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.
Gawsworth Old Hall is a timber-framed, "black and white" country house in the village of Gawsworth, near Macclesfield; it is listed at grade I. Built between 1480 and 1600, the existing hall replaced an earlier Norman house. It was probably built as a courtyard house enclosing a quadrangle, but only three sides are still standing.
Mary Fitton, perhaps the "Dark Lady" of Shakespeare's sonnets, was born here, and the grave of Samuel "Maggoty" Johnson, a playwright described as the last professional jester in England, is in the grounds. In 1712, a long-running dispute about the ownership of the estate between the Fittons and the Gerards culminated in a duel in which both the combatants were killed.
The hall is surrounded by formal gardens and parkland, listed at grade II*, which once included an Elizabethan pleasure garden and, possibly, a tilting ground for jousting. The house and grounds remain in private ownership and are open to the public; a collection of items salvaged from other historic buildings is on display. An open-air theatre in the grounds hosts plays and concerts in summer.
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.
Thomas Brassey (7 November 1805 – 8 December 1870) was a civil engineering contractor and manufacturer of building materials. At the time of his death, he was responsible for building 1 in every 20 miles of railway worldwide.
Born in Buerton, the son of a farmer, he attended school in nearby Chester. After an apprenticeship in Overton, Flintshire, he established a business in Birkenhead. His first railway commission was Penkridge Viaduct, completed in 1837.
Brassey was responsible for building about one-third of Britain's railways and three-quarters of those in France, as well as major lines across Europe and in Canada, Australia, S. America and India. He also constructed the associated docks, bridges, viaducts, stations, tunnels and drainage works. His other works included steamships, mines, locomotive factories, marine telegraphy and water supply and sewerage systems, including part of the London sewerage system. His estate was valued at over £5 million.
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.
27 July: Round Tower Lodge, Sandiway, rebuilt after demolition following a road traffic accident.
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.
The huge yellow somethings went unnoticed at Goonhilly, they passed over Cape Canaveral without a blip, Woomera and Jodrell Bank looked straight through them – which was a pity because it was exactly the sort of thing they'd been looking for all these years. ... Miles above the surface of the planet the huge yellow somethings began to fan out. At Jodrell Bank, someone decided it was time for a nice relaxing cup of tea.
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