Cheshire

Cheshire

[chesh-er, -eer]
Cheshire, county, W central England, on the N border with Wales. The county seat was Chester.

Cheshire was made a palatinate by William I and maintained some of its privileges as such until 1830. The numerous black-and-white-timbered manor houses attest to the county's prosperity in the 16th and 17th cent. Much later, the population of the county greatly increased with the industrialization and suburbanization of the Wirral peninsula and the part of Cheshire just S of Manchester.

In 1974, most of Cheshire became part of the new nonmetropolitan county of Cheshire; NW Cheshire (including Birkenhead) became part of the former metropolitan county of Merseyside, and NE Cheshire (including Stockport) became part of the former metropolitan county of Greater Manchester. In 1998, Halton and Warrington in N Cheshire became administratively independent of the county. Cheshire was abolished as an administrative county in 2009, but its name survives in the unitary authorities of Chester East and Chester West and Chester.

Cheshire, town (1990 pop. 25,684), New Haven co., S central Conn., in a farm area; settled 1695, inc. 1780. It is chiefly residential, with some light industry. The painter John Frederick Kensett was born in Cheshire.

Administrative (pop., 2001: 673,777), geographic, and historic county, northwestern England. The county seat is Chester. Cheshire borders Wales, fronts the Dee and Mersey estuaries to the northwest, and lies partly within Peak District National Park. Evidence of hill forts from the Bronze and Iron ages has been found, as well as ruins of structures from the Roman occupation. The county is largely rural, but, along with dairy farming, engineering and chemical and technology industries are important.

Learn more about Cheshire with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Cheshire (or archaically, the County of Chester) is a county in North West England. The county town, and the location of the county council, is the city of Chester, although Cheshire's largest town in terms of area and population is Warrington. Other major towns include Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Widnes, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Northwich, and Wilmslow. The county is bordered by Merseyside and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east, Staffordshire and Shropshire to the south, Flintshire and Wrexham in Wales to the west.

The ceremonial county has an overall area of and has a population of about 993,200.

The county is mostly rural with a number of small towns and villages that support an agricultural industry. It is historically famous for the production of Cheshire cheese, salt, bulk chemicals and the weaving of silk.

History

Toponymy

Cheshire's name was originally derived from an early name for Chester and first occurred as Legeceasterscir in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. Its name meant the shire of the city of legions. It was first recorded in 980CE, but it is thought that the county was created by Edward the Elder around 920CE. In the Domesday Book, Chester was recorded as having the name Cestrescir, (Chestershire) which was also derived from the name for Chester in use at the time. A series of changes that occurred as English itself changed, together with some simplifications, resulted in the name Cheshire, as it occurs today.

Because of the historical close links with the land bordering Cheshire to the west, which became Wales, there is a history of interaction between Cheshire and Wales. The Domesday Book records Cheshire as having two complete Hundreds (Atiscross and Exestan) which later became entirely part of Wales. Additionally, another large portion of the Duddestan Hundred later became known as Maelor Saesneg when it was transferred to Wales. For this and other reasons, the Welsh name for Cheshire (Swydd Gaerlleon) is sometimes used within Wales and by Welsh speakers.

Administrative history

Cheshire in the Domesday Book was recorded as a larger county than it is today. It included two hundreds which later became part of Wales: Atiscross and Exestan. At the time of the Domesday book, it also included as part of Duddestan Hundred the area of land later known as Maelor Saesneg (which used to be a detached part of Flintshire) in Wales. The area in between the Mersey and Ribble (referred to in the Domesday Book as "Inter Ripam et Mersham") formed part of the returns for Cheshire. Although this has been interpreted to mean that at that time south Lancashire was part of Cheshire, more exhaustive research indicates that the boundary between Cheshire and what was to become Lancashire remained the River Mersey. With minor variations in spelling across sources, the complete list of hundreds of Cheshire at this time are: Atiscross, Bochelau, Chester, Dudestan, Exestan, Hamestan, Middlewich, Riseton, Roelau, Tunendune, Warmundestrou. and Wilaveston.

In 1182 the land north of the Mersey became administered as part of the new county of Lancashire, thus resolving any uncertainty about the county in which the land "Inter Ripam et Mersham" was. Over the years, the ten hundreds consolidated and changed names to leave just seven—Broxton, Bucklow, Eddisbury, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Northwich, and Wirral.

Through the Local Government Act 1972 which came into effect on 1 April 1974, some areas in the north west became part of the metropolitan counties of Greater Manchester and Merseyside. Stockport (previously a county borough), Hyde, Dukinfield and Stalybridge in the north-east became part of Greater Manchester. Much of the Wirral Peninsula in the north-west, including the county boroughs of Birkenhead and Wallasey, joined Merseyside. At the same time the Tintwistle Rural District was transferred to Derbyshire. The area of Lancashire south of the Merseyside/Greater Manchester area, including Widnes and the county borough of Warrington was added to the new non-metropolitan county of Cheshire.

Halton and Warrington became unitary authorities independent of Cheshire County Council on 1 April 1998, but remain part of Cheshire for ceremonial purposes, as well as fire and policing.

A referendum for a further local government reform connected with an elected regional assembly was planned for 2004, but was abandoned - ).

As part of a 2002 marketing campaign, the plant conservation charity Plantlife chose the cuckooflower as the county flower.

Buildings and structures

Prehistoric burial grounds can be found at The Bridestones, near Congleton (Neolithic) and Robin Hood's Tump, near Alpraham (Bronze Age). The remains of Iron Age hill forts are found on sandstone ridges at several locations in Cheshire. Examples include Maiden Castle on Bickerton Hill, Helsby Hillfort and Woodhouse Hillfort at Frodsham. The Roman fortress and walls of Chester, perhaps the earliest building works in Cheshire remaining above ground, are constructed from purple-grey sandstone.

The distinctive local red sandstone has been used for many monumental and ecclesiastical buildings throughout the county, for example, the medieval Beeston Castle, Chester Cathedral and numerous parish churches. Occasional residential and industrial buildings, such as Helsby Station, Helsby (1849) are also in this sandstone.

Many surviving buildings from the 15th to 17th centuries are timbered, particularly in the southern part of the county. Notable examples include the moated manor house Little Moreton Hall, dating from around 1450, and many commercial and residential buildings in Chester, Nantwich and surrounding villages.

Early brick buildings include Peover Hall, near Macclesfield (1585), Tattenhall Hall (pre-1622) and Pied Bull Hotel in Chester (17th C). From the 18th century, orange, red or brown brick became the predominant building material used in Cheshire, although earlier buildings are often faced or dressed with stone. Examples from the Victorian period onwards often employ distinctive brick detailing, such as brick patterning and ornate chimney stacks and gables. Notable examples include Arley Hall, near Northwich, Willington Hall, near Chester (both by Nantwich architect George Latham) and Overleigh Lodge, Chester. From the Victorian era, brick buildings often incorporate timberwork in a mock Tudor style, and this hybrid style has been used in some modern residential developments in the county. Industrial buildings, such as the Macclesfield silk mills (for example, Waters Green New Mill), are also usually in brick.

Physical geography

Cheshire covers a boulder clay plain separating the hills of North Wales and the Peak District of Derbyshire. This was formed following the retreat of ice age glaciers which left the area dotted with kettle holes, locally referred to as meres. The bedrock of this region is almost entirely Triassic sandstone, outcrops of which have long been quarried, notably at Runcorn, providing the distinctive red stone for Liverpool Cathedral and Chester Cathedral.

The eastern half of the county is Upper Triassic Mercia mudstone laid down with large salt deposits which were mined for hundreds of years around Northwich. Separating this area from Lower Triassic Sherwood sandstone to the west is a prominent Sandstone Ridge. A footpath, the Sandstone Trail, follows this ridge from Frodsham to Whitchurch passing Delamere Forest, Beeston Castle and earlier Iron Age forts.

Demographics

Population

Based on the Census of 2001, the overall population of Cheshire is 673,781, of which 51.3% of the population were male and 48.7% were female. Of those aged between 0-14 years, 51.5% were male and 48.4% were female; and of those aged over 75 years, 62.9% were female and 37.1% were male.

The population density of Cheshire is 32 people per km², lower than the North West average of 42 people/km² and the England and Wales average of 38 people/km². Ellesmere Port and Neston has a greater urban density than the rest of the county with 92 people/km².

The population for 2021 is forecast to be 708,000.

Ethnicity

Ethnic white groups accounted for 98% (662,794) of the population with 10,994 (2%) in ethnic groups other than white. Of the 2% in non-white ethnic groups:

  • 3,717 (34%) belonged to mixed ethnic groups
  • 3,336 (30%) were Asian or Asian British
  • 1,076 (10%) were Black or Black British
  • 1,826 (17%) were of Chinese ethnic groups
  • 1,039 (9%) were of other ethnic groups.

Politics and administration

The area under the control of the county council, or shire county, is divided into a number of local government districts. They are Ellesmere Port and Neston, Chester, Crewe and Nantwich, Congleton, Macclesfield and Vale Royal.

On 25 July 2007, the Secretary of State Hazel Blears announced she was 'minded' to split Cheshire into two new unitary authorities, Cheshire West and Chester, and Cheshire East. She confirmed she had not changed her mind on 19 December 2007 and therefore the proposal to split two-tier Cheshire into two would proceed.

Cheshire County Council leader Paul Findlow, who attempted High Court legal action against the proposal, claimed that splitting Cheshire would only disrupt excellent services while increasing living costs for all. A widespread sentiment that this decision was taken by the European Union long ago has often been portrayed via angered letters from Cheshire residents to local papers. On 31 January 2008 the standard, Cheshire & district newspaper announced that the legal action had been dropped. Members against the proposal were advised that they may be unable to persuade the court that the decision of Hazel Blears was "manifestly absurd". The Cheshire West and Chester unitary authority will cover the area currently occupied by the boroughs of Ellesmere Port and Neston, Vale Royal and the City of Chester; Cheshire East will cover the area currently occupied by the boroughs of Congleton, Crewe and Nantwich, and Macclesfield. The changes are planned to be implemented no later than 1 April 2009, subject to a financial assessment of the proposal.

Congleton Borough Council is currently waiting to hear the result of its appeal against the judicial review it lost in October 2007. A decision either for or against the appeal should be announced before Easter 2008.

Halton (which includes the towns of Runcorn and Widnes) and Warrington are unitary authorities which form part of the county for various functions such as Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff, but do not come under county council control.

The ceremonial county, which includes the unitary authorities, borders Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire in England along with Flintshire and Wrexham in Wales, arranged by compass directions as shown in the table. below. Cheshire also forms part of the North West England region.

Neighbouring Authorities to the Ceremonial County

Religion

In the 2001 Census, 81% of the population (542,413) identified themselves as Christian; 124,677 (19%) did not identify with any religion or did not answer the question; 5,665 (1%) as belonging to other major world religions; and 1,033 belonging to other religions.

The boundary of the Church of England Diocese of Chester follows most closely the pre-1974 county boundary of Cheshire, so it includes all of Wirral, Stockport, and the Cheshire panhandle, that included Tintwistle Rural District council area. In terms of Roman Catholic church administration, the majority of Cheshire falls into the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury.

Economy and industry

Cheshire has a diverse economy with significant sectors including agriculture, automotive, bio-technology, chemical, financial services, food and drink, ICT, and tourism. The county is famous for the production of Cheshire cheese, salt and silk.

Cheshire is a mainly rural county with a high concentration of villages. Agriculture is generally based around the dairy trade and cattle are the predominant livestock. Land use given to agriculture has fluctuated somewhat, and in 2005 totalled 1558 km² over 4,609 holdings. Based on holdings by EC farm type in 2005, 8.51 km² was allocated to diary farming, with another 11.78 km² allocated to cattle and sheep.

The chemical industry in Cheshire was founded in the Roman times with the mining of salt in Middlewich and Northwich. Salt is still mined in this area by British Salt. The salt mining has led to a continued chemical industry around Northwich, with Brunner Mond based in the town. More chemical companies, including Ineos (formerly ICI) have plants at Runcorn. The Shell Stanlow Refinery is at Ellesmere Port. The oil refinery has operated since 1924 and has a capacity of 12 million tonnes per year.

Crewe was once the centre of the British railway industry, and remains a major railway junction. The Crewe railway works, built in 1840, employed 20,000 people at its peak, though this is now less than 1,000. Crewe is also the home of Bentley cars. Also within Cheshire are manufacturing plants for Jaguar and Vauxhall Motors in Ellesmere Port. The county also has an aircraft industry, with the BAE Systems facility at Woodford Aerodrome, part of BAE System's Military Air Solutions division. The facility designed and constructed Avro Lancaster and Avro Vulcan bombers and the Hawker-Siddeley Nimrod. On the Cheshire border with Flintshire, Wales is the Broughton aircraft factory, more recently associated with Airbus.

Tourism in Cheshire from both within the UK and overseas continues to perform strongly. Over 8 million nights of accommodation (both UK & overseas) and over 2.8 million visits to Cheshire were recorded during 2003.

At the start of 2003, there were 22,020 VAT registered enterprises in Cheshire, an increase of 7% since 1998, many in the Business Services (31.9%) and Wholesale/ Retail (21.7%) sectors. Between 2002 and 2003 the number businesses grew in four sectors: Public Administration and Other Services (6.0%), Hotels & Restaurants (5.1%), Construction (1.7%) and Business Services (1.0%). The county saw the largest proportional reduction between 2001 and 2002 in employment in the 'Energy and Water' sector and there was also a significant reduction in the Manufacturing sector. The largest growth during this period was in the 'Other Services' and 'Distribution, Hotels and Retail' sector.

Education

Cheshire LEA has a completely comprehensive state school system (as does Halton and Warrington) with 42 state schools, not including sixth form colleges, and 15 independent schools. When Altrincham, Sale and Wirral were moved from Cheshire to Trafford in 1974, they took some former Cheshire selective schools.

Culture, media and sport

Cheshire has several league football teams, notably League One Crewe Alexandra and League Two Chester City and Macclesfield Town. Cheshire County Cricket Club is one of the minor county cricket clubs. The county has also been home to many notable sportsmen and athletes, including footballers Dean Ashton (West Ham), Djibril Cissé (France and Olympique de Marseille), Peter Crouch (England and Liverpool), Seth Johnson (Derby County) Michael Owen (England and Newcastle United) and Wayne Rooney (England and Manchester United). Other local athletes include cricketer Ian Botham; marathon runner Paula Radcliffe; Great Britain Olympic oarsman Matthew Langridge; Shirley Strong; and mountaineer George Mallory, who died in 1924 on Mount Everest.

The county has produced several notable musicians, including popular artists John Mayall (John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers), Ian Astbury (The Cult), Tim Burgess (Charlatans), Ian Curtis (Joy Division) and Kerry Katona (Atomic Kitten). Concert pianist Stephen Hough, singer Thea Gilmore and her producer husband Nigel Stonier also reside in Cheshire. The county has also been home to several writers, including Hall Caine (1853-1931), popular romantic novelist and playwright; Alan Garner; Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, whose novel Cranford features her home town of Knutsford; and most famously Lewis Carroll, born and raised in Daresbury, hence the Cheshire cat. Artists from the county include ceramic artist Emma Bossons and sculptor and photographer Andy Goldsworthy. Actors from Cheshire include Daniel Craig, the 6th James Bond; Dame Wendy Hiller; and Lewis McGibbon, best known for his role in Millions.

Warrington Wolves are the premier Rugby League team in Cheshire and play in the Super League. Widnes Vikings are currently in National League One.

Local radio stations in the county include Dee 106.3, Marcher Sound and Classic Gold Marcher for Chester and West Cheshire, Silk FM for the east of the county, Signal 1 for the south, Wire FM for Warrington, Wish FM which covers Widnes, and community station Cheshire FM which covers central Cheshire. The BBC covers the west with BBC Radio Merseyside, the north and east with BBC Radio Manchester and the south with BBC Radio Stoke. There were plans to launch BBC Radio Cheshire, but those were shelved in 2007 after a lower than expected BBC licence fee settlement.

Notable residents

Settlements and communications

Settlements

The county is home to some of the most affluent areas of England, including Alderley Edge, Wilmslow, Prestbury, Tarporley and Knutsford, named in 2006 as the most expensive place to buy a house in the north of England. The former Cheshire town of Altrincham was in second place. The area is sometimes referred to as The Golden Triangle on account of the area in and around the above mentioned towns and villages.

The cities and towns in Cheshire are:

Ceremonial county District Centre of administration Other Towns or Cities
Cheshire Chester (city borough) Chester Malpas
Congleton (borough) Sandbach Alsager, Congleton, Middlewich
Crewe and Nantwich (borough) Crewe Nantwich
Ellesmere Port and Neston (borough) Ellesmere Port Neston
Halton (borough) (unitary) Widnes Runcorn
Macclesfield (borough) Macclesfield Bollington, Knutsford, Wilmslow
Vale Royal (borough) Winsford Frodsham, Northwich
Warrington (borough) (Unitary) Warrington (none)

Some settlements which were historically part of the county now fall under the counties of Derbyshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester:

Derbyshire Newtown, Tintwistle, Whaley Bridge (western part)
Greater Manchester Altrincham, Bramhall, Bredbury, Cheadle, Cheadle Hulme, Dukinfield, Gatley, Hazel Grove, Hyde, Marple, Romiley, Sale, Stalybridge, Stockport, Wythenshawe
Merseyside Bebington, Birkenhead, Heswall, Hoylake, Wallasey, West Kirby

Transport

Rail and Road

The West Coast Main Line runs from south to north through the centre of the county, connecting Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western railway stations with London, Preston and Glasgow. The Mid-Cheshire Line connects Chester to Stockport, crossing from south west to north east across the county. Manchester Airport straddles the boundary between Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

Lines also connect Chester to Crewe, The north Wales coast, Shrewsburry, Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester (via Warrington). Crewe Station (the largest in the county) is a major interchange station with trains to north and south Wales, Birmingham, Manchester, London, Liverpool, Scotland, The east/west midlands, and South coast.

The Cheshire road system is made up of , which includes of the M6, M62, M53 and M56 motorways, with 23 interchanges and four service areas. The M6 motorway across the Thelwall Viaduct carries 140,000 vehicles every 24 hours.

Waterways

The Cheshire canal system includes several canals originally used to transport the county's industrial products (mostly chemicals). Nowadays they are mainly used for tourist traffic. The Cheshire Ring is formed from The Rochdale, Ashton, Peak Forest, Macclesfield, Trent and Mersey and Bridgewater canals. The Manchester Ship Canal is a wide, stretch of water opened in 1894. It consists of the rivers Irwell and Mersey made navigable to Manchester for seagoing ships leaving the Mersey Estuary. The canal passes through the north of the county via Runcorn and Warrington.

See also

Notes and References

Notes

Bibliography

  • Beck, J. (1969). Tudor Cheshire. (Volume 7 of Cheshire Community Council Series: A History of Cheshire). Series Editor: J. J. Bagley. Chester, UK: Cheshire Community Council.
  • Bu'Lock, J. D. (1972). Pre-Conquest Cheshire 383-1066. (Volume 3 of Cheshire Community Council Series: A History of Cheshire). Series Editor: J. J. Bagley. Chester, UK: Cheshire Community Council.
  • Crosby, A. (1996). A History of Cheshire. (The Darwen County History Series.) Chichester, UK: Phillimore & co. Ltd. ISBN 0850339324.
  • Dore, R.N. (1966). The Civil Wars in Cheshire. (Volume 8 of Cheshire Community Council Series: A History of Cheshire). Series Editor: J. J. Bagley. Chester, UK: Cheshire Community Council.
  • Driver, J. T. (1971). Cheshire in the Later Middle Ages 1399-1540. (Volume 6 of Cheshire Community Council Series: A History of Cheshire). Series Editor: J. J. Bagley. Chester, UK: Cheshire Community Council.
  • Harris, B. E. (1979). 'The Victoria History of the County of Chester. (Volume 2). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 019722749X.
  • Harris, B. E. (1980). 'The Victoria History of the County of Chester. (Volume 3). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0197227546.
  • Harris, B. E., and Thacker, A. T. (1987). The Victoria History of the County of Chester. (Volume 1: Physique, Prehistory, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and Domesday). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0197227619.
  • Hewitt, H. J. (1967). Cheshire Under the Three Edwards. (Volume 5 of Cheshire Community Council Series: A History of Cheshire). Series Editor: J. J. Bagley. Chester, UK: Cheshire Community Council.
  • Higham, N. J. (1993). The Origins of Cheshire. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0719031605.
  • Hodson, J. H. (1978). Cheshire, 1660-1780: Restoration to Industrial Revolution. (Volume 9 of Cheshire Community Council Series: A History of Cheshire). Series Editor: J. J. Bagley. Chester, UK: Cheshire Community Council. ISBN 0903119110.
  • Husain, B. M. C. (1973). Cheshire Under the Norman Earls 1066-1237. (Volume 4 of Cheshire Community Council Series: A History of Cheshire). Series Editor: J. J. Bagley. Chester, UK: Cheshire Community Council.
  • Morgan, P. (Ed.) (1978). Domesday Book. Volume 26: Cheshire. Chichester, Sussex: Phillmore and Company Limited. ISBN 0850331404.
  • Morgan, V., and Morgan, P. (2004). Prehistoric Cheshire. Ashbourne, Derbyshire:Landmark Publishing Company. ISBN 1843061406.
  • Phillips, A. D. M., and Phillips, C. B. (Eds.) (2002). A New Historical Atlas of Cheshire. Chester, UK: Cheshire County Council and Cheshire Community Council Publications Trust. ISBN 0904532461.
  • Scard, G. (1981). Squire and Tenant: Rural Life in Cheshire 1760-1900. (Volume 10 of Cheshire Community Council Series: A History of Cheshire). Series Editor: J. J. Bagley. Chester, UK: Cheshire Community Council. ISBN 0903119137.
  • Scholes, R. (2000). The Towns and Villages of Britain: Cheshire. Wilmslow, Cheshire: Sigma Press. ISBN 1850586373.
  • Sylvester, D. (1980). A History of Cheshire, (The Darwen County History Series.) (Second Edition, original publication date, 1971). London and Chichester, UK: Phillimore & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0850333849.
  • Sylvester. D., and Nulty, G. (1958). The Historical Atlas of Cheshire. (Third Edition) Chester, UK: Cheshire Community Council.
  • Thompson, F. H. (1965). Roman Cheshire. (Volume 2 of Cheshire Community Council Series: A History of Cheshire). Series Editor: J. J. Bagley. Chester, UK: Cheshire Community Council.
  • Tigwell, R. E. (1985). Cheshire in the Twentieth Century. (Volume 11 of Cheshire Community Council Series: A History of Cheshire). Series Editor: J. J. Bagley. Chester, UK: Cheshire Community Council.
  • Varley, W. J. (1964). Cheshire Before the Romans. (Volume 1 of Cheshire Community Council Series: A History of Cheshire). Series Editor: J. J. Bagley. Chester, UK: Cheshire Community Council.
  • Youngs, F. A. (1991). Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England. (Volume 1: Northern England). London: Royal Historical Society. ISBN 0861931270.

External links

Search another word or see cheshireon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;