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Warrington 1843

WARRINGTON, a parliamentary borough in the hundred of West Derby in Lancashire, 189 miles from the General Post-Office, London, by coach-road through St. Alban's, Dunstable, Stoney Stratford, Daventry, Coventry, Coleshill, Lichfield, Stone, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Congleton, and Knutsford ; or 192 miles by the London and Birmingham Railway to Birmingham, and from thence by the Grand Junction Railway : this distance is travelled by the mail-trains in little more than nine hours.

Mr. Baines, in his ‘History of Lancashire,’ adduces evidence to show that Warrington was a Roman station, Veratinum, the Varatin of Ravennas ; but the evidence is far from conclusive. In the time of Edward the Confessor the manor. called Walintune, was held by the king, and the place then gave name to one of the three hundreds, now merged in that of West Derby. Warrington derived its importance from a ford over the Mersey, on the north side of which the town stands. At the end of the fourteenth century a bridge was erected, which was about a century after replaced by a more substantial one of stone. For this stone bridge one of wood on stone piers was substituted in 1812. In the civil war of Charles I the earl of Derby, a Royalist, fortified himself at Warrington. After one unsuccessful attempt, in March, 1643, the Parliamentarians from Cheshire, under Sir William Brereton, and from Manchester, under Colonel Ashton, took the town in May or June that year. In the campaign against the Royalist Scots in 1648, Cromwell compelled a division of the Royalists, 4,000 strong, to surrender at Warrington. When Charles II entered England. in 1651, he had a sharp skirmish at Warrington with the Parliamentarians under Lambert and Harrison, who were compelled to retire. In 1609 Sir George Booth, formerly a Parliamentarian, who had raised the royal standard, was stopped in his flight from Winnington Bridge, near Delamere Forest, in Cheshire, where he had been defeated by Lambert, by the Parliamentary garrison of Warrington. The town was occupied by a strong force in the Jacobite insurrection of 1715 ; and the bridge was cut down in the insurrection of 1745, to prevent the passage of the rebels. The duke of Cumberland passed through Warrington in his march to the north in 1746.

The parish of Warrington has an area of 12,260 acres, divided as follows:-


Houses in 1831

Population in 1831

Township or Chapelry

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Pulton with Fearnhead








Rixton with Glazebrook
















Woolstone with Martinscroft
















The town is on the north bank of the Mersey, just above the junction of the Sankey Brook, which passes not far from the town on the west side. It consists of a number of streets irregularly laid out and narrow. The principal coach-road between Liverpool and Manchester passes through the town, and formerly as many as seventy public carriages were running daily ; but the formation of the Manchester and Liverpool Railway has almost entirely diverted this traffic. The streets are well paved, and lighted with gas ; the houses are many of them old and indifferently built ; but interspersed among them are a number of modern well-built. habitations. The parish church is on the east side of the town, near the entrance of the coach-road from Manchester. It is a large cruciform building of various dates, capable of accommodating nearly 1,800 persons. The chancel is the most ancient part, and is a good specimen of decorated English character. The windows, especially the east window, have very elegant tracery. The north transept is of perpendicular character, of late date, and poor execution : the remaining parts of the church are modern. There are five episcopal chapels or churches in the parish, two in the town, three in the out-parts of the parish. One of these, St. Paul’s, in the town, was finished in 1831, and is of Gothic architecture, with a tower ; and one (Padgate) is of still later erection. The others were erected in the last century. There are in the parish three Catholic chapels and ten meeting-houses for dissenters. Beside these buildings there are a town-hall, a market-hall in the market-place, two cloth-halls, a bridewell, or place of temporary confinement, assembly-rooms, a theatre, and extensive gas works.

Warrington was among the earliest seats of manufacture in Lancashire. Coarse linens and checks were its first fabrics, to which succeeded huckaback, then sail-cloth (with which Warrington is said at one time to have supplied half the British navy), and sacking. At present chief branches of industry are cotton-spinning and power-loom weaving, the manufacture of flint-glass and glass bottles, machinery and mill-work, wire, pins, files, nails and tools, spades, rope, sail-cloth, soap, glue, size, hats, and gunpowder : there are steam-mills for flour, malt-houses, tan-yards, a paper-mill, and two or three breweries. The Warrington ale has long been celebrated. The market is on Wednesday for corn, vegetables, and butcher’s meat : a market of less consequence is held on Saturday. There is a chartered fair every fortnight for cattle, long disused, but revived a few years since with good success ; and there are two yearly fairs for woollen-cloth, Irish linens, Welsh flannels, horses, horned cattle, pigs, sheep, and pedlery. Potatoes and vegetables are cultivated to a considerable extent round the town. The Mersey is navigable up to Warrington at spring-tides for vessels of from 70 to 100 tons. The navigation of the river Mersey and its feeder the Irwell is continued upward to Manchester. The Mersey and Irwell Canal joins the Mersey near Warrington ; and the Sankey Canal, the Duke of Bridgewater’s Canal, and the Grand Junction Railroad, all pass near the town. There was formerly an important salmon and smelt fishery in the Mersey, but it has much declined.

Warrington was made a parliamentary borough by the Reform Act, and returns one member. The borough includes the township of Warrington and that of Latchford, with some detached portions of Thelwall township. Latchford township is in Grappenhall parish, on the Cheshire side of the Mersey : it has an area of 1,010 acres, with (in 1831) 422 houses inhabited, 26 uninhabited, and 2 building ; together 450 houses, with 439 families and 2,166 persons. The portions of Thelwall township (or rather chapelry) in Runcorn parish, also in Cheshire, which are included, have only two houses. The population of the parliamentary borough by the census of 1831 was 18,184, exclusive of those in Thelwall. The number of voters in 1835-6 was 557 ; in 1839-40, 633.

The living of Warrington is a rectory, of the clear yearly value of which there is no return. The perpetual curacies of Trinity and St. Paul’s chapels or churches, in the town, are of the respective clear yearly values of £130 and £150 ; Hollinfair or Hollinfare chapelry, of £136 ; and Burton-wood chapelry, of £96. The value of Padgate is not returned. The parish is in the rural deanery of Warrington, and in the archdeaconry and diocese of Chester.

There were in the parish, in 1833, one infant-school, with 50 boys and 50 girls ; forty other day-schools of all kinds, with 828 boys, 685 girls, and 95 children of sex not distinguished in the return ; making a total of 1,708 children, or about one in eleven of the whole population, under daily instruction. One of the schools was a free grammar-school, well-endowed, with 40 boys ; two others were also endowed, one of them richly, with 164 boys and 60 girls ; and another was a school of industry, partly supported by subscription, with 100 girls. There were at the same time sixteen Sunday-schools, with 1,334 boys, 1,308 girls, and 42 scholars of sex not distinguished, giving 2,684 children, or about one in seven of the population, under Sunday instruction.

About the middle of the last century an academy for superior education among the dissenters was established at Warrington ; and several eminent men, including Dr. John Taylor, author of the Hebrew Concordance ; the elder Dr. John Aikin, father of Mrs. Barbauld ; Dr. Enfield ; Dr. Priestley ; Reinhold Forster, the naturalist ; and Gilbert Wakefield, were engaged in conducting it. It did not however succeed. During the continuance of the academy several works were printed and published at Warrington, including Howard's work ‘On Prisons,’ Mrs. Barbauld's ‘Corsica,’ and some other poems, and ‘Mount Pleasant,’ a poem, the earliest publication of the late William Roscoe. Dr. Percival was a native of Warrington.

There are a public subscription library, a mechanics’ institution, and a dispensary.