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Cheshire Plain

Cheshire shown within England

Cheshire is a ceremonial county in the North West of England. Chester is the county town, and formerly gave its name to the county. The largest town is Warrington, and other major towns include Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Macclesfield, Northwich, Runcorn, Sandbach, Widnes, Wilmslow and Winsford. The county is administered as four unitary authorities.

Cheshire occupies a boulder clay plain (pictured) which separates the hills of North Wales from the Peak District of Derbyshire. The county covers an area of 2,343 km2 (905 sq mi), with a high point of 559 m (1,834 ft) elevation. The estimated population is a little over one million, 19th highest in England, with a population density of 449 people per km2.

The county was created in around 920, but the area has a long history of human occupation dating back to before the last Ice Age. Deva was a major Roman fort, and Cheshire played an important part in the Civil War. Predominantly rural, the county is historically famous for the production of Cheshire cheese, salt and silk. During the 19th century, towns in the north of the county were pioneers of the chemical industry, while Crewe became a major railway junction and engineering facility.

Selected article

Anderton Boat Lift on the River Weaver

The River Weaver flows in a curving route of just over 50 miles (80 km) anti-clockwise across the west of Cheshire from a source in the Peckforton Hills. Improvements to make the river navigable were authorised in 1720; the work, which included eleven locks, was completed in 1732. The navigation was completely reconstructed between 1870 and 1900, with the original locks being replaced by five much larger ones. The major trade was salt.

The Anderton Boat Lift (pictured), near Northwich, links the Weaver with the Trent and Mersey Canal some 50 feet (15 m) above. Opened in 1875, it remained in use for over 100 years. It reopened after renovation in 2002 and is one of only two working boat lifts in the UK. Many other structures are of historical importance, including the Hayhurst swing bridge and Northwich Town bridge, believed to be the earliest swing bridges powered by electricity. Dutton Horse Bridge is one of the earliest surviving laminated timber structures.

Selected image

Stanlow Refinery, Ellesmere Port

Stanlow Refinery at Ellesmere Port, near the River Mersey, has its origins in a small bitumen plant established in 1924. The complex now employs 800 people and handles 12 million tonnes of crude oil annually.

Credit: Peter Gordois (24 October 2006)

Selected list

Agricola Tower of Chester Castle, a motte-and-bailey castle dating from 1070

Twenty castles lie within the modern boundaries of Cheshire. The most common form is the motte-and-bailey, which consists of a mound (motte), surmounted by a keep or tower, with an outer enclosure (bailey) where the barracks and workshops were located. Ringworks are less common; they are contemporary with motte-and-bailey castles and have a similar structure but lack the motte. Fortified manor houses are also found in the county; they are considered castles because they often had battlements or crenellations.

The earliest castles in Cheshire were built just after the Norman Conquest in 1070 (Chester Castle pictured), with the majority dating from before the end of the 12th century. After the 13th century, the castles are either tower houses or fortified manor houses, and were primarily a feudal residence rather than a military structure. The latest castle dates from the 15th century. The county played an important role in defending England against the Welsh, with eight castles being within 4 miles (6.4 km) of the Welsh border. Away from the borders, baronial castles were built as a status symbol. Most of the castles are now in a ruinous state, having been abandoned after they fulfilled their military purpose.

In the news

14 August: A fire breaks out at the Recresco recycling plant in Ellesmere Port.

2 August: United Utilities cancels its planned hosepipe ban after rain and cooler weather in the North West.

1 August: Cheshire East council rejects plans for 112 proposed houses on the Doddington estate to support the renovation of Doddington Hall.

3 July: A nurse is arrested in Chester as part of the investigation into a series of infant deaths at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

28 June: The University of Chester Academies Trust, which runs schools in Chester, Ellesmere Port, Northwich, Warrington and Weaverham, announces that it will close.

19–20 June: The Royal Cheshire County Show is held near Knutsford, and celebrates Cheshire Agricultural Society's 180th anniversary.

14 June: The Queen and the Duchess of Sussex open the Mersey Gateway from the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre in Widnes, and later the Storyhouse Theatre in Chester.


Cheshire West and Chester Cheshire East Cheshire East Cheshire East Halton WarringtonCheshire unitary number.png
About this image

The ceremonial county of Cheshire is administered by four unitary authorities (click on the map for details):

1 – Cheshire West and Chester

2 – Cheshire East

3 – Warrington

4 – Halton

In the local government reorganisation of 1974, Cheshire gained an area formerly in Lancashire including Widnes and Warrington. The county lost Tintwistle to Derbyshire, part of the Wirral Peninsula to Merseyside, and a northern area including Stockport, Altrincham, Sale, Hyde, Dukinfield and Stalybridge to Greater Manchester.

Recommended articles

Places: Bradwall • Middlewich • Runcorn • Widnes

Sights: Adlington Hall • All Saints' Church, Runcorn • Beeston Castle • Capesthorne Hall • Chester Cathedral • Chester Rows • Cholmondeley Castle • Churche's Mansion • Crewe Hall • Darnhall Abbey • Eaton Hall • Gawsworth Old Hall • Halton Castle • Jodrell Bank Observatory • Little Moreton HallFeatured article • Lovell Telescope • Lyme Park • Norton PrioryFeatured article • Peckforton Castle • Rode Hall • St Mary's Church, Acton • St Mary's Church, Astbury • St Mary's Church, Nantwich • St Mary's Church, Nether Alderley • Tabley House

History: Battle of Brunanburh • Battle of Rowton Heath • Deva Victrix • Eddisbury hill fort • Lindow ManFeatured article • Maiden Castle

Geography & Transport: Bridgewater Canal • Chester Canal • Manchester Ship CanalFeatured article • Northern EnglandFeatured article • Peak District • River Weaver

People: Jonathan AgnewFeatured article • Ben Amos • Adrian BoultFeatured article • Thomas Brassey • Neil BrooksFeatured article • Sir John Brunner, 1st Baronet • James ChadwickFeatured article • Djibril Cissé • Daniel Craig • John DouglasFeatured article • Rowland Egerton-Warburton • Thomas Harrison • Reginald HeberFeatured article • Eddie Johnson • Margaret Ursula Jones • Levi Mackin • One Direction • Peter, Abbot of Vale Royal • Plegmund • Joseph PriestleyFeatured article • Mark Roberts • Nick Robinson • Edmund SharpeFeatured article • Robert Tatton • Alan Turing • William Windsor

Lists: CastlesFeatured article • Church restorations, amendments and furniture by John DouglasFeatured article • Grade I listed churchesFeatured article • Houses and associated buildings by John DouglasFeatured article • Listed buildings in Runcorn (rural area)Featured article • Listed buildings in Runcorn (urban area)Featured article • Listed buildings in WidnesFeatured article • New churches by John DouglasFeatured article • Non-ecclesiastical and non-residential works by John DouglasFeatured article

Selected biography

William Windsor I (left)

William "Billy" Windsor I is a cashmere goat who served as a lance corporal in the 1st Battalion, the Royal Welsh, an infantry battalion of the British Army, based at Chester. The tradition of having goats in the military originated in 1775, when a wild goat walked onto the battlefield in Boston during the Battle of Bunker Hill and led the Welsh regimental colours.

Although descended from the same bloodline as the original royal herd, presented to Queen Victoria in 1837 by Mohammad Shah Qajar, the Shah of Persia, Billy was born in Whipsnade Zoo. He was presented to the regiment by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001, in a tradition dating back to 1844. His primary duty was to march at the head of the battalion on all ceremonial duties. He was deployed overseas, and paraded before royalty. His handler carried the title "Goat Major". Billy retired to Whipsnade Zoo in 2009.

Did you know...

Caryatid on corbel from 46 High Street, Nantwich

In this month

Grosvenor Bridge, Chester

1 October 1827: First stone laid of Grosvenor Bridge, Chester (pictured).

1 October 1905: Inventor John Dolphin born in Christleton.

3 October 1953: First public motor race at Oulton Park.

5 October 1963: Journalist Nick Robinson born in Macclesfield.

10 October 1654: Frodsham Castle destroyed by fire during the Civil War, after the death there of John Savage, 2nd Earl Rivers.

10 October 1868: Runcorn Railway Bridge officially opened.

10 October 1960: Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen first published.

11 October 1678: Antiquarian Sir Peter Leycester died in Nether Tabley.

14 October 1869: Chester Town Hall officially opened by the future Edward VII.

16 October 1643: Acton and Dorfold briefly captured by Royalists.

17 October 1832: Grosvenor Bridge, Chester, officially opened (still incomplete) by the future Queen Victoria.

17 October 1934: Novelist Alan Garner born in Congleton.

19 October 1965: Train driver Wallace Oakes awarded the George Cross posthumously.

20 October 1891: Physicist and Nobel prize winner James Chadwick born in Bollington.

21 October 1650: First record of the Cheshire cheese trade with London.

22 October 1996: Helicopter crash near Middlewich killed five people, including Matthew Harding, vice-chair of Chelsea F.C., and journalist John Bauldie.

26 October 1865: Equestrian Statue of Viscount Combermere unveiled in Chester.

27 October 1874: Mill fire killed eight people at Over.


We got to Chester about midnight on Tuesday; and here again I am in a state of much enjoyment ... Chester pleases my fancy more than any town I ever saw. I told a very pleasing young lady, niece to one of the Prebendaries, at whose house I saw her, "I have come to Chester, Madam, I cannot tell how; and far less can I tell how I am to get away from it."

From letter to Samuel Johnson by James Boswell (22 October 1779)

Newest articles



 Towns &  Districts CHESHIRE | PLACES | CIVIL PARISHES | Alsager | Bollington | Chester | Congleton | Crewe | Ellesmere Port | Frodsham | Knutsford | Lymm | Macclesfield | Middlewich | Nantwich | Neston | Northwich | Poynton | Runcorn | Sandbach | Warrington | Widnes | Wilmslow | Winsford | Wirral
 Geography &  Ecology GEOLOGY | Cheshire Plain | Geology of Alderley Edge | HILLS | Bickerton Hill | Peckforton Hills | Shining Tor | Shutlingsloe | Tegg's Nose | Windgather Rocks | RIVERS & LAKES | Lamaload Reservoir | River Bollin | River Dane | River Dean | River Dee | River Gowy | River Goyt | River Mersey | River Weaver | SITES OF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC INTEREST | Cheshire Wildlife Trust | rECOrd | WOODLAND | Delamere Forest | Macclesfield Forest | Northwich Community Woodlands
 History HISTORY | TIMELINE | Ancient parishes | History of Chester | Deva Victrix | History of Middlewich | History of salt in Middlewich | History of Northwich | History of Sandbach | Forests of Mara and Mondrem | ARCHAEOLOGY | SCHEDULED MONUMENTS: Pre-1066 | 1066–1539 | Post-1539 | Bridestones | Chester Roman Amphitheatre | Eddisbury hill fort | Lindow Man | Maiden Castle | Sandbach Crosses | MILITARY HISTORY | Battle of Brunanburh | Battle of Chester | First Battle of Middlewich | Battle of Nantwich | Battle of Rowton Heath | Bunbury Agreement | Cheshire Regiment | RAF Burtonwood | RAF Hooton Park | RAF Ringway
 Sights PLACES OF INTEREST | CASTLES | Beeston Castle | Chester Castle | Cholmondeley Castle | Halton Castle | HISTORIC BUILDINGS | Adlington Hall | Arley Hall | Combermere Abbey | Dorfold Hall | Eaton Hall | Gawsworth Old Hall | Little Moreton Hall | Lyme Park | Norton Priory | Tatton Park | MUSEUMS & VISITOR ATTRACTIONS | Anderton Boat Lift | Anson Engine Museum | Blue Planet Aquarium | Catalyst Science Discovery Centre | Chester Zoo | Crewe Heritage Centre | Cuckooland Museum | Grosvenor Museum | Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker | Jodrell Bank Observatory | Lion Salt Works | National Waterways Museum | Quarry Bank Mill | Stretton Watermill | Weaver Hall Museum  | PUBLIC PARKS | Grosvenor Park | Marbury Park | Ness Botanic Gardens | Queens Park
 Architecture ARCHITECTURE | Norman architecture | LISTED BUILDINGS | Grade I listed churches | Non-ecclesiastical grade I listed buildings outside Chester | Chester | Congleton | Frodsham | Great Budworth | Knutsford | Lymm | Macclesfield | Nantwich | Runcorn | Sandbach | Warrington | Wilmslow
 Sport &  Recreation SPORTING TEAMS | Alsager Town F.C. | Chester F.C. | Chester City F.C. | Cheshire County Cricket Club | Cheshire Phoenix | Crewe Alexandra F.C. | Crewe Railroaders | Macclesfield Town F.C. | Nantwich Town F.C. | 1874 Northwich F.C. | Northwich Victoria F.C. | Runcorn Linnets F.C. | Vauxhall Motors F.C. | Warrington Town F.C. | Warrington Wolves | Widnes Vikings | Winsford United F.C. | Witton Albion F.C. | SPORTING VENUES | Chester Racecourse | Oulton Park | County Cricket Club grounds | RECREATION | Scouting | Walks
 Economy ECONOMY | Cheshire cheese | Cheshire Show | Crewe Railway Works | Salt | Silk | Textile mills 
 Transport BUSES | Arriva | CANALS | Cheshire Ring | Bridgewater Canal | Ellesmere Canal | Llangollen Canal | Macclesfield Canal | Manchester Ship Canal | Shropshire Union Canal | RAIL | Birkenhead Railway | Chester–Manchester Line | Crewe railway station | Crewe–Derby Line | Crewe–Manchester Line | Ellesmere Port–Warrington Line | Mid-Cheshire Line | Welsh Marches Line | ROADS | A34 | A41 | A49 | A50 | A56 | A500 | A537 | A556 | M6 | M53 | M56
 Governance  UNITARY AUTHORITIES | Cheshire East | Cheshire West and Chester | Halton | Warrington | PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCIES | EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
 Education, Health &  Services SCHOOLS | UNIVERSITIES | Manchester Metropolitan University | University of Chester | HEALTH | Countess of Chester Hospital | Leighton Hospital | SERVICES | Fire and Rescue | Police | United Utilities
 Culture &  Media LITERATURE | Cheshire Cat | Cheshire dialect | THEATRE | The Brindley | Lyceum Theatre | NEWSPAPERS | Chester Chronicle | Crewe Chronicle | RADIO | BBC Radio Manchester | BBC Radio Merseyside | BBC Radio Stoke
 Religion RELIGION | CHURCHES | Bishop of Chester | Chester Cathedral | Diocese of Chester | Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury

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