In Roman times, Warrington was a centre of industry and was founded as a crossing place of the River Mersey for Roman soldiers to go north from their base at Deva (modern Chester). A new settlement was established by the Saxons and by the Middle Ages, Warrington had emerged as a market town at an important bridging point. During the Civil War, Warrington's importance as a strategic river crossing became its downfall, as it was wrested from the Royalists by the troops of Oliver Cromwell. In so doing, Cromwell's troops virtually destroyed the town to the ground. If you look at the east wall of St Elphin's parish church you can see the scars of cannonball fire.
The expansion and urbanisation of Warrington largely coincided with the Industrial Revolution, particularly after the Mersey was made navigable in the 18th Century. As Britain became industrialised, Warrington embraced the industrial revolution becoming a manufacturing town and a centre of steel (particularly wire), textiles, brewing, tanning and chemical industries. The navigational properties of the river Mersey were improved, canals were built, and the town grew yet more prosperous and popular. Great buildings of consequence were erected (town hall) and when the age of steam came, Warrington naturally welcomed it, both as a means of transport and as a source of power for its mills.
Heavy industry declined in the 1970s and 1980s but the growth of the new town around Warrington led to a great increase in employment in light industry, distribution and technology.
The current borders of Warrington Borough were thus set in 1974, covering the former county borough of Warrington, Lymm Urban District, Warrington Rural District and part of Golborne urban district, part of Runcorn Rural District and part of Whiston Rural District.
Warrington is notable in political history for being the first place to field a candidate for the newly-formed SDP-Liberal Alliance.
Many people, particularly Americans, remember Warrington best as the location of Burtonwood RAF base, which closed in 1993 as one of largest Royal Air Force(RAF) bases in England and the largest US Air Force base outside the United States. It played a key role during World War ll and then again for the Berlin airlift. More recently it contributed to the Desert Storm campaign. The base had another impact on the town - over 6,500 local women became GI brides! During World War II, Burtonwood was visited by major celebrities like Humphrey Bogart and Bob Hope who entertained the G.I's.
There was a further RAF training camp at Padgate, a Royal Naval air base at Appleton Thorn (RNAS Stretton) and an army base at the Peninsula Barracks in O'Leary Street, now used by the Territorial Army.
View more surrounding areas of Lymm.
View details on history in Lymm.