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Cheshire Plain

Cheshire showing four unitary authorities

Cheshire is a ceremonial county in the North West of England. Chester is the county town, and formerly gave its name to the county. The largest town is Warrington, and other major towns include Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Macclesfield, Northwich, Runcorn, Sandbach, Widnes, Wilmslow and Winsford. The county is administered as four unitary authorities.

Cheshire occupies a boulder clay plain (pictured) which separates the hills of North Wales from the Peak District of Derbyshire. The county covers an area of 2,343 km2 (905 sq mi), with a high point of 559 m (1,834 ft) elevation. The estimated population is 1,028,600, 19th highest in England, with a population density of 439 people per km2.

The county was created in around 920, but the area has a long history of human occupation dating back to before the last Ice Age. Deva was a major Roman fort, and Cheshire played an important part in the Civil War. Predominantly rural, the county is historically famous for the production of Cheshire cheese, salt and silk. During the 19th century, towns in the north of the county were pioneers of the chemical industry, while Crewe became a major railway junction and engineering facility.

Selected article

St Mary's Church, Astbury

St Mary's Church, Astbury, is a grade-I-listed Anglican parish church in the village of Newbold Astbury. The existing church is Norman in origin, perhaps replacing a Saxon building on the site. The exterior dates from the 13th and 14th centuries, and all styles of English Gothic architecture are visible: Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular. During the civil war, Sir William Brereton's Roundheads stabled their horses in the church. The interior was restored by George Gilbert Scott in the 19th century.

Described as "one of the most exciting Cheshire churches," it has an unusual trapezoidal shape, with an exceptionally wide nave, broader than that of Chester Cathedral. The tower is separate from the body of the church, joined to it by a passage with a porch, and is built in millstone grit, a rare material in Cheshire churches. The interior contains a Norman round-headed archway, and has the largest collection of medieval fittings and furniture of any Cheshire church. A late-13th-century canopied tomb, two medieval memorials and more than fifty 17th-century gravestones survive in the churchyard.

Selected picture

Cheshire cheese

The dense and crumbly Cheshire cheese is one of the oldest named British cheeses, being first documented in around 1580. It has a mild, salty taste.

Credit: Jon Sullivan (18 May 2006)

Selected list

Tower Building, originally the office of Hutchinson & Co, now part of the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre

The 21 listed buildings in Widnes include five at Grade II* and 16 at Grade II. Widnes's oldest listed building is St Luke's Church, Farnworth, which dates from the 12th century. Other early structures include two 18th-century houses and a bridewell dating from 1827.

In 1833, the Sankey Canal reached the area; the lock at the canal's terminus is another early listed structure. The St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway established a terminus adjacent to the canal, the world's first railway dock was constructed there and, in 1847, a chemical factory was established nearby. More chemical factories were built during the second half of the 19th century, and the town grew, absorbing the previously separated hamlets of Appleton, Cronton, Farnworth and Upton.

The listed structures dating from after 1847 – three churches, paired cemetery chapels, the town hall, two railway stations, two bridges crossing the River Mersey, and the former power house of the demolished Widnes–Runcorn Transporter Bridge – largely reflect the growing population of the town and its increasing transport links. Structures relating to the chemical industry include Tower Building (pictured), formerly an office, and a sewer vent. The most recent listed structure is the Silver Jubilee Bridge, constructed in 1961.

In this month

Rowton Moor Memorial Stone

September 1707: Physician Nathan Alcock born at Aston.

1 September 1858: Crewe and Shrewsbury Railway opened.

1 September 1876: Activist and editor Harriet Shaw Weaver born in Frodsham.

1 September 2007: Cheshire Regiment merged into the Mercian Regiment.

7 September 1917: Pilot and charity founder Leonard Cheshire born in Chester.

14 September 1804: Landowner and poet Rowland Egerton-Warburton born in Norley.

16 September 1947: Comedian Russ Abbot born in Chester.

21 September 1642: Charles I brought his army to Chester during the Civil War.

24 September 1645: Battle of Rowton Heath (memorial pictured).


Cheshire West and Chester Cheshire East Cheshire East Cheshire East Halton WarringtonCheshire unitary number.png
About this image

The ceremonial county of Cheshire is administered by four unitary authorities (click on the map for details):

1 – Cheshire West and Chester

2 – Cheshire East

3 – Warrington

4 – Halton

In the local government reorganisation of 1974, Cheshire gained an area formerly in Lancashire including Widnes and Warrington. The county lost Tintwistle to Derbyshire, part of the Wirral Peninsula to Merseyside, and a northern area including Stockport, Altrincham, Sale, Hyde, Dukinfield and Stalybridge to Greater Manchester.

Recommended articles

Places: Bradwall • Middlewich • Runcorn • Widnes

Sights: Adlington Hall • All Saints' Church, Runcorn • Beeston Castle • Capesthorne Hall • Chester Cathedral • Chester Rows • Cholmondeley Castle • Churche's Mansion • Crewe Hall • Eaton Hall • Gawsworth Old Hall • Halton Castle • Jodrell Bank Observatory • Little Moreton HallFeatured article • Lovell Telescope • Lyme Park • Norton PrioryFeatured article • Peckforton Castle • St Mary's Church, Acton • St Mary's Church, Astbury • St Mary's Church, Nantwich • St Mary's Church, Nether Alderley • Tabley House

History: Battle of Rowton Heath • Deva Victrix • Eddisbury hill fort • Lindow ManFeatured article • Maiden Castle

Geography & Transport: A500 road • Bridgewater Canal • Chester Canal • Manchester Ship CanalFeatured article • Peak District • River Weaver

People: Jonathan AgnewFeatured article • Ben Amos • Adrian BoultFeatured article • Thomas Brassey • Neil BrooksFeatured article • Sir John Brunner, 1st Baronet • James ChadwickFeatured article • Djibril Cissé • Daniel Craig • John DouglasFeatured article • Rowland Egerton-Warburton • Thomas Harrison • Reginald HeberFeatured article • Eddie Johnson • One Direction • Plegmund • Joseph PriestleyFeatured article • Mark Roberts • Nick Robinson • Edmund SharpeFeatured article • Robert Tatton • Alan Turing • William Windsor

Lists: CastlesFeatured article • Church restorations, amendments and furniture by John DouglasFeatured article • Grade I listed churchesFeatured article • Houses and associated buildings by John DouglasFeatured article • Listed buildings in Runcorn (rural area)Featured article • Listed buildings in Runcorn (urban area)Featured article • Listed buildings in WidnesFeatured article • New churches by John DouglasFeatured article • Non-ecclesiastical and non-residential works by John DouglasFeatured article

Selected biography

John Brunner in 1885

Sir John Tomlinson Brunner, 1st Baronet (8 February 1842 – 1 July 1919) was a chemical industrialist and Liberal Party politician.

Born in Liverpool, he worked at Hutchinson's alkali works in Widnes, rising to general manager. In 1873, in partnership with Ludwig Mond, he started the chemical company Brunner Mond & Co. at Winnington near Northwich, initially making alkali by the Solvay process. It became the wealthiest British chemical company of the late 19th century and, after Brunner's death, was one of the four companies that merged to found Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).

Brunner represented Northwich in Parliament in 1885–86 and 1887–1910. He was a prominent Freemason, a paternalistic employer and a generous benefactor to the towns in his constituency and to the University of Liverpool. He is the great grandfather of HRH The Duchess of Kent.

Did you know...

Chester War Memorial

In the news

10 August: The M56 motorway was closed for 10 hours due to a fire in a tanker carrying propane gas near Helsby.

1 August: The pilot was killed when his Folland Gnat plane crashed in an air display near Oulton Park.

31 July: Two human skeletons, buried at least 400 years ago, are found within the walls of Halton Castle during excavations.

18 July: Four people are missing following explosions and a fire at a wood treatment works in Bosley.

13 July: The first phase of a new project called Islands opens at Chester Zoo.

5 June: Lion Salt Works reopens after a restoration costing £10.23m.

25 May: The temporary trestle bridge for the construction of the Mersey Gateway has been completed.

9 May: In the council elections, Labour gain Cheshire West and Chester (election) and hold Halton (election) and Warrington (election), and Conservatives hold Cheshire East (election).


There is a whiff of Stalinism in the air. Councillors who oppose the plan are threatened with de-selection. The accountants who have costed it believe that it is not financially viable: a single unitary authority would serve the county better. The chief executive of the County Council describes it as "perverse and deeply flawed". The children are especially at risk, since a single education authority which is a model of its kind would be replaced by two of unknowable quality. The people of Cheshire are up in arms yet feel powerless to resist.

Martin Bell on the split into two unitary authorities, The Guardian (18 February 2008)

Newest articles



 Towns &  Districts CHESHIRE | PLACES | CIVIL PARISHES | Alsager | Bollington | Chester | Congleton | Crewe | Ellesmere Port | Frodsham | Knutsford | Lymm | Macclesfield | Middlewich | Nantwich | Neston | Northwich | Poynton | Runcorn | Sandbach | Warrington | Widnes | Wilmslow | Winsford | Wirral
 Geography &  Ecology GEOLOGY | Cheshire Plain | Geology of Alderley Edge | HILLS | Bickerton Hill | Peckforton Hills | Shining Tor | Shutlingsloe | Tegg's Nose | Windgather Rocks | RIVERS & LAKES | Lamaload Reservoir | River Bollin | River Dane | River Dean | River Dee | River Gowy | River Goyt | River Mersey | River Weaver | SITES OF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC INTEREST | Cheshire Wildlife Trust | rECOrd | WOODLAND | Delamere Forest | Macclesfield Forest | Northwich Community Woodlands
 History HISTORY | TIMELINE | Ancient parishes | History of Chester | Deva Victrix | History of Middlewich | History of salt in Middlewich | History of Northwich | History of Sandbach | Forests of Mara and Mondrem | ARCHAEOLOGY | SCHEDULED MONUMENTS: Pre-1066 | 1066–1539 | Post-1539 | Bridestones | Chester Roman Amphitheatre | Eddisbury hill fort | Lindow Man | Maiden Castle | Sandbach Crosses | MILITARY HISTORY | Battle of Brunanburh | Battle of Chester | First Battle of Middlewich | Battle of Nantwich | Battle of Rowton Heath | Bunbury Agreement | Cheshire Regiment | RAF Burtonwood | RAF Hooton Park | RAF Ringway
 Sights PLACES OF INTEREST | CASTLES | Beeston Castle | Chester Castle | Cholmondeley Castle | Halton Castle | HISTORIC BUILDINGS | Adlington Hall | Arley Hall | Combermere Abbey | Dorfold Hall | Eaton Hall | Gawsworth Old Hall | Little Moreton Hall | Lyme Park | Norton Priory | Tatton Park | MUSEUMS & VISITOR ATTRACTIONS | Anderton Boat Lift | Anson Engine Museum | Blue Planet Aquarium | Catalyst Science Discovery Centre | Chester Zoo | Crewe Heritage Centre | Cuckooland Museum | Grosvenor Museum | Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker | Jodrell Bank Observatory | Lion Salt Works | National Waterways Museum | Quarry Bank Mill | Stretton Watermill | Weaver Hall Museum  | PUBLIC PARKS | Grosvenor Park | Marbury Park | Ness Botanic Gardens | Queens Park
 Architecture ARCHITECTURE | Norman architecture | LISTED BUILDINGS | Grade I listed churches | Non-ecclesiastical grade I listed buildings outside Chester | Chester | Congleton | Frodsham | Great Budworth | Knutsford | Lymm | Macclesfield | Nantwich | Runcorn | Sandbach | Wilmslow | Warrington
 Sport &  Recreation SPORTING TEAMS | 1874 Northwich F.C. | Alsager Town F.C. | Chester F.C. | Chester City F.C. | Cheshire County Cricket Club | Cheshire Phoenix | Crewe Alexandra F.C. | Crewe Railroaders | Macclesfield Town F.C. | Nantwich Town F.C. | Northwich Victoria F.C. | Runcorn Linnets F.C. | Vauxhall Motors F.C. | Warrington Town F.C. | Warrington Wolves | Widnes Vikings | Winsford United F.C. | Witton Albion F.C. | SPORTING VENUES | Chester Racecourse | Oulton Park | County Cricket Club grounds | RECREATION | Scouting | Walks
 Economy ECONOMY | Cheshire cheese | Cheshire Show | Crewe Railway Works | Salt | Silk | Textile mills 
 Transport BUSES | Arriva | CANALS | Cheshire Ring | Bridgewater Canal | Ellesmere Canal | Llangollen Canal | Macclesfield Canal | Manchester Ship Canal | Shropshire Union Canal | RAIL | Birkenhead Railway | Chester–Manchester Line | Crewe railway station | Crewe–Derby Line | Crewe–Manchester Line | Ellesmere Port–Warrington Line | Mid-Cheshire Line | Welsh Marches Line | ROADS | A34 | A41 | A49 | A50 | A56 | A500 | A537 | A556 | M6 | M53 | M56
 Governance  UNITARY AUTHORITIES | Cheshire East | Cheshire West and Chester | Halton | Warrington | PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCIES | EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
 Education &  Services SCHOOLS | UNIVERSITIES | Manchester Metropolitan University | University of Chester | SERVICES | Fire and Rescue | Police | United Utilities
 Culture &  Media LITERATURE | Cheshire Cat | Cheshire dialect | THEATRE | The Brindley | Lyceum Theatre | NEWSPAPERS | Chester Chronicle | Crewe Chronicle | RADIO | BBC Radio Manchester | BBC Radio Merseyside | BBC Radio Stoke
 Religion RELIGION | CHURCHES | Bishop of Chester | Chester Cathedral | Diocese of Chester | Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury

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