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North West England
North West England, highlighted in red on a beige political map of England
North West England region in England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Status Region
 • Total 5,469 sq mi (14,165 km2)
Area rank 6th
 • Total 7,052,000
 • Rank 3rd
 • Density 1,289.42/sq mi (497.85/km2)
 • Total £231 billion
 • Per capita £18,438 (5th)
ONS code E12000002

North West England, one of nine official regions of England, consists of the five counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. The North West had a population of 7,052,000 in 2011. It is the third most populated region in the United Kingdom after the South East and Greater London.


Geographic features of the North West
Saddleworth, Peak District

North West England is bounded to the east by the Peak District and the Pennines and to the west by the Irish Sea. The region extends from the Scottish Borders in the north to the West Midlands region in the south. To its southwest is North Wales. Amongst the better known of the North West's physiographical features are the Lake District and the Cheshire Plain. The highest point in North West England (and the highest peak in England) is Scafell Pike, Cumbria, at a height of 3,209 feet (978 m).

Windermere is the largest natural lake in England. Broad Crag Tarn on Broad Crag is England's highest lake. Wast Water is England's deepest lake, being 74m deep.

A mix of rural and urban landscape, two large conurbations, centred on Liverpool and Manchester, occupy much of the south of the region. The north of the region, comprising Cumbria and northern Lancashire, is largely rural, as is the far south which encompasses parts of the Cheshire Plain and Peak District.

The region includes parts of three National parks (all of the Lake District, and small parts of the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales) and three areas of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (all of Arnside and Silverdale and the Solway Coast, and almost all of the Forest of Bowland).


Population, density and settlements

Source: Office for National Statistics Mid Year Population Estimates

Region/County Population Population Density Largest town/city Largest urban area
Greater Manchester 2,629,400 2,016/km² Manchester (510,700) (2012 est.) Greater Manchester Urban Area (2,240,230)
Lancashire 1,449,600 468/km² Blackpool (142,100) Preston/Chorley/Leyland Urban Area (335,000)
Merseyside 1,353,600 2,118/km² Liverpool (466,415) Liverpool Urban Area (816,000)
Cheshire 1,003,600 424/km² Warrington (202,228) Warrington (202,228)
Cumbria 496,200 73/km² Carlisle (71,773) Carlisle (71,773)

North West England's population accounts for just over 13% of England's overall population. 37.86% of the North West's population resides in Greater Manchester, 21.39% in Lancashire, 20.30% in Merseyside, 14.76% in Cheshire and 7.41% live in the largest county by area, Cumbria.


Chinese Arch - - 1021559
Liverpool Chinatown is the oldest Chinese community in Europe.

According to 2009 Office for National Statistics estimates, 91.6% (6,323,300) of people in the region describe themselves as 'White': 88.4% (6,101,100) White British, 1.0% (67,200) White Irish and 2.2% (155,000) White Other.

The Mixed Race population makes up 1.3% (93,800) of the region's population. There are 323,800 South Asians, making up 4.7% of the population, and 1.1% Black Britons (80,600). 0.6% of the population (39,900) are Chinese and 0.5% (36,500) of people belong to another ethnic group.

North West England is a very diverse region, with Manchester and Liverpool amongst the most diverse cities in Europe. 19.4% of Blackburn with Darwen's population are Muslim, the third highest among all local authorities in the United Kingdom and the highest outside London. Areas such as Moss Side in Greater Manchester are home to a 30%+ Black British population. In contrast, the town of St. Helens in Merseyside, unusually for a city area, has a very low percentage of ethnic minorities with 98% identifying as White British. The City of Liverpool, over 800 years old, is one of the few places in Britain where ethnic minority populations can be traced back over dozens of generations: being the closest major English city to Ireland, it is home to a significant Irish population, with the city being home to one of the first ever Afro-Caribbean communities in the UK, as well as the oldest Chinatown in Europe.


  • There are around 400,000 people living in the North West of any Asian ethnicity
  • Around 125,000 people from the North West are of full or partial Sub-African and/or Caribbean descent
  • The single largest non-white ethnic group in the North West are Pakistanis, numbering at least 144,400

Place of birth

The list below is not how many people belong to each ethnic group (e.g. there are over 25,000 ethnic Italians in Manchester alone, whilst only 6,000 Italian-born people live in the North West). The fifteen most common countries of birth in 2001 for North West citizens were as follows (2008 estimates, where available, in brackets)

Jodrell Bank (1)
The Jodrell Bank Lovell 76-m radio telescope in Lower Withington, built in August 1957, is the world's third largest steerable telescope, and was the largest until 1971. It was designed by Sheffield's Sir Charles Husband and built of steel from Scunthorpe
  • England – 6,169,753
  • Scotland – 109,163
  • Wales – 73,850
  • Ireland – 56,887 (51,000 in 2008)
  • Pakistan – 46,529 (58,000 in 2008)
  • Northern Ireland – 34,879
  • India – 34,600 (48,000 in 2008)
  • Germany – 19,931 (25,000 in 2008)
  • China and Hong Kong – 15,491
  • Bangladesh – 13,746
  • South Africa – 7,740
  • United States – 7,037
  • Jamaica – 6,661
  • Italy – 6,325
  • Australia – 5,880
  • Poland – (37,000 in 2008)


The table below is based on the 2011 UK Census.

Region Christian Muslim Hindu Sikh Jewish Buddhist Other No Religion/ Not Stated
North West England 67.3% 5.1% 0.5% 0.1% 0.4% 0.3% 0.3% 26.0%
England 59.4% 5.0% 1.5% 0.8% 0.5% 0.5% 0.4% 31.9%

One in five of the population in the North West is Catholic, a result of large-scale Irish emigration in the nineteenth century as well as the high number of English recusants in Lancashire.

Social deprivation

Of the nine regions of the England, the North West has the fourth highest GVA per capita—the highest outside southern England. Despite this the region has above average multiple deprivation with wealth heavily concentrated on very affluent areas like rural Cheshire, rural Lancashire, and south Cumbria. As measured by the Indices of deprivation 2007, the region has many more Lower Layer Super Output Areas in the 20% most deprived districts than the 20% least deprived council districts. Only North East England shows more indicators of deprivation than the North West, but the number of affluent areas in the North West is very similar to Yorkshire and the Humber.

The most deprived local authority areas in the region (based on specific wards within those borough areas) are, in descending order – Liverpool, Manchester, Knowsley, Blackpool, Salford, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Rochdale, Barrow-in-Furness, Halton, Hyndburn, Oldham, Pendle, St Helens, Preston, Bolton, Tameside, Wirral, Wigan, Copeland, Sefton, and Rossendale. These areas almost exclusively have Labour MPs, with the sole exception of Lib Dem John Pugh in Sefton. Burnley is the only of these not to have a Labour council.

In 2007 when Cheshire still had district councils, the least deprived council districts in the region by council district, in descending order, were – Congleton, Ribble Valley, Macclesfield, and South Lakeland. These areas have Conservative MPs, except South Lakeland has a Lib Dem and Labour MPs. At county level, before it was split into two, Cheshire was the least deprived, followed by Trafford, and by Warrington and Stockport.

In March 2011, the overall unemployment claimant count was 4.2% for the region. Inside the region the highest was Liverpool with 6.8%, followed by Knowsley on 6.3%, Halton with 5.5% and Rochdale with 5.1%. The lowest claimant count is in Eden (Cumbria) and Ribble Valley (Lancashire) each with 1.3%, followed by South Lakeland with 1.4%.


In the 2015 general election, the area was dominated by the Labour Party. 45% of the region's electorate voted Labour, 31% Conservative, 14% UKIP, 6% Liberal Democrat and 3% Greens; however, by number of parliamentary seats, Labour have 50, the Conservatives have 23, and the Liberal Democrats have 2. The Lib Dems' North West seats are in Southport and south Cumbria; Labour dominates Greater Manchester, and the Conservatives' vote is concentrated in affluent suburban areas such as Cheadle, Hazel Grove and Altrincham and Sale West. Labour seats also predominate in Merseyside. Cheshire is mostly Conservative, and Lancashire is competitive between Labour and Conservative (8 seats each); the Labour seats in Lancashire are concentrated in the south of the county along the M65. For the region, the Conservatives gained 3 seats, ; there was a 2.8% swing from Conservative to Labour.

In the 2010 general election, Liverpool Walton was the safest seat in the UK, with a 57% majority, and in 2015 this was repeated with a 72% majority for Steve Rotheram (Labour), when an astonishing 81% of the electorate voted for him (UKIP came second with 9%). In the by-election of 2012, Manchester Central has the record for the lowest turnout in the UK—18%. Gwyneth Dunwoody, for Crewe and Nantwich, was the longest serving female MP until her death in 2008.

In the 2009 European Election, 26% voted Conservative, 20% Labour, 16% UKIP and 14.3% Liberal Democrat.

Language and dialect

The earliest known language spoken in the North West was a dialect of the Brythonic language spoken across much of Britain from at least the Iron Age up to the arrival of English in the first millennium AD. Fragments of this early language are seen in the inscriptions and place names of the Roman era. In some parts of the region, the Brythonic dialect developed into the medieval language known today as Cumbric, which continued to be spoken perhaps as late as the 12th century in the north of Cumbria. This early Celtic heritage remains today in place names such as Carlisle, Penrith and Eccles, and many river names such as Cocker, Kent and Eden.

English may have been spoken in the North West from around the 7th century AD, when the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria first appears to have made inroads west of the Pennines. The language at this time would have been the Northumbrian dialect of Old English. The high percentage of English place names in the region as a whole suggests English became almost ubiquitous over the coming centuries, particularly in the area south of the Lake District. Manchester, Liverpool, Lancaster, Blackburn and Preston are among the region's many English place names. In the 9th-11th centuries, Danes from the east and Norsemen from Ireland and Scotland began settling in the area. The North West is really the only area of England where Norse settlement was significant and their influence remains in the place names and dialect of the region. Elements like fell, thwaite and tarn, which are particularly common in Cumbria, are all Norse. The numerous Kirkbys and place names with 'holm' and 'dale' show the Scandinvian influence throughout the North West.

Through the Middle Ages the dialects of the North West would have been considerably different from those spoken in the Midlands and south. It was only with the spread of literacy (particularly with the publication of the King James Bible) that Standard English spread to the region. Even so, local dialects continued to be used and were relatively widespread until the 19th and 20th centuries.

In modern times, English is the most spoken language in the North West, with a large percentage of the population fluent in it, and close to 100% conversational in it. To the north-east of the region, within the historic boundaries of Cumberland, the Cumbrian dialect is dominant. The historical county of Lancashire covered a vast amount of land, and the Lancashire dialect and accent is still predominant throughout the county, and stretches as far north as Furness in South Cumbria to parts of north Greater Manchester and Merseyside in the south of the region. The region boasts some of the most distinctive accents in the form of the Scouse accent, which originates from Liverpool and its surrounding areas, and the Manc accent, deriving from the central Manchester district. The region's accents are among those referred to as 'Northern English'.

Large immigrant populations in the North West result in the presence of significant immigrant languages. South Asian languages such as Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi are widespread, as well as various other Eastern European and Asian languages.

The most taught languages in schools across the North West are English, French and German. Spanish and Italian are available at more senior levels and, in cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, even Urdu and Mandarin are being taught to help maintain links between the local minority populations.

Eurostat NUTS

In the Eurostat Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS), North West is a level-1 NUTS region, coded "UKD", which (since 2015) is subdivided as follows:

NUTS 1 Code NUTS 2 Code NUTS 3 Code
North West UKD Cumbria UKD1 West Cumbria (Allerdale, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland) UKD11
NUTS 3 regions of North West England 2015 map.svg East Cumbria (Carlisle, Eden, South Lakeland) UKD12
Cheshire UKD6 Warrington UKD61
Cheshire East UKD62
Cheshire West and Chester UKD63
Greater Manchester UKD3 Manchester UKD33
Greater Manchester South West (Salford and Trafford) UKD34
Greater Manchester South East (Stockport and Tameside) UKD35
Greater Manchester North West (Bolton and Wigan) UKD36
Greater Manchester North East (Bury, Oldham and Rochdale) UKD37
Lancashire UKD4 Blackburn with Darwen UKD41
Blackpool UKD42
Lancaster and Wyre UKD44
Mid Lancashire (Fylde, Preston, Ribble Valley and South Ribble) UKD45
East Lancashire (Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale) UKD46
Chorley and West Lancashire UKD47
Merseyside UKD7 East Merseyside (Knowsley, St. Helens and Halton) UKD71
Liverpool UKD72
Sefton UKD73
Wirral UKD74

Cities and towns

Liverpool city centre
Liverpool City Centre
Blackpool promenade - DSC07204
Blackpool Promenade
Lancaster and the Lune from the Carlisle Bridge
Lancaster City Centre
Blackburn Lancashire Townscape
Blackburn Town Centre
Barrow skyline
Barrow-in-Furness Town Centre
Preston City Centre
Preston City Centre

Population > 400,000

Population > 100,000

Population > 70,000

Population > 50,000

Population > 30,000

Population > 20,000

Population > 10,000

Population > 5,000

Metropolitan areas

See also: List of metropolitan areas in the United Kingdom

The five largest metropolitan areas in the North West are as follows:

  • Greater Manchester metropolitan area – 2,556,000
  • Liverpool/Birkenhead metropolitan area – 2,241,000
  • Blackburn/Burnley – 391,000
  • Preston – 354,000
  • Blackpool −304,000

Liverpool and Manchester are sometimes considered parts of a single large polynuclear metropolitan area, or megalopolis but are usually treated as separate metropolitan areas. In some studies, part of Wigan in Greater Manchester is considered part of the Liverpool metropolitan area.

European Parliament

The North West England European Parliament constituency has the same boundaries as the Region.


Ten English regions were established by the government in 1994. At that time, Merseyside, which already had its own Government Office, formerly the Merseyside Task Force, was regarded as a separate region. In 1998, Merseyside was merged into the North West region. This action was controversial in some quarters. Regional Government Offices were abolished in April 2011 by the Coalition Government.

Scientific heritage

See also: Science and engineering in Manchester and List of British innovations and discoveries

Sir Ernest Marsden (of Blackburn) and Hans Geiger conducted the Geiger–Marsden experiment at the University of Manchester in 1909, where the Geiger counter was invented, which demonstrated the existence of the atomic nucleus. Sir J. J. Thomson of Cheetham Hill discovered the electron (given its name in 1891 by George Johnstone Stoney) in April 1897 and received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1906; his son George Paget Thomson would win the Nobel Prize for Physics 1937 for discovering electron diffraction (at the University of Aberdeen). John Dalton, from Cumbria and moved to Manchester, developed atomic theory. William Sturgeon of Lancashire invented the electromagnet in 1825.

Sydney Chapman, a mathematician from Eccles, in 1930 explained the ozone-oxygen cycle in the stratosphere, being the first to propose that atmospheric oxygen or ozone molecules absorb (harmful UVB and UVC) ultraviolet wavelengths of light in photolysis, to produce reactive single atoms which accumulate to form the ozone layer.

Graphene was discovered at the University of Manchester in 2004 under Prof Sir Andre Geim and Sir Konstantin Novoselov.

Fluothane packaging 01
Exhibit of ICI's Fluothane (Halothane), discovered at Widnes, at Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, near Spike Island in Widnes

At the Calico Printers' Association in Manchester in 1941, John Rex Whinfield and James Tennant Dickson discovered polyethylene terephthalate, known as PET, a common polyester compound found in plastic bottles and food, and also known as Terylene or Dacron. Cheslene and Crepes of Macclesfield discovered crimplene (the fabric that is now referred to as polyester). ICI Dyestuffs at Hexagon House, in Blackley in north Manchester, discovered Procion dyes. At the Winnington Laboratory on 27 March 1933, Eric Fawcett and Reginald Gibson discovered polythene in an ICI laboratory in Northwich, when reacting benzaldehyde with ethene at a pressure of 2,000 atmospheres; the process was improved in 1935 by Sir Michael Perrin.

Halothane, the world's first synthetic inhalation general anaesthetic gas, was discovered in 1951 at ICI's Widnes Laboratory by Wallasey's Charles Suckling, and first tested on a patient in Manchester in 1956; it works by binding to the GABA receptor. Sir John Charnley of Bury invented the hip replacement in 1962 at Wrightington, Lancashire, north-west of Wigan. Clatterbridge Hospital in Bebington has a cyclotron (linear accelerator), and is the only hospital in the UK to offer proton therapy.

Alderley Park opened in October 1957, and ICI Pharmaceuticals was formed in the same year. In 1962 Dora Richardson of ICI discovered tamoxifen. ICI Alderley Park later discovered Anastrozole, Fulvestrant, Goserelin and Bicalutamide, later made by Zeneca. Sir James Black discovered beta blockers—propranolol (Inderal) at Alderley Park in 1962. The Wellcome Foundation, a provider of much of Britain's medical research, was based from 1966-97 at Crewe Hall in Crewe Green.

Clifford Cocks and James H. Ellis from Cheshire, with Malcolm J. Williamson, invented the RSA (algorithm) in 1973 at GCHQ, used for public-key cryptography. Sir Richard Owen from Lancaster coined the word dinosaur in 1842, and he founded the Natural History Museum, London, opening in 1881.

Industrial heritage

The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the world's first passenger inter-city railway in 1830. Manchester Liverpool Road railway station is the world's oldest surviving railway station, having opened on 15 September 1830; the Stockton and Darlington Railway had opened in 1825. Chat Moss was a problem to constructing the railway, with Edge Hill Tunnel and Sankey Viaduct; the line was bitterly opposed by William Molyneux, 2nd Earl of Sefton. The Bridgewater Canal was the first recognised canal of the modern era. Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater had visited France and noted their canals. John Gilbert had the innovative idea to use water pumped out of his coal mines to fill a canal from the Duke's Worsley mines to Manchester. It was designed by James Brindley and built in 1761.

See also: Textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution

The Bridgewater Foundry in Patricroft (Salford), can claim to be the world's first factory with an assembly line type arrangement in 1836. Joseph Huddart of Cumbria was the first to mechanise the production of rope in 1793. The spinning jenny was invented in 1764 in Lancashire by James Hargreaves, a mechanical advance on the spinning wheel.

See also: History of computing hardware

The University of Manchester built the world's first programmable computer, the Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, on 21 June 1948; the Williams–Kilburn tube on the machine was the world's first computer memory, and the beginning of random-access memory (RAM); the baby computer was made from 550 Mullard valves. The first commercially available computer, the Ferranti Mark 1, was made in Manchester and sold in February 1951 to the University of Manchester. The world's first transitorised computer was the Manchester Transistor Computer in November 1953. Atlas was another important computer developed at the University of Manchester, largely developed by Tom Kilburn; at the time in 1962 it was most powerful computer in the world. The government had dropped its financial support of this computer, and was only funded by Ferranti—the total development cost was around £1m. Britain was leading the world at this time in computing, with the only main competitor being IBM; after the mid-1950s America took over the industry. The spreadsheet was invented in 1974, known as the Works Record System, and used an ADABAS database on a IBM 3270 at ICI in Northwich; it was developed by Dr Robert Mais and it was around four years before (the more well-known) VisiCalc in 1978. The University of Manchester has collected 25 Nobel prizes, though recent years have been less notable.

Parsonage Colliery at Leigh had the UK's deepest mine—1,260 metres in 1949. Macclesfield was the base of UK's silk weaving industry. John Benjamin Dancer of Manchester invented microphotography in 1839, which would lead to microform in the 1920s. Frank Hornby from Liverpool invented Meccano in 1901, where Meccano Ltd would be based for over 60 years. Bryant and May's site in Garston was the last wooden match factory in the UK, closing in 1994 to become The Matchworks business centre off the A561 west of the former Speke airport. Cottonopolis was the industrial name for Manchester and the local area. Manchester at one time was the world's richest city. The CIS Tower, built by John Laing in 1962, was Europe's tallest building, and Britain's tallest building until 1963, and Manchester's tallest building until 2006.

Kirkby was planned in the 1950s as the largest trading estate in Britain—1,800 acres. Trafford Park is the world's first planned industrial estate. Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers opened their first co-operative outlet on 21 December 1844.

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The World of Glass museum in October 2006

Alastair Pilkington invented the float glass method of manufacture in 1957 at St Helens, announcing it in January 1959. It was manufacturered from 1961, and 80% of the world's glass is made with the process; the former site closed in 2014 and it is made now at the Green Gate site. Pears soap, made at Port Sunlight, is the world's first registered brand, and world's oldest brand in existence. Elihu Thomson, born in Manchester who subsequently moved to America, formed Thomson-CSF which became Thales Group in 2000. The British part (British Thomson-Houston) would later become part of GEC; he invented the arc lamp. Henry Brunner from Liverpool would join with Ludwig Mond in the 1860s to form a chemical company which became ICI in 1926. Mossbay Steelworks in Workington, when opened in 1877, were the world's first large-scale steelworks; its austenitic manganese steel (mangalloy) was produced from 1877 until 1974, with Britain's railways converting from iron to steel by the 1880s. Track was made there for the UK's railways (exclusively from the 1970s onwards, with the steel made in Teesside) until August 2006; much of the rails made were exported (from 1882), with its main competitor being Voestalpine of Austria, and a plant (bought by British Steel in 1999) in Hayange, France, who make all of SNCF's railway tracks, and the Katowice Steelworks in Poland. Workington was thought to make the best quality rail track in the world.

See also: War of Currents and Mains electricity

Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti, born in Liverpool in 1864, was an electrical engineer who designed the layout for Deptford Power Station, the first alternating current power station in the world in 1887, and whose design all others would follow; his later company Ferranti, of Oldham, would later be an industry leader in Britain's defence electronics, on the FTSE 100 Index. Ferranti's design of increasing AC voltage to high tension at the power station, to be stepped-down at a transformer at substations before entering properties, is the system all electricity networks take today; the system reduces wasteful heating of electricity transmission cables.

HD.15.019 (11823864155)
Calder Hall in 1973

The Chain Home radar transmitters were built by Metrovick at its Trafford Park Works, which became part of AEI in 1929, GEC in 1968, and as Alstom it was closed in June 2000. 2ZY, the first broadcasts in the north of England, were made from the Metrovick factory in November 1922, which became part of the BBC National Programme in 1927. GEC opened its first factory in Manchester in 1888, moving to Salford in 1895 at the Peel Works, and had built the Osram electric light company in 1893. The Metropolitan-Vickers F.2 of Trafford Park Works, Manchester was the first axial-flow jet engine, with a nine-stage compressor, first running in 1941. It would end up as the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire and the American-built Wright J65. The F.2 gas turbine would power MGB.2009 the first gas-turbine-powered vessel in 1947. No. 1 Parachute Training School RAF—the main parachute training site for the war—was at RAF Ringway (the Central Landing Establishment and Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment) now Manchester Airport; many aircraft were built there too, and the Ford Trafford Park Factory built 34,000 aircraft engines—mostly Merlin engines; the nearby Metropolitan-Vickers factory built many Lancasters.

See also: Nuclear power by country, Nuclear power in the United Kingdom, and Nuclear weapons and the United Kingdom

Calder Hall was the world's first nuclear power station in 1956. There are approximately 430 nuclear power stations around the world, and the UK is the third most experienced operator of nuclear reactors after the USA and France, and is the world's ninth largest producer of nuclear-generated electricity, with nine stations operating in the UK producing around 10GW. New-build nuclear power stations will either be the AP1000 (Toshiba Westinghouse NuGeneration) or EPR design (developed by Areva). BNFL bought Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Company in 1999; it was sold in October 2006 for £5.4bn to Toshiba. British Energy was sold in 2009 for £12.5bn to EDF; Centrica (British Gas) had also wanted to buy it; 26 Magnox reactors were built in the UK, followed by 14 AGR reactors.

Operation Hurricane on 3 October 1952, Britain's first nuclear bomb, detonated on HMS Plym on the Montebello Islands in the state of Western Australia, was made of plutonium-239 mostly made at Windscale (which began production in 1950), with some possibly from Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario, Canada (where the Tube Alloys project was later moved).

Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR2 (801), UK - Air Force AN1914655
A Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR2 (HS 801), built at Woodford (former Avro) and designed in Manchester in the mid-1960s, with XV148 (former Comet 4C) making its first flight on 23 May 1967, flying from Chester (Broughton, which had built many de Havilland fighter jet aircraft) to Woodford; 49 Nimrods were made for the RAF, entering service with 201 Sqn on 6 November 1970, serving until March 2010 with 38 Sqn

W. T. Glover & Co. of Salford were important electricity cable manufacturers throughout the early 20th century. BAE Systems Wind Tunnel Department at Warton—one its four wind tunnels—the High Speed Wind Tunnel—can test speeds intermittently up to Mach 3.8 (trisonic)—the second fastest in the UK, to the University of Manchester's Aero-Physics Laboratory which has a hypersonic wind tunnel up to Mach 6. Prof Osborne Reynolds of Owens College (which became the Victoria University of Manchester in 1904), known worldwide for his Reynolds number (introduced elsewhere by the mathematician George Gabriel Stokes), showed in the early 1880s that wind tunnels (invented by Francis Herbert Wenham in 1871) could model large-scale objects accurately. BAE Systems Regional Aircraft assembled Britain's last airliner, the British Aerospace 146 (Avro RJX), at Woodford in November 2001. The Merlin-powered Avro Tudor G-AGPF, which took off from what is now Manchester Airport on 14 June 1945, was Britain's first pressurised civilian aircraft; only 38 were built and it was designed for the North Atlantic route. On 13 May 1949, VN799 the English Electric Canberra first flew from Warton: Warton at the time was a former USAAF wartime maintenance base; the German Arado Ar 234 was technically the world's first jet bomber; the Canberra would be the first jet aircraft to make a non-stop crossing of the Atlantic on 21 February 1951.

Robert Whitehead of Bolton invented the modern-day torpedo in 1866. Sir William Pickles Hartley of Lancashire founded Hartley's Jam in 1871, building a purpose-built village at Aintree. Sir Henry Tate also came from Lancashire, joining Abram Lyle in 1921, of whose Golden Syrup tins are claimed to be Britain's oldest brand; he established the Tate Gallery in 1897. Robert Hope-Jones of the Wirral invented the Wurlitzer organ. The Christys' & Co factory in Stockport was the largest hat-making factory in the world in the nineteenth century; it became part of Associated British Hat Manufacturers and is now in Oxfordshire. The company owner's son founded Christy in 1850 in Droylsden (now in Tameside), which invented the industrially-produced towel.

Where rabbits once hopped... - - 119794
JLR at Halewood

Britain's most popular car, the Ford Escort, was made throughout its life (until 21 July 2000) at Halewood by Ford; 5 million were made there from 1967. In 1998, production of its replacement the Focus was transferred to Saarlouis and Valencia, which signalled the end of the site's ownership by Ford. The Jaguar X-Type was first made there in May 2001, until late 2009. In the UK, the Mondeo has sold 1.4m since 1993, and is made in Valencia in Spain.

Starchaser Industries of Hyde is hoping to send a British citizen into space, on a British rocket; only Richard Branson will be able to compete for that honour; BAC at Preston had proposed its MUSTARD re-usable spacecraft in 1964, which although not built had given NASA a concept.


The Suffragette movement came from Manchester—the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). Arthur Wynne, born in Liverpool, invented the crossword in December 1913. On 13 August 1964, Britain carried out its last two executions at Strangeways and Walton Prison. Under the Museums Act 1845, the UK's second and third public municipal librarys were at Warrington in 1848 and at Salford Museum and Art Gallery in 1850; Canterbury had been first in 1847. The first Trades Union Congress was held in 1868 at the Mechanics' Institute, Manchester. The World Pie Eating Championship is held in Wigan each year.

Ann Lee from Manchester started the USA Shakers movement, founded out of the Quakers, which itself has strong links to Pendle Hill in Lancashire. Joseph Livesey of Preston was the founder of Britain's temperance movement, and the word teetotal was first coined in Preston in 1833. The crumbly Cheshire cheese is thought to be the oldest in Britain. Heaton Park in north Manchester is the largest municipal park in Europe. Jelly Babies were invented in Lancaster in 1864, at Fryers of Lancashire. The first KFC outlet in the UK was on Fishergate in Preston in May 1965, opened by the entrepreneur Ray Allen. Oldham claims to be the site of the first fried potatoes in the UK in 1860. The UK's biggest dance music festival takes place on the August Bank Holiday at Creamfields on Daresbury Estate. Ingvar Kamprad's IKEA opened its first UK store in Warrington on 1 October 1987; the UK was the 20th country at the time that IKEA had been established; Germany has the most IKEA outlets. The International Cheese Awards are held at the end of July in Nantwich.

Liverpool and Manchester, the two largest cities in the North West by population, are known for being the birthplace of beat music (also called "Merseybeat") during the 1960s to 1970s, and the development of the Madchester music scene from the 1980s, and 1990s respectively.

A Taste of Honey was an influential 1960s film set in Salford, depicting working class poverty in ways not previously seen at the cinema, known as kitchen sink realism; Walter Greenwood's Love on the Dole, a 1930s book also set in Salford, was thought by the BBFC to be too sordid a depiction of poverty to be made into a film; Mike Leigh, from Salford, has produced films on a similar subject.


Queens Way Mersey Tunnel Enterance Liverpool 3
Queensway Tunnel

Transport policy

As part of the national transport planning system, the North West Regional Assembly was (before its abolition in 2008) required to produce a Regional Transport Strategy (RTS) to provide long term planning for transport in the region. This involved region wide transport schemes such as those carried out by the Highways Agency and Network Rail. Within the region the local transport authorities plan for the future by producing Local Transport Plans (LTP) which outline their strategies, policies and implementation programmes. The most recent LTP is that for the period 2006–11. In the North West region, the following transport authorities have published their LTP online: Blackburn with Darwen U.A, Blackpool U.A., Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Halton U.A., Lancashire, Merseyside and Warrington U.A. Since 1 April 2009, when the county of Cheshire was split into two unitary councils the Cheshire transport authority ceased to exist, however it is the most recent LTP for the area.


M6 motorway near Carnforth
The M6 motorway is one of the North West's principal roads


Hardknott sign
Warning signs at Hardknott Pass

Regionwide the principal road link is the M6, this enters the region (from Scotland) near Carlisle in the north and leaves it (for the English Midlands) near Crewe in the south. It connects such towns and cities as Penrith, Kendal, Lancaster, Preston, Warrington, Liverpool and Manchester. The M6 intersects many of the North West's motorways and A-roads, and carries almost 120,000 vehicles per day (41,975,000 per year).

Britain's most severe steep road is Hardknott Pass in Cumbria, and the highest road in the UK is the former A6293 at 2,780 ft at Milburn, Cumbria; the highest classified road in England was the A689 east of Nenthead in Cumbria on the Durham boundary.

Stockport viaduct M60
Old meets new at the Stockport Viaduct; designed by George W. Buck, it is the largest brick structure in the UK, built in 1840, when it was the largest viaduct in the world; it features in many L. S. Lowry paintings

Greater Manchester and Merseyside

The Greater Manchester and Merseyside areas are home to almost 4 million people, and over half the region's population. The road networks intertwining these metropolitan areas are extremely important to the economy and are largely motorway, including the M62 which crosses the entire country (east to west – Hull to Liverpool), this motorway directly connects the cities of Manchester and Liverpool. The M62 sees 78,000 vehicles using the motorway in the North West per day. The Merseyside-Manchester region has many motorways, that serve many millions on a daily basis, other include the M61 which connects Manchester to Preston, the M56 which runs south of Manchester to Cheshire and Wales, The M57 and M58 motorways run north of Liverpool, and connect towns such as St. Helens and Wigan. The M60 is Manchester's ring road, the M67 and M66 motorways run east and north respectively, both of these motorways are under 10 miles (16 km) and link Manchester to smaller outlying settlements. On top of this there are countless numbers of A-roads, B-roads and minor roads which circle, entwine and serve these two major metropolises. For more information, see: Transport in Manchester.

Border Scotland
A sign marking entry to Scotland located on the M6 motorway crossing the border.


In Cumbria the M6 runs all the way down the east of the county connecting the very north of England to the Lancashire border. The A590 links Barrow-in-Furness to Kendal with around 14,000 vehicles per day. The A595 runs all the way along the West Cumbrian coast beginning near Barrow and ending in Carlisle, linking towns such as Whitehaven and Workington. The A591 road runs from Kendal to the centre of the county connecting Lake District settlements like Windermere, Ambleside and Keswick. Other important A-roads include the A5092, A66, A596 and formerly the A74, until this was upgraded to motorway standard as an extension of the M6 between 2006 and 2008 to meet the A74(M) at the Scottish border.


The Lancashire economy relies strongly on the M6 which also runs from north to south (Lancaster to Chorley). Other motorways in the region include the fairly short M55 which connects the city of Preston and the town of Blackpool at 11.5 miles (18.5 km) in length. The M65 motorway runs from east to west starting in the town of Colne, running past Burnley, Accrington, Blackburn and terminating in Preston. The Lancaster-Morecambe area is served by the A683, A6 and A589 roads, the Blackpool-Fylde-Fleetwood area is home to the A587, A584, A583 and A585 roads. The city of Preston and its surroundings are served by the A6, A59, A585, A584, A583, A582 and to the very south-east, the M61 motorway. To the east of the county are the A59, A6119, A677, A679, A666, A680, A56, A646 and A682. The M66 begins 500 metres (0.3 mi) inside the county border near Edenfield, providing an important link between east Lancashire and Manchester.


In Cheshire there are four motorways the M6, the M56 (linking Chester to the east), the M53 (linking Chester to Birkenhead) and the M62, which runs just along the county's northern border with Merseyside and Greater Manchester. The Cheshire road system is made up of 3,417 miles (5,499 km) of highway, and the principal one (M6) carries 140,000 vehicles in the county daily, linking the North West to the West Midlands.

The county town of Chester is served by the A55, A483 and A494 roads amongst others. To the west of the M6, Crewe, Northwich and Sandbach are served by the A54, A51, A49, A533 and A530 roads, these all eventually link up connecting the towns to the larger cities, including Stoke-on-Trent to the south. To the east of the M6 in Cheshire lies the Peak District, and towns such as Macclesfield and Congleton which are served by the A6, A537, A536, A34, A523 and A566 roads.


The primary international airport in the region is Manchester Airport, which served 22.1 million passengers in 2007 (18.7 million of which were international), more than some of the world's major aviation hubs. The airport is home to three terminals (plus the World Freight Terminal), which serve destinations worldwide. The largest airlines at the airport in terms of flights in 2007 were Flybe, BMI, British Airways, and Lufthansa, although several long-haul carriers such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines and Emirates also operate from the airport.

In 2012 Manchester Airport was the third-busiest airport in the UK with 19m passengers, after Gatwick then Heathrow. Manchester Airports Group is owned approximately one-third by Manchester Council, and one-third by the other nine Greater Manchester councils.

In 2007 Manchester had a recorded 222,703 aircraft movements, the airport is also a hub for major holiday airlines such as Thomas Cook Airlines, Monarch Airlines, First Choice Airways and Thomson Airways.

The region's second largest, but fastest growing airport is Liverpool John Lennon Airport, where passenger numbers have increased from around 690,000 in 1997 to nearly 5.5 million in 2007. The airport serves destinations primarily in the UK and Europe and is a major hub for EasyJet and Ryanair.

The only other significant passenger airport in the region is Blackpool Airport, which was refurbished in 2006 and handles around half a million passengers annually. Destinations range from the Canary Islands in Spain to the Republic of Ireland.

Manchester Airport
Manchester Airport aerial view


  • Hawarden Airport – Operated by Airbus UK, public and company use


  • Barrow/Walney Island Airfield – Operated by BAE Systems Marine Ltd – Submarines, private use
  • Carlisle Lake District Airport – Operated by Stobart Air Ltd, public use

Greater Manchester

  • City Airport Manchester – Operated by City Airport Manchester Ltd, public use
  • Manchester Airport – Major international airport operated by Manchester Airport Group, destinations worldwide
  • Woodford Aerodrome – Operated by BAE Systems Regional Aircraft, private use
Woodvale08 024
Tutor aircraft at RAF Woodvale


  • Blackpool International Airport – Operated by Balfour Beatty, public use to UK and European destinations
  • Warton Aerodrome – Operated by BAE Systems, private use


  • Liverpool John Lennon Airport – International airport operated by Liverpool Airport plc, destinations worldwide
  • RAF Woodvale – Operated by the Royal Air Force, military use
  • Southport Birkdale Sands airstrip – Sand runway located on Southport beach (infrequent use, subject to prior permission)


Piccadilly Station Manchester - - 692981
Manchester's Piccadilly station is the largest and busiest railway station in the region.

The main connection by train is the West Coast Main Line (Virgin Trains), connecting most of the North West. Other important lines are the Liverpool to Manchester Lines and the North TransPennine which connects Liverpool to Manchester through Warrington. East-west connections in Lancashire are carried via the Caldervale Line to Blackpool. Liverpool and Manchester both have extensive local passenger rail networks operating high-frequency commuter trains. The quietest train station in the region is Reddish South, the 4th quietest in Britain.

The InterCity service in the UK began between London and Manchester in the late 1960s; the new Euston station opened in 1968. With the new electrification of the line in the late 1960s, passenger numbers doubled.

The region saw the last steam-train service on the UK network - the Fifteen Guinea Special on 11 August 1968, with three Black Five locomotives.


Sea ferries depart from Liverpool (Gladstone Dock) to Dublin (P&O Irish Sea) and to Douglas on the Isle of Man (Isle of Man Steam Packet); Birkenhead (Twelve Quays Terminal) to Belfast and Dublin (Norfolkline Irish Sea Ferries – former Norse Merchant Ferries); Fleetwood to Larne (Stena Line) in Northern Ireland; and Heysham to Douglas (Isle of Man Steam Packet).

The world's first hovercraft service took place on 20 July 1962 from Leasowe (Moreton) to Rhyl, operated by British United Airways, in a Vickers-Armstrongs VA-3, powered by two turboprop engines.

Regional Profile of the North West
Regional profile of the North West

Town and city twinnings

Ashton-under-Lyne France Chaumont, France
Blackburn Germany Altena, Germany
France Péronne, France
Blackpool Germany Bottrop, Germany
Bolton France Le Mans, France
Germany Paderborn, Germany
Burnley France Vitry Sur Seine, France
Bury France Angoulême, France
People's Republic of China Datong, China
France Tulle, France
Germany Schorndorf, Germany
United States Woodbury, New Jersey, US
Carlisle Germany Flensburg, Germany
Poland Słupsk, Poland
Carnforth France Sailly-sur-la-Lys, France
Chadderton Germany Geesthacht, Germany
Chester France Sens, France
Chorley Hungary Székesfehérvár, Hungary
Dalton-in-Furness United States Dalton, Pennsylvania, US
Denton France Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France
Droylsden France Villemomble, France
Dukinfield France Champagnole, France
Ellesmere Port Germany Reutlingen, Germany
Failsworth Germany Landsberg am Lech, Germany
Fleetwood United States Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, US
Halton Portugal Leiria, Portugal
Germany Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Germany
People's Republic of China Tongling, China
Czech Republic Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic
Heywood Germany Peine, Germany
Kendal Republic of Ireland Killarney, Ireland
Germany Rinteln, Germany
Knowsley Germany Moers, Germany
Lancaster Denmark Aalborg, Denmark
Germany Rendsburg, Germany
Liverpool Germany Cologne, Germany
Brazil Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Republic of Ireland Dublin, Ireland
Ukraine Odessa, Ukraine
People's Republic of China Shanghai, China
Longdendale Germany Ruppichteroth, Germany
Manchester Netherlands Amsterdam, Netherlands
Germany Chemnitz, Germany
Spain Córdoba, Spain
Pakistan Faisalabad, Pakistan
United States Los Angeles, California, US
Nicaragua Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua
Israel Rehovot, Israel
Russia Saint Petersburg Russia
People's Republic of China Wuhan, China
Mossley France Hem, France
Oldham Slovenia Kranj, Slovenia
Oswaldtwistle Sweden Falkenberg, Sweden
Preston Netherlands Almelo, Netherlands
Poland Kalisz, Poland
France Nîmes, France
Germany Recklinghausen, Germany
Rochdale Germany Bielefeld, Germany
Ukraine Lviv, Ukraine
Pakistan Sahiwal, Pakistan
France Tourcoing, France
Salford France Clermont-Ferrand, France
Germany Lunen, Germany
France Narbonne, France
France Saint-Ouen, France
Sedbergh Slovenia Zreĉe, Slovenia
Sefton Poland Gdańsk, Poland
Belgium Mons, Belgium
United States Fort Lauderdale, US
Stalybridge France Armentières, France
Stockport France Béziers, France
Germany Heilbronn, Germany
St. Helens Germany Stuttgart, Germany
France Chalon-sur-Saône, France
Tameside People's Republic of China Bengbu, China
Zimbabwe Mutare, Zimbabwe
Ulverston France Albert, France
Warrington Germany Hilden, Germany
United States Lake County, Illinois, US
Czech Republic Náchod, Czech Republic
Whitehaven Bulgaria Kozloduy, Bulgaria
Wigan France Angers, France
Workington Germany Selm, Germany
France Val-de-Reuil, France
Wrea Green France St Bris le Vineux, France


The North West is generally regarded as having the most average weather in the UK. Temperatures are generally close to the national average. Cumbria usually experiences the most severe weather, with high precipitation in the mountainous regions of the Lake District and Pennines. In winter, the most severe weather occurs in the more exposed and elevated areas of the North West, once again this is mainly the Lake District and Pennine areas. Parts of the North West experienced a White Christmas in 2009, and again in 2010, where sleet and snow fell on 25 December.

The A635 was closed for almost a month in January 2010 due to high amounts of snowfall.

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