a medium sized supermarket, in Preston based Booths Supermarkets, also an Aldi, a Little Waitrose, a Sainsbury's Local and two Co-op stores (one on Princess Street and one on Parkgate Lane).
Tesco used to have a small shop in the town centre, which closed many years ago. The retailer had hoped to open a larger store on the edge of the town on Mobberley Road, but councillors in Mobberley objected to the development, thinking it might result in more cars travelling through their village.
Knutsford has two Anglican churches, St John the Baptist and St Cross; a Roman Catholic church, St Vincent's; a Methodist church, a Unitarian church and a Gospel church. Knutsford is located in the Church of England Diocese of Chester and in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury. The nearest Baptist church is in Altrincham and the nearest United Reformed church, Polish Catholic church and Salvation Army are located in Northwich.
Knutsford has six primary schools (one of these is a Roman Catholic school and another is a private school.) Knutsford also has a high school: Knutsford Academy which also has a Sixth Form. Some secondary school pupils from the town travel to schools in Altrincham, Hartford, Holmes Chapel, Hale and Macclesfield. Some sixth formers from the town travel to colleges in Northwich and Timperley. Macclesfield College run some adult education courses in Knutsford and Age UK run computer courses for the over 50s at Knutsford Library (as well as other libraries in Cheshire).
Grove Park Badminton Club play at Knutsford Leisure centre every Sunday evening, 7 pm to 9 pm.
Also, the Knutsford leisure centre has holiday and after school sport clubs and daily sports you can book by going on the website.
Knutsford Hockey Club plays its home games at Knutsford Leisure Centre and are based at the Crosstown Bowling Club on Chelford Road. This 100 year old club runs 4 men's teams, a ladies team, a mixed team and a badgers team. The Men's 1st XI play in Division 1 of The North West Hockey League 
The home ground of Toft Cricket Club is located at Booths Park, Chelford Road. The Cricket Club gets its name from a neighbouring civil parish where the original ground was located when the club was established in 1928. Toft play in the ECB Premier Division of the Cheshire County Cricket League  It won the National Village Championship trophy at Lords in 1989.
Knutsford Rugby Club was established in 2004, and is supported by players from Sale Sharks. It was promoted a division within its first season. In the 2008 season, both its 1st XV and 2nd XV gained promotion in their respective leagues.[specify]
Knutsford Football Club, formed in 1948, play at their Manchester Road ground. The club has two Saturday teams, the first team in the Cheshire League and the second or A team in the Altrincham and District League. Two Associated Veterans teams also play on Sundays in the Cheshire Veterans League.
Culture and community
There are many events in and around the town each year including the May Day festivities, The RHS Flower show at Tatton Park and the Cheshire County Show in the parish of Tabley, near Knutsford.
The annual Knutsford Royal May Day festival is where hundreds of people parade through the streets, and the May Queen is crowned. During the May Day weekend there is also a funfair run on 'The Heath' (where the crowning of the May Queen also takes place) This is said to be one of the largest travelling funfairs in the UK.
Local folklore claims that Edward "Highwayman" Higgins had a tunnel running under The Heath, where he hid his booty.
The Knutsford Guardian, established in 1860, is the only weekly paid for paper dedicated to covering the town and its surrounding villages. The newspaper is teamed with the Northwich, Middlewich, and Winsford Guardian.
There is a May Day custom, still observed today, of "sanding the streets" in Knutsford. The streets are decorated with coloured sands in patterns and pictures.
Tradition has it that King Cnut, while fording the River Lily, threw sand from his shoes into the path of a wedding party, wishing the newly wed as many children as the grains of sand at their feet. The custom can be traced to the late 1600s. Queen Victoria, in her journal of 1832 recorded: "we arrived at Knutsford, where we were most civilly received, the streets being sanded in shapes which is peculiar to this town".
Knutsford was the model for Elizabeth Gaskell's novel Cranford. She lived in the town for some time, on what is now known as Gaskell Avenue, and she is buried in the Unitarian Chapel graveyard. Many of the places and people described in her books can be identified as being based on places and people in the town. In 2007 the BBC adapted the novel and produced a popular TV series Cranford. Despite several references to Knutsford, including King Street and The Heath, the TV adaptation was actually filmed in Lacock, Wiltshire. Notably, in 1987 Legh Road in Knutsford, designed by Richard Harding Watt, doubled for Colonial Shanghai in the opening scenes from Steven Spielberg's film Empire of the Sun.
Knutsford Amateur Drama Society was established in 1925 and moved to its premises in Queen Street, Knutsford shortly after the end of the Second World War. Now known by the name of the building it occupies, Knutsford Little Theatre continues to produce a selection of plays each year, including an annual pantomime.
Knutsford Heritage Centre is situated in a 17th-century timber-framed building just off King Street, which was a blacksmith's forge in the 19th century. It has a museum, garden, shop and gallery featuring various exhibitions, talks and events, and walking tours are also available. On permanent exhibition are the May Queen's dress shoes and crown from 1887.
Scenes from the George C. Scott film Patton were filmed in the centre of Knutsford, in front of the old Town Hall. The building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, and for much of the 20th century was home to Knutsford Boys' Club and latterly a furniture show room and post office. It now lies vacant.
Knutsford has been home to a number of celebrities including:
- Edward Penny, Painter and founder member of the Royal Academy
- Sir Bobby Charlton, OBE
- Craig Cash, actor
- Aaron "Wilbrahimovic" Wilbraham, footballer for Crystal Palace.
- Martin Edwards, lawyer and writer was born in Knutsford.
- Alan Fettis, footballer.
- Nick Freeman, "Mr Loophole", solicitor.
- Elizabeth Gaskell (author)
- Edward Higgins (aka Highway-man Higgins)
- Phil Jagielka, footballer.
- Henry Royce (of Rolls-Royce)
- Robert Heaton, Drummer (New Model Army)
- The Right Reverend Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol (Hilly)
- Barbara Knox, actress (Rita Tanner) Coronation Street
- Graham Haberfield, actor (Jerry Booth) Coronation Street
- Al Read, comedian
- George Formby, actor, comedian and singer
- George Roper, comedian
- Frank Stapleton, footballer
- Mark Hughes, footballer
- Graeme Souness, footballer
- Jason Orange, singer with Take That
- Gary Barlow, lead singer/songwriter with Take That
- Sarah Johnson, dancer on Strictly Come Dancing
- Chris Bisson, actor
- Arjan De Zeeuw, footballer
- Brigit Forsyth, actress
- Sir Chris Hoy, Olympian
- "The Domesday Book Online – Cheshire A-K". www.domesdaybook.co.uk. Retrieved 9 February 2009. Dodgson 1970, pp. 73, 74
- "Knutsford Nether and Overton". Key To English Place Names. English Place Name Society. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
- Cheshire East Council Timeline
- Aldi buys store land in town centre (From Knutsford Guardian)[dead link]
- Grove Park Badminton Club official website
- Knutsford Hockey Club official website. Retrieval Date: 25 September 2007.
- The North West Hockey League. Retrieval Date: 25 September 2007.
- Knutsford Cricket Club Official website. Retrieval Date: 25 September 2007.
- Meller Braggins Cricket League Official website. Retrieval Date: 25 September 2007.
- Toft Cricket Club Official website. Retrieval date: 25 September 2007.
- Cheshire County Cricket League Official website. Retrieval Date: 25 September 2007.
- Knutsford Rugby Club Official website. Retrieval Date: 25 September 2007.
- The Tatton Club Official website.
- Knutsford and District Snooker League.
- Penny farthing race takes place in Knutsford. BBC News. 5 September 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2010
- "The folklore year – May". Retrieved 9 December 2007.
- "The Old Town Hall", Knutsford. Retrieval date: 25 September 2007
- Allen and Appleyard Furniture Sale Room. Retrieval Date: 25 September 2007.
- Edward 'Highwayman' Higgins was a gentleman by day and a thief by night, at one time residing at a town house on what is now Gaskell Avenue. Higgins was hanged for his crimes in 1767.[specify]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Knutsford.|
- Visit Knutsford
- I Visit Knutsford
- Cheshire Market Towns
- Knutsford Guardian – printed news
- Knutsford Times – online news
- Knutsford Food and Drink Guide
- Knutsford Heritage Centre