The 1851 Town Plan – Warrington’s North-east Quarter (part one)

Town Hill and Trafalgar Place

The first part of the area to the north-east, between Horsemarket Street and back once more to Buttermarket Street, shows two distinct characters on the 1851 Town Plan, divided by the westward curve of Scotland Road. This bisects Buttermarket Street just opposite the Academy enclave, then runs northwards to join Horsemarket Street at the point before it becomes Winwick Street.

The east side of Horsemarket Street, up to Scotland Road, faces the Market Place and is lined with rectangular shapes indicating buildings on burgage plots. Three inns, the White Bull Inn, the Griffin Inn and The Little Horse Shoe Inn, are grouped around Town Hill, just past Lime Street, which marks, as the name suggests, the highest point in the town.

Called Pig Hill for a while on later maps, this ancient route runs westward to Scotland Road, becomes Cockhedge Lane on the other side, runs in an L shape still westwards to Fennel Street (now part of the modern-day Circulatory Road around the town centre, becomes School Brow on the other side and then finally, just past the Grammar School, drops down to where Church Place becomes the Manchester Road. Even up to 1907 it was still a ‘narrow, crooked lane’ but road widening schemes in the 90s have obliterated the earlier character of School Brow and a modern housing development stands on the site of the Grammar School.

Back to Market Gate, returning west down Buttermarket Street to the lower end of Scotland Road, the Town Plan shows larger squares and some rectangles with only a small number of archways, indicating later buildings than the medieval jumble behind Bridge Street. Hill Steet connects the north side of Buttermarket Street to Town Hill behind it, with one of two inns, The Higher Angel, on Hill Street’s east corner, on a narrow rectangle indicating its medieval origin. Folds, passages, yards and courts are accessed by archways from both Buttermarket Street and Town Hill, with little rows of more regular squares in amongst the mix of shapes.

In seventeenth-century Warrington it was common for houses to be dated with the exact date of building and the owner’s initials over the doorways, and as late as 1907 a number of these two storey, timber-framed sixteenth- and seventeenth-century houses ‘characteristic of its streets’ still existed on the north side of Buttermarket Street.

Town Hill’s north side is lined with small squares either side of the much larger square of the Boar’s Head. The wedge shape formed between Town Hill and Scotland Road is lined with small square buildings, with a strange mix of shapes in the centre with what looks like open spaces and a small garden between, possibly due to the slope down to Scotland Road.

The Britannia Inn sits on the east corner of Scotland Road, next to a line of large squares with only a couple of archways between them that run along the lower end of Buttermarket Street to Orford Street. East of Orford Street, large houses set back from the road with front gardens, a Savings Bank and a Methodist Sunday School around the Academy enclave, have residential streets, with differing sized squares but in quite neat rows, running off behind them. The delightfully named Pocket Street is no more, the whole of this area is now covered with surface car parks.

Further along Buttermarket Street, east of the large houses, a line of smaller square buildings, with archways leading to a jumble of houses in yards behind, faces the densely packed Trafalgar Place, and then crosses Fennel Street to link up with Church Street. The historic character of this area was destroyed by road widening schemes in the early 90s – today an immense roundabout on the obliterated Trafalgar Place completely severs the link to Church Street, leaving it adrift and isolated from the rest of the town. The jumble of houses behind Buttermarket Street has a big open space dotted with trees in the centre and runs up to Cockhedge Lane. The north corner of Cockhedge Lane, just where it meets Fennel Street, is intriguingly marked ‘Ruins’.

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