Runcorn: Wikis


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Coordinates: 53°19′41″N 2°42′43″W / 53.328°N 2.712°W / 53.328; -2.712

Silver Jubilee Bridge.jpg
Runcorn Silver Jubilee Bridge
Runcorn is located in Cheshire

 Runcorn shown within Cheshire
Population 61,252 [1]
OS grid reference SJ525815
    - London  167 miles (269 km) SE 
Unitary authority Halton
Ceremonial county Cheshire
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town RUNCORN
Postcode district WA7
Dialling code 01928
Police Cheshire
Fire Cheshire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Halton
List of places: UK • England • Cheshire

Runcorn is an industrial town and cargo port within the borough of Halton in the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England. In mid-2004 its population was estimated to be 61,252.[1] The town is on the southern bank of the River Mersey where the estuary narrows to form Runcorn Gap. Directly to the north across the Mersey is the town of Widnes. Upstream and 8 miles (12.9 km) to the northeast is the town of Warrington, and downstream 16 miles (26 km) to the west is the city of Liverpool.

Runcorn railway station is on a branch of the West Coast Main Line. It provides frequent services to London (Euston), Liverpool, and Birmingham. The A533 road passes through the town from the south, crossing the Runcorn Gap over the Silver Jubilee Bridge, the lowest bridge crossing of the River Mersey. The Manchester Ship Canal runs between the town and the River Mersey, and the Bridgewater Canal passes through and ends in the town at its junction with the Manchester Ship Canal.

Runcorn was a small, isolated village until the coming of the Industrial Revolution. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries it was a health resort. Towards the end of the 18th century, a port began to develop on the south bank of the River Mersey. During the 19th century industries developed, in particular the manufacture of soap and alkali, quarrying, shipbuilding, engineering, and tanning. In the early 20th century, the prime industries were chemicals and tanning. The original village has grown to include what were outlying villages. Except for chemicals, all the old industries have disappeared, and there has been diversification, in particular because of the close links to the motorway system, and the development of warehousing and distribution centres. A new town was built to the east of the existing town in the 1960s and 1970s, and farther to the east, areas of private housing have been established; this has resulted in a doubling of the population from around 30,000 to its present level.



The earliest written reference to the town is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, where it is spelled Rumcofan, literally “a wide cove or bay”. This word is derived from the Old English words rúm (“wide” or “broad”) and cofa (“cave” or “cove”). Other historical spellings of Runcorn include Rumcoven, Ronchestorn, Runckhorne, and Runcorne.[2]

Little is known about the early history of the settlement but isolated findings of objects from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages have been made and there is evidence of a Roman presence in the area.[3] The earliest recorded event in its history is the building by Ethelfleda of a fortification at Runcorn to protect the northern frontier of her kingdom of Mercia against the Vikings in 915. The fort was built on Castle Rock overlooking the River Mersey at Runcorn Gap.[4]

Halton Castle in the 18th century

Following the Norman conquest, Runcorn was not mentioned in the 1086 Domesday survey, although surrounding settlements were. William the Conqueror granted the earldom of Chester to Hugh d'Avranches who granted the barony of Halton to Nigel. It is likely that Nigel erected a motte and bailey castle on Halton Hill in the 1070s.[5] In 1115, Nigel's son, William Fitznigel, founded an Augustinian Priory at Runcorn. In 1134 the priory was moved to Norton, about 3.5 miles (6 km) away. In 1391 the priory was raised to the higher status of abbey.[6] In 1536 the monastery was dissolved, and around nine years later the buildings and some of the monastic lands were sold to Sir Richard Brooke who converted the habitable part of the abbey into a house.[7]

During the Civil War Halton Castle was held for the Royalists by John Savage, 2nd Earl Rivers, the Steward of Halton. It fell twice to Parliamentarian Roundheads. The first siege was led by Sir William Brereton in 1643; the second was during the following year. Following this, a "Council of War" was held in Warrington in 1646 at which it was decided that the castle should be slighted.[8] In 1656, Runcorn was described as being "nothing but a fair parish church, a parsonage and a few scattered tenements".[9] And so it remained for over a century, an isolated and poor hamlet. The only through traffic used the ferry which crossed from Runcorn to the north bank of the River Mersey. Towards the end of the 18th century and in the early years of the 19th century the town was a health resort.[10]

Year Total
1801 1,397
1811 2,060
1821 3,103
1831 5.035
1841 6.950
1851 8,688
1861 10,141
1871 12,444
1881 15,133
1891 20,050
1901 16,491
Soap and alkali works on the Bridgewater canal during the 19th century

During the 18th century water transport had been improved in the area by the Mersey and Irwell Navigation, the Bridgewater Canal and the Trent and Mersey Canal. This gave Runcorn waterway connections with most of the interior of England through the canal system and with the sea along the River Mersey, thus forming the basis for the development of the Port of Runcorn.[11] Later came the Runcorn to Latchford Canal linking with the Mersey and Irwell Navigation, and the Weston canal which gave better access to the Weaver Navigation system.[12] Industries began to develop within and around the town, in particular quarrying for Runcorn sandstone, shipbuilding, engineering, the manufacture of soap and chemicals and tanning. Runcorn was becoming an industrialised and highly polluted town. During the later 19th century the town became increasingly dominated by the chemical and tanning industries.

In 1868 the Runcorn Railway Bridge was opened across the Mersey, giving Runcorn direct rail links with Liverpool and the rest of the country.[13] In the 1880s a pipeline was opened between Northwich and Weston Point, supplying brine to the salt and chemical works.[14] In 1894 the Manchester Ship Canal was opened throughout its length.[15] This allowed ocean-going ships to travel inland as far as Salford, some of them calling at the port of Runcorn. The rise in population between 1881 and 1891 and the drop by 1901 is explained by the number of people involved in constructing the ship canal. In 1905 the Widnes-Runcorn Transporter Bridge opened, giving a direct link for vehicular traffic for the first time between the two towns.[16]

During the first half of the 20th century the industry of the town continued to be dominated by chemicals and tanning. This growth was largely due to government fixed-priced cost contracts for tanned hides. In 1926 four chemical companies merged to form Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). As the century progressed there was diversification of industry. In 1961 the Transporter Bridge was replaced by Runcorn Road Bridge (since named the Silver Jubilee Bridge) which allowed a more efficient means of road traffic across Runcorn Gap. The designation of Runcorn as a new town in 1964 brought major changes and more than doubled the population. Much of the architecture of the new town was innovative, especially the Southgate development designed by Sir James Stirling and built between 1970 and 1977. Stirling's housing development was beset with problems and it was demolished in the early 1990s.[17] During the second half of the 20th century the tanneries closed (the last to close was the Highfield Tannery in the late 1960s) and the chemical industry declined. At the same time, light industry developed together with warehouses and distribution centres.[18]


Civic history

Runcorn Town Hall, formerly Halton Grange

At the time of the Domesday survey, Runcorn was in the hundred of Tunendune,[19] but later, and until the early 19th century, Runcorn was part of the Bucklow hundred.[20] Under the Runcorn Improvement Act 1852, a board of Improvement Commissioners was established to administer the civil government of the town.[21] By the Local Government Act 1894, the administration of the town and the surrounding areas was divided into Runcorn Urban District and Runcorn Rural District. Initially the urban district consisted of only the built-up area of Runcorn itself. By 1937, this area had been extended to include the communities of Weston and Weston Point to the south. By 1971 it had been further extended to the east to incorporate the village of Halton.[22]

In 1964, Runcorn was designated as a new town. In 1974, as part of the Local Government Act 1972, Runcorn Urban District was abolished and its territory amalgamated with Widnes to form the borough of Halton. In 1998, this borough became a unitary authority within the ceremonial county of Cheshire.[23]

Political representation

Before the Reform Act 1832, Runcorn was in the parliamentary constituency of Cheshire which was represented by two Members of Parliament.[24] Following the Reform Act, the town was placed in the North Cheshire constituency and from 1868 in the Mid Cheshire constituency. From 1885 to 1950 the town was in the constituency of Northwich.[25] By an act of Parliament in 1948, the constituency of Runcorn was created, and in 1950 Runcorn's first Member of Parliament, Dennis Vosper, was elected.[26] He continued to represent the constituency until 1964, when he was succeeded by Mark Carlisle.[27]

Runcorn is part of two parliamentary constituencies. The western part of the town, which includes the old town area and part of the new town, is in the constituency of Halton and the eastern part, containing the rest of the new town and private housing to the east of this, is in the Weaver Vale constituency. Since the 1997 general election the Member of Parliament for the Halton constituency has been Derek Twigg[28] and for the Weaver Vale constituency Mike Hall.[29] Both are members of the Labour party.

The local authority is the borough of Halton. The town is divided into ten electoral wards,[30] with elections to the council being held in 3 out of every 4 years.[31] There are 56 local councillors: 33 represent the Labour party, 15 the Liberal Democrat party, and 8 the Conservative party.[32] Runcorn is in the European parliamentary constituency of North West England.[33]


Sketch map of Runcorn and surrounding area

Runcorn is situated on a spur projecting into the River Mersey, which flows to the north and then to the west of the town. On the north bank of the river is another spur forming the West Bank area of Widnes; together these form Runcorn Gap, a narrowing of the River Mersey. Runcorn Gap is crossed by the Runcorn Railway Bridge, which carries the Liverpool branch of the West Coast Main Line, and the Silver Jubilee Bridge, which carries the A533 road. To the south of the town is the River Weaver and the Weston Canal. Both open into the ship canal. To the southeast of the town run the M56 motorway, the Chester–Manchester railway line, and the main branch of the West Coast Main Line. The town has a system of expressways, roads designed to divert traffic away from the residential areas.[34] The Central Expressway runs through the centre of the town in a north-south direction. To the west of it lie most of the former settlements which formed the older part of the town, namely Runcorn, Higher Runcorn, Weston, Weston Point and Clifton (formerly Rocksavage), and the new town areas of Halton Brook and Halton Lodge. To the east are the village of Halton, the old settlements of Norton and Stockham, and the new town areas of Castlefields, Palacefields, Windmill Hill, Murdishaw, Brookvale, and Hallwood Park.[35]

The density of housing is generally high, but there are open green areas, in particular heathland on Runcorn Hill and the extensive Town Park created as part of the new town. The older industries, particularly the remaining chemical factories, are concentrated mainly to the southwest of the town bordering the Mersey, while newer industries, including warehousing, are to the northeast and southeast.[18]

Runcorn Hill, showing cutting through sandstone


The Runcorn area drains into the River Mersey to the north and the River Weaver to the south. The bedrock of the western and northeastern parts of the town is made up of rock from the Sherwood sandstone group; in the other areas the bedrock is from the Mercia mudstone group. In places there are prominent outcrops of sandstone, particularly at Runcorn Hill and Halton Hill. Elsewhere the bedrock is covered by drift. At the northwestern periphery of the town the drift consists of recently blown sand. Farther to the east and bordering the River Mersey is recent alluvium. Elsewhere the drift consists of till.[36]


Being close to the west coast and the Irish Sea, the climate is generally temperate with few extremes of temperature or weather. The mean average temperature in the years 1971 to 2000 was 9.4 to 9.7°C, which was slightly above the average for the United Kingdom[37] as was the average amount of annual sunshine at 1391 to 1470 hours.[38] The average annual rainfall was 741 to 870 mm, which was slightly below the average for the UK.[39] The average number of days in the year when snow is on the ground is 0 to 6, which is low for the United Kingdom.[40] The average number of days of air frost is 2 to 39, which is also low.[41]


Housing in Castlefields, Runcorn New Town

Since the borough of Halton became a unitary authority in 1998, demographic statistics have been collated for the authority as a whole, rather than separately for the towns of Runcorn and Widnes. While the two towns have different histories and come from different historic counties, their demographic features are similar.

The population of Halton in 2004 was 118,915. It is the most densely populated district in Cheshire at 14.9 persons per hectare.[42] The change in population during the 20th century is shown in the following table.

Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 57,755 57,062 61,039 65,309 71,835 79,026 87,168 96,150 121,861 124,915 118,215

In 2003 Halton had the largest proportion of the population in Cheshire in the age groups under 5, 5 to 15, and 16 to pension age and, at 16.1% the lowest proportion of people at pension age or older. At 1.2% the proportion of non-white ethnic groups in 2001 equalled the lowest in all local authorities in Cheshire. At 11.5 per 1,000 population, the live birth rate in Halton and Warrington is the highest in the county. At 121 the standardised mortality ratio is the highest in Cheshire, as is the percentage of persons with limiting long-term illness (21.5%).[44]

There has been an increase in the number of households from 47,214 in 1991 to 52,501 in 2006. The average household size has fallen from 2.70 in 1991 to 2.44 in 2001. In 1991, 75.8% of houses were centrally heated, compared with 89.8% in 2001. The type of housing has also changed, with an increase from 15.5% to 19.2% in detached houses from 1991 to 2001, an increase over the same years in semi-detached houses from 30.0% to 33.0%, and a corresponding decrease in terraced houses from 44.0% to 37.5%.[45] The percentage of dwellings in council tax bands A–B is, at 69%, the highest in any Cheshire local authority. The percentages in bands E–F (8%) and G–H (1%) are the lowest.[46]


Chemical works at Weston Point, Runcorn

Of Runcorn's former industries, all but the chemical industry have disappeared. The industry was dominated for many years by ICI; it has since been taken over by Ineos. In Runcorn, Ineos manufactures chemicals including chlorine, chlorine-containing compounds including vinyl chloride, heavy chemicals including alkalis, and fluorine-containing compounds. A separate business within the same company manufactures salt from brine transported by pipeline from the saltfields of central Cheshire.[47] The former ICI offices and laboratories now comprise the Heath Business and Technical Park, which provides office, laboratory, conference, and leisure facilities.[48] To the east of the town, diverse industries have been developed including, because of the proximity to the motorway system, warehouses and distribution centres.[18] The town continues to act as a port on the Manchester Ship Canal. There are two adjacent ports. Runcorn Docks is owned by the Manchester Ship Canal, which is part of the Peel Ports Group.[49] The Port of Weston is owned by the Stobart Group Limited.[50][51]

There has been a shift in employment from manufacturing to service industries. In 1991 34% worked in the manufacturing sector and 61% were in the service sector. By 2004 17% were in manufacturing jobs and 78% were in service jobs.[45] This trend in the local region is demonstrated in this chart which shows the regional "gross value added" of Halton and Warrington at current basic prices, with figures in millions of British pounds.[52]

Year Regional Gross Value Added[4] Agriculture[5] Industry[6] Services[7]
1995 3,636 14 1,361 2,261
2000 4,768 10 1,433 3,324
2003 5,774 18 1,399 4,356

^  includes hunting and forestry

^  includes energy and construction

^  includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

^  Components may not sum to totals due to rounding

Runcorn has two shopping centres. The original shopping area was in the older part of the town on High Street, Regent Street, and Church Street.[53] This centre continues to exist, but with the coming of the new town, has declined. There is a small supermarket and some specialist shops, but with a higher-than-average proportion of charity shops and take-away food outlets. A small market has been rebuilt adjacent to the old town bus station.[54] In the centre of the new town area Halton Lea (formerly Shopping City) is an enclosed shopping mall with an attached bus station.[55] Adjacent to it is Trident Park containing shopping outlets and a cinema and further away is an Asda supermarket.

Landmarks and places of interest

Halton Castle

The major landmark in the town is Halton Castle on the top of Halton Hill near the geographical centre of the town. Only ruins of the castle exist, but there are widespread views from the top of the hill. The interior of the castle grounds is open at advertised times.[56] Incorporated in the castle walls is the Castle Hotel, which used to include a courthouse on the first floor. Another landmark is Norton water tower, built of Runcorn sandstone, 112 feet (34 m) high, which holds 672,000 imperial gallons (3 million litres) of water and supplies water to Liverpool.[57]

An important historical site and the major visitor centre in the town is Norton Priory, a museum. The site contains the remains of an ancient priory with adjacent gardens, formerly of a country house. Nearby are a walled garden, including a national collection of tree quinces, and an ice house.[58][59]

Much of the architecture of the town is undistinguished, but there are listed buildings of some importance. The listed churches are All Saints Parish Church and Holy Trinity Church in the centre of the older part of the town, St Mary's in Halton village, St John's in Weston, and Christ Church in Weston Point. All Saints' Church, a Grade II* listed building, dates from 1849 and was built by Anthony Salvin in red sandstone.[60] The oldest existing houses are the Seneschal's House in Halton village (1598), Weston Old Hall (1607), Brookfield Farmhouse (1691), and Halton Old Hall (1693). Other outstanding houses include Runcorn Town Hall (formerly Halton Grange), Camden House and Cottage in High Street, and Bridgewater House near the Ship Canal.[61]

A war memorial to those who lost their lives in World War I, World War II and in later conflicts is at the bottom of Moughland Lane.[62] There is a memorial in Castle Road, Halton village, commemorating residents of the village who served in the Boer War.


Theatre and cinema

The Brindley is a theatre and arts centre which opened in 2004. It is situated in the old town centre and named after James Brindley, engineer of the adjacent Bridgewater Canal. It contains a proscenium theatre seating 420 and a multi-purpose theatre seating 108, The Studio, which doubles as a cinema. There is an exhibition space for art installations, a small café, and multi-purpose rooms. The centre is owned and administered by Halton Borough Council which runs community events in the building.[63] In 2007 it won the title Best Arts Project in the UK at the National Lottery Awards.[64] A multiplex cinema run by Cineworld is in Trident Park.[65]

Waterloo Hotel, aka The Archer


Runcorn has been used for the shooting of so many films and television programmes that it has been described as Woollywood,[66] combining the obvious reference to Hollywood with the dialect term woollyback sometimes used by people from Liverpool to describe those not from that city. Some of the sequences in the first two series of the BBC police drama Merseybeat were filmed in and around the town.[67] The BBC situation comedy Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps is set in Runcorn. External shots of the Waterloo Hotel in the area of High Street known as Top Locks (which is known in the show as The Archer) appear as well. The opening credits show the Silver Jubilee Bridge and Halton Castle.[68] Drop Dead Gorgeous, a drama on BBC Three, was set in Runcorn.[69] The interior of the Undercroft at Norton Priory has been used for locations in films.[59]


Runcorn is served by two weekly papers, the Runcorn Weekly News[70] and the Runcorn World.[71] In both cases, these publications are also available as the Widnes Weekly News and the Widnes World, with a slight variation in the emphasis of the news stories.

The town is also home to Halton Community Radio,[72] which broadcasts over the Runcorn and Widnes area on the frequency 92.3FM. This is a non-commercial radio station which is run by volunteers. Halton Community Radio was launched on 8 August 2008, and currently has a five year license to broadcast.[73]

The Runcorn Ferry

Before the building of Runcorn Railway Bridge and its attached footbridge, the only way to cross the Mersey at or near Runcorn Gap, other than by the dangerous method of fording, was by the ferry. The ferry has a history going back to the 12th century.[74] The ferry was celebrated in the monologue entitled The Runcorn Ferry, written by Marriott Edgar and popularised by Stanley Holloway. It includes the lines:

Per tuppence per person per trip…

Per trip or per part of per trip.[75]

Community facilities

The main library is at Halton Lea with a branch library in Egerton Street in the old town centre (which includes the archives of the Runcorn & District Historical Society).[76] Runcorn has two locations offering One-Stop-Shop facilities; Halton Lea Direct Link is in Halton Lea and Runcorn Direct Link is in Church Street in the old town area.[77] Runcorn Direct Link also includes a Tourist Information Centre.[78]

Runcorn Hill

Runcorn Hill Local Nature Reserve has been developed on the site of a quarry and consists of heathland. Adjacent to it is a park which includes a bandstand, a model boating lake, and sports facilities.[79] Wigg Island is a nature reserve on a former industrial site. The reserve is on an island between the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey and consists of open spaces and woodland with bird hides and pathways. Murdishaw Valley is an area of ancient woodland to the east of the town between the Murdishaw housing development and the M56.[80] Rock Park is on the site of a quarry in the old town area and includes sports facilities.[81] Town Park is in the centre of the new town development and has a link to the north with Norton Priory.[82] Open areas in Runcorn form part of Mersey Forest, one of Britain's community forests.[83]

Runcorn's hospital is Halton General Hospital, which is administered by the Warrington & Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Originally planned as a District General Hospital, it was never large enough to provide a full range of services. Acute medical services have been transferred to Warrington Hospital and Halton General has become a centre for non-emergency surgery and rehabilitation. Although it never had its own accident and emergency department the hospital has a minor injuries unit for basic emergency care.[84] Halton Haven Hospice is in the Murdishaw area of the town.[85] Primary care services are provided by the Halton and St Helens Primary Care Trust. In Runcorn general practitioner services are provided in five health centres and in one separate medical practice in Heath Road. There are dental practices providing National Health Service and private dental care.[86]


When plans for Runcorn New Town were drawn up, they included three distinct types of road: local roads, expressways and the Busway. The expressways are intended to keep all through traffic off the local roads. This system links to the north by the A533 over the Silver Jubilee Bridge to Widnes and Merseyside, to the northeast to Warrington by the A56, to the east to Northwich and north Cheshire by the A533, and to the southeast by the A557 to the M56 and to Frodsham. The M56 links to the M6 and, to the north of Widnes, the A557 links to the M62.[87] The Busway is a system of roads for use by buses only, and bears no resemblance to guided busways or bus lanes in use elsewhere, as it is a totally separate road system, not running alongside (or down the middle of) existing roads. In addition, there is a network of dedicated cycleways in the town.[88]

Runcorn railway bridge is on the left and Silver Jubilee (road) bridge on the right

There are two railway stations. Runcorn, located in the old town, is on the Liverpool branch of the West Coast Main Line, and has 15 Virgin Trains a day (weekdays) between Liverpool and London, as well as an hourly 'semi-fast' service of London Midland trains between Liverpool and Birmingham. (Incidentally, when it was built the nearby railway bridge across the Mersey incorporated a footpath running alongside the tracks.)

Runcorn East station, located in the Murdishaw district of the new town, is on the Chester to Manchester line, with an hourly service to Chester, Warrington, and Manchester, provided by Arriva Trains Wales and Northern Rail.[89]

There are two bus stations, one in the old town centre and the other at Halton Lea, with buses running locally within Runcorn, and also to Widnes, Warrington, Chester and Liverpool, provided by Halton Transport[90] and Arriva.[91]

National Express coaches call at Runcorn, on the Hoylake–Liverpool–London and Southport–Cambridge services.[92] Coach services are provided by Selwyns[93] and Anthony's Travel.[94].

The Silver Jubilee Bridge was widened in the mid-1970s by bolting a new pedestrian way to the side of the original structure and widening the roadways over the old footpaths. However, it is a bottleneck and becomes congested at peak travel times, and in the event of a breakdown or accident on the bridge, traffic in the area comes to a standstill. To resolve this problem, a second crossing of the Mersey is planned, to be known as the Mersey Gateway.[95]

Runcorn is 8 miles (13 km) from Liverpool John Lennon Airport and 22 miles (35 km) from Manchester Airport.


St Chads Catholic High School

There are 29 primary schools in the town and one nursery school at The Grange. The four secondary schools are Halton High, St. Chad's Catholic High, The Grange, and The Heath. Two institutions, Halton College and Runcorn Sixth Form College, merged in 2006 to form Riverside College. There is one special school in the town, Cavendish School. There are opportunities for adult education in information technology at the Acorn Lifelong Learning Centre and at the Grange City Learning Centre. Other courses for adults are held at different venues in the town.[96]

Performance table

The following table shows the percentage of pupils gaining five GCSE A*–C level grades, including and excluding English and Maths in 2007.[97]

School Eligible Pupils Including English and Maths Excluding English and Maths
The Heath School 202 50 83
St Chad's Catholic High School 150 39 56
The Grange Comprehensive School 223 27 46
Halton High School 131 24 59
National average 46.7 62
Halton average 41.1 61.9


The 2001 census showed, that of the people living in the borough of Halton, 83.8% declared themselves to be Christian, 8.7% stated that they had "no religion," and 7.0% made no religious claims at all. Those stating their religions as Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Islam or Sikh amounted to 0.5%.[98]

The Anglican churches are part of the Diocese of Chester and the deanery of Frodsham.[99][100] In Runcorn, the parish church is All Saints in the old town centre. Ten other Anglican churches are in the town.[100] Five Roman Catholic churches can be found in Runcorn and are administered by the Diocese of Shrewsbury.[101] There are three Methodist chapels and one Welsh Presbyterian chapel. Wicksten Drive Christian Centre is shared between the Church of England and the Methodists. Hallwood Ecumenical Parish in Beechwood and Palace Fields consists of 3 churches all recognised by the Church of England, the Methodists and the United Reformed Church. Norton Ecumenical Parish, covering Windmill Hill, Norton and Murdishaw, is served by an Ecumenical Partnership between St Berteline's Church (Anglican) and Murdishaw Ecumenical Church (Methodist run).

There is an Independent Baptist chapel, three independent Christian churches, and a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Jehovah's Witnesses have two Kingdom Halls, and there is a Spiritualist church.[100] There are no places of worship in Runcorn for any other major world religions.


The main sport played in Runcorn is football, with Runcorn Linnets FC the most senior club playing in the North West Counties League. The club were formed in 2005 from the now defunct Runcorn F.C. Halton, and play their home matches at Wincham Park, Northwich - home of Witton Albion. In their first season the club gained promotion to Division 1 of the North West Counties League.[102] In October 2009 planning permission was granted for the club to build a new ground in the Murdishaw area of Runcorn.[103]. The town also has two other teams, Runcorn Town and Halton FC, who play in the West Cheshire League, plus a thriving Sunday League and Junior League.

Runcorn Cricket Club and Runcorn Hockey Club are based at the Runcorn Sports Club in Moughland Lane. Runcorn Rugby Union FC is based at Halton Sports Club in Murdishaw. There is an 18 hole golf course at Runcorn Golf Club in Clifton Road[104] and a golf driving range at Sutton Fields.[105] Runcorn Sports Club is a privately run sports club in Moughland Lane and provides facilities and coaching for cricket and hockey. Halton Sports Club is in Murdishaw Avenue. Privately run swimming pools are at Beechwood local centre and Stockham Lodge Raquet and Health Club. Adjacent to the latter are two artificial ski slopes administered by Runcorn Ski Centre.[106] The Runcorn Rowing Club rows on the River Weaver Navigation near Clifton Village.[107] The local authority runs several sports centres, including: Runcorn Swimming Pool; Brookvale Recreation Centre, offering indoor sporting facilities; and Phoenix Park, with outdoor sporting facilities. Other sports are also catered for.[108] Runcorn also has its own wrestling academy in Grangeway Community Centre which was set up in 2005 by Andy Baker and Neil Davis.[citation needed]

During the early part of the 20th century a number of rugby league players from the now defunct Runcorn RLFC played for both England and Great Britain.[109][110][111][112][113]

Notable people

Thomas Hazlehurst,
chapel builder

Individuals from Runcorn who have gained entry into the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography include Sir John Chesshyre (1662–1738), a prominent lawyer,[114] Nathan Alcock (1707–79), a noted physician,[115] and his brother Rev. Thomas Alcock (1709–98), Vicar of Runcorn, and writer and cider maker.[116] Thomas Hazlehurst (1779–1842) founded one of the two major soap and alkali manufacturing businesses in the town, Hazlehurst & Sons. His son Thomas Hazlehurst (1816–76) was involved with the business. He was a Methodist who paid for the construction of 12 chapels and three schools in the area.[117]

Edward John Smith (1850–1912), captain of the Titanic, purchased a retirement home in Higher Runcorn but never lived there because of his death aboard the Titanic. Thomas Henry Hall Caine (1853–76), a novelist and playwright, was born in Runcorn.[118] Thomas Alfred Jones (1880–1956) was awarded the Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Conduct Medal during World War I.[119] John Holt (1918–2009), Professor of Experimental Physics at Liverpool University who played a part in the development of the atom bomb, was born and educated in Runcorn.[120] In more recent times the classical pianist Martin Roscoe (1952 – ) was born in Halton Village.[121] The singer and Coronation Street actress Kym Marsh (1976– ) often spends her weekends in Runcorn spending time with her family.[122] The boxer Robin Reid (1971– ) attended secondary school in Runcorn, a place he identifies as his home town.[123] The singer Nicola Roberts (1985– ) from the British girl band, 'Girls Aloud,' also comes from Runcorn.[124] Susan Nickson, (1982– ), writer and creator of the television sitcom Two Pints of Lager, which is set in Runcorn, was born in the town.[125]

See also



  1. ^ a b Halton Population, Halton Borough Council,, retrieved 3 April 2007 
  2. ^ Nickson 1887, p. 5. and Starkey 1990, p. 4.
  3. ^ Starkey 1990, pp. 1–4.
  4. ^ Nickson 1887, pp. 6–13. The foundations of the fort were discovered during the building of the railway bridge but were covered by an abutment of the bridge.
  5. ^ Starkey 1990, pp. 7–8.
  6. ^ Greene 1989, pp. 1–9.
  7. ^ Greene 1989, p. 151. and Nickson 1887, p. 39.
  8. ^ Starkey 1990, pp. 57–58.
  9. ^ King, Daniel, The Vale Royal of England, 1656 (quoted in Starkey 1990, p. 73.).
  10. ^ Starkey 1990, pp. 133–137.
  11. ^ Starkey 1983, pp. 19–24. and Starkey 1990, p. 125–130.
  12. ^ Starkey 1990, p. 173.
  13. ^ Nickson 1887, p. 206.
  14. ^ Starkey 1990, p. 160–162.
  15. ^ Starkey 1983, p. 184.
  16. ^ Thompson 2000, p. 17.
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  20. ^ Phillips and Phillips 2002, p. 9.
  21. ^ Starkey 1990, p. 193.
  22. ^ Phillips and Phillips 2002, p. 11.
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  24. ^ Phillips and Phillips 2002, p. 100.
  25. ^ Phillips and Phillips 2002, pp. 102–103.
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  54. ^ Markets, Halton Borough Council,, retrieved 28 June 2007 
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  56. ^ The Halton Castle Website, The Norton Priory Museum Trust,, retrieved 27 March 2007 
  57. ^ Starkey 1990, p. 162.
  58. ^ Bullock, Ross (7 February 2005), History of Norton Priory and Runcorn,, retrieved 27 March 2007  This is a personal website but it is accurate and comprehensive.
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  62. ^ Starkey 1990, p. 218.
  63. ^ The Brindley, Halton Borough Council,, retrieved 28 July 2007 
  64. ^ Breslin, Holly (20 September 2007), "We did it!", Runcorn Weekly News (Trinity Mirror North West & North Wales Limited),, retrieved 29 September 2007 
  65. ^ Cineworld: Runcorn, Cineworld Cinemas,, retrieved 28 June 2007 
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  68. ^ Two Pints of Lager & a Packet of Crisps, BBC,, retrieved 30 March 2007  2007
  69. ^ Drop Dead Gorgeous, BBC,, retrieved 30 March 2007 
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  71. ^ Runcorn & Widnes World, Newsquest Media Group,, retrieved 9 April 2009 
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  73. ^ Glynn, Paul (6 November 2008). "Station tunes in for relaunch". Runcorn Weekly News (Trinity Mirror North West & North Wales). Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  74. ^ Starkey 1990, p. 10–11..
  75. ^ Edgar, Marriott, "The Runcorn Ferry", Make 'em Laugh!,, retrieved 14 May 2007 
  76. ^ Libraries, Halton Borough Council,, retrieved 22 March 2007 
  77. ^ One-Stop-Shop locations, Halton Borough Council,, retrieved 17 May 2007 
  78. ^ Tourist Information Centre, Halton Borough Council,, retrieved 17 May 2007 
  79. ^ Runcorn Hill Local Nature Reserve, Halton Borough Council,, retrieved 28 June 2007 
  80. ^ Wigg Island, Halton Borough Council,, retrieved 28 July 2007 
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  82. ^ Parks, open spaces and countryside, Halton Borough Council,, retrieved 22 March 2007 
  83. ^ The Mersey Forest Online, The Mersey Forest Company,, retrieved 22 March 2007 
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  86. ^ Welcome to Halton & St. Helens Primary Care Trust, Halton & St. Helens Primary Care Trust,, retrieved 16 December 2008 
  87. ^ Landranger 108, 109 and 117 maps, Ordnance Survey
  88. ^ Cycling in Halton, Halton Borough Council,, retrieved 29 March 2007 
  89. ^ Rail Information, Halton Borough Council,, retrieved 21 March 2007 
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  91. ^ Arriva bus timetable for Runcorn, Arriva plc,, retrieved 1 September 2007 
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  96. ^ Education and learning, Halton Borough Council,, retrieved 30 March 2007 
  97. ^ Secondary School achievement and attainment tables 2007: LA Halton, Department for Children, Schools and Families,, retrieved 7 February 2008 
  98. ^ Religion, Census 2001: Key Statistics for the rural and urban area classification, Office for National Statistics,, retrieved 2 April 2007 
  99. ^ Chester Diocese:Frodsham Deanery, The Church of England: Diocese of Chester,, retrieved 2 April 2007 
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  101. ^ The Diocese of Shrewsbury, The Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbry,, retrieved 4 April 2007 
  102. ^ Runcorn Linnets FC, Runcorn Linnets FC Trust,, retrieved 1 September 2007 
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  104. ^ Runcorn Golf Club, English Golf Courses,, retrieved 25 April 2007 
  105. ^ Sutton Fields, Sutton Fields,, retrieved 29 March 2007 
  106. ^ Runcorn Ski Centre, Runcorn Ski Centre,, retrieved 29 March 2007 
  107. ^ Runcorn Rowing Club, Runcorn Rowing Club,, retrieved 29 March 2007 
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  117. ^ Vardy, P. I. (2005-2006) 'Thomas Hazlehurst and his family', Cheshire History, 45.
  118. ^ Allen, Vivien (1997) Hall Caine: Portrait of a Victorian Romancer, Sheffield Academic Press, ISBN 1-85075-809-3
  119. ^ Thompson, Dave (2002) I Laughed Like Blazes: The Life of Private Thomas 'Todger' Jones, VC, DCM Dave Thompson.
  120. ^ Professor John Holt: experimental physicist, Times Newspapers, 9 March 2009,, retrieved 3 April 2009 
  121. ^ Morrison, Bryce. "Martin Roscoe", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed 5 March 2008), (subscription access).
  122. ^ "Ex Hear'Say star's passion for Runcorn", Runcorn Weekly News (icCheshireOnline), 27 April 2006,, retrieved 12 November 2006 
  123. ^ Boxer: Robin Reid, BoxRec,, retrieved 23 April 2007 
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  125. ^ Two Pints of Lager And a Packet of Crisps, BBC,, retrieved 6 April 2009 


  • Greene, Patrick (1989), Norton Priory: The archaeology of a medieval religious house, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-33054-8 
  • Nickson, Charles (1887), History of Runcorn, London and Warrington: Mackie & Co. 
  • Phillips, A.D.M.; Phillips, C.B. (2002), A New Historical Atlas of Cheshire, Chester: Cheshire County Council, ISBN 0-904532-46-1 
  • Starkey, H.F. (1983), Schooner Port: Two Centuries of Upper Mersey Sail, Ormskirk: G.W. & A. Hesketh, ISBN 0-905777-34-4 
  • Starkey, H.F. (1990), Old Runcorn, Halton Borough Council 
  • Thompson, Dave (2000), Bridging the Years: The Story of Runcorn-Widnes Transporter Bridge, Runcorn: Dave Thompson 

Further reading

  • Cowan, C.A. (1990), Runcorn Ferry and Hale Ford, Crossing the Runcorn Gap, Halton Borough Council 
  • Cowan, C.A. (1990), Runcorn Railway Bridge, Crossing the Runcorn Gap, Halton Borough Council 
  • Cowan, C.A. (1990), Runcorn Town Hall: A History and Description, Halton Borough Council 
  • Cowan, C.A. (1992), Early Bridging Proposals, Crossing the Runcorn Gap, Halton Borough Council 
  • Halton Borough Council (1978), The Bridging of Runcorn Gap, Halton Borough Council 
  • Howard, Liz. (1993), The Way We Were – Runcorn Remembered: A Social History, Manchester: Aurora, ISBN 1-85926-031-4 
  • Howard, Liz. (1995), Runcorn in Old Picture Postcards, Back in Time, Zaltbommel: European Library, ISBN 90-288-6124-6 
  • Nicolle, Dorothy (2004), Widnes and Runcorn: Photographic Memories, Salisbury: Frith Book Company, ISBN 1-85937-854-4 
  • Starkey, H.F. (1980), Runcorn in Times Past, Chorley: Countryside Publications, ISBN 0-86157-032-4 
  • Starkey, H.F. (1994), Runcorn, The Old Photographs Series, Bath: Alan Sutton, ISBN 0-7524-0025-8 
  • Starkey, H.F. (1999), Runcorn – The Second Selection, Images of England, Stroud: Tempus, ISBN 0-7524-1826-2 
  • Starkey, H.F. (2005), Runcorn: A Century of Change, Images of England, Stroud: Tempus, ISBN 0-7524-3617-1 
  • Starkey, H.F. (2008), Runcorn: A Town not so New, Gwespyr, Flintshire: MiddleView, ISBN 978-1-902964-08-9 
  • Thompson, Dave (2000), Over the Hill: An Historical Look at Runcorn Hill and its Locality, Runcorn: Dave Thompson 
  • Thompson, Dave (2000), Bridging the Mersey: A Pictorial History, Back in Time, Zaltbommel: European Library, ISBN 90 288 2640 8 
  • Thompson, Dave (2001), Bridging Us Together: The Story of Runcorn–Widnes Bridge, Runcorn: Dave Thompson 
  • Thompson, Dave (2004), The Changing Face of Runcorn, Britain in Old Photographs, Stroud: Sutton, ISBN 0-7509-3507-3 
  • Whimperley, Arthur (1981), Halton Castle: An Introduction and Visitors' Handbook, Widnes: Arthur Whimperley 
  • Whimperley, Arthur (1986), The Barons of Halton, Widnes: MailBook Publishing 

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Runcorn is a town in the borough of Halton. It is situated on the south bank of the River Mersey between Liverpool and Manchester.


Runcorn grew as a result of its situation at the lowest crossing point on the River Mersey. A rail bridge and vehicle ferry were the means of crossing until 1898 when a Transporter Bridge was opened. In the 1960s the Runcorn Bridge was built, at around the same time Runcorn was designated a "New Town" and grew to its present population of about 60,000 as an overspill for liverpool. Therefore the residents of the newtown/overspill area have a 'Liverpool' heritage which is in contrast to those in the original town. It was designed primarily on the assumption that residents would own cars, but a system of busways was also provided on which only buses are permitted to run. It has never been a tourist destination but has a number of interesting features including a medieval castle and priory.

Get in

By plane

The town is ideally placed between the North West's two main International Airports, Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester International. Both are easily accessible via both the road and rail networks.

By train

Runcorn has two stations, Runcorn which is one of the major stops on the West Coast Mainline, serving as the last stop before Liverpool, and Runcorn East which is on the local line between Chester and Manchester.

Runcorn station is on the western side of the town near to the Old Town and Runcorn Bridge. It is the main station of the town and is operated by Virgin Trains. It also has a small shop, two waiting rooms, one on either side of the platforms (of which there are two) as well as a raised platform. There are elevators to assist movement across the tracks. The station is served by Virgin Trains' Liverpool to London Euston service every hour and Central Trains' Liverpool to Birmingham service also every hour. It takes just under 2 hours to reach Euston and just over 15 minutes to reach Liverpool. The Central Trains service to Liverpool stops at Liverpool Southparkway, the station stop for Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

Runcorn East is a commuter station on the eastern side of the town. By comparison to Runcorn station it is tiny and often unstaffed. It is operated by Arriva Trains. Services run between Manchester to Chester and Manchester to Llandudno.

By car

Runcorn benefits greatly from a highly developed transportation network. To the south of the town runs the M56, to the east, the M6 and to the north across the banks of the River Mersey and neighbouring town of Widnes runs the M62.

The town also benefits from a high-speed, efficient dual carriageway system of road networks which function very much as a mini-motorway system, separated from the main road system by a series of slip roads and junctions. Each suburb/estate of the town has its own junction. The town can be easily passed through in minutes thanks to the road network. The network is so well designed that other than near the Runcorn Bridge, traffic congestion is unheard of.

The Runcorn Bridge, which connects the town with its neighbour, Widnes suffers from heavy congestion at peak times. Congestion is unavoidable during peak travel times as it is the only crossing point between the Mersey Tunnels in Liverpool and Warrington further upstream. Both crossings are at least 30 minutes away making the use of them impractical.

By bus

Runcorn, as a new town, was designed with a purpose in mind. Although uniquely Runcorn served as the hotbed for many experiments, one of the main ones was focused on the creation and maintaining of a distinct network of roads separate from those available for use by the general motoring public and sanctioned exclusively for the use of public transport (excluding both public and private hire taxis) and the emergency services. Every suburb/estate is served by at least one stop on the network. Although the network is less prominent in the older sections of Runcorn that existed prior to the construction of the new town, they are still served.

On the main ring section of the network to the east of the town, encompassing the main area of new town redevelopment there is a frequent service run by Arriva North West & Wales on Routes 1 & 2. Other services that frequently use the eastern section of the network include the 110 (Arriva) to Widnes and Warrington, the X1 (Arriva) to Liverpool, the X30 (Arriva) to Chester and the 62 (Halton Transport) to Widnes and Warrington.

The two main bus operators in Halton are Halton Transport and Arriva North West & Wales. Halton Transport is one of the last few Municipal transport corporations that are owned by the local council and continue to make money. There are also a variety of smaller operators who run usually one or two minor routes that would otherwise be uneconomical for the larger companies to run. The town is also home to two of the country's larger coach companies. Selwyns and Anthony's Travel are both national carriers but are based in Runcorn.

Halton Transport tends to serve the older areas of Runcorn to the west better than Arriva while Arriva tends to serve the eastern sections more comprehensively than Halton Transport. The town is unique as it has two main bus stations. Runcorn Old Town primarily serves the outgoing traffic while Halton Lea, the main shopping centre mainly serves internal traffic although it also plays a large role in transporting some of the population to the outgoing services.

By boat

The town has two canal systems. The Manchester Ship Canal runs between the town and the River Mersey and is not open to non-commercial traffic. The Bridgewater Canal, a much smaller canal is open to public use and is used my many Canal Boats. There are two Canal Boat Docks in Runcorn. Waterloo Junction is the main dock and is situated at the western end of the Bridgewater Canal where the canal system was filled in during the construction of the Runcorn Bridge. The second dock is a privately owned ship yard located further west upstream and can be accessed by road via Halton Road.


Runcorn has many attractions although they are not always immediately obvious. The main attractions the town offers are Norton Priory and the ruins of the civil war scarred Halton Castle.

Alternative attractions also include Halton Lea Shopping Centre, the first American Style mall to open anywhere in the UK, the many buildings and locations used in popular TV series such as Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Drop Dead Gorgeous and Merseybeat. For those interested in Town Planning the whole town is a treasure trove of Radburn design, 1960's architecture and social mis-construction.

The Runcorn Bridge, which is the largest steel arch bridge in Europe, is also an attraction although it is not currently possible for tourists to walk across its top arch as you can in Sydney, Australia.

The town also plays host to the largest free fireworks show in the North West.


Runcorn's shopping facilities are of a poor quality and not worthy of travelling from far away unless you intend to visit Halton Lea as a tourist attraction.

Entertainment-wise though Halton Borough Council has been unable to coerce the majority of companies over to Widnes. Runcorn plays host to Halton's only multiplex cinema and for the foreseeable future probably will continue to do so.

Runcorn's nightlife is extremely poor although it is improving. After decades of under-investment and a reputation (that was often well deserved) that any night in Runcorn would involve yourself in at least one fight, the town is seeing a lift in fortunes. The town is improving gradually with higher class bars and pubs opening over the next few years but until a nightclub opens unfettered, Runcorn will continue to have a poor nightlife.


Runcorn has several education facilities across all education types. The town also has a large share of Catholic run schools, far higher than the national average.

The town has four high schools. The Grange Comprehensive, The Heath High School, Halton High and the Roman Catholic St Chad's Catholic High School. St Chad's and The Heath are specialist schools, Language and Technology respectively.

The town also has a large higher education college, Riverside College formed from the amalgamation of Runcorn and Widnes Sixth Form College and Halton College. The college which has strong links with several universities in the region and with the ability to award it's own degrees is tipped as a prime candidate for becoming a university college within the next 10 years.


Although the town's heritage was based on industry, the majority of Runcorn's residents now work in the service sector. There is still a strong influence from industry although it is severely diminished from several decades ago.

The town is host to several Multinationals and PLCs such as Ineos Chlor whose factory uses over 1% of the total electricity produced in the UK per year, MFI, ASDA WAL*MART, Tesco, Woolworths and many others.

The town also has a large contingent of local and national government workers. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was based in Runcorn when it was the Department for Education and Employment.

  • Halton Lea Shopping Centre
  • Runcorn Market (located in the Old Town)
  • Sandpipers Cafe
  • Greggs
  • Sayers/Hampsons
  • McDonalds
  • ASDA Cafe
  • Sayers/Hampsons (Old Town)
  • Devonshire Bakery (Old Town)
  • Dolphin Super Bar (Halton Road)
  • Aladdins (Old Town)
  • Carlos Pizza (Old Town)
  • Miami Pizza (Old Town)
  • Festival Way Chippy (Higher Runcorn)
  • Langdale Chippy (Higher Runcorn)
  • BB's Coffee
  • Pizza Hut
  • Subway
  • Dragon's Den Chinese (Old Town)
  • The Barge (Chinese Banquet)
  • Chatter Box (Internet Cafe) (Old Town)
  • Weatherspoons
  • The Dray
  • Norton Arms (Halton Village)
  • Halton Arms (Brookvale)
  • Railway Pub (Old Town)
  • Ring O' Bells (Daresbury)
  • The Red Admiral (Higher Runcorn)
  • The Ferry Boat - Weatherspoons (Old Town)
  • The Barley Mow (Old Town)
  • Campanile (Runcorn Station)
  • Holiday Inn (Beechwood)
  • De Vere Daresbury Hotel (Daresbury)
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

RUNCORN, a market town and river-port in the Northwich parliamentary division of Cheshire, England, on the S. of the estuary of the Mersey 16 m. above Liverpool. Pop. of urban district (1901) 16,491. It is served by the London & NorthWestern railway, and has extensive communications by canal. The modern prosperity of the town dates from the completion in 1773 of the Bridgewater Canal, which here descends into the Mersey by a flight of locks. Runcorn is a sub-port of Manchester, with which it is connected by the Manchester Ship Canal, and has extensive wharfage and warehouse accommodation. The chief exports are coal, salt and pitch; but there is also a large traffic in potters' materials. A transporter bridge between Runcorn and Widnes, with a suspended car worked by electricity to convey passengers and vehicles (the first bridge of the kind in England) was constructed in 1902. The town possesses shipbuilding yards, iron foundries,. rope works, tanneries, and soap and alkali works.

Owing to the Mersey being here fordable at low water,. Runcorn was in early times of considerable military importance. On a rock which formerly jutted into the Mersey ZEthelfleda. erected a castle in 916, but of the building there are now no remains; while the rock was removed to further the cutting of the ship canal. 7Ethelfleda is also said to have founded a town, but it is not noticed in Domesday. The ferry is noticed in a charter in the 12th century.

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