Warrington is Not a New Town
This is the second in a series of posts attempting to redress the balance against perceptions that Warrington, a town with Roman origins that was already a flourishing settlement by Anglo-Saxon times, came into being in the 1960s following its designation as a New Town.
Warrington has a long history of national and international firsts; its inhabitants and short-term residents artists, scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs whose inquiry and energy drove change and prosperity, for the nation as well as the town, until the decline of its industries in the aftermath of the Second World War. Since then, Warrington appears to have turned its back on both its past history and its past achievements, adopting a Year Zero approach to its 1970s status as a New Town.
By transcribing descriptions of Warrington from earlier times I hope to remind people of what our town once was, with some added suggestions as to what it could be again.
In 1831 Samuel Lewis published the first edition of his popular, and many times revised in that rapidly changing period, ‘A Topographical Dictionary of England comprising the Several Counties, Cities, Boroughs, Corporate and Market Towns, Parishes, Chapelries, and Townships and the Islands of Guernsey, Jersey and Man, with Historical and Statistical Descriptions ; Illustrations by Map of the Different Counties and Islands ; a Map of England … and a Plan of London and its Environs …: in Four Volumes’.
The entry for Warrington in Lewis’s Dictionary describes a town Continue reading
Various events over the last few years have led to me becoming more knowledgeable than I really want to be about planning law and the role of local government. (If I had my time again I’d have done Law, not English and then History, and then maybe I’d be getting paid for all this.) And it was whilst checking the facts for yet another dubious assertion in yet another planning application that I discovered that one of our recent MPs had stated to a Parliamentary committee that Warrington was a New Town. It is at this point that you realise things have come to a pretty pass. How can a town that was already a flourishing settlement in Anglo-Saxon times consistently be referenced only in terms of the last 45 years?
As my Antipodean readership will know, this is something that really annoys me. I care deeply about my town: I am proud of its heritage and achievements, am greatly saddened by what it has become and believe passionately in what it could be. And to have this constant misinterpretation of the facts about Warrington’s beginnings; this wholesale dismissal of its once great past, and the people who created that past, is galling. Warrington is not Milton Keynes.
There are numerous expansion strategies being floated at the moment, by town planners and developers alike, outlining their vision of Warrington’s future. An increasing number of protests by local groups, such as the fight to save community green space at Peel Hall, seem to indicate that other people are finding the current situation equally galling in a different way.
Their determination Continue reading