infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 53.194
longitude= -2.5197
official_name= Winsford
population= 29,683 (2001 Census)
shire_district= Vale Royal
shire_county = Cheshire
region= North West England
constituency_westminster= Eddisbury
post_town= WINSFORD
postcode_district = CW7
postcode_area= CW
dial_code= 01606
os_grid_reference= SJ6566

Winsford is a town and civil parish within the Vale Royal borough of Cheshire, England. It lies south of Northwich on the River Weaver and grew around the salt mining industry after the river was canalised in the eighteenth century, allowing freight to be conveyed northwards to the Port of Runcorn on the River Mersey.

Winsford is split into two neighbourhoods; Over on the western side of the River Weaver and Wharton on the eastern side.


Kings Henry III and Edward I occasionally held court at Darnhall near Winsford. The latter king founded Vale Royal Abbey at Darnhall, but then moved it in 1277 to near Whitegate. [cite book| title=It's all Over|author=Brian J Curzon|date=2006|page=Page 6] By around 1280, a charter had been granted to form a new town near the Abbey, centred on the present-day Delamere Street in Winsford. From this charter can be traced the origins of the market that is still held in the town.

The Government gave permission for artificial improvements to be made to the River Weaver in 1721, in order to allow large barges to reach Winsford from the port of Liverpool.cite book| title=It's all over|author=Brian J Curzon|date=2006] cite book|title=Images of England:Winsford|author=Brian Curzon|date=2001] At first, this was the closest that barges carrying china clay from Cornwall could get to the Potteries district of north Staffordshire, which was then rapidly developing as the major centre of ceramic production in Britain.

Cornish china clay was used in the production of earthenware and stoneware. The clay was taken overland from Winsford by pack horse to manufacturers in the Potteries, a distance of about 30 miles. Locally-produced salt was also transported to the Potteries, for use in the manufacture of salt-glazed stoneware. Finished ceramics from the Potteries were brought back to Winsford, for onward export through the port of Liverpool. That trade ended in the 1780s when the Trent and Mersey Canal carried the goods through Middlewich, bypassing Winsford.

The canalised River Weaver was the inspiration for the Duke of Bridgewater's canals and later the engineer for the Weaver Navigation, Edwin Leader Williams, designed and built the Manchester Ship Canal.

From the 1830s, salt became important to Winsford, partly because the salt mines under Northwich had begun to collapse and another source of salt near the River Weaver was needed. [cite book| title=It's all Over|author=Brian J Curzon|date=2006|page=Page 17] A new source was discovered in Winsford, leading to thedevelopment of a salt industry along the course of the River Weaver, where many factories were established. By 1897, Winsford had become the largest producer of salt in Britain. As a result, a new town developed within a mile of the old Borough of Over which had been focused on Delamere Street. Most of the early development took place on the other side of the river, with new housing, shops, pubs, chapels and a new church being built in the former hamlet of Wharton. As the prevailing winds blew the smoke away from Over, it became the place for the wealthier inhabitants to live. However, people who worked on the barges and other people working in Winsford started to develop along the old Over Lane, now the High Street. The old Borough tried to keep itself separate but had been connected by the 1860s.cite book| title=It's all Over|author=Brian J Curzon|date=2006|page=Page 18]

By the World War II, the salt trade had declined as one company took control of all the salt works and introduced methods of manufacture that needed greatly reduced labour. Slum clearance started in the 1930s and, by the 1950s, there were three new housing estates on both sides of the river to replace sub-standard homes. However, even in the 1960s, Winsford could be described as "one long line of mainly terraced houses from the station to Salterswall".

The town experienced a major expansion in the late 1960s and 1970s with its designation as a New Town. This saw the development of two new industrial areas on both sides of the town and new housing estates for council and private development along with the creation of the new shopping centre with its associated library, sports centre, civic hall and doctors' surgeries. The expansion in population was, however, not fully completed, leaving the town with far larger civic buildings than its population would otherwise warrant.

From a social point of view, this led to a mix in the population of the town. The original Cheshire residents experienced a wave of inhabitants from Manchester which was followed by a second and much larger wave of newcomers from Liverpool. There was (and to some extent still is) some friction between "Old" Winsfordians and the "New" Winsfordians. The term "" for "Old" Winsfordians was a common term of abuse related to their supposed rural roots. These tensions have, with the passage of time, greatly subsided.

Vale Royal Borough Council was formed in 1974 covering Winsford, Northwich and a large rural area of mid-Cheshire. In 1991, the council moved its main office from Northwich to a purpose-built headquarters in Winsford. Winsford Town Council is also housed in the same building. Since then both [ Cheshire Fire Service] (in 1997) and [ Cheshire Police] (in 2003) have moved headquarters from the county town of Chester to Winsford.


Political representation

Currently there are three layers of local government with responsibility for Winsford, the county council, the borough council and the town council. The town is represented by one MP, Stephen O'Brien, Member of Parliament for Eddisbury.

Winsford is officially twinned with Deuil-la-Barre in France.


The climate is generally temperate with few extremes of temperature or weather. The mean average temperature is slightly above average for the United Kingdom as is the average amount of sunshine. [ [ Office:Average annual mean temperature.] Accessed 15 April 2007] [ [ Office:Average annual sunshine.] Accessed 15 April 2007] The average annual rainfall is slightly below the average for the UK. [ [ Office:Average annual rainfall.] Accessed 15 April 2007] There are few days when snow is lying on the ground, although there are a some days of air frost. [ [ Office:Days of snow lying.] Accessed 15 April 2007] [ [ Office:Days of air frost.] Accessed 15 April 2007]



Major supermarkets are Asda and Aldi in the town centre and Morrisons in Wharton. Other major chains include JJB Sports, Argos, Superdrug, Boots, New Look, Brantano and Peacocks. The shopping centre is of 1970s design, with some covered areas. [ [ List of shops in Winsford.] Retrieval Date: 20 August, 2007.]

Winsford Rock Salt and Rock Salt Mine

The UK's largest rock salt (halite) mine is at Winsford. [cite web|title=Going underground|url=] It is one of only two places where rock salt is commercially mined in the UK, the other being at Boulby Mine, North Yorkshire. Rock salt was laid down in this part of North West England 220 million years ago, during the Triassic geological period. Seawater moved inland from an open sea, creating a chain of shallow salt marshes across what is today the Cheshire basin. As the marshes evaporated, deep deposits of rock salt were formed.

Rock salt extraction began at Winsford in the 17th century. Initially it was used only as salt licks for animals, and to strengthen weak brine. In 1844 Winsford Rock Salt Mine was opened, and is claimed by its operator, Salt Union Ltd., to be "Britain's oldest working mine". [ [ Welcome to Winsford Rock Salt Mine ] ] Salt Union Ltd. is part of the US-owned group of companies Compass Minerals. Today, rock salt is quarried from a depth of more than 150 metres below ground, producing salt (commonly known as "grit") for use as a de-icing agent on roads. The mine produces 1 million tonnes of rock salt annually, and has a network of 135 miles of tunnels over several square miles underneath the area between Winsford and Northwich.

A worked-out part of the mine is operated by DeepStore Ltd. [ [ Welcome to Deep Store ] ] , a records' management company offering a secure storage facility. Confidential government files, hospital patient records, historic archives, and business data are stored in the mine, where the dry and stable atmosphere provide ideal conditions for long-term document storage.


The local newspapers are the Winsford Guardian and Winsford Chronicle. A radio station, Cheshire FM, now covers the mid-Cheshire area including Winsford.


t Chad's Church

This church, off Swanlow Lane, is the most well-known local historical landmark. One of the most popular local stories is that St Chad's Church was originally built in Over Square, but the devil was so angry at the people's use of it that he decided to fly off with it. The monks at Vale Royal Abbey were said to have seen him and rang the abbey bells so that it was dropped in its current location. [cite book | last =Richards | first =Raymond | title =Old Cheshire Churches | publisher =Batsford |date=1947 | location =London | pages =263] In fact, its location is probably due to it having always belonged, along with its tithes (a tax of ten percent of income of the parishioners) to the nuns of St Mary's Convent in Chester. This presumably convinced the Abbot to build the town far enough away from the Church in order to gain the tithes himself.Fact|date=September 2007 The incumbent vicar of St. Chad's is the Rev. Adam Friend.Fact|date=September 2007

tone (or 'Saxon') Cross

By St John's Church of England Primary School on Delamere Street, is a rare (possibly unique) lock-up/monument built in the 19th Century.cite book| title=It's all Over|author=Brian J Curzon|date=2006|page=page 19] The Over Market met nearby so the Cross was used for locking up drunks, thieves and swindlers until the magistrates court at the George and Dragon on the edge of Delamere Street was in session.Fact|date=September 2007 The building is in the form of a stepped pyramid surmounted by a cross. The door to the lock-up is still visible but was blocked up in the 1970s.

Many invented tales of buried treasure and secret passages are told about the Cross but unfortunately none are true. The nearby street name of Saxon Crossway was invented by the Borough Council in the 1960s. The real Saxon Cross is preserved at St Chad's Church. [cite book| title=It's all Over|author=Brian J Curzon|date=2006|page=page 3]

Winsford Flashes

The Winsford Flashes are the town's most notable geographical feature. In referring to them as the "Cheshire Broads", a comparison is made with the better-known Norfolk Broads.cite web|title=CHESHIRE BROADS PUT TOWN ON THE TOURISM MAP|work=This is Cheshire|url=] "Flash" is an English dialect word for "lake", with a regional distribution centred on the north-west counties of Cheshire and Lancashire. The Winsford Flashes (Top Flash, Middle Flash, and Bottom Flash, the largest) comprise three lakes along the course of the River Weaver, extending over some 200 acres. They formed in the 19th century (cartographical evidence dates their formation to between 1845 and 1872), due to the subsidence of surface ground into underground voids.Fact|date=September 2007 The voids were largely the result of brine extraction, in which rock salt deposits were dissolved and washed out by water. As the ground slumped into the voids, the River Weaver widened at each point, until lakes were made where arable land had once been. From the late-19th century, Winsford Flashes became popular with working-class day-trippers from the nearby industrial centres of Manchester and the Staffordshire Potteries. Visitors came in large numbers for a day's leisure boating, picknicking, and sightseeing.Fact|date=September 2007 However, the Winsford Flashes were never developed as a public amenity, and their popularity soon fell into decline.

Today, they are primarily enjoyed by the local community, and are used for sailing, fishing, and walking. They support a wide range of wildlife, with several species of migrant wildfowl, such as Canada Geese, using them as an over-winter destination.

Other places

St John's Church on Delamere Street dates from 1863 when Lord Delamere of Vale Royal commissioned the young Sandiway architect John Douglas to build it as a memorial to his deceased wife.cite book| title=It's all Over|author=Brian J Curzon|date=2006|page=page 21] This is the tallest building on highest part of Over so the spire can be seen for miles around.

The Brunner Guildhall, which is now a part of Mid Cheshire College, was built in the late Nineteenth Century.Fact|date=September 2007

Historic Landmarks

Parts of Knights Grange Pub, Grange Lane was build in the 17th Century. Fact|date=September 2007

Littler Grange, now a children's nursery is the best remaining half-timber building in Winsford, including sloping floors on part of the first floor.

The Saint John's tunnel was rumored to hold the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Some believe this tunnel was a decoy but others believe the Jewels were stored in Winsford for some time until they were exported via the River Weaver.Fact|date=October 2007

Dawk House on Swanlow Lane is a largely unaltered timber framed farm, covered in white stucco probably during the reign of Queen Anne, including the date 1711.

Blue Bell Inn by St Chad's Church, now also a children's nursery. It is in fact an exact replica of a medieval building that burned down in the 1960s.


Winsford railway station, on the main Liverpool to Birmingham line, is one mile east of the centre of the town, in Wharton. The M6 motorway at junction 18 at Middlewich is the nearest motorway link, with the A54 connecting the town to it. The nearest airports are Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester Airport.


Primary Schools

* Darnhall Primary School
* Grange Primary School
* Greenfields Primary School
* Handley Hill Primary School
* Winsford High Street Community Primary School [ [ Winsford High Street Community Primary School Official Website.] Accessed: 2007-06-23.]
* Leaf Lane Infant School [ [ Leaf Lane Infant School Official School Website.] Accessed: 2007-06-23.]
* Overhall Primary School [ [ Overhall Primary School Official Website.] Accessed: 2007-06-23.]
* St. Chad's C of E Primary School [ [ St. Chad's C of E Primary School Official School Website.] Accessed: 2007-06-23.]
* Over St. John's C of E Primary School [ [ Over St. John's C of E Primary School Official Website.] Accessed: 2007-06-23.]
* St. Josephs' Roman Catholic Primary School
* Wharton CE Junior School [ [ Wharton CE Junior School Official Website.] Accessed: 2007-06-23.]
* Willow Wood Infant School [ [ Willow Wood Infant School Official Website.] Accessed: 2007-06-23.]
* Willow Wood Junior School [ [ Willow Wood Junior School Official Website.] Accessed: 2007-06-23.]

econdary Schools

* Hebden Green Community School [ [ Hebden Green Community School Official School Website.] Accessed: 2007-06-23.]
*Oaklands School
* The Verdin High School [ [ The Verdin High School Official Website.] Accessed: 2007-06-23.]
* Woodford Lodge High Schoolcite web|title=Schools in the Vale Royal area|url=]


* Mid Cheshire College - Winsford
* Winsford Sixth Form

Religious sites

* Assemblies of God New Life Pentecostal Church, High Street.
* Christ Church Wharton, Crook Lane [ Official Website] .
* St Andrew's Methodist Church, Dingle Lane.
* St Chad's Church, off Swanlow Lane.
* St John's Church, Delamere Street.
* St Joseph's Catholic Church, Woodford Lane.
* Salvation Army, Weaver Street.
* Trinity Methodist Church, Station Road
* United Reformed Church, Over Square, Swanlow Lane.

ports and recreation

The town has a non-league football team, Winsford United that suffered numerous relegations and now plays in the North West Counties Football League Division 2. Support for the team has dwindled over the years, falling from a pre-war peak of over 10,000 to just 100.Fact|date=September 2007 The Blues, (after the colour of their shirts) play at Barton Stadium. Neville Southall once played for the club.

Winsford ASC is a swimming club which has achieved Swim21 club status and won the North West Division 1 speedo league. It has now been promoted to the premier league. [ [ Winsford Amateur Swimming Club (ASC).] Retrieval Date: 20 August, 2007.]

Vale Royal Athletic Club is based mainly in Northwich and Winsford, and has several international athletes training with them. This club was created in its present form by the merger, in 1994, of the Mid Cheshire Athletic Club and Winsford Athletic Club. [ [ Vale Royal Athletic Club.] Retrieval Date: 20 August, 2007.]

The youth football teams are Winsford Over 3 and Winsford diamonds.

The youth cricket team is Winsford Cricket team which is also a senior team.

Allotment gardens at Moss Bank, Over, date from 1924, when William Stubbs of 'Leahlands', Swanlow Lane, sold a four-acre field behind High Street to Winsford Urban District Council, ‘for the purpose of the Allotments Act’. [Deed of Conveyance, held at Vale Royal Borough Council offices, Winsford] The field, named on the 1846 Over Parish Tithe Map as 'Well Field', had been farmed since at least the seventeenth century, and its conversion to allotments secured its use for future generations. The site shrank in the 1960s and 1970s with the building of housing and an electricity sub-station along Moss Bank, but the acquisition in 1970 of land adjacent to Over Recreation Ground brought it to its present size.

In the late 1980s, a record-breaking pumpkin was grown on the allotments. Weighing in at 579 lb (263 kg), it held the national record for a time. [Local newspaper story; paper's name and date not recorded on cutting seen]

The allotments (about 50 plots and 5 raised beds) are owned and managed by Winsford Town Council. The plot-holders have their own organisation, Over Allotments and Leisure Gardeners’ Association. Lottery funding has enabled a programme of on-going improvements since 2002, the most recent grant being in 2007 from the Awards for All scheme for £6,940. [cite web|title=Lottery winners put their money to waste|url= |work=Winsford Guardian 11 August 2007|accessdate=2007-08-14] [cite web|title=Growing interest as allotment gets grant|work=Winsford Chronicle, 15 August 2007|url=

Winsford is also well known for its crown green bowlers, with many of the top players in the country hailing from Winsford over the years, many of whom played or play for Wharton Cons BC.

Notable People

*Sir John Swanwick Bradbury, 1st Baron Bradbury (Baron Bradbury) – British Treasury official
*John Bradbury, 3rd Baron Bradbury (Baron Bradbury) – the present Lord Bradbury
*Johnny Briggs – "Mike Baldwin" in Coronation Street was an evacuee in Winsford during World War Two
*Tom Brittleton – Footballercite book |last=Dickinson |first=Jason |coauthors=Brodie, John |title=The Wednesday Boys: A Definitive Who's Who of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club 1880–2005 |pages=pp.43–44 |publisher=Pickard Communication |location=Sheffield |date=2005 |id= ISBN 0-9547264-9-9]
*Clare Calbraith – Actress
*Janet Dean – Politician
*Herman Eugene Falk – Salt manufacturer [David Iredale, ‘Falk, Herman Eugene (1820–1898)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004 ]
*Daniel Fox – Footballer
*David Hanson – Politician
*Nicky Maynard – Footballer
*Robert Nixon – 18th Century Prophet
*Alan Oakes – Footballer
*Neville Southall – Footballer

ee also

* Barton Stadium – home of Winsford United FC.
* Rail accidents in Winsford – summaries of three rail accidents at Winsford.
* Brighton Belle

Notes and References

Further reading

* "A Ninety Year History: Winsford Church of England Primary School 1909-1999: St Chad's Primary School" by Mary Curry, Leonie Press, 2001.
* "The Book of Winsford" by J. Brian Curzon, Quotes, 1997 - a general introduction to the town's history.
* "Winsford" by J. Brian Curzon, Tempus Publishing Ltd, 2001 - Mainly photographs with captions
* "A Cheshire Parish at War: St Chad's, Over, Winsford, 1914-1925" by Ann Clayton, 1998 - who fought in the First World War from the congregation of St Chad's and what happened to them.
* "Woollyback" by Alan Fleet, Leonie Press, 2000 - a fictional account of Winsford in the 20th Century.
* "The Winsford and Over Branch" by RW Miller, Oakwood Press, 1999
* "Winsford Returns" by Alan Ravenscroft, 1996 - A list of all those who served in the First World War.
* "It's All Over", J.Brian Curzon, 2006
* "Official Winsford Town Guide", Winsford Town Council, 2006

External links

* [ Winsford official website]
* [ Winsford & District Historical Society]
* [ Winsford Independent Website]
* [ Winsford Independent Discussion site]
* [ Cybercafes in Vale Royal]
* [ Winsford Rock Salt Mine]
* [ Winsford Public Library]

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