Warrington - Culcheth and Grappenhall
PUBLISHED: 09:51 26 January 2015 | UPDATED: 09:51 26 January 2015
Warrington has been settled since Roman times, when those masters of empire established a settlement in an eminently sensible spot on the banks of the river Mersey.
The Saxons agreed with their predecessors’ thinking and established their own settlement and by the Middle Ages a flourishing market town had grown up there.
It was, of course, the culture-shock of the Industrial Revolution that gave Warrington its biggest boost and the town embraced the opportunity, becoming a manufacturing town and a centre for steel, textiles, brewing, tanning and chemical industries. The navigational properties of the River Mersey were improved, canals were built, and the town grew yet more prosperous and popular. When the age of steam came, Warrington naturally welcomed it, both as a means of transport and as a source of power for its mills.
Despite its thriving economy and extensive shopping opportunities, still today Warrington is remembered nationally for the shocking events of 20 March 1993, when the IRA detonated two bombs in th4e town centre. But from tragedy comes hope, and Colin Parry, father of Tim, who died in the attack, founded The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace (known as the Peace Centre) as part of a campaign to reconcile communities in conflict. The centre opened on the seventh anniversary of the bombing, 20 March 2000 and has global impact, bringing together children from communities across the world who are experiencing conflict and war.
Six miles to the north-east of Warrington, and almost out of Cheshire, lies Culcheth. A highly sought-after postcode for people seeking the best of Cheshire with fast access to the cities of Warrington, Manchester and Liverpool the residents are served by a selection of primary schools and a high school with sixth form and the nearby parkland – Culcheth Linear Park, which rather does what it says on the tin. A marvellous example of how twentieth century ingenuity ‘upcycled’ derelict land, the park is built on a section of the former Wigan to Glazebrook Railway Line, which was first opened in 1878, closed in 1968 and then lay dormant until 1974 when Warrington Borough Council acquired a section of the line and undertook landscaping work. In 1983 the Ranger Service took over management of the site and still works with the local community to continue its development as a local resource and home for native wildlife.
Grappenhall sits close to Warrington, on the banks of the Bridgewater Canal. Listed in the Domesday Book, as the wonderfully Viking-sounding Gropenhale, it was given a value of five shillings. The nearly 10,000 residents who enjoy life there today might dispute this of course, as they enjoy an invaluable lifestyle offering immediate access to rural Cheshire, while the delights of city life lie close by. Grappenhall today offers tranquil walks along the canal, the sort of pubs people insist don’t exist anymore and – a mystery! St Wilfrid’s Church has a carving of a cat on the west facing side of the tower. This is thought to be Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for the Cheshire Cat in his story, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Of course, it’s not known for sure if this is true – but inspiration springs from the most diverse of sources, so why not!