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King Street in Knutsford.jpg
King Street
Population 13,191 (2011)
OS grid reference SJ753782
Unitary authority
  • Cheshire East
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district WA16
Dialling code 01565
Police Cheshire
Fire Cheshire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament
  • Tatton
Website www.knutsford
List of places
CheshireCoordinates: 53°18′00″N 2°22′16″W / 53.300°N 2.371°W / 53.300; -2.371

Knutsford is a town in Cheshire, England, 14 miles (23 km) south-west of Manchester and 9 miles (14 km) north-west of Macclesfield. The population of the town at the 2011 Census was 13,191.

Located near Cheshire's Golden Triangle and on the Cheshire Plain between the Peak District to the east and the Welsh mountains to the west, Knutsford and its surrounding villages are affluent and sought-after residential areas, with properties rated as some of the most expensive outside of London. Knutsford is a dormitory town for people working in Manchester and Liverpool. Residents include actress Barbara Knox and comedian Sarah Millican; it is an area particularly popular among footballers, being home to Peter Crouch, Sam Ricketts, Michael Jacobs and Phil Jagielka.

Knutsford's main town centre streets, Princess Street (also known locally as Top Street) and King Street lower down (also known as Bottom Street), form the hub of the town. At one end of the narrow King Street is an entrance to Tatton Park. The Tatton estate was home to the Egerton family, and has given its name to Tatton parliamentary constituency, which includes the neighbouring communities of Alderley Edge and Wilmslow. Former Parliamentary representatives include the BBC war correspondent Martin Bell, who stood as an Independent in 1997 to defeat the disgraced former Conservative Party MP, Neil Hamilton.

The present MP for Tatton is the former Chancellor of The Exchequer, the Right Honourable George Osborne.


See also: History of Cheshire

Knutsford was recorded in the William the Conqueror's Domesday Book of 1086 as Cunetesford ("Canute's ford"). King Canute (Knútr in Old Norse) was the king of England (1016–1035) and later king of Denmark, Norway and parts of Sweden as well. Local tradition says that King Canute blessed a wedding that was taking place and forded the River Lily, which was said to be dangerous then, though other reports say it was the Birkin Brook at or near Booth Mill. The English Place-Name Society gives the name as being derived from the Old English for Knutr's ford or possibly hillock ford.

Knutsford Gaol was built in 1817 and later extended in 1853. During the First World War it was used as a military prison. The Gaol was demolished in 1934.

Knutsford was the place in which General George S. Patton, shortly before the Normandy invasion, delivered a speech perceived to be critical of the Soviets, and to have "slap(ped) the face of every one of the United Nations except Great Britain", which nearly ended his career.

After the Second World War overspill housing estates were created in the town to accommodate families from Manchester. The Longridge overspill estate was built in Over Ward by Manchester City Council in the 1960s. At the end of the 20th century, all of the homes on the estate that had not already been sold to their occupants were transferred to Manchester Methodist Housing.

In 2005 Knutsford was named as the most expensive town to buy a house in Northern England, followed by nearby town Altrincham. There is an extremely large range of house prices in Knutsford, currently varying from approximately £79,000 to £3,850,000.



Knutsford Motorway Services - - 35882
Knutsford motorway service station

Knutsford has excellent access to the motorway network, with junctions to the M6 (Junction 19) and M56 (Junction 7) motorways. However, this can also have disadvantages as the A50 which runs through Knutsford town centre follows a similar route to the M6 between Warrington and Stoke-on-Trent, this means that if the M6 is closed due to an accident or roadworks then a large volume of traffic transfers to the A50 and causes major traffic jams in Knutsford.


Knutsford is served by Knutsford railway station which is situated on the Mid-Cheshire Line running from Chester to Manchester (via Altrincham). The station was built in 1862 by the Cheshire Midland Railway. The CMR was absorbed into the Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC) in August 1867, this entity continuing to serve Knutsford until nationalisation on 1 January 1948. The train service to Manchester was re-routed via a slower route when the Manchester Metrolink trams took over the CLC direct line between Altrincham and Manchester, with the heavy rail service being re-routed via Stockport to Manchester Piccadilly.

Currently there is an hourly service to Altrincham, Stockport and Manchester to the north and Northwich and Chester to the south-west, with extra trains to and from Stockport at peak times on weekdays. On Sundays there is a 2 hourly service to Chester and a 2 hourly service to Southport via Manchester, Bolton and Wigan. The number of weekday peak trains to Manchester was controversially cut back in December 2008 to allow Virgin Trains to run extra services between Manchester and London.

By December 2017 Knutsford is expected to have half-hourly train services to Northwich and Manchester for most of the day except on Sundays when services will be hourly.


Knutsford is not well served by buses. The only routes with a regular service are Knutsford to Altrincham via Wilmslow (which runs half-hourly) and the Knutsford Town Circular (which runs up to half-hourly). There is also a Northwich-Tabley-Knutsford-High Legh-Altrincham bus approximately every two hours forty-five minutes and a Knutsford-Chelford-Macclesfield bus which runs every 60–90 minutes. No buses operate in the town on Sundays or on Bank Holidays.

No service exists connecting Knutsford and Warrington, a significant restriction for rail travel to London and access to important education, employment, social and retail service sectors.

In the past it was common for one bus operator to run most or all of the bus routes in Knutsford. This was once Crosville who ran buses across Cheshire and North Wales. Then later Star Line Travel took over services, who were based in Knutsford and Wythenshawe. Star Line Travel were taken over by British Bus t/a North Western Road Car Company, who then later became part of Arriva Group. Star Line Travel's Knutsford depot had been closed which made running bus routes in Knutsford an unattractive proposition for Arriva, who ceased to serve the town in January 2009. Star Line Travel's coach division was split between Bullocks Coaches and Selwyns Travel.

Current bus operators in Knutsford are Crewe based D&G Bus, Wrexham based GHA Travel and subsidiary Vale Travel and Winsford based Tomlinson Travel.


Manchester Airport is located 5 miles from Knutsford in the civil parish of Ringway, Manchester. However, there is no direct bus or train link to it.


Knutsford swJanaChrzciciela
St John the Baptist's Church

Knutsford has two Anglican churches, St John the Baptist and St Cross; a Roman Catholic church, St Vincent's; a Methodist church, a Unitarian church and a Gospel church. Knutsford is located in the Church of England Diocese of Chester and in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury. The nearest Baptist church is in Altrincham and the nearest United Reformed church, Polish Catholic church and Salvation Army are located in Northwich.

Culture and community

Man Sanding the street in Knutsfrod for May Day 1920
A resident of the town sanding the street in celebration of May Day 1920. The custom continues to this day.

There are many events in and around the town each year including the May Day festivities, The RHS Flower show at Tatton Park and the Cheshire County Show in the parish of Tabley, near Knutsford.

The annual Knutsford Royal May Day festival is where hundreds of people parade through the streets, and the May Queen is crowned. During the May Day weekend there is also a funfair run on 'The Heath' (where the crowning of the May Queen also takes place) This is said to be one of the largest travelling funfairs in the UK.

Local folklore claims that Edward "Highwayman" Higgins had a tunnel running under The Heath, where he hid his booty.

The Knutsford Guardian, established in 1860, is the only weekly paid for paper dedicated to covering the town and its surrounding villages. The newspaper is teamed with the Northwich, Middlewich, and Winsford Guardian.

There is a May Day custom, still observed today, of "sanding the streets" in Knutsford. The streets are decorated with coloured sands in patterns and pictures.

Tradition has it that King Cnut, while fording the River Lily, threw sand from his shoes into the path of a wedding party, wishing the newly wed as many children as the grains of sand at their feet. The custom can be traced to the late 1600s. Queen Victoria, in her journal of 1832 recorded: "we arrived at Knutsford, where we were most civilly received, the streets being sanded in shapes which is peculiar to this town".

Knutsford was the model for Elizabeth Gaskell's novel Cranford. She lived in the town for some time, on what is now known as Gaskell Avenue, and she is buried in the Unitarian Chapel graveyard. Many of the places and people described in her books can be identified as being based on places and people in the town. In 2007 the BBC adapted the novel and produced a popular TV series Cranford. Despite several references to Knutsford, including King Street and The Heath, the TV adaptation was actually filmed in Lacock, Wiltshire. Notably, in 1987 Legh Road in Knutsford, designed by Richard Harding Watt, doubled for Colonial Shanghai in the opening scenes from Steven Spielberg's film Empire of the Sun. A Gaskell protégé who died in Knutsford in 1859 was the once-popular novelist Selina Davenport, who abandoned writing despairingly in 1834 and kept a tiny Knutsford shop instead.

Knutsford Amateur Drama Society was established in 1925 and moved to its premises in Queen Street, Knutsford shortly after the end of the Second World War. Now known by the name of the building it occupies, Knutsford Little Theatre continues to produce a selection of plays each year, including an annual pantomime.

Knutsford Heritage Centre is situated in a 17th-century timber-framed building just off King Street, which was a blacksmith's forge in the 19th century. It has a museum, garden, shop and gallery featuring various exhibitions, talks and events, and walking tours are also available. On permanent exhibition are the May Queen's dress shoes and crown from 1887.

Scenes from the George C. Scott film Patton were filmed in the centre of Knutsford, in front of the old Town Hall. The building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, and for much of the 20th century was home to Knutsford Boys' Club and latterly a furniture show room and post office. It now lies vacant.

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