Greater Manchester UK




The Townships of Lancashire

Alphabetical order – continued:


Rawtenstall is the largest town in
Rossendale with a population of about 23,000, and as far back as 1323
was a part of the Royal Forest of Rossendale.
Following its rapid industrial expansion throughout the 18th and 19th
centuries with the growth of the textile and footwear industries,
in 1891 the town was granted Borough status, along with Haslingden.

Nowadays Rawtenstall is somewhat of a dormitory area for neighbouring
Bury (now in Greater Manchester),
lying as it does at the end of the M66 Motorway, as well as being
connected to Bury by the regular steam and diesel train service run
by the East Lancashire Light Railway
(ELR). The town’s original British Railways station had previously
closed in 1972 and the line remained derelict for many years until
it was reopened in 1991 by the ELR.
Rawtenstall also has one of the best dry Ski Slopes in England at
Ski Rossendale, as well being
home to the last Temperance Bar in England.


See Main Entry.


See Main


Skelmersdale is an old coal mining
village, a township to the east of Ormskirk, which lies beneath of
Ashurst Beacon, where the District Council have created Beacon Country
Park. It became a so-called ‘New Town’ in the 1960s.
Its name possibly derives from Old Scandinavian meaning “the
valley of a man named Skjalmar or Skjaldmarr” , although some
have it that the meaning lies in three words – “skel”
meaning “hills”, “mers” from “mere”
(water as in Martin Mere) and “dale” meaning “valley”.

In 55 BC the town was a restover stop for Roman soldiers travelling
from Wigan to Crosby on the River Mersey. Recently, a quantity of
Roman coins were unearthed by children in 1949 at nearby Ottershead
Skelmersdale is mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as being
under the rule of Uctred, and part of the West Derby Hundred.
During the 19th century Industrial Revolution the area was significantly
developed as Coal Mines sprang up around the area and Skelmersdale
had its own railway line to Ormskirk, Rainford and St Helens.
The modern township boasts a recent Shopping Concourse development.
There is also the Tawd Valley park which leads to the Ribble Estuary
and joins the River Douglas – it offers around two miles of beautiful
landscape that is rich in native wildlife. Beacon Country Park also
lies within the district, with its beautiful scenery, an 18 hole golf
course and golf driving range, a Visitor Centre and first class swimming


St Helens

The town of St Helens derives its name
from the early chapel dedicated to that saint which was situated at
the crossroads to Warrington, Widnes, Prescot and Wigan. The first known
reference to the chapel was found in a document of 1552, though the
original structure probably dated back to the 14th century
The modern church of St Helen was only completed in 1926, on or near
the site of the early chapel.
St Helens was only a small village until the Industrial Revolution in
the 19th century. Coal had been mined in the region since the 16th century,
and had been traditionally transported by packhorse into neighbouring
Cheshire and to Liverpool. With the construction of the Sankey Canal
Navigation in 1762, the town became an ideally placed to transport coal
nationwide. Many new industries emerged, not least of which, Pilkington
Brothers, became famous nationwide for the manufacture of glass, a trade
which is still closely associated with the town today. By 1868 the town
became large enough to be granted the status of Municipal Borough, and
in 1884 it sent its first Member to Parliament.
During the 20th century all of the towns coal mines disappeared, with
the loss of most of its traditional skills.
In 1974, with Local Government reorganisation, boundaries were changed
and St Helens became a Metropolitan Borough including parts of Newton-le-Willows,
Haydock, Rainhill (site of the famous Railway Trials) and Billinge.
Today all these communities comprise the modern borough of St. Helens
which has a population of about 178,500 people.


There are two places in Lancashire
called Warton:

1). Warton is a small village near Carnforth
which is dominated by Warton Crag. Located near Morecambe bay, the Kendal
Canal, and Carnforth Railway Station, 6½ miles NE of Lancaster.
The village incorporates Bolton-le-Sands, and is distinguished by having
had George Washington’s ancestors living in North Warton and they are
said to have assisted in building the tower of the Parish Church. Thus,
every Independence Day on 4th July, the American flag is raised on the
church tower in commemoration. The Washington family coat of arms can
inside the wall of the tower and is believed to have influenced the
design of the Stars and Stripes. In 1835 the parish of Warton contained
the townships of Warton, Silverdale, Yealand Conyers, Yealand Redmayne,
Priest Hutton, Borwick, and Carnforth.

2). The other village of Warton is located
near Preston not far from the River Ribble Estuary on the main A584
Freckleton to Lytham Road which passes through its centre. Warton was
originally recorded as ‘Wartun’ in the Domesday Book of 1086 from the
Old English words ‘weard’ and ‘tun’ meaning ‘a farmstead or township.
Contemporary Warton is somewhat dominated by what was known as Warton
Aerodrome, which had been established by the US Air Force in September
1942 as AAF Station 582 – it was de-activitated in September 1945. During
those 3 years some 14,000 aircraft passed through the airfield, including
almost 3000 B24 Liberators and over 4000 P51 Mustangs. Part of the Warton
runway extends into the neighbouring borough of Freckleton. The former
British Aerospace (BAE Systems), based on this site is a significant
employer of many local residents and the village has become much sought
after as a place to live and is a major dormitory for the nearby conurbation
of Preston.

In Early times, Widnes was described
as ‘half marsh and half moor’, lying as it does on the northern banks
of the River Mersey. The scene changed very little for many centuries.
Earliest records show that in around 1180 AD, a church was built at
Farnworth, dominating the village high street. For many years the
ferry across the Mersey at a place that became known as the Runcorn
Gap, was an important crossing place for travellers, where, at low
tide, it is sometimes possible to ford, or wade across the river at
this point. Soon, a riverside inn, known as the Boathouse was established,
although nowadays it is better known as the ‘Snig Pie House’, due
to the local eel pies, which are considered a local delicacy.
By the 18th Century, a few dwellings grew up on the rocky promontory,
known as Woodend, and the area began attracting day trippers from
Liverpool in search of a quiet day out in the picturesque countryside.

Small cottage industries emerged, especially at Appleton, where fine
wires were manufactured for the local watchmakers. In 1845 Widnes
Dock was completed, (now known as Spike Island). Arriving here by
rail, salt from neighbouring Cheshire salt would be offloaded for
the glass-makers of St Helens in exchange for Lancashire Coal for


Winsford is located in the heart of
rural Cheshire, 17 miles from Chester, 28 miles from Manchester, and
30 miles from Liverpool. The M6 motorway is six miles to the east.
Winsford station is on the West Coast Main Line, 162 miles from London.

The township was created a civil parish in 1936, formed from parts
of Clive, Darnhall, Marton, Over, Stanthorne and Wharton civil parishes.
Winsford Urban District, along with Northwich and Runcorn is now part
of the Borough of Vale Royal.
Its origins are uncertain but two possible explanations exist: first,
it could be a derivative of “Wainsford” , a local
ford used by farmers in transporting hay carts (or wains ) across
the River Weaver; second, and more likely, perhaps someone called
Wynn lived by the ford on the river, and it became known as “Wynn’s
Ford” , and later Winsford. The River Weaver had long been
an important ford crossing of a Roman road linking Over with Middlewich.
The discovery of brine in 1700 and the proximity of the River Weaver,
which was made navigable, brought new industrial prosperity to the
town as it became a major salt mining town. The Weaver was canalised
in 1798 from Frodsham to Winsford Town Bridge to allow for salt transhipment
to Northwich and thence on to Liverpool for worldwide export. The
Mine at Winsford has existed since 1844 although mining stopped periodically
due to over-production.
Contemporary Winsford has a population or approximately 33,000 and
is located in the heart of Cheshire in the borough of Vale Royal,
which forms part of the Mersey Forest. Salt production had seriously
declined by the early 20th century and the district saw a steady contraction
of its industry. The town’s more recent redevelopment leaves little
evidence of its former industrial past, and in many ways has rebuilt
itself as a virtual new town, though the Salt Union manages the only
working salt mine still in operation in Great Britain today.


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This page last updated 6 Feb 12.