Background to Warrington – A Look at the 1851 Town Plan

Warrington’s South-east Quarter

From Roman times to the thirteenth century, the North/South crossing point of the river was on the south bank at Latchford. The flood plain of Howley Meadows, unsuitable for building, ran up as far as modern-day Parr Street, and the Anglo-Saxon parish church and Norman castle, and subsequent medieval town of Warrington, were built on the higher ground just above it, pretty much in a straight line from the ford. When the bridge across the Mersey replaced the ancient ford crossing, around the middle of the century, the town, which had previously been little more than a single street, extended westwards along to meet it, and then ballooned out to form a new, late-medieval town, centred on the area between the East/West Buttermarket Street and the North/South Newgate, later Bridge Street.

The 1851 Town Plan shows the town still pretty much in its medieval form, but on the very cusp of change. Four streets run along the compass points, dividing the town into quarters and meeting at the broad opening of Market Gate. From the parish church, now at the far east of the town, to Buttermarket Street, a single row of buildings lines the south side of Church Street on burgage plots, which run back to gardens and orchards, and then open countryside. A school for Clergy Daughters has taken the place of the castle and a National School, built in 1833, sits next to the seventeenth-century Marquis of Granby Inn. On the higher ground to the North, additional small streets thread the gardens and orchards behind the buildings along the road, and the Grammar School, founded 1526, is still going strong over three hundred years later.

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