Located in the north western English county of Cheshire, Runcorn is a town that lies on the bank of the River Mersey estuary. The town has access to two canals, the Manchester Ship Canal which runs on the edge of the town and the river and the Bridgewater Canal which runs into the town.
There is evidence that Runcorn has been inhabited since the Stone Age through to the Romans in its early days. It is thought that the first record of Runcorn as a place was made in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle. Here the town was called Rumcofan which is held to mean the wide bay. Over the years the town has also been known as Runcorne, Runckhorne and Rumcoven. In the 900s a fort was built here as a border protection for the kingdom of Mercia.
Runcorn was ruled in Norman times by the Baron of Halton. At this time it is thought that the Baron built a motte and bailey castle in the area and established an Augustinian Priory in the town. In the English Civil War the Runcorn area saw a lot of action including two sieges of Halton Castle. From this point, until the days of the Industrial Revolution, Runcorn was a relatively quiet place.
From the 18th century it became known as a health resort and also started to develop as a port. Through the next century Runcorn saw its own industrial boom time with industries being created such as ship building, soap manufacture, engineering, tanning and quarrying. The town also built its own canal, the Runcorn to Latchford Canal and gained access to the rest of the country by rail with the building of the Runcorn railway bridge.
In the 20th century the town also became well known for its chemical industry and there are particular links to ICI in the area. In this century the Widnes-Runcorn Transporter Bridge was also opened. In 1964 Runcorn was re-invented as a New Town which doubled the town’s population.
Visitors to Runcorn may enjoy walking in the Runcorn Hill heathland and nature reserve area. There is also another nature reserve close by that is known as Wigg Island. There is also a large town park that was built when the town was given New Town status. The ruins of Halton Castle still stand on Halton Hill - this location also gives a great view of the town and its surrounding area. Many people also enjoy a visit to Norton Priory Museum. Here you can see the remains of the original priory and its gardens. The churches of All Saints and Holy Trinity are listed buildings and as such are worth a visit.