Widnes

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Missing image
Arms-widnes.jpg
Arms of the former Widnes Borough Council

Template:GBdot Widnes, in the unitary authority of Halton, Cheshire, England owes its existence to the chemical industry. In 1800 it was a mere collection of houses but by 1900 had a population of 50,000.

It may also owe its existence to the fact it lies in the middle of many large towns and cities, such as Manchester, Liverpool or Warrington. Without these, growth in Widnes may not have occured as much as it has.

According to local history books, the name Widnes comes from the old Danish vidnes, meaning "wide nose", and refers to the promontory of land that juts south into the river, creating a narrowing in the river called the Runcorn Gap. Some correspondents have suggested that the name is Norwegian, and there is a similar peninsula named Vidnes in Møre og Romsdal, Norway.

It was connected across the Mersey to Runcorn by (1) a railway bridge (still existing) (2) a transporter bridge (demolished) and (3) an impressive steel arched road bridge (built 1962).

The railway station is reputedly the inspiration of the song "Homeward Bound" by Paul Simon.

The "Catalyst" museum is devoted to the chemical industry which still dominates the town.

Widnes includes a number of distinct areas of varying character.

West Bank, close to the old ferry and transporter bridge. This is the old heart of the town with Victorian terraced houses for the chemical workers. Since the building of the new road bridge the area has declined.

The old civic centre around Victoria square with some impressive public buildings.

Simm's Cross - main shopping district. Includes the new "Green Oaks" shopping complex

Appleton and Farnworth - former villages, still with some "village" character but mainly 20th century semi detached housing. Widnes railway station is in Farnworth.

Ditton - residential, 20th century

Hough Green - residential, 20th century. Railway station.

Halebank - an industrial area with a residential area to the south

It is also worth noting Widnes is the home of Widnes Rugby League Football Club (the Widnes Vikings and previously know as the "Chemics"). Once world champions (1989), subsequently spent time in the Northern Ford Premiership, and presently back in the top flight, the UK Super League.


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