Since 1974 Warrington has been a district municipality in Cheshire, England. It stands on the banks of the River Mersey, 18.5 miles (29.8 km) miles east of Liverpool, 16 miles (26 km) west of Manchester and 8 miles (13 km) south of St Helens. The population in 2011 was 202,228; its population has more than doubled since its designation as a New Town in 1968.
Warrington was founded by the Romans at an important crossing place on the River Mersey. A new settlement was established by the Saxons. By the Middle Ages, Warrington had emerged as a market town at the lowest bridging point of the river. A local tradition of textile and tool production dates from this time.
Warrington was incorporated as a municipal borough in Lancashire in 1847 under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. Warrington acquired county borough status upon reaching a population of 50,000 in 1900. Until 1974 was known as the County Borough of Warrington.
In the nationwide municipal reorganization of 1974, Warrington Borough Council was opposed to joining either Merseyside or Greater Manchester metropolitan counties. It decided to remain independent and this decision resulted in its being transferred to Cheshire. Otherwise it would have become a detached part of Lancashire with the whole of Wigan Metropolitan Borough between it and the rest of the county. The result was that Warrington became the Borough of Warrington in the County of Cheshire.
On 1 April 1998, Warrington became an independent unitary authority, though it is still served by Cheshire Police and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, and forms part of Cheshire for ceremonial purposes, such as the Lord Lieutenancy.
Divisions of the Metropolitan Borough
Warrington has been a major crossing point on the River Mersey since ancient times and there was a Roman settlement at Wilderspool. In medieval times Warrington's importance was as a market town and bridging point of the River Mersey.
English Civil War
Warrington was a fulcrum in the English Civil War. The armies of Oliver Cromwell and the Earl of Derby both stayed near the old town centre (the parish church area). Popular legend has it that Cromwell lodged near the building which survives on Church Street as the Cottage Restaurant. The Marquis of Granby public house bears a plaque stating that the Earl of Derby 'had his quarters near this site'. Dents in the walls of the parish church are rumoured to have been caused by the cannons from the time of the civil war. On 13 August 1651 Warrington was the scene of the last Royalist victory of the civil war when Scots troops under Charles II and David Leslie, Lord Newark, fought Parliamentarians under John Lambert at the Battle of Warrington Bridge.
The expansion and urbanisation of Warrington largely coincided with the Industrial Revolution, particularly after the Mersey was made navigable in the 18th century. As Britain became industrialised, Warrington embraced the Industrial Revolution becoming a manufacturing town and a centre of steel (particularly wire), textiles, brewing, tanning and chemical industries. The navigational properties of the River Mersey were improved, canals were built, and the town grew yet more prosperous and popular. When the age of steam came, Warrington naturally welcomed it, both as a means of transport and as a source of power for its mills.
Second World War
Many people, particularly Americans, remember Warrington best as the location of RAF Station Burtonwood Burtonwood RAF base. During World War II, it served as the largest US Army Air Force airfield outside the United States, and was visited by major American celebrities like Humphrey Bogart and Bob Hope who entertained the GIs. The RAF station continued in use by the USAAF and subsequently USAF as a staging post for men and material until its closure in 1993.
Today, the West Coast Mainline runs north to south through the town, and the Liverpool to Manchester railway (the Cheshire Lines route) west to east. The Manchester Ship Canal cuts through the south of the borough (west to east). The M6, M56 and M62 motorways form a partial box around the town. People from Warrington are known as Warringtonians.