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Northwich, Cheshire

Historical Description

Northwich, a town, a township, and the head of a poor-law union and county court district in Cheshire. The town-stands on Watling Street, on the river Weaver, at the influx of the Dane, 1½ mile S of the Trent and Mersey Canal, 11 miles SE of Warrington, 18 ENE of Chester, 22 SSW of Manchester, and 171½ by rail from London. It has stations on the Chester, Altrincham, and Manchester section of the Cheshire Lines railway, and on the Crewe, Northwich, and Acton Bridge, and Crewe, Knutsford, and Manchester branches of the L. & N.W.R. It is notable for great salt springs, supposed to have been known and used long before the Christian era; it was called by the ancient Britons Black Salt Town; and it takes its present name from its relative situation to other " wiches " or salt towns in Cheshire. It was held by the Royalists and taken from them in 1643,. but as to its general history it has always figured mainly and very prominently as a salt town. Its site is underlain and surrounded with deep salt mines, and its outskirts all round are studded with spacious, low-walled, lofty-chimneyed buildings, where the brine is evaporated in long, wide, shallow iron pans. Its streets are narrow and irregularly built, many of its houses are of considerable antiquity, and not a few of them have gradually subsided, as if they had been visited by an earthquake, or are screwed and bolted together to keep them secure. A subsidence of the land, even to the creating of large fissures, goes slowly on, in consequence of the formation of great subterranean cavities by the pumping of brine from depths of 105 to 120 feet, combined with the effects of superincumbent pressure. A portion of the High, Street, which had sunk below the level of the river, was raised. 6 feet in 1892. The town, in a strict sense, lies all within Northwich township, but in a larger sense it includes, in the way of suburbs, the townships of Castle Northwich, Leftwich, Witton-cum-Twambrooks, and Winnington. It is a seat of petty sessions and county courts; has a head post office, two banks, a police station, a town-hall, a market-house, and a grammar school; and publishes two weekly newspapers. The police station stands in Whalley Road. The town-hall stands in Crown Street, and is not now used owing to the subsidence of the site. The Brunner Free Public Library and Museum, in Witton Street, was erected in 1887. The Drill Hall, in Leftwich, was erected in 1867, and is used for the county court, concerts, &c. The market-house stands between Market Street and Apple Market, was built in 1843, and is large and commodious. The workhouse is at Leftwich. Danebridge parish church (St Paul's) was built in 1849, consists of nave, aisles, chancel, and porch, and shows many marks of subsidence. St Helen's Church, Witton, is the parish church of by far the largest portion of the town, the population of Witton parish being 12,033. It dates from the 15th century, and has been restored. It is noted for its two beautiful roofs, one taken from Norton Priory, the other from Vale Royal Abbey at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. There are mission churches at Winnington and Pennys Road in the parish. Holy Trinity Church, in Castle Northwich township, was built in 1843 for the use of the bargemen and boatmen on the Weaver Navigation. There are Roman Catholic, Congregational, Wesleyan, Free, and Primitive Methodist chapels and a cemetery. Verdin Park, in Castle Northwich, was presented to the town in 1887, and contains recreation grounds, public baths, and the Victoria Infirmary. A weekly market is held on Friday, and fairs on 10 April and 2 Aug. Nearly 1,500,000 tons of white and rock salt are annually produced in Northwich and Winsford, about 6 miles to the S.

The township is in Great Budworth parish, and comprises 13 acres; population, 938. Acreage of Castle Northwich, 135; population, 2386. Acreage of Witton-cum-Twambrooks, 622; population, 7591. Acreage of Leftwich, 968; population, 3398. Acreage of Winnington, 806; population, 2246; of the parochial chapelry of Witton, 12,033; of the ecclesiastical parish of Danebridge, which contains Leftwich, 2714. The urban district of Northwich includes Castle Northwich, Leftwich, and Witton, and has a council of eighteen members. The living of Witton is a vicarage in the diocese of Chester; net value, £223 with residence. Patrons, the Bishop of Chester and Trustees. The living of Holy Trinity, Castle Northwieh, is a separate charge, but has not assigned to it any definite population; gross value, £150. Patron, the Bishop of Chester. The living of Dane Bridge is a vicarage in the diocese of Chester; net value, £205 with residence. Patron, the Crown and the Bishop of Chester alternately.

Northwich Parliamentary Division of Cheshire was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 69,893. The division includes the following:-Runcorn- Aston Grange, Aston-by-Sutton (with Middleton Grange), Clifton, Halton, Norton, Runcorn, Stockham, Sutton, Weston; Eddisbury (part of)-Acton, Weaverham-cum-Milton, Over; Daresbury (part of)-Bartington, Button, Little Leigh; Leftwich (part of)-Anderton, Barnton, Great Budworth, Castle Northwich, Cogshall, Comberbach, Davenham, Eaton, Hartford, Leftwich, Marbury, Moulton, Northwich, Marston, Wallerscoat,Wincham,Winnington,Witton-cum-Twambrooks; Northwich (part of)-Bostock, Clive, Croxton, Kinderton-cum-Hulme, Middlewich, Newton, Ravenscroft, Stanthorne, Wharton, Whatcroft.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Civil parishBlockley 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Northwich from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Cheshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Northwich are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Cheshire papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Cheshire, 1580 is available on the Heraldry page.

CountyCheshire West and Chester
RegionNorth West
Postal districtCW9
Post TownNorthwich