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St Chads Church at Over.

I was wondering what gave me my interest in Local History when I realised it is our home!

We moved here from the suburbs of a large city some years ago and we knew we wanted to live in a house with interest, something old.  We live in Over, although we did not know that at the time.  We loved this house the moment we saw it, but we had no idea it had a history all of it's own.

We had been here a short while when we were approached by a man and his wife.  The man had visited his grandparents here when he was a small child.  The story of our home began to unfold; he returned later that week with a photograph of the first occupants of our home ... the Holford family.

Mr. John Holford was a manager for one of the many local Salt Works.  He had his office here too, in the same room I am now writing in, our office.  One of his daughters was married from here, the mother of the man we had met.  He left the family photo for us and it now has pride of place in our hall.  This started our interest in local history. 

In the 1940's our home was occupied by our neighbours' great uncle.  Mr. Osborne Parry was Winsford Town Registrar; again this room was used as an office.  We have, over the years, met quite a few locals who remember registering their marriages and the births of their children here, in this very room.  And, I am sure, deaths too, of course.

We began to read local history books, among the author J Brian Curzon, a local himself.  Through the years we have learned a lot about our road, our home and Winsford.

At the junction of St Georges Road, (one of the older roads in Over), and Queensway, another piece of history has been preserved; when a workshop was built by a local builder (Messrs. Finney) for the house on this corner.  They incorporated the arches from the porch of the manse which had once stood at the start of Swanlow Lane during the mid 1800's.

Winsford does not appear in the Domesday Book, but Over (Ovre) and Wharton (Wanetune)  both do.  Winsford back then was just a crossing place on the River Weaver.  Maybe Win lived close by the ford, crossing place, perhaps he levied a charge to those wanting to cross the river.

It was Edward I who founded the Abbey of Vale Royal in the 13th century.  He gave all the land to the west of the Weaver to the Abbot, and it was he who created a new borough, that of Over.  A market was held each week and a cattle fair twice a year.  Over and latterly Winsford has had it's own Mayor since those days.

Wharton was on the other side of the river and was very poor compared to Over and remained a hamlet until the trading of salt began.

Over remained a separate administration area although Wharton and Winsford were thought of as being the same place.

Winsford came into being upon the discovery of the salt below ground.

Winsford was re-developed as an overspill for Manchester and later on, Liverpool, in the 1960's.

Winsford is far enough away from the M6 to keep it's 'village' feel, but close enough, at about six miles, to be a commuter town.  

I think the oldest part of Winsford is St Chads Church, which is in Over.  A piece of a cross has been found there and it has been dated as being Saxon.  The shape of the original site dates it back to pagan times.  In 2000, our Millennium Mayor, Councillor Nick Harris, re-opened the road leading to St Chads church after a considerable amount of local fund-raising, in conjunction with VRBC,  paid to have the road surface improved.  Two years later lighting was installed; there is a plaque commemorating this on site.  There is, of course, a legend linked to St Chads.

There is an interesting account about a Winsfordian who became extremely well know on a national basis; Mr. John Swanwick Bradbury, born in 1872, joined the Civil Service and he eventually became the Joint Permanent Secretary of the Treasury.  He was responsible for the first issue of banknotes and they had his signature.  These notes acquired the nickname of 'bradburys'.

If you are interested in learning more about our local history, J Brian Curzon has written many books on the subject along with many other authors.  His and the other titles are widely available in book stores and through your library.  

New Information:

I have been contacted by a visitor to winsford.net who has very kindly supplied some local history and photographs.  Read on ...

"At around the turn of the 1900’s, a salt-works owner, or maybe manager, lived on Swanlow Lane in a house called “Rock Villas”.  He had a coach-house, barn and stabling, greenhouse and other out building on the land behind Swanlow Lane, St Georges Road, and what is now, Springbank Crescent.  The greenhouse was heated by a coal-fire boiler, which fed steam through 8" diameter pipes in two layers.  His coach-man occupied the coach-house, with the hay loft being above his accommodation.  The entrance to and from the land was via Haigh Street.  In those days, St Georges Road ended at the ‘bend’ and Haigh Street went all the way down.  Now of course, we have a longer St Georges Road, and Upper and Lower Haigh Streets are quite separated, by the continuation of St Georges Road.  Years later, when the coach and horses had been not needed for some years, the buildings started to decline into dereliction, but the land survived and became a market garden.  A lot of produce was grown; potatoes, runner beans, salad crops to name a few.  Most of the land was productive, but Springbank Crescent does not get it’s name for no good reason; the spring which runs from Over Square, all the way through the land and on along and down Upper and Lower Haigh Street, made the centre of the field too boggy for tilling or for planting; in latter years a tractor became bogged and needed another to haul it out.  It was only when the rent on this land was pushed too high to be affordable by a small market gardener, did the growing cease, and they found new land for their produce to be grown on.  At this time the owner stored a small amount of building materials, and some residents walked their dogs, but the land became a haven for wildlife.  The trees, including many fruit trees, and shrubs flourished. The grasses grew tall, and yes I know the weeds grew tall too, but most weeds are wildflowers growing in the wrong place, so there was ideal.  The wildlife proliferated too; swifts, bats, hedgehogs, many species of birds, frogs, dragon and damselflies and butterflies, and many other insects to feed the wildlife.  At one time there were badgers, one of which became a regular night-time visitor to my back door for food, and foxes.  Now it has all gone, another patch of unspoiled green has become tarmac, concrete and houses under construction. It is so sad, such a loss!"  Look at the gallery to see accompanying photographs.

Do you have any photographs of how it used to look near where you live?  Do you have any local history to add?  Get in touch, please.

Contact Information

If you wish to get in touch for any reason please send an e-mail to time.graphics@winsford.net


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