Since time immemorial, the Mersey has caused trade, travellers, new ideas and attitudes to flow through Warrington. 

On the south bank of the Mersey at what is now Wilderspool, the river was forded and a community soon grew, trading the rich fruits of the river - cockles and salmon.  For centuries, gooseberries grown in the local area were regarded as the best in all of England.

Around 100AD, a Roman industrial settlement was built, and the moving water of the Mersey created a natural impenetrable barrier. 

During Saxon times, Warrington expanded onto the opposite bank of the Mersey, near the present parish church, and the town's strategic importance continued through the Norman period and beyond.

Medieval times

Medieval times
  • 1086 - The Domesday Book describes 'Walintune', a village near the ford over the Mersey at Latchford and Howley
  • 1277 - The market in Warrington is granted a Royal Charter
  • 1285 - The first mention of a bridge over the Mersey at Warrington
  • 1321 - Warrington becomes the first paved town in Lancashire 
  • 1364 - The second bridge over the Mersey is completed
Tudor Warrington
  • 1487 - Thomas Penketh, head of the Austin Friars dies, and is later mentioned by Shakespeare in Richard III
  • 1495 - Henry VII opens a three-arched stone bridge over the River Mersey
  • 1526 - Boteler Grammar School is founded 
  • 1600 - Thomas Dallam travels to Turkey to build an organ for the sultan, on the instructions of Queen Elizabeth l
The Stuart Period and the civil war
  • 1617 - King James l stays at Bewsey Old Hall and knights Sir Thomas Ireland 
  • 1643 - Parliamentarian Sir William Brereton takes the town from the Royalists in the Siege of Warrington
  • 1648 - Oliver Cromwell stays in Warrington
  • 1690 - Henry Booth, Lord Delamere, is created Earl of Warrington
The Georgian Period and industrial revolution

Warrington embraced the industrial revolution and became the centre of many industries, from copper smelting to sail-making and pin manufacture. The navigational properties of the River Mersey were improved, canals were built, and the town grew yet more prosperous and popular.

  • 1697 - Thomas Patten makes the Mersey navigable to Bank Quay
  • 1720 - Mersey and Irwell Navigation make the river passable between Manchester and Warrington, completing the link to Liverpool 
  • 1750 - James Gibbs builds Bank Hall, now Warrington Town Hall, for the Pattens
  • 1757 - The 'Warrington Advisor' becomes Lancashire's first newspaper 
  • 1757 - Warrington Academy is established
  • 1757 - The first commercial canal in Britain, Sankey-St Helens, opens 
  • 1760 - Old Billy, the world’s oldest horse, is born in Woolston and lives until age 62 after a lifetime towing barges along the Mersey 
  • 1761 - Thomas Dakin opens his distillery on Bridge Street, which eventually becomes G & J Greenall
  • 1777 - John Howard’s book attacking the prison system in England and Wales is published in Warrington, after he writes it whilst lodging in Bridge Street.  
  • 1779 - The first Sunday school in the county, St James' Sunday School, opens
  • 1786 - Warrington Academy, a prominent dissenting school with notable teachers including Joseph Priestley and Reinhold Forster, is dissolved
  • 1787 - The first Boulton and Watt steam engine to be used in Lancashire is installed at Latchford Cotton Mill
  • 1801 - The Old Quay canal connects Howley to Runcorn, ending the reliance on Mersey tides
  • 1814 - Joseph Crosfield establishes the soap works at Bank Quay
  • 1822 - Old Billy the horse dies aged 62
Victorian Warrington
  • 1830 - The first Total Abstinence Society in Britain is formed in Warrington 
  • 1830 - The Liverpool-Manchester railway opens near Warrington 
  • 1832 - Warrington becomes a Parliamentary Borough 
  • 1832 - The first MP in the town, E.G. Hornby, is returned to Parliament as a Liberal candidate 
  • 1834 - The first Warrington Walking Day 
  • 1837- The Victoria Bridge is built 
  • 1847 - The first Mayor of Warrington takes office as the town becomes a borough under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835
  • 1848 - The first public library in the country is opened in Warrington, and the town's museum 
  • 1853 - The ill-fated iron clipper ship, RMS Tayleur, is built and launched at Bank Quay
  • 1858 - The public library, and Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, moves to its current premises on Bold Street, in a building designed by John Dobson
  • 1864 - The first ever Lancashire county cricket match is played in Warrington 
  • 1872 - The council buys Bank Hall on Sankey Street 
  • 1894 - The Manchester Ship Canal is built south of Warrington
  • 1895 - The golden gates are officially opened at the front of Warrington Town Hall
  • 1895 - The Parr Hall, designed by William Owen, opens
  • 1897 - Victoria Park opens 
  • 1899 - A cast iron statue of Oliver Cromwell, by John Bell, is erected outside the Warrington Academy 
  • 1900 - Warrington becomes a County Borough
The 1900s
  • 1902 - The first tram is operated by Warrington Corporation Tramways
  • 1907 - Warrington’s first female journalist, Mabel Capper, writes for the Warrington Examiner, and uses her role to fight for women’s rights and suffrage
  • 1913-15 - The present Warrington Bridge opens, one of the world's first pre-stressed concrete bridges
  • 1920 - Warrington's first women magistrates and town councillor take office 
  • 1925 - The war memorial, or cenotaph, is unveiled at Bridgefoot
  • 1925 - Warrington’s first female councillor elected, Cllr Constance Broadbent
  • 1934 - Kingsway Bridge opens over the River Mersey in Latchford 
  • 1935 - All Warrington trams are replaced by bus routes
  • 1939 - RAF Padgate opens 
  • 1940 - RAF Burtonwood opens, and becomes the largest WW2 US Air Force Base in Europe (more than 6,500 local women became GI brides!)
  • 1945 - Walton Gardens opens to the public 
  • 1946 - Bruche Police Training Centre opens
  • 1954 - Warrington’s first female Mayor, Cllr Mary Hardman
  • 1955 - Warrington’s first female MP is elected, Edith Summerskill
  • 1957 - Wilderspool Bridge opens between Knutsford Road and St James’ Church
  • 1963 - The M6 Thelwall Viaduct opens over the Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal 
  • 1968 - Hilden in Germany becomes one of Warrington’s twin towns
  • 1972 - The Warrington New Town outline plan is published, and first houses built
  • 1974 - Warrington becomes part of Cheshire 
  • 1974 - Warrington Market moves to Bank Street, and the Golden Square opens 
  • 1987 - Ikea opens in Warrington, its first British store
  • 1993 - IRA bombings in Warrington 
  • 1995 - The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace is launched following the IRA bombings 
  • 1996 - V96, the first V Festival, is held at Victoria Park
  • 1998 - 107.2 Wire FM launches
  • 1998 - Warrington becomes an independent unitary authority
  • 1999 - Warrington-Worldwide, the first independent daily online newspaper in the UK, launches

The 2000s

In recent years, Warrington has proved itself to be a town of economic vitality and commercial acumen.  We’re almost right in the middle between Manchester and Liverpool, with the airports in easy reach.  The M6, M62 and M56 bring traffic in and out, and our two train stations cover the West Coast Main Line and the Liverpool-Manchester Line.

  • 2003 - Warrington Wolves play their last game at Wilderspool Stadium before moving to a purpose-built stadium on the site of the old Tetley-Walker Brewery
  • 2006 - The new Warrington Bus Interchange opens
  • 2007 - The redeveloped Golden Square shopping centres opens in the town centre
  • 2008 - The first English Half Marathon takes place in Warrington
  • 2012 - The Olympic Torch for the London 2012 games is carried through Warrington 
  • 2012 - HM The Queen visits Warrington and opens the Orford Jubilee Hub
  • 2013 - Warrington is a host town for the Rugby League World Cup
  • 2018 - For the first time, Warrington has both a female Mayor and female Deputy Mayor, Cllr Karen Mundry and Cllr Wendy Johnson
  • 2018 - The first Neighbourhood Weekender music festival is held at Victoria Park

Today Warrington has a population of about 209,000.  We have a thriving economy, a low unemployment rate and a high GVA, and we were ranked as one of the best places to live in the UK based on data for affordable housing, jobs, business, wellbeing, culture, transport and family life.

Warrington is a highly successful business location and a major centre of employment in the North West and the Northern Powerhouse. We’re home to the global, European and UK HQs of many high profile companies and our business base is particularly strong in nuclear energy, engineering, logistics and software.

Key people in Warrington’s history

From Old Billy, the world’s longest-lived horse, to notable scientists, philosophers, organ builders, friars, and more recently actors and radio hosts, there are many famous figures who were born, lived or died in Warrington.