Runcorn, a market-town, a seaport, the head of a poor-law union, petty sessional division, and county court district, a township, and a parish in Cheshire. The town stands on the river Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal, at the western termini of the Bridgwater, the Mersey and Irwell, and the Trent and Mersey canals, across Runcorn Gap, at the boundary with Lancashire, 4½ miles N of Frodsham, 9 WSW of Warrington, 15 ESE of Liverpool, 15 NE of Chester, and 180½ by railway from London. It was anciently called Runcora, Runcofan, Runcoven, and Ronchestorn. A castle was built by Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, on a rock which was called Castle Rock, and was removed in 1891 on the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal. Runcorn had also a priory, founded in 1133 by W. Fitznigel, and removed in the time of Stephen to Norton. It never acquired any importance till the completion of the Bridgwater Canal, but rose then and afterwards to much consequence as a place of commerce, and became a head port in 1847 for all parts of the Mersey and its tributaries from Warrington down to Dungeon Point and Ince Ferry. Runcorn is governed by an urban district council, and has a station on the L. & N.W.R. and a head post office. Three newspapers are published. The Bridewell was built in 1831, and contains court-rooms for the petty sessions and county courts and a police station. The meetings of the council are held in the town-hall. Runcorn contains also a public hall with an assembly room, a Foresters' hall with a large hall for public meetings, &c., a market-hall, a free public library, a theatre, a technical institute erected in 1894, a workhouse, and a custom-house. The Seamen's Institute, opened in 1892, includes recreation-rooms, library, and a chapel. Markets are held on Saturdays, and fairs on Whit-Monday and first Monday in Nov. The parish church, dedicated to All Saints, originally erected by Ethelfleda, has stood on the same ground for nearly 1000 years, and has three or four times been rebuilt, on the last occasion in 1849. It is in the Early English style and cruciform, and has a tower with octagonal spire. St Michael's Church was erected in 1892, and is in the Decorated Gothic style. Holy Trinity Church was built in 1838. There is a mariners' chapel in connection with Holy Trinity Church. There are Roman Catholic, Calvinistic Methodist, Congregational, Free and Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels.
Runcorn Gap is a contraction of the Mersey to a width of about 1200 feet at high water. A wrought-iron railway bridge was constructed across it by the L. & N.W.R. Company in 1864-68 at a cost of more than £30,000; rests on two stone piers in mid-channel 300 feet apart; consists of three "stretches" between the piers and shore abutments, together with ninety-seven arches of end-viaduct; is altogether 1500 feet long and 95 above high-water mark; and has two lines of railway for trains and a footway for passengers. Large wet docks and basins, extensive warehouses, and all other requisites for a large traffic are at the harbour, and a succession of double lines of locks communicates between The river and the general level of the canals.
The township comprises 1139 acres of land and 659 of water (including 482 of foreshore); population, 20,050. The civil parish contains also the townships of Halton, Norton, Stockham, Sutton, Aston-by-Sutton, Aston Grange, Clifton, Walton Inferior, Walton Superior, Acton Grange, Moore, Keckwick, Hatton, Daresbury, Newton-by-Daresbury, Preston-on-the Hill, Thelwall, and Weston. The population of Runcorn All Saints ecclesiastical parish is 16,144. The ecclesiastical parish of Holy Trinity, Runcorn, was constituted in 1839. Population, 5845. The parish includes also the ecclesiastical parishes of Daresbury, Halton, Thelwall, and Walton, and parts of the ecclesiastical parishes of Aston-by-Sutton, Latchford, and Stockton Heath. The living of All Saints is a vicarage, and that of Holy Trinity is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Chester; net value of All Saints, £362 with residence; of Holy Trinity, £235 with residence. Patron of All Saints, Christ Church, Oxford.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Runcorn St. Bartholomew|
|Poor Law union||Runcorn|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Runcorn from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848 (Runcorn (St. Bartholomew))
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Cheshire is available to browse.
Online maps of Runcorn are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Cheshire papers online:
The Visitation of Cheshire, 1580 is available on the Heraldry page.