Cheshire is a ceremonial county in the North West of England. Chester is the county town, and formerly gave its name to the county. The largest town is Warrington, and other major towns include Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Northwich, Runcorn, Sandbach, Widnes, Wilmslow and Winsford. The county is administered as four unitary authorities.
Cheshire occupies a boulder clay plain (pictured) which separates the hills of North Wales from the Peak District of Derbyshire. The county covers an area of 2,343 km2 (905 sq mi), with a high point of 559 m (1,834 ft) elevation. The estimated population is a little over one million, 19th highest in England, with a population density of 449 people per km2.
The county was created in around 920, but the area has a long history of human occupation dating back to before the last Ice Age. Deva was a major Roman fort, and Cheshire played an important part in the Civil War. Predominantly rural, the county is historically famous for the production of Cheshire cheese, salt and silk. During the 19th century, towns in the north of the county were pioneers of the chemical industry, while Crewe became a major railway junction and engineering facility.
Deva Victrix (also known as Deva) was a Roman legionary fortress and town on the site of the modern city of Chester. The fortress was built by the Roman legion Legio II Adiutrix in the AD 70s as the Roman army advanced north against the Brigantes. Covering 62 acres (25 hectares), it contained barracks, granaries, military headquarters, military baths, and an unusual elliptical building that might have acted as the governor of Britain's headquarters.
The fortress was rebuilt in stone at the end of the 1st century AD when it was occupied by the Legio XX Valeria Victrix, and again in the early 3rd century. The legion probably remained at the fortress until it fell into disuse in the late 4th or early 5th century.
A civilian settlement grew around the fortress and remained after the Romans withdrew. Peripheral settlements included Boughton, the source of the garrison's water supply, and Handbridge, the site of a sandstone quarry and the Minerva Shrine, the only in situ, rock-cut Roman shrine in Britain. Chester Roman Amphitheatre is the largest known military amphitheatre in Britain, seating 8,000 to 10,000 people.
In the news
15 July: The Bank of England announces that the mathematician Alan Turing, who died in Wilmslow, has been chosen as the theme for the new £50 note.
7 July: Jodrell Bank Observatory is named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
27 June: A major fire occurs in a warehouse in the Golden Triangle Industrial Estate, Widnes.
18 June: Cheshire police and crime commissioner David Keane calls for the police and crime panel's chair to resign, after the latter criticised Cheshire Constabulary's deputy chief constable for wearing a rainbow lanyard in support of the LGBT+ community on duty.
13 June: Over 4,000 greater Bermuda land snails, previously believed to have been extinct, are returned to Bermuda after a captive breeding programme at Chester Zoo.
12 June: Severe flooding in the Nantwich and Crewe area blocks roads and disrupts the Crewe–Chester and Chester–Shrewsbury railway lines.
27 May: In the European Parliament election, 3 Brexit party, 2 Labour, 2 Liberal Democrat and 1 Green are elected in the North West.
22 May: Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester councils elect Labour leaders – Cheshire East's first – after no party gained an overall majority on either council in recent elections.
The 61 listed buildings in Runcorn urban area include two at Grade I, nine at Grade II* and 50 at Grade II. Runcorn's earliest listed buildings, Halton Castle and Norton Priory, date from the 11th and 12th centuries and are now in ruins. The oldest standing building, the Seneschal's House, dates from 1598. Other early buildings include ones relating to stately homes, such as the loggia and ice house in the grounds of Norton Priory; domestic buildings, such as Halton Old Hall, and church-related buildings, such as Halton Vicarage and the Chesshyre Library.
The diversity of Runcorn's buildings increased during the Industrial Revolution. Structures such as Bridgewater House were associated with industry, while large domestic buildings such as Halton Grange were financed by the new wealth created. The enlarged town required new civic buildings and transport infrastructure such as the railway bridge (pictured) and the tide dock, while the needs of the growing population were met by structures such as Norton Water Tower. The most recent listed structure is the Silver Jubilee Bridge, constructed in 1961.
Thomas Brassey (7 November 1805 – 8 December 1870) was a civil engineering contractor and manufacturer of building materials. At the time of his death, he was responsible for building 1 in every 20 miles of railway worldwide.
Born in Buerton, the son of a farmer, he attended school in nearby Chester. After an apprenticeship in Overton, Flintshire, he established a business in Birkenhead. His first railway commission was Penkridge Viaduct, completed in 1837.
Brassey was responsible for building about one-third of Britain's railways and three-quarters of those in France, as well as major lines across Europe and in Canada, Australia, S. America and India. He also constructed the associated docks, bridges, viaducts, stations, tunnels and drainage works. His other works included steamships, mines, locomotive factories, marine telegraphy and water supply and sewerage systems, including part of the London sewerage system. His estate was valued at over £5 million.
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Selected town or village
Acton is a small village and civil parish lying immediately west of Nantwich. The civil parish covers 762 acres (3.08 km2) and also includes Dorfold and part of Burford, with an estimated population of 340 in 2006. The area is agricultural, with dairy farming the main industry.
The parish is believed to have been inhabited since the 8th or 9th century. Acton appears in the Domesday Book of 1086, when it was one of the wealthiest townships in the Nantwich Hundred, being valued for the same sum as Nantwich. The name means "oak town", referring to the pedunculate oaks that predominated in the adjacent Forest of Mondrem. During the Civil War, the village was taken by siege several times. The Shropshire Union Canal reached the parish in 1835, using a long embankment to avoid Dorfold Park. The parish contains many historic buildings, notably Dorfold Hall, considered by Nikolaus Pevsner to be one of the two finest Jacobean houses in Cheshire, and St Mary's Church, whose 13th-century tower is among the earliest in the county.
In this month
Ere our Kennel a coal-hole envelop'd in smoke,
Blood and bone shall give way to hot water and coke;
Make and shape, pace and pedigree, held as a jest,
All the power of the Stud in a copper comprest;
The green collar faded, good fellowship o'er,
Sir Peter and Barry remember'd no more,
From her Tarporley perch ere the Swan shall drop down,
And her death-note be heard through the desolate town,
Let Geoffrey record, in the reign of Queen Vic,
How the horse and his rider could still do the trick;
Let his journal, bequeath'd to posterity, show
How their sires rode a-hunting in days long ago.
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