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Christ Church Wharton, Winsford.jpg
Christ Church, Wharton, Winsford
Population 30,481 (2011 Census)
OS grid reference SJ6566
• London 155 mi (249 km) SE
Civil parish
  • Winsford
Unitary authority
  • Cheshire West and Chester
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WINSFORD
Postcode district CW7
Dialling code 01606
Police Cheshire
Fire Cheshire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament
  • Eddisbury
List of places
CheshireCoordinates: 53°11′38″N 2°31′12″W / 53.194°N 2.520°W / 53.194; -2.520

Winsford is a town and civil parish within the unitary authority of Cheshire West and Chester and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England. It lies on the River Weaver south of Northwich and west of Middlewich, and grew around the salt mining industry after the river was canalised in the 18th century, allowing freight to be conveyed northwards to the Port of Runcorn on the River Mersey.

Winsford is split into three neighbourhoods: Over on the western side of the River Weaver, Wharton on the eastern side, and Swanlow and Dene as shown on the official map of Winsford in the Town Council Office in Wyvern House.


Kings Henry III and Edward I occasionally held court at Darnhall near Winsford to near Whitegate.

A charter to hold a Wednesday market and an annual fair at Over was granted on 24 November 1280 by Edward I to the Abbot and convent of Vale Royal Abbey. From this charter can be traced the origins of the market that is still held in the town. In 2012, the charter grant was used to revive an annual fair in Winsford, with the name of Winsford Salt Fair.

The Government gave permission for artificial improvements to the River Weaver in 1721 to allow large barges to reach Winsford from the port of Liverpool. At first, this was the closest that barges carrying china clay from Cornwall could get to the Potteries district of north Staffordshire, which was then rapidly developing as the major centre of ceramic production in Britain.

Cornish china clay was used in the production of earthenware and stoneware. The clay was taken overland from Winsford by pack horse to manufacturers in the Potteries, a distance of about 30 miles (50 kilometres). Locally produced salt was also transported to the Potteries, for use in the manufacture of salt-glazed stoneware. Finished ceramics from the Potteries were brought back to Winsford, for export through the port of Liverpool. That trade ended in the 1780s when the Trent and Mersey Canal opened and carried the goods through Middlewich, bypassing Winsford.

The canalised River Weaver was the inspiration for the Duke of Bridgewater's canals, and later the engineer for the Weaver Navigation, Edwin Leader Williams, designed and built the Manchester Ship Canal.

From the 1830s, salt became important to Winsford, partly because the salt mines under Northwich had begun to collapse and another source of salt near the River Weaver was needed. A new source was discovered in Winsford, leading to the development of a salt industry along the course of the River Weaver, where many factories were established. As a result, a new town developed within 1 mi (2 km) of the old Borough of Over which had been focused on Delamere Street. Most of the early development took place on the other side of the river, with new housing, shops, pubs, chapels and a new church being built in the former hamlet of Wharton. As the prevailing winds blew the smoke away from Over, it became the place for the wealthier inhabitants to live. However, barge workers and others working in Winsford started to develop the area along the old Over Lane, now the High Street. The old Borough tried to keep itself separate but had been connected by the 1860s.

Winsford, as seen from Weaver Valley Park, Wharton

By the World War II, employment in the salt trade had declined as one company took control of all the salt works and introduced methods of manufacture that needed much less labour. Slum clearance started in the 1930s and, by the 1950s three new housing estates had been built on both sides of the river to replace sub-standard homes. However, even in the 1960s, Winsford could be described as "one long line of mainly terraced houses from the station to Salterswall".

The town experienced a major expansion in the late 1960s and 1970s with its designation as an Expanded Town under the Town Development Act 1952 to take overspill from Liverpool and Manchester. This saw the development of two new industrial areas on both sides of the town, new estates of council and private housing and a new shopping centre with a library, sports centre, civic hall and doctors' surgeries. But the town's population did not grow as much as planned, so the new civic buildings were too large for the population.

The expansion led to a mix of people in the town, comprising the original Cheshire residents, a wave of migrants from Manchester, and a second and much larger wave of newcomers from Last. There was (and to some extent still is) some friction between "Old" and "New" Winsfordians. The term "Woolyback" for "Old" Winsfordians was a common term of abuse related to their supposed rural roots. These tensions have now greatly subsided.

Vale Royal Borough Council was formed in 1974, covering Winsford, Northwich and a large rural area of mid-Cheshire. In 1991, the council moved its main office from Northwich to a purpose-built headquarters in Winsford, which since April 2009 has been used by its successor authority Cheshire West and Chester Council. The same building also houses Winsford Town Council. Since then both Cheshire Fire Service (in 1997) and Cheshire Police (in 2003) have moved headquarters from the county town of Chester to Winsford.

The local hamlets and villages of Moulton, Darnhall, Stanthorne, Whitegate, Wettenhall are all within the towns limits and use the towns resources


Weather chart for Winsford
temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm

A small area in the south of the civil parish falls within the Weaver Valley Area of Special County Value.


Winsford's climate is temperate with few extremes. The average temperature is slightly above the average for the United Kingdom, as is the average amount of sunshine. The average annual rainfall is slightly below the average for the United Kingdom. On an annual basis there are few days when snow lies on the ground, although there are some days of air frost.


St Chad's Church

This church, off Swanlow Lane, is the most well-known local historical landmark. One of the most popular local stories is that St Chad's Church was built in Over Square, but the devil was so angry at the people's use of it that he decided to fly off with it. The monks at Vale Royal Abbey were said to have seen him and rung the abbey bells so that it was dropped at its current location. In fact, its location is probably due to it having always belonged, along with its tithes, to St Mary's Convent in Chester.

Stone (or 'Saxon') Cross

By St John's Church of England Primary School, on Delamere Street, is a rare (possibly unique) lock-up/monument built in the 19th century. The building is in the form of a stepped pyramid surmounted by a cross. The door to the lock-up is still visible but was blocked up in the 1970s.

Many invented tales of buried treasure and secret passages are told about the Cross but none are true. The nearby street name of Saxon Crossway was invented by the Borough Council in the 1960s. The real Saxon Cross is preserved at St Chad's Church.

Winsford Flashes

The Winsford Flashes are the town's most notable geographical feature. In referring to them as the "Cheshire Broads", a comparison is made with the better-known Norfolk Broads. "Flash" is an English dialect word for "lake", with a regional distribution centred on the north-west counties of Cheshire and Lancashire. The Winsford Flashes (Top Flash, Middle Flash, and Bottom Flash, the largest) are three lakes along the course of the River Weaver, extending over some 200 acres (80 hectares). They formed in the 19th century (cartographical evidence dates their formation to between 1845 and 1872), due to the subsidence of surface ground into underground voids. The voids were largely the result of brine extraction, in which rock salt deposits were dissolved and washed out by water. As the ground slumped into the voids, the River Weaver widened at each point, until lakes were made where arable land had once been. From the late 19th century, Winsford Flashes became popular with working class day-trippers from the nearby industrial centres of Manchester and the Staffordshire Potteries. Visitors came in large numbers for a day's leisure boating, picknicking, and sightseeing.

However, the Winsford Flashes were never developed as a public amenity, and their popularity soon fell into decline. Today, they are primarily enjoyed by the local community, and are used for sailing (Winsford Flash Sailing Club is based on the 90 acre (35 hectare) Bottom Flash), fishing, and walking. They support a wide range of wildlife, with several species of migrant wildfowl, such as Canada geese, using them as an over-winter destination.

Other places

Guildhall, Winsford, Cheshire
Brunner Guildhall, as seen from across the High Street

St John's Church on Delamere Street dates from 1863 when Lord Delamere of Vale Royal commissioned the young Sandiway architect John Douglas to build it as a memorial to his deceased wife. This is the tallest building on the highest part of Over, so the spire can be seen for miles around.

The Brunner Guildhall, which now houses the Citizens Advice Bureau, was built in the late 19th century. It is a two-storey building built in Flemish Gothic style, and carries the date 1899. It was built by Sir John Tomlinson Brunner, who gave it to Winsford Urban District Council, to be used for Trade and Friendly Societies, and other public purposes. It was given its name by the chairman of the council in recognition of Brunner's generosity.

Historic landmarks

Parts of the Knights Grange pub, Grange Lane, which was once a farmhouse and belonged to Vale Royal Abbey, were built in the 17th century.

Littler Grange, now a children's nursery, is the best remaining half-timber building in Winsford, including sloping floors on part of the first floor.

Dawk House on Swanlow Lane is a largely unaltered timber framed farm, covered in white stucco probably during the reign of Queen Anne, including the date 1711.

Blue Bell Inn by St Chad's Church, now also a children's nursery, is an exact replica of a medieval building that burned down in the 1960s.


Winsford railway station, on the Liverpool to Birmingham main line, is one mile (1.5 km) east of the centre of the town, in Wharton. The town at one time had two other railway stations: Winsford and Over, on a branch from the Mid-Cheshire Line near Cuddington, and Over and Wharton, on a branch from the Liverpool to Birmingham line.

The M6 motorway at junction 18 at Middlewich is the nearest motorway link, with the A54 connecting the town to it.

The nearest airports are Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester Airport.

The town has a bus network run by bus company Arriva, with buses to Crewe and Northwich.

Religious sites

All the following churches in Winsford are members of the Winsford Churches Together, which includes:

  • Christ Church, Wharton, Crook Lane
  • St Andrew's Methodist Church, Dingle Lane
  • St Chad's Church, Over, off Swanlow Lane
  • St John the Evangelist's Church, Winsford, Delamere Street
  • St Joseph's Catholic Church, Woodford Lane
  • The Salvation Army, Weaver Street
  • Trinity Methodist Church, Station Road
  • Over United Reformed Church, Over Square, Swanlow Lane
  • River of Life Church, Queens Parade
  • Living Waters Christian Fellowship, Dingle Centre and Queen's Parade

Sports and recreation

The town has a non-league football team, Winsford United that suffered numerous relegations and now plays in the North West Counties Football League Premier Division. Support for the team has dwindled over the years, falling from a pre-war peak of over 2,000 to just 100. The Blues, (after the colour of their shirts) play at Barton Stadium. Neville Southall once played for the club.

Winsford ASC is a swimming club which has achieved Swim21 club status and won the North West Division 1 speedo league. It has now been promoted to the premier league.

Vale Royal Athletic Club is based mainly in Northwich and Winsford, and has several international athletes training with them. This club was created in its present form by the merger, in 1994, of the Mid Cheshire Athletic Club and Winsford Athletic Club.

The youth football teams are Winsford Junior Blues, Winsford Over 3 and Winsford diamonds.

Winsford Cricket Club play in the Meller Braggins Cheshire Cricket League, which forms part of the Cheshire pyramid. Winsford have had a cricket team since 1888 when the team was founded by ICI workers and played at the Dingle, next to the Palace Picture House (now Palace Bingo). In 1991 Winsford moved to Knights Grange to allow the Council to build the new council offices (Wyvern House).

Allotment gardens at Moss Bank, Over, date from 1924, when William Stubbs of 'Leahlands', Swanlow Lane, sold a 4-acre (16,000 m2) field behind High Street to Winsford Urban District Council, 'for the purpose of the Allotments Act'. The field, named on the 1846 Over Parish Tithe Map as 'Well Field', had been farmed since at least the 17th century, and its conversion to allotments secured its use for future generations. The site shrank in the 1960s and 1970s with the building of housing and an electricity sub-station along Moss Bank, but the acquisition in 1970 of land adjacent to Over Recreation Ground brought it to its present size.

In the late 1980s, a record-breaking pumpkin was grown on the allotments. Weighing in at 579 lb (263 kg), it held the national record for a time.

The allotments (about 50 plots and 5 raised beds) are owned and managed by Winsford Town Council. The plot-holders have their own organisation, Over Allotments and Leisure Gardeners' Association. Lottery funding has enabled a programme of on-going improvements since 2002, the most recent grant being in 2007 from the Awards for All scheme for £6,940.

Winsford is also well known for its crown green bowlers, with many of the top players in the country hailing from Winsford over the years, many of whom played or play for Wharton Cons BC.

Winsford Flash Sailing Club is situated on Bottom Flash, the largest of the town's three flashes. The club was founded as Northwich Sailing Club in 1931, and moved to Winsford in 1934.

The Brighton Belle pub was known as the Railway Inn until 1972, when a Pullman carriage from the Brighton Belle train was added to function as a restaurant. In the next 26 years the carriage became a local landmark until it was removed in 1998 because the cost of refurbishment in situ was prohibitive.

Sporting achievements

  • Sam Brittleton (1885–?) – Footballer (Stockport County, and others), born in Winsford.
  • Tom Brittleton (1882–1955) – Footballer (Sheffield Wednesday, and others), born in Winsford.
  • Simon Ithel Davies (born 1974) – Footballer (Wales, Manchester United, and others) and football manager (Chester City F.C.), born in Winsford.
  • Gareth Griffiths (born 1970) – Footballer (Port Vale, and others), born in Winsford.
  • Nicky Maynard (born 1986) – Footballer (Bristol City F.C., and others), born in Winsford.
  • Daniel Fox (born 1986) – Footballer (Scotland, Celtic FC, and others), born in Winsford.
  • Alan Oakes (born 1942) – Footballer (Manchester City, and others) and football manager (Chester City F.C.), born in Winsford.
  • Jack Oakes (1905–92) – Footballer (Nottingham Forest, and others), born in Winsford.
  • Glyn Pardoe (born 1946) – Footballer (Manchester City), born in Winsford.
  • Stan Wood (1905–67) – Footballer (West Bromwich Albion), born in Winsford.

Twin town

Winsford is twinned with:

  • Deuil-la-Barre, France (since 1993).

Winsford also has an informal 'friendship link' with:

  • Nieder-Eschbach, Germany, which is itself twinned with Deuil-la-Barre.

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