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Widnes

Widnes Wiki Widnes is an industrial town within the borough of Halton, in the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England, with an urban area population of 57,663 in 2004. It is located on the northern bank of the River Mersey where the estuary narrows to form Runcorn Gap. Directly to the south of Widnes across the Mersey is the town of Runcorn. Upstream and 8 miles to the east of Widnes is the town of Warrington, and downstream 16 miles to the west is the city of Liverpool.

Widnes Runcorn BridgeHistorically part of Lancashire, prior to the Industrial Revolution Widnes consisted of a small number of separate settlements on land which was mainly marsh or moorland. In 1847 the first chemical factory was established and the town rapidly became a major centre of the chemical industry. The demand for labour was met by the immigration into Widnes of large numbers of workers from Ireland, Poland, Lithuania and Wales. Widnes continues to be a major manufacturer of chemicals and there has been a degree of diversification of the town's industries.

Widnes lies on the southern route of the Liverpool to Manchester railway line. The main roads passing through the town are the A557 in a north-south direction and the A562 which runs east-west. The Sankey Canal (now disused) terminates in an area of Widnes known as Spike Island.

Spike Island, WidnesWidnes has undergone enormous environmental regeneration since the 1980's, for example Spike Island was the birthplace of the British chemical industry. In the late 19th century the area was dominated by Hutchinson's and Gossage's huge Widnes factories, and a maze of railway lines criss-crossed the island. The Sankey Canal and the Wet Dock were always busy with boats carrying cargo to the Mersey and the ports of the world beyond. By the early 20th century the works stood derelict. The disused factories, abandoned canal and piles of waste became a terrible eyesore in the years that followed. However in 1975, Halton Borough Council and Cheshire County Council began reclaiming the land and by 1982 Spike Island was transformed into acres of grassland, woodland and watersides to explore, quiet spots for walking, fishing, wildlife watching, picnicing and wide open spaces for events of all kinds.

Widnes Nature Reserve Pickerings PastureThe area now known as Pickerings Pasture was until the 1950s a salt marsh, grazed by cattle and home to wading birds and estuary plants. For the next 30 years however, the site was used as an industrial and household waste tip for Widnes and a mountain of refuse built up. It is now a Local Nature Reserve in Widnes with acres of wildflower meadows and wide views across the River Mersey.

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