I am supposed to be working on an outline for the area of my book dealing with Warrington in the Fifties, but I am getting more and more drawn into trying to find out what has been happening with that section of the nation’s built heritage in Warrington’s care. It is taking a while to get to the bottom of this and the results of my investigations are deeply depressing.
Warrington has 87 statutory listed items in the town centre and an additional 14 in Church Street; the colossal road works of the 90s having turned the town’s original site into a sort of extra-parochial adjunct to the town itself. Listing identifies buildings that are of significant national, and sometimes even international, importance that must be preserved for the knowledge and enjoyment of future generations. Of those designated Grade II, a mere 5.5% are listed Grade II* and a tiny 2.5 % are listed Grade I.
Warrington’s town centre alone has six Grade II* and three Grade I listed items.
The majority of these are within one of the town centre’s seven statutory Conservation Areas: Bewsey Street, Bridge Street, Buttermarket Street, Palmyra Square, Town Hall and Winwick Street. It must be remembered that a listing may refer to a group of buildings or an entire terrace, so the number of individual buildings will be considerably higher.
Bewsey Street, Warrington’s most fashionable address in the eighteenth century, has nine listed items, all Grade II: four blocks of residential terraces: numbers 39-49, 51-61, 63-67 and 72-74; the St Albans RC Church; its Presbytery; number 14, Bewsey Chambers; number 93, and 1 Froghall Lane.
As a number of you are American, I thought the following might prove interesting.
There are three Warringtons in America: one in Escambia County, Florida, named after a person, Lewis Warrington, and two in Pennsylvania, named after the town in England. (For British readers: Pennsylvania was founded in 1682 by the English Quaker, William Penn, who accepted a large land grant in New England in payment of a huge debt owed to him by Charles II. Throughout the eighteenth century, Quakers from all over England emigrated there to escape the religious intolerance of the period.)
The two in Pennsylvania are Warrington Township in York County (previously Lancaster County) and Warrington Township in Bucks County. (Bucks, incidently, is a postal abbreviation used in England for the county of Buckinghamshire.) Apparently, there is a claim by some that the York County Warrington is named for a town in Ireland, but I would suggest that the previous name of Lancaster County disproves this: at the time it was founded, in 1735, the English Warrington was in the county of Lancashire.
The Market Place and Bank Hall
The Town Plan of 1851 shows the area to the North-west, between Sankey Street and Horsemarket Street, as still densely medieval, in and around the Market Place, as far west as King Street and as far north as Peter Street. Beyond these points, early nineteenth-century development following eighteenth-century in-fill to the west and early nineteenth-century industry to the north is extending the town. This is the civic quarter, (as it still is today) where modern and medieval jostle; a large Town Hall in the Market Place, on the site of the erstwhile Manor Court, emphasises the emergence of a new regime, and an impressive looking, multi-roomed Cloth Hall next to it indicates mercantile prosperity and confidence. Around them are the tiniest and most irregular shaped of buildings, and the four hundred year old site is illuminated by a gas-lit lamp post.