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Cheshire ( ); also known, archaically, as the County of Chester) is a ceremonial county in North West England. The traditional county town is the city of Chestermarker, although Cheshire's largest town is Warringtonmarker. Other major towns include Congletonmarker, Crewemarker, Ellesmere Portmarker, Widnesmarker, Runcornmarker, Macclesfieldmarker, Nantwichmarker, Northwichmarker, and Wilmslowmarker. The county is bordered by Merseyside and Greater Manchestermarker to the north, Derbyshiremarker to the east, Staffordshire and Shropshiremarker to the south, Flintshire and Wrexham in Walesmarker to the west.

Cheshire's area is and its population is just over a million. Apart from the large towns along the River Merseymarker and the historic city of Chester, it 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. Harris, B. E. and Thacker, A. T. (1987). page 237. Its name meant the shire of the city of legions.Crosby, A. (1996). page 31. It was first recorded in 980, but it is thought that the county was created by Edward the Elder around 920. 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 Walesmarker, 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 hundred, Atiscross and Exestan, that later became part of Walesmarker. 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 Flintshiremarker) in Wales. The area in between the Merseymarker and Ribblemarker (referred to in the Domesday Book as "Inter Ripam et Mersam") 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 Merseymarker. 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 Lancashiremarker, thus resolving any uncertainty about the county in which the land "Inter Ripam et Mersam" was. Over the years, the ten hundreds consolidated and changed names to leave just seven—Broxton, Bucklow, Eddisbury, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Northwich and Wirral.

In 1397 the county had lands in the march of Wales added to its territory, and was promoted to the rank of principality. This was because of the support the men of the county had given to King Richard II, in particular by his standing armed force of about 500 men called the 'Cheshire Guard'. As a result the king's title was changed to 'King of England and France, Lord of Ireland, and Prince of Chester'. No other English county has been honoured in this way, although it lost the distinction on Richard's fall in 1399.

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 Manchestermarker and Merseyside. Stockportmarker (previously a county borough), Hydemarker, Dukinfieldmarker and Stalybridgemarker in the north-east became part of Greater Manchester. Much of the Wirral Peninsulamarker in the north-west, including the county boroughs of Birkenhead and Wallasey, joined Merseyside. At the same time the Tintwistle Rural Districtmarker was transferred to Derbyshiremarker. The area of Lancashire south of the Merseyside/Greater Manchester area, including Widnesmarker and the county borough of Warringtonmarker, was added to the new non-metropolitan county of Cheshire.

Haltonmarker and Warringtonmarker became unitary authorities independent of Cheshire County Council on 1 April 1998, but remain part of Cheshire for ceremonial purposes and also for fire and policing.

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

As part of the local government restructuring in April 2009, Cheshire County Council and the Cheshire districts were abolished and replaced with two new unitary authorities known as Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chestermarker. The existing unitary authorities of Haltonmarker and Warringtonmarker were not affected by these changes.

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

Buildings and structures

Black-and-white timbered buildings on Nantwich High Street
Prehistoric burial grounds can be found at The Bridestonesmarker, near Congletonmarker (Neolithic) and Robin Hood's Tump, near Alprahammarker (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 Hillmarker, Helsbymarker Hillfort and Woodhouse Hillfort at Frodshammarker. The Roman fortress and walls of Chestermarker, 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 Castlemarker, Chester Cathedralmarker and numerous parish churches. Occasional residential and industrial buildings, such as Helsby Station, Helsbymarker (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 Hallmarker, dating from around 1450, and many commercial and residential buildings in Chester, Nantwichmarker and surrounding villages.

Early brick buildings include Peover Hallmarker near Macclesfieldmarker (1585), Tattenhall Hall (pre-1622) and Pied Bull Hotel in Chester (17th century). 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 Hallmarker near Northwichmarker, 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

Panorama photo showing part of the Cheshire Plain looking from the Mid-Cheshire Ridge.


Cheshire covers a boulder clay plain separating the hills of North Walesmarker and the Peak Districtmarker of Derbyshiremarker (the area is also known as the Cheshire gapmarker). 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 Runcornmarker, providing the distinctive red stone for Liverpool Cathedralmarker and Chester Cathedralmarker.

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 Northwichmarker. Separating this area from Lower Triassic Sherwood sandstone to the west is a prominent Sandstone Ridge. A footpath , the Sandstone Trailmarker, follows this ridge from Frodshammarker to Whitchurchmarker passing Delamere Forestmarker, Beeston Castlemarker 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 ceremonial county and unitary authorities


Cheshire is a ceremonial county administered by four unitary authorities; Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chestermarker, Haltonmarker and Warringtonmarker. Cheshire retains the offices of Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff for ceremonial purposes under the Lieutenancies Act 1997. Policing and fire and rescue services continue to be provided across all four areas together, with the Cheshire Police Authority and Cheshire Fire Authority consisting of members of the four councils.

From 1 April 1974 the area under the control of the county council was divided into eight local government districts; Chester, Congletonmarker, Crewe and Nantwichmarker, Ellesmere Port and Nestonmarker, Haltonmarker, Macclesfieldmarker, Vale Royalmarker and Warringtonmarker. Haltonmarker (which includes the towns of Runcornmarker and Widnesmarker) and Warringtonmarker became unitary authorities in 1998. The remaining districts and the county were abolished as part of local government restructuring on 1 April 2009. The Halton and Warrington boroughs were not affected by the 2009 restructuring.

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 Chestermarker, 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 covers the area formerly occupied by the City of Chester and the boroughs of Ellesmere Port and Neston and Vale Royal; Cheshire East now covers the area formerly occupied by the boroughs of Congleton, Crewe and Nantwich, and Macclesfield. The changes were implemented on 1 April 2009.

Congleton Borough Councilmarker pursued an appeal against the judicial review it lost in October 2007. The appeal was dismissed on 4 March 2008.

The ceremonial county borders Merseyside, Greater Manchestermarker, Derbyshiremarker, Staffordshire and Shropshiremarker in England along with Flintshire and Wrexhammarker in Walesmarker, 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

Wilmslow Church
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%) identified themselves as belonging to other major world religions; and 1,033 belonged to other religions.

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

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.

Cattle farming in the county
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 dairy 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 Runcornmarker. The Shell Stanlow Refinerymarker 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 the workforce 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 Systemsmarker facility at Woodford Aerodromemarker, 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 is the Broughtonmarker 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 of 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' sectors.

Cheshire is considered to be an affluent county. Due to Cheshire's proximity to the cities of Manchestermarker and Liverpoolmarker Counterurbanisation is common. Cheshire West has a fairly large proportion of residents who work in Liverpool, while Cheshire East includes some villages that are notorious with the bourgeoise of Manchester.

Education

See also: List of schools in Cheshire East; List of schools in Cheshire West and Chester; List of schools in Halton; List of schools in Warrington

All four local education authorities in Cheshire operate completely comprehensive state school systems. When Altrinchammarker, Salemarker and Wirral were moved from Cheshire to Traffordmarker in 1974, they took some former Cheshire selective schools. Today, there is one university based in the county, the University of Chestermarker.

Culture, media and sport

Cheshire has two league football teams, namely League Two Crewe Alexandramarker and Macclesfield Town. Chester City were also a League Two team until their relegation to the Conference National in April 2009. 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 Tottenham), Seth Johnson (Derby County) Michael Owen (England and Manchester United) and Wayne Rooney (England and Manchester United). Other local athletes have included 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 Everestmarker.

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 Knutsfordmarker; and most famously Lewis Carroll, born and raised in Daresburymarker, 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, Heart and Gold 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 Edgemarker, Wilmslowmarker, Prestburymarker, Tarporleymarker and Knutsfordmarker, named in 2006 as the most expensive place to buy a house in the north of England. The former Cheshire town of Altrinchammarker was in second place. The area is sometimes referred to as The Golden Trianglemarker 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 Cheshire East (unitary) Sandbachmarker Alsagermarker, Bollingtonmarker, Crewemarker, Congletonmarker, Knutsfordmarker, Macclesfieldmarker, Middlewichmarker, Nantwichmarker, Wilmslowmarker
Cheshire West and Chestermarker (unitary) Chestermarker Ellesmere Portmarker, Frodshammarker, Malpasmarker, Nestonmarker, Northwichmarker, Winsfordmarker
Halton marker (unitary) Widnesmarker Runcornmarker
Warrington marker (unitary) Warrington Lymmmarker


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

Derbyshire Newtownmarker, Tintwistlemarker, Whaley Bridgemarker (western part)
Greater Manchester Altrinchammarker, Bramhallmarker, Bredburymarker, Cheadlemarker, Cheadle Hulmemarker, Dukinfieldmarker, Gatleymarker, Hazel Grovemarker, Hydemarker, Marplemarker, Romileymarker, Salemarker, Stalybridgemarker, Stockportmarker, Wythenshawemarker
Merseyside Bebingtonmarker, Birkenheadmarker, Heswallmarker, Hoylakemarker, Wallaseymarker, West Kirbymarker


Transport

Rail and road

The main lines through the county are the West Coast Main Linemarker at which most trains call as Crewemarker (in the south of the county) and Warrington Bank Quaymarker (in the north of the county) en route to London and Scotland, as well as Runcorn on the Liverpool branch of the WCML.

The major interchanges are:







Cheshire has of roads, including of the M6, M62, M53 and M56 motorways, with 23 interchanges and four service areas. The M6 motorway at the Thelwall Viaductmarker carries 140,000 vehicles every 24 hours.

Waterways

Image:Cheshire Ring Schematic.png|thumb|right|250px|Schematic of the Cheshire Ring

circle 501 199 67 Manchestermarkercircle 281 256 118 Bridgewater Canalcircle 487 30 98 Rochdale Canalmarkercircle 672 79 90 Ashton Canalmarkercircle 311 660 156 Trent and Mersey Canalcircle 861 650 178 Macclesfield Canalmarkercircle 733 303 110 Peak Forest Canalmarkercircle 930 390 90 Marplemarkercircle 612 911 139 Stoke on Trentmarkerrect 718 158 955 188 Ashton under Lynemarkerrect 197 373 420 415 Preston Brookmarker

desc none



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 Ringmarker is formed from the Rochdalemarker, Ashtonmarker, Peak Forestmarker, Macclesfieldmarker, 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 Merseymarker 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

  1. Harris, B.E. and Thacker, A.T. (1987). pages 340—341.
  2. Welsh dictionary entry for Cheshire. www.geriadur.net website (Welsh-English / English-Welsh On-line Dictionary ). Department of Welsh, University of Wales, Lampeter. Retrieval Date: 21 February 2008
  3. Morgan (1978). pp.269c–301c,d.
  4. Sylvester (1980). p. 14.
  5. Roffe (2000)
  6. Harris and Thacker (1987) write on page 252:
  7. Phillips and Phillips (2002); pp. 26–31.
  8. Crosby, A. (1996) writes on page 31:
  9. Harris, B. E., and Thacker, A. T. (1987); pages 340–341.
  10. R. R. Davies, 'Richard II and the Principality of Chester' in The Reign of Richard II: Essays in Honour of May McKisack, ed. F. R. H. Du Boulay and Caroline Baron (1971)
  11. Local Government Act 1972
  12. Cheshire County Council: Revealing Cheshire's Past
  13. Images of England
  14. Detailed Record
  15. http://www.cheshire.gov.uk/countryside/Walking/
  16. Vision of Britain - Divisions of Cheshire
  17. Cheshire County Council - Map of Cheshire districts
  18. Cheshire (Structural Changes) Order 2008
  19. BBC News, 25 July 2007 - County split into two authorities
  20. Chester Diocese (Church of England). Official website. Retrieval Date: 30 September 2007.
  21. Diocese of Shrewsbury (Roman Catholic). Official website. Retrieval Date: 30 September 2007.
  22. John Mayall biographical details. www.johnmayall.com website. Retrieval Date: 21 February 2008.
  23. Dick, Francis (2004) 'Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson, first baronet (1842-1919)', rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press [1], retrieved on 20 December 2008.
  24. Crosby, Alan G (2004) 'Ormerod, George (1785-1873)',Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press [2] Retrieved on 20 December 2008.
  25. Cottam, Rachel (2004) 'Weaver, Harriet Shaw (1876-1961), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, [3], retrieved on 20 December 2008.

Bibliography

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