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Altrincham
Goose Green - Altrincham, Cheshire - geograph.org.uk - 1608511.jpg
Goose Green in Altrincham
Altrincham shown within Greater Manchester
Population 52,419  (2011 Census)
• Density 10,272/sq mi (3,966/km2)
OS grid reference SJ765875
• London 161 mi (259 km) SE
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ALTRINCHAM
Postcode district WA14 & WA15
Dialling code 0161
Police Greater Manchester
Fire Greater Manchester
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament
  • Altrincham and Sale West
List of places
UK
England
Greater ManchesterCoordinates: 53°23′02″N 2°21′17″W / 53.3838°N 2.3547°W / 53.3838; -2.3547

Altrincham (Listeni/ˈɒltrɪŋəm/ OL-tring-əm) is a market town in Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, south of the River Mersey about 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Manchester city centre, 3 miles (5 km) south-southwest of Sale and 10 miles (16 km) east of Warrington. At the 2001 UK census, it had a population of 41,000 increasing to 52,419 at the 2011 census.

Historically part of Cheshire, Altrincham was established as a market town in 1290, a time when the economy of most communities was based on agriculture rather than trade, and there is still a market in the town today. Further socioeconomic development came with the extension of the Bridgewater Canal to Altrincham in 1765 and the arrival of the railway in 1849, stimulating industrial activity in the town. Outlying villages were absorbed by Altrincham's subsequent growth, along with the grounds of Dunham Massey Hall, formerly the home of the Earl of Stamford, and now a tourist attraction with three Grade I Listed Buildings and a deer park.

Altrincham today is an affluent commuter town, partly because of its transport links. The town has a strong middle class presence; there has been a steady increase in Altrincham's middle classes since the 19th century. It is also home to Altrincham F.C. and three ice hockey clubs, Manchester Storm, Altrincham Aces and Trafford Tornados. Altrincham's population increased to 45,809 in 2011.

History

Local evidence of prehistoric human activity exists in the form of two Neolithic arrowheads found in Altrincham, and further afield, a concentration of artefacts around Dunham. The remains of a Roman road, part of one of the major Roman roads in North West England connecting the legionary fortresses of Chester (Deva Victrix) and York (Eboracum), run through the Broadheath area. As it shows signs of having been repaired, the road was in use for a considerable period of time. The name Altrincham first appears as "Aldringeham", probably meaning "homestead of Aldhere's people". As recently as the 19th century it was spelt both Altrincham and Altringham.

Milestone eccles bridgewater canal bridge
A milestone along the Barton Bridge and Moses Gate turnpike road near Eccles, showing the spelling of "Altringham"

Until the Normans invaded England, the manors surrounding Altrincham were owned by the Saxon thegn Alweard; after the invasion they became the property of Hamon de Massey, though Altrincham is not mentioned in the Domesday Book. The earliest documented reference to the town is from 1290, when it was granted its charter as a Free Borough by Baron Hamon de Massey V. The charter allowed a weekly market to be held, and it is possible that de Massey established the town to generate income through taxes on trade and tolls. This suggests that Altrincham may have been a planned market town, unusual during the Middle Ages, when most communities were agricultural. Altrincham was probably chosen as the site of the planned town rather than Dunham – which would have been protected by Dunham Castle – because its good access to roads was important for trade.

Altrincham Fair became St James's Fair or Samjam in 1319 and continued until 1895. Fair days had their own court of Pye Powder (a corruption of the French for "dusty feet"), presided over by the mayor and held to settle disputes arising from the day's dealings. By 1348 the town had 120 burgage plots – ownership of land used as a measure of status and importance in an area – putting it on a par with the Cheshire town of Macclesfield and above Stockport and Knutsford. The earliest known residence in Altrincham was "the Knoll", on Stamford Street near the centre of the medieval town. An 1983 excavation on the demolished building, made by South Trafford Archaeological Group, discovered evidence that the house dated from the 13th or 14th century, and that it may have contained a drying kiln or malting floor. During the English Civil War, men from Altrincham fought for the Parliamentarian Sir George Booth. During the war, armies camped on nearby Bowdon Downs on several occasions.

In 1754, a stretch of road south of Altrincham, along the Manchester to Chester route, was turnpiked. Turnpikes were toll roads which taxed passengers for the maintenance of the road. Further sections were turnpiked in 1765 from Timperley to Sale, and 1821 from Altrincham to Stockport. The maintenance of roads passed to local authorities in 1888, although by then most turnpike trusts had already declined. The connection of the Bridgewater Canal to Altrincham in 1765 stimulated the development of market gardening, and for many years Altrincham was noted for its vegetables. By 1767, warehouses had been built alongside the canal at Broadheath, the first step in the development of Broadheath as an industrial area and the beginning of Altrincham's industrialisation. The canal was connected in 1776 to the River Mersey, providing the town not only with a water route to Manchester, but also to the Irish Sea.

Altrincham Town Hall - geograph.org.uk - 1313270
Altrincham Town Hall

Moves to connect the town to the UK's railway network gained pace in 1845, when the Act of Parliament for the construction of the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railway (MSJAR) was passed. The first train left Altrincham early on 20 July 1849, carrying 65 passengers. The MSJAR had two stations in the town: Altrincham, on Stockport Road, and Bowdon – though not actually in Bowdon – on Lloyd Street/Railway Street. Both were replaced in 1881 by Altrincham & Bowdon railway station on Stamford New Road. The London and North Western Railway's station at Broadheath, on the town's northern edge, was opened in 1854, while a further connection was created on 12 May 1862 by the Cheshire Midland Railway (later the Cheshire Lines Committee), who opened their line from Altrincham to Knutsford.

With its new railway links, Altrincham and the surrounding areas became desirable places for the middle classes and commuters to live. Professionals and industrialists moved to the town, commuting into Manchester. While some travelled daily by coach, the less well–to–do commuted by express or "flyer" barges from Broadheath. Between 1851 and 1881 the population increased from 4,488 to 11,250. Broadheath's industrial area, covering about 250 acres (1.0 km2), was founded in 1885 by Harry Grey, 8th Earl of Stamford, to attract businesses. By 1900 Broadheath had its own docks, warehouses and electricity generating station. The site's proximity to rail, canal and road links proved attractive to companies making machine tools, cameras and grinding machines. The presence of companies like Tilghmans Sand Blast, and the Linotype and Machinery Company, established Broadheath as an industrial area of national standing. By 1914, 14 companies operated in Broadheath, employing thousands of workers. One of those was the Budenberg Gauge Company. Linotype also created 172 workers' homes near its factory, helping cater for the population boom created by Broadheath's industrialisation. Between 1891 and 1901 the population of Altrincham increased by 35 per cent, from 12,440 to 16,831.

From the turn of the 20th century to the start of the Second World War, there were few changes in Altrincham. Although the town was witness to some of the Luftwaffe's raids on the Manchester area, it emerged from the war relatively unscathed, and as with the rest of Britain, experienced an economic boom. This manifested itself in the construction of new housing and the 1960s rebuilding of the town centre. However, during the 1970s employment at Broadheath declined by nearly 40 per cent.

Geography

TraffordAreasAlt
The Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, highlighting the Altrincham area in red.

At 53°23′2″N 2°21′17″W / 53.38389°N 2.35472°W / 53.38389; -2.35472 (53.3838, −2.3547), Altrincham is on the southwestern edge of the Greater Manchester Urban Area, immediately south of the town of Sale, and 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Manchester city centre. It lies in the northwest corner of the Cheshire Plain, just south of the River Mersey. The Bridgewater Canal passes through the Broadheath area of the town. Altrincham's drinking water is supplied by United Utilities. The local bedrock consists mainly of Keuper Waterstone, a type of sandstone, and water retrieved from those rocks is very hard and often saline, making it undrinkable. The town's climate is generally temperate, with few extremes of temperature or weather. The mean temperature is slightly above average for the United Kingdom; whereas both annual rainfall and average hours of sunshine are slightly below the average for the UK.

Along with Sale, Stretford and Urmston, Altrincham is one of the four major urban areas in Trafford. The Altrincham area, as defined by Trafford Council, comprises the south of Trafford. In addition to the town of Altrincham, it includes the villages of Timperley, Bowdon, Hale and Hale Barns. The Broadheath area of the town was a light industrial centre until the 1970s and is now a retail park. The most densely populated part of the town is around the town centre, with the less populated areas and more green space further from the centre of town in villages such as Bowdon and Hale. The Oldfield Brow area lies on the outskirts of the town beside the Bridgewater Canal and close to Dunham Massey.

Demography

Altrincham compared
2001 UK Census Altrincham Trafford England
Total population 40,695 210,145 49,138,831
White 94.4% 91.6% 90.9%
Asian 1.3% 4.1% 4.6%
Black 0.5% 2.0% 2.3%

As of the 2001 UK census, the town of Altrincham had a total population of 40,695. Of its 27,900 households, 38.7 per cent were married couples living together. 30.4 per cent contained one person, 8.2 per cent co-habiting couples and 9.0 per cent lone parents.

The town's population density is 10,272 inhabitants per square mile (3,966/km2), with 94.8 males for every 100 females. Of those aged 16 to 74, 21.7 per cent had no academic qualifications, similar to the 21.3 per cent in all of Trafford, but lower than the 28.9 per cent in England. At 4.6 per cent, Altrincham has a low proportion of non-white people. Asians are the area's largest ethnic minority, at 1.3 per cent of the population.

In 1931, 14.6 per cent of Altrincham's population was middle class, slightly higher than the figure for England and Wales, which was 14 per cent. By 1971 this gap had increased to 28.8 per cent compared to 24 per cent nationally, while the town's working class population had declined, from 30.3 per cent in 1931 (36 per cent in England and Wales) to 18.6 per cent (26 per cent nationwide). The remainder comprised clerical and skilled manual workers. This change in social structure was similar to that seen across the nation – although biased towards the middle classes – making Altrincham the middle-class town it is today.

Population change

According to the hearth tax returns from 1664, the township of Altrincham had a population of about 636, making it the largest of the local settlements; this had increased to 1,692 in 1801. In the first half of the 19th century, the town's population increase by 165 per cent, higher than 89 per cent across England and 98 per cent in the Trafford area. The growth of the settlement was a result of the Industrial Revolution, and although Altrincham was one of the fastest growing townships in the Trafford area, but paled in comparison to new industrial areas such as Ashton-under-Lyne, Hyde, and Manchester. In the second half of the 19th century, Altrincham's population grew by 275 per cent, higher than the 235 per cent for Trafford and 69 per cent nationally in the same period. This was due to the late industrialisation of the area and the introduction of the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railway in 1849. The table below details the population change since 1801, including the percentage change since the last census.

Population growth in Altrincham since 1801
Year Pop. ±%
1801 1,692 —    
1811 2,032 +20.1%
1821 2,302 +13.3%
1831 2,708 +17.6%
1841 3,399 +25.5%
1851 4,488 +32.0%
Year Pop. ±%
1861 6,628 +47.7%
1871 8,478 +27.9%
1881 11,250 +32.7%
1891 12,440 +10.6%
1901 16,831 +35.3%
1911 17,813 +5.8%
Year Pop. ±%
1921 20,450 +14.8%
1931 21,356 +4.4%
1941 39,940 +87.0%
1951 39,789 −0.4%
1961 41,122 +3.4%
1971 40,786 −0.8%
Year Pop. ±%
1981 39,693 −2.7%
1991 40,042 +0.9%
2001 40,695 +1.6%
Source: A Vision of Britain through Time

Culture

Landmarks and attractions

Dunham Massey Hall
Dunham Massey Hall

The Old Market Place is thought to stand on the site of the original town settlement. Now a registered conservation area it consists of a series of part timber-framed buildings echoing the wattle and daub constructions of the original houses and burgage plots. The cobblestone paving was replaced in 1896. The Buttermarket which stood in the area near the Old Market Place from the 17th century until the late 19th century was also the site for dispensing early local justice. A courtroom, stocks and whipping post saw public floggings take place there until the early 19th century. The whipping post and stocks were restored as a tourist attraction by local traders in the 1990s. However the Buttermarket area was also a site of religious importance, since prospective brides and grooms are thought to have declared their intentions here. In 1814 Thomas de Quincey described the Old Market Place in his Confessions of an English Opium Eater while travelling from Manchester to Chester. He noted how little the place had changed since his visit 14 years earlier at the age of three, and that "fruits, such as can be had in July, and flowers were scattered about in profusion: even the stalls of the butchers, from their brilliant cleanliness, appeared attractive: and bonny young women of Altrincham were all tripping about in caps and aprons coquettishly disposed". Another of Altrincham's attractions is the historic market, set up over 700 years ago when the town was first established.

Of the 21 conservation areas in Trafford, ten are in Altrincham: The Downs, The Devisdale, Bowdon, Ashley Heath, Goose Green, Old Market Place, Sandiway, George Street, the Linotype Housing Estate and Stamford New Road. On the town's outskirts is the 18th-century Dunham Massey Hall, surrounded by its 250-acre (1 km2) deer park, both now owned by the National Trust. The hall is early Georgian in style, and along with its stables and carriage house, is a Grade I listed building.

Royd House was built between 1914 and 1916, by local architect Edgar Wood, as his own residence. It has a flat concrete roof, a concave façade, and is faced in Portland red stone and Lancashire brick. It is regarded as one of the most advanced examples of early 20th-century domestic architecture, and is referenced in architectural digests. It has been a Grade I listed building since 1975, one of six such buildings in Trafford. The Grade II listed clock outside the main transport interchange was built in 1880.

The 16-acre (6.5 ha) Stamford Park was designed by landscape gardener John Shaw. It opened to the public in 1880, as a sports park with areas for cricket and football. The land was donated by George Grey, the 7th Earl of Stamford, and is now owned and run by Trafford Council. The park is listed as Grade II on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, and has won a bronze award from the Greenspace award scheme.

Events and venues

Altrincham has two theatres, the Altrincham Garrick Playhouse and the Club Theatre (latterly known as the Altrincham Little Theatre). The Altrincham Garrick group was formed in 1913. The Garrick held the world stage premier of Psycho in 1982. In 1998, it received a grant of £675,000 from the National Lottery as part of a £900,000 redevelopment of the theatre, which was completed in 1999. The Club Theatre group began in 1896, as the St Margaret's Church Institute Amateur Dramatics Society. It provides a venue for the Trafford Youth Theatre production each year, and it runs the Hale One Act Festival, an annual week-long event started in 1972. The club has received awards from both the Greater Manchester Drama Federation and the Cheshire Theatre Guild. Altrincham also had Greater Manchester's only Michelin starred restaurant, the Juniper.

Sports

Altrincham F.C., nicknamed "The Robins", were founded in 1903 and play home matches at Moss Lane. The club plays in the National League North. In the 1970s and 1980s Altrincham F.C. built a reputation for "giant-killing" acts against Football League teams in FA Cup matches. The club has knocked out Football League opposition on a record 16 occasions, including a 1986 victory against top-flight Birmingham City. Altrincham won the forerunner of the Football Conference in its first two seasons, but was denied election to the Football League on both occasions, falling a single vote short in 1980. Altrincham have since had mixed fortunes. Relegated to the Northern Premier League in 1997, the club earned promotion two years later, but suffered a second relegation after a single season in the Conference. In the 2010–11 season Altrincham were relegated to Conference North. The club's main rivals are Macclesfield Town and Northwich Victoria.

Icedomeinterior
Altrincham Ice Dome is the home of Manchester Storm and Altrincham Aces.

Altrincham is one of the few towns in North West England with an ice rink, and has had an ice hockey team since 1961, when Altrincham Ice Rink was built in Broadheath. The Altrincham Aces (later renamed the Trafford Metros) played from 1961 until 2003, when Altrincham Ice Rink closed. The town then had a three-year period without a rink or ice hockey team, until construction of the 2,500 capacity Altrincham Ice Dome was completed. Manchester Phoenix, a club having a professional presence in the English Premier Ice Hockey League and an extensive junior development aspect, relocated to the Ice Dome during the 2006–07 season, having withdrawn from competition two years earlier due to the high cost of playing matches at Manchester's MEN Arena. In 2009 the Manchester Phoenix English National Ice Hockey League team was renamed Trafford Metros, bringing the old Altrincham team's name back into use. When not being used by Phoenix the Altrincham Ice Dome is open to the public for ice skating.

Founded in 1897, Altrincham Kersal RUFC plays rugby union in North One, the competition below the National Leagues, and is amongst the top 80 clubs in England. Altrincham has been promoted five times in the past ten seasons. The club has produced England and Sale Sharks players Mark Cueto and Chris Jones and continues to produce players for the Sale Jets. Altrincham and District Athletics Club was founded in 1961, and provides training facilities for track and field, road running, cross-country running and fell running. Seamons Cycling Club was formed in 1948 in the area of Altrincham known locally as Seamons Moss.

Religion

See also: List of churches in Greater Manchester
St George's Church, Altrincham, 2012
The Grade II listed St George's Church

During the medieval and post-medieval periods the township of Altrincham was part of Bowdon parish. Low population density meant that the town did not have a church until the Anglican church established a chapel of ease in 1799. Nonconformists were also present in Altrincham; Methodists set up a chapel in 1790, and Baptists built one in the 1870s. Irish immigrants in the 1830s and 1840s also returned Roman Catholicism to the area, the first Roman Catholic church built in Altrincham being St Vincent's, in 1860.

Several churches in Altrincham are deemed architecturally important enough to be designated Grade II listed buildings. These are Christ Church, the Church of St Alban, the Church of St George, the Church of St John the Evangelist and Trinity United Reformed Church. Of the nine Grade II* listed buildings in Trafford, three are in Altrincham: the Church of St Margaret, the Church of St John the Divine and Hale Chapel in Hale Barns. As of the 2001 UK census, 78.8 per cent of Altrincham's residents reported themselves as being Christian, 1.1 per cent Jewish, 1.1 per cent Muslim, 0.4 per cent Hindu, 0.2 per cent Buddhist and 0.1 per cent Sikh. The census recorded 12.1 per cent as having no religion, 0.2 per cent with an alternative religion, while 6.1 per cent did not state a religion. Altrincham is in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury, and the Church of England Diocese of Chester. The nearest synagogue, belonging to Hale and District Hebrew Congregation, is on Shay Lane in Hale Barns.

Transport

Altrincham station, 2010
Altrincham station in 2010

Construction of the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railway began in 1845. The line was opened in October 1849, with services from Manchester London Road via Sale to Altrincham. In 1931 it became one of Great Britain's first electrified railway lines, with a 1,500V DC overhead line. At the same time a new Altrincham station was opened on the same line, at Navigation Road, serving housing developments in the area. By 1937, 130 train services ran daily between Manchester and Altrincham. The line was renovated in the early 1990s to form part of the Manchester Metrolink light rail system. Broadheath railway station served the northern part of Altrincham between 1853 and 1962, on the line from Manchester, via Lymm to Warrington.

Altrincham Interchange is one of the Metrolink's termini. The interchange was refurbished (2015-16), and now includes a brand new footbridge, with 3 lifts to cope with increased passenger demands, including a larger scale ticket office, and modern bus interchange. The new Interchange is a modern design building that looks fantastic and is helping to regenerate Altrincham city centre as the new building has helped to transform the surrounding area. The Interchange connects the town to several locations in Greater Manchester, such as Sale and Bury. The service also includes Navigation Road station. Metrolink services leave around every six minutes, between 07:15 and 19:30 on weekdays, and less frequently at other times. National Rail services link the Altrincham and Navigation Road stations with Chester via Northwich, and with Manchester via Stockport. Altrincham Interchange, next to the railway station, is a hub for local bus routes. Manchester Airport, the largest in the UK outside London, is 5 miles (8 km) to the southeast of the town, and is connected via the Manchester Picadilly – Crewe line. There are plans in the future to create a new link between Manchester Airport and the Mid Cheshire Line, which Altrincham Interchange is a station on. Recently the Metrolink completed connections to this airport and opened the line 12 months early, but this is not a direct connection from the Metrolink line at Altrincham Interchange

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