|Cheshire West & Chester
|Ellesmere Port and Neston
Ellesmere Port is a large industrial town and port in Cheshire. It stands on the lower southern part of the Wirral Peninsula, on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal north of Chester. The town had a population of 64,100 as of the 2001 census.
The town is primarily industrial, dominated by an oil refinery at Stanlow and a former ICI chemical works. The town is also home to the Vauxhall Motors car factory, where the Astra range of cars is produced. There are a number of tourist attractions: the National Waterways Museum, the Blue Planet Aquarium and the Cheshire Oaks designer clothing outlet.
Ellesmere Port itself however is creature of the Industrial Revolution, founded as an outlet to the sea from Ellesmere in Shropshire and from the industry fed through the canal at Llangollen in Denbighshire.
To create the port, a canal was dug, initially called the Ellesmere Canal but now forming part of the Shropshire Union Canal. The canal was designed and engineered by William Jessop and Thomas Telford as part of a project to connect the rivers Severn, Mersey and Dee. The canal was connected to the Mersey in the village of Netherpool, and the basin was known as Whitby Locks. The section between Whitby Locks and Chester was opened in 1795, connecting two of the rivers; but the connection to the Severn was never completed.
The village of Netherpool gradually changed its name to the Port of Ellesmere, and by the early 19th century it was known as Ellesmere Port.
The first houses in Ellesmere Port itself grew up around the docks and the first main street was Dock Street, which now houses the National Waterways Museum. Station Road, which connected the docks with the village of Whitby, also gradually developed and as more shops were needed, some of the houses became retail premises. As the expanding industrial areas growing up around the canal and its docks attracted more workers to the area, the town itself continued to expand.
By the mid-20th century, thanks to the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894 and the Stanlow Oil Refinery in the 1920s, the town had expanded so that it now incorporated the villages of Great and Little Sutton, Hooton, Whitby, Overpool and Rivacre as suburbs. The town centre itself had moved from the Station Road/Dock Street area, to an area that had once been home to a stud farm; the name Stud Farm is still used in some contexts for the town centre. This new centre was around the crossroads of Sutton Way with Stanney Lane and Whitby Road.
Between the 1950s and 1980s, a number of new housing estates were developed, many of them on the sites of former farms such as Hope Farm and Grange Farm. Many estates consisted of both council housing and privately owned homes and flats.
The later twentieth century and beyond
Demand for housing increased with the opening of the Vauxhall Motors car plant in 1962. Opened as a components supplier to the Luton plant, passenger car production began in 1964 with the Vauxhall Viva. Today the plant is now Vauxhall's only car factory in Britain, since the end of passenger car production at the Luton plant in 2004 (where commercial vehicles are still made). Ellesmere Port currently produces the Vauxhall Astra model on two shifts, employing 2,500 people.
In the mid-1980s, the Port Arcades, a covered shopping mall was built in the town centre, which complemented the erection of Lewis's store which was bought out by Asda prior to the completion of the Port Arcades. By the 1990s, it was the retail sector rather than the industrial that was attracting workers and their families to the town. This was boosted with the building of the Cheshire Oaks outlet village and the Coliseum shopping park, which also included a multiplex cinema; prior to this since the closure of the cinema adjacent to the station in the 1950s the town's only cinema had been a single screen in the EPIC Leisure Centre.
The town continues to grow and expand, and more housing estates and shops are being built. The industrial sector is still a major employer in the town although in recent years, a number of factories have been closed and jobs lost. Marks & Spencer in 2012 built what is being claimed to be their largest store apart from Marble Arch on a site opposite to the Coliseum shopping park.
The Manchester Ship Canal joins the Mersey estuary north-west of Ellesmere Port at Eastham. At Ellesmere Port it is met by the Shropshire Union Canal, of which the town is the northern terminus. This junction was the foundation of the town, where canal boats out for Shropshire, Denbighshire and Cheshire bore cargoes to and from the sea-going ships on the Ship Canal. This place is now the National Waterways Museum.
Ellesmere Port railway station has frequent electric trains to Chester and Liverpool on the Wirral Line of the Merseyrail network. There is also an infrequent service to Helsby, with the route passing through Stanlow and Elton.
- Football: Vauxhall Motors FC, founded in 1963
- Local Newspaper
- National Waterways Museum (formerly the Boat Museum)
- The Blue Planet Aquarium
- Ellesmere Port & Neston Community Transport (Local Charity)