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Crewe Market Hall.jpg
Crewe town centre looking towards the Market Hall
Grid reference: SJ705557
Location: 53°5’56"N, 2°26’24"W
Population: 67,683  (2001)
Post town: Crewe
Postcode: CW1
Dialling code: 01270
Local Government
Council: Cheshire East
Crewe and Nantwich

Crewe is a railway town in Cheshire. According to the 2001 census, its urban area had a population of 67,683. Crewe is best known as a large railway junction and home to Crewe Works, for many years a major railway engineering facility, but now much reduced in size. From 1946 until 2002 it was also the home of Rolls-Royce motor car production. The Pyms Lane factory on the west of the town now produces Bentley motor cars exclusively.


Although the name Creu first appears in the Domesday Book of 1086, the modern urban settlement of Crewe was not formally planned out until 1843 by Joseph Locke to consolidate the "railway colony" that had grown up since around 1840-41 in the area near to the Crewe railway junction station opened in 1837.[1][2] This while the junction was named after the ancient township of Crewe, today's Crewe is a new creation built in another parish, and so the town is named after the railway station.

Crewe station, 1958

Crewe was founded in the township of Monks Coppenhall which, with the township of Church Coppenhall, formed the ancient parish of Coppenhall.[3] The railway station was named after the township of Crewe, then, part of the ancient parish of Barthomley) in which it was located.[4] Eventually, the township of Crewe became a civil parish in its own right also named, rather confusingly, Crewe.[5] This civil parish changed its name to Crewe Green in 1974 to avoid confusion with the adjacent town, which had been made a municipal borough in 1877.[6] The railway station remained part of the civil parish of Crewe, outside the boundary of the municipal borough until 1936.[7] So, throughout its history, the town of Crewe has neither been part of, nor has it encompassed first the township of Crewe, later the civil parish of Crewe, and later still the civil parish of Crewe Green adjacent to it, even though these places were the direct origin of the name of the town by way of the railway station, which was also not part of the town before 1936. An old, local riddle describes the somewhat unusual states of affairs: "The place which is Crewe is not Crewe, and the place which is not Crewe is Crewe."[8]

Until the Grand Junction Railway company chose Crewe as the site for its locomotive works railway station in the late 1830s, Crewe was a village with a population (c. 1831) of just 70 residents.[9] Winsford, 7 miles to the north, had rejected an earlier proposal, as had local landowners in neighbouring Nantwich, 4 miles away. Crewe railway station was built in fields near to Crewe Hall and was completed in 1837.

Crewe War Memorial

A new town grew up, in the parishes of Monks Coppenhall and Church Coppenhall, alongside the increasingly busy station, with the population expanding to reach 40,000 by 1871. GJR chief engineer Joseph Locke helped lay the town out.[9]

The town has a large park, Queen's Park (laid out by engineer Francis Webb), the land for which was donated by the London and North Western Railway, the successor to the GJR. A local rumour is that the company's motivation was to prevent the rival Great Western Railway from building a station on the site, but the available evidence indicates otherwise.[10]

The railway provided an endowment towards the building and upkeep of Christ Church. Until 1897 its vicar, non-conformist ministers and schoolteachers received concessionary passes, the school's having been established in 1842. The company provided a doctor's surgery with a scheme of health insurance. A gasworks was built and the works water supply was adapted to provide drinking water and a public baths. The railway also opened a cheese market in 1854 and a clothing factory for John Compton who provided the company uniforms, while McCorquodale of Liverpool set up a printing works.[9] Nevertheless, the dominance of the railway industry was such that times of recession were keenly felt.


Bentley's Pyms Lane factory

The railways still play a part in local industry at Crewe Works, which carries out train maintenance and inspection. It has been owned by Bombardier Transportation since 2001. At its height, the site employed over 20,000 people; in 2005 fewer than 1,000 remained, with a further 270 redundancies announced in November of that year. Much of the site once occupied by the works has been sold off and is now occupied by a supermarket, leisure park, and a large new health centre.

There is still an electric locomotive maintenance depot to the north of the railway station, operated by DB Schenker Rail. The diesel locomotive maintenance depot is now closed and is used for storing surplus rolling stock.

The Bentley car factory is on Pyms Lane to the west of town. As of early 2010, there are about 3,500 working at the site.[11] The factory formerly produced Rolls Royce cars, until the rights in the brand were transferred from Bentley's owners Volkswagen to rival BMW in 2003.

There is a BAE Systems factory in the village of Radway Green near Alsager, producing small arms ammunition for the British armed forces.

A number of business parks are found around the town hosting light industry and offices. Crewe Business Park is a 67-acre site with offices, research and IT manufacturing.


St Barnabus's Church

Crewe's churches include:[12]

  • Church of England:
    • All Saints & St Paul, Crewe
    • Christ Church
    • St Andrew
    • St Barnabas
    • St Peter's
    • St Michael, Crewe Green
  • Baptist :
    • Union Street Baptist [2]
    • West Street Christian Fellowship [3]
  • Methodist: [4]
    • Coppenhall
    • St Stephen's
    • St Mark's
    • St John's
    • Wells Green
  • Other / independent Protestant:
    • Gresty Road Evangelical Church
    • New Life Community Church [5]
    • West Street Christian Fellowship
  • Roman Catholic: St Mary's (which has a weekly mass in Polish)

There is a museum dedicated to Primitive Methodism in the nearby village of Englesea-Brook.[13]


Platform 12 at Crewe railway station

Crewe railway station is less than a mile from Crewe town centre, although it was not incorporated into the then Borough of Crewe until 1937. It is one of the largest stations in the North West and a major interchange station on the West Coast Main Line. It has 12 platforms in use and has a direct service to London (Euston) (2 hours, but the average duration is now 1 hour 45 minutes), Edinburgh, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Derby, Stoke-on-Trent, Chester and many other towns and cities.

There were also plans to revamp the railway station moving it to Basford. This was pending a public consultation by Network Rail scheduled for autumn 2008, however, no such public consultation was made. The plan has now been abandoned and instead maintenance work is being carried out on the current station.[14]

Crewe is on the A500, A530 and A534 roads, and is less than 10 miles from the M6 motorway.


The Crewe Heritage Centre is found in the old LMS railway yard for Crewe railway station. The museum has three signal boxes and an extensive miniature railway with steam, diesel and electric traction. The most prominent exhibit of the museum is the British Rail Class 370 Advanced Passenger Train.[15]

Lyceum Theatre

The Grade-II-listed Edwardian Lyceum Theatre is in the centre of Crewe. It was built in 1911 and shows drama, ballet, opera, music, comedy and pantomime.[16] The theatre was originally located on Heath Street from 1882.

The Axis Arts Centre is on the Manchester Metropolitan University campus in Crewe. It relocated from the university's Alsager Campus when it closed. The centre has a programme of touring new performance and visual art work.[17] The Box on Pedley Street is the town's main local music venue.

Both the Lyceum Theatre and the Axis Arts Centre feature galleries. The private Livingroom art gallery is on Prince Albert Street. The town's main library is on Prince Albert Square, opposite the Municipal Buildings.

The Jacobean mansion, Crewe Hall, is located to the east of the town near Crewe Green. It is a grade I listed building, built in 1615–36 for Sir Randolph Crewe. Today, it is used as a hotel, restaurant and health club.

Queen's Park is the town main park, and is currently undergoing a £6.5 million transformation.[18] It features walkways, a children's play area, crown green bowling, putting, a boating lake, grassed areas, memorials and a cafe. Jubilee Gardens are in Hightown and there is also a park on Westminster Street.

Crewe Carnival takes place each Summer.

Other references

Crewe crater on Mars is named after the town of Crewe. Crewe was described by author Alan Garner in his book Red Shift as "the ultimate reality". Bill Bryson described Crewe as "the armpit of Cheshire" in his 1995 book "Notes from a Small Island".



  1. "Cheshire Historic Towns Survey: Crewe – Archaeological Assessment". Cheshire County Council & English Heritage. 2003. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  2. Ollerhead (2008, pp. 7, 10, 16); Chambers (2007, pp. 76, 94)
  3. Youngs (1991, pp. 15–16); Dunn (1989, p. 26); Ollerhead (2008, p. 10)
  4. Youngs (1991, p. 16); Chambers (2007, pp. 76, 94)
  5. Youngs (1991, p. 16)
  6. Crewe (near Wybunbury), GENUKI (UK & Ireland Genealogy),, retrieved 3 February 2009 
  7. Ollerhead (2008, p. 10)
  8. Curran et al. (1984, p. 2)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Glancey, Jonathan (6 December 2005), "The beauty of Crewe", The Guardian (London),,,1658974,00.html, retrieved 10 August 2007 
  10. [1] states: "This can now be totally dispelled as records show the LNWR Co. originally thought their line to Chester would run alongside the river. However, it was discovered the ground was not firm enough and a more northerly route was decided upon. Had the original thought gone ahead it would have taken the land that was eventually used for Queens Park. It is obvious that a rumour became mixed with a proposal to open a station on the present Chester line called Queens Park Halt. To further clarify the situation an entry on the 18th December, 1886, in the Minute Book of the Board of Directors of the LNWR, refers to the area being given for a public park."
  11. Mark Gillies (2010-05-10). "Going Back in Time at the Bentley Factory". Car and Driver blog. Retrieved 2010-06-25. 
  12. Places of Worship in Crewe
  13. Englsea Brook Chapel and Museum website
  14. "The Sentinel". Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  15. Crewe Heritage Centre website
  16. Lyceum Theatre website
  17. Axis Arts Centre website
  18. Queen's Park, Cheshire East Council


  • Hornbrook, J (2009). Crewe and its People. Crewe, Cheshire: MPire Books. ISBN 978-0-9538877-2-9 
  • Chambers, S (2007). Crewe: A history. Chichester, Sussex: Phillimore. ISBN 9781860774720 
  • Curran, H; Gilsenan, M; Owen, B; Owen, J (1984). Change at Crewe. Chester: Cheshire Libraries and Museums 
  • Dodgson, J. McN. (1971). The place-names of Cheshire. Part three: The place-names of Nantwich Hundred and Eddisbury Hundred. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521080495 
  • Dunn, F. I. (1987). The ancient parishes, townships and chapelries of Cheshire. Chester: Cheshire Record Office and Cheshire Diocesan Record Office. ISBN 0906758149 
  • Langston, K (2006). Made in Crewe: 150 years of engineering excellence. Horncastle, Lincolnshire: Mortons Media Group. ISBN 9780955286803 
  • Ollerhead, P (2008). Crewe: History and guide. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 9780752446547 
  • Youngs, F. A. (1991). Guide to the local administrative units of England. (Volume 1: Northern England). London: Royal Historical Society. ISBN 0861931270 

Outside links