A brief introduction to the town of Warrington.

The name Warrington comes from the word “werid” meaning ford, “ford town“, the town on the ford. The Romans called their settlement at Wilderspool Veratinum when they moved to the area in  about AD 79, although there is no absolute evidence for this name. They left in about AD 410. The Anglo-Saxons moved in after the Romans. The town is called WALINTUNE in the Domesday Survey of 1086.

Mark Olly in his book, Celtic Warrington and Other Mysteries (Book 2) (Churnet Valley Books) says that Walintune is made up of three Old English words:

WALH, WEALD OR WAL(L) – “Welshman, Briton, foreigner, serf or slave”
IEG or EG – “Island, peninsula, dry area in a fen, well-watered land”
TUNE or TUN – “enclosure, enclosed dwelling, farmstead, hamlet, village, estate and manor”.

But there are also other theories on the Warrington name.

“Waer” is the personal name of a local ruler or chieftain, combined with “tun” a homestead or settlement. This then gives “Waerstun” or Waer’s settlement. Charles Wynne Hammond is his English Place Names Explained has this: it is of Saxon Origin; Waer (a personal name), ‘inga’ (people) and ‘tun’ (farmstead) – hence the settlement of Waer’s tribe.

Another theory is based on the Anglo-Saxon word “Waering” meaning a weir or dam. “Waering” combined with “tun” gives us “Waeringtun”, the settlement of the weirs on the river.

But according to information I was given in connection with my show on www.radiowarrington.co.uk in 2012, there is another theory – connected to the Vikings. You can read more at http://wire-lect.blogspot.co.uk. In particular we have “Vǫrring-tun” “Place to moor the boats”.

Warrington townsfolk are known as “Warringtonians”

*Please note that I am no expert in language or word origins and present these theories for reference (and there may be others).

Warrington Bridge

The first crossing point of the River Mersey was at Latchford, by way of a ford. See On the Waterfront for more. For centuries it was the only point west of Stretford, now in Greater Manchester, where a bridge could be built over the Mersey. The first bridge was built in 1285 AD. Several pub names in Warrington had a connection with the waterways – The Ship, the Mermaid and the Packet House Inn; the latter is said to be the ticket office for boats travelling from here to Liverpool, located on the corner of Bridge Street and Mersey Street.

The town has existed from early Celtic times. Local author and TV presenter Mark Olly has written a series of books about the Celtic history of the town. It has also had a Roman presence with many finds coming from the Wilderspool area in the south of the town.

The Parish Church of St Elphin on Church Street and St Oswald’s Church at Winwick were both established around 634 AD.

Warrington was mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as Walintune, along with three smaller manors, namely Little Sankey, Orford and Howley.

William the Conqueror rewarded his followers with grants of land, one of whom was Roger de Poictou, who was given land in the north of England including Warrington. Roger, finding these tracts of land more than he could manage, subdivided his possessions among his friends and granted the manor and hundred of Warrington to Roger de Poictou. Thus Roger became the first lord of the manor of Warrington.

The second lord of the manor was Matthew de Vilars, who built the first Norman church in Warrington about the year 1150. his heir, Beatrix de Vilars, married Richard Pincerna who took his name from the office of butler, which the family held under the Earl of Chester. They later changed the family name to Boteler.

Bewsey Old Hall

Warrington had received its first market charter in 1255 AD, which was held by the lords of the manor until the town council purchased them from John Henry Ireland Blackburne in 1852. Until the 1830s the markets were held on Church Street, the original ‘town centre’.

The family resided at Mote Hill, the location of Warrington castle. Sometime between the years 1256 and 1259 the castle burned down and the seventh lord of the manor built a new home in Burton Wood (now Burtonwood) called Bewsey Hall. By 1310, the eighth lord of the manor of Warrington, Sir William Fitz Henry le Boteler, was empowered to collect tolls on Warrington Bridge, which lasted until the 16th century. By this time, the town had paved streets. The Boteler family died out by 1593.

The next owner of Bewsey Hall was Thomas Ireland, who was knighted by King James I when he stayed the night in 1617.

Warrington played its part in the Civil War where, among other events, Oliver Cromwell lodged in the town in 1648. He rounded up the Scottish troops in the area we now call Scotland Road, having travelled south via Red Bank and Winwick.

The Industrial Revolution was embraced by Warrington with many local businessmen contributing (and gaining) great wealth, especially around Bank Quay, where industrialists like Thomas Patten and Joseph Crosfield gave employment to many local people.

Bank Quay industrial area 1984

The Sankey Canal opened in 1757 and the Bridgewater Canal opened in 1761, bringing faster carriage of goods than horse and cart, which had been used until that time.

The railways arrived in 1831 with the opening of the Newton Junction to Dallam Lane line, a branch of the first passenger railway in the world, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Next came the Grand Junction Railway from Birmingham, with the Dallam Lane site being diverted to Bank Quay to meet up with it.

The town was incorporated as a borough in 1847 and William Beamont became the first mayor. He was also a historian and philanthropist and served on the council alongside industrialist like Peter Rylands, Thomas Lyon, John Greenall, William Allcard and Joseph Perrin. In 1848 the council set up the first rate-assisted library and museum in the country. The population in the town was estimated at 20,000. Today it is ten times as big.

With the introduction of trams in 1902, trolleybuses in 1935 and car ownership the town has grown from a small market town to a big player in the modern technological world as part of the new town idea from 1968 onwards.

Latchford Locks

Many people still hold Warrington as belonging in Lancashire. In 1974 the administration boundaries were changed, meaning Warrington came under Cheshire County Council for services such as the police and fire departments, but the original county boundaries never changed. A good website for keeping the original Lancashire intact is The Friends of Real Lancashire (www.forl.co.uk). Another website you might find useful on the subject is The Association of British Counties www.abcounties.co.uk.

Having said all that, this website concentrates on events that happen within those extended 1974 boundary changes. The local press often feature stories about Daresbury and Lewis Carroll, but Daresbury is administered by Halton Council, not Warrington – and that is why Lewis Carroll is not featured in Warrington People, even though he often visited Walton Hall estate and the Greenall family. The same goes for Moore village: it is outside the boundary of Warrington, but Moore Nature Reserve is within it, and therefore featured in Warrington Green. If the boundaries ever changed again I will reflect those changes on this website.

Bewsey Towers from Sankey Valley Park