Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for NORTHWICH

NORTHWICH, a town, a township, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred, in Cheshire. The town stands on Watling-street, on the river Weaver, at the influx of the Dane, on a line of railway from a junction with the Manchester and Chester line near Altrincham to another junction with it at Helsby, 1½ mile S of the Grand Trunk canal, 2 E N E of the Hartford station of the Grand Junction railway, and 18 E N E of Chester. It is notable for great salt springs, supposed to have been known and used long before the Christian era; it was called by the ancient Britons Black Salt Town; and it takes its present name from its relative situation to other "wiches" or salt towns in Cheshire. It was held by the royalists, and taken from them, in 1643; but, as to its general history, it has always figured mainly and very prominently as a salt town. Its site is underlain and surrounded with deep salt mines; and its outskirts, all round, are studded with spacious, low-walled, lofty-chimneyed buildings, where the brine is evaporated in long, wide, shallow ironpans. Its streets are narrow and irregularly built; many of its houses are of considerable antiquity; and not a few of them have gradually subsided, as if they had been visited by an earthquake, or are screwed and bolted together to keep them secure. A subsidence of the land, even to the creating of large fissures, goes slowly on, inconsequence of the formation of great subterranean cavities by the pumping of brine from depths of 105 and 120 feet, combined with the effects of super incumbent pressure; and, in no great length of time, if the salt-works continue to be prosecuted with the same vigour as in years past, the subsidence will sink much of the town and of its neighbourhood to a level beneath that of thewaters of the Weaver. A corn mill in the vicinity fell, some years ago, in consequence of the subsidence; and a public house adjoining the site of the mill, sank so muchthat the ground floor became cellars and the upper floorbecame the ground floor. The town, in a strict sense, lies all within Northwich township; but, in a larger sense, itincludes, in the way of suburbs, the townships of Castle-Northwich, Leftwich, Witton-cum-Twambrooks, and Winnington. It is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, a polling-place, and the head of an excise collection; it has a head post-office, ‡ a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, three chief inns, a police station, a town hall, a market house, three churches, six dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, a free grammarschool, three national schools, a Wesleyan day school, a public institution and reading-room, a dispensary, and some charities; and it publishes a weekly newspaper. The police station stands in Cross-street, is a small brickbuilding, and has three cells. The town hall stands in Crown-street, and is used for the sessions and county courts. The market house stands between Market-streetand Apple-market, was built in 1843, and is large and commodious. St. Paul's church is at Danebridge, in Leftwich; was built in 1849, at a cost of about £2, 300; is in the early English style; and consists of nave, aisles, chancel, and porch. St. Helen's church is in Witton; is partly ancient, of early English date; has a semicircular chancel, recently rebuilt and very ornate; comprises nave and aisles, with embattled tower: and contains a handsome stone pulpit. Holy Trinity church is in Castle-Northwich township; was built in 1843, for the use of the bargemen and boatmen on the Weaver navigation; and is sometimes called Watermen's church. The Independent chapel stands in Castle-street, and is ornamental. The Roman Catholic chapel stands in Witton-street, on one of the highest sites in the town; was built in 1866, at a cost of £1, 545; and consists of nave, aisles, chancel, side chapel, N and S porches, and sacristy. A weekly market is held on Friday; and fairs areheld on 10 April, 2 Aug., and 6 Dec. About 300,000 tons of white and rock salt are annually exported from Northwich, and about 384,000 tons from Winsford, about 6 miles to the S. The white salt is sent chiefly to America, partly also and increasingly to India; and a considerable inland salt trade also is carried on. About 400 flats are employed in conveying salt to Liverpool and other places; and vessels of 200 tons' burden can come up the Weaver to the town bridge, while vessels of equal capacity, which lower their masts, can go up to Winsford. A deepening and widening of the river, with the view of enabling vessels of several hundred tons to come up to the town, was in progress in 1867. The W part of the railway line through Northwich, or the part thence to Helsby, was only in course of formationin 1867. The largest salt mine, called the Marston-Rock mine, is about 360 feet in depth; has an excavatedarea of about 30 acres; is interspersed with rock-pillars 30 feet in diameter, 16 feet high, and at distances of about 50 feet from one another, for supporting the roof; was the scene of a splendid banquet to the members of the British Association, coming to it from Liverpool, when coloured lights and upwards of 4,000 candles were used to illuminate it; was visited also by the late Emperor of Russia; and, when blastings occur, is perceptibly shaken from end to end, and emits sounds resembling loud thunder. Gas-works stand on Crumb hill, were established in 1836, and have two large gasometers.

The township is in Great Budworth parish, comprises 200 acres, and is nearly all edificed. Real property, £4, 662; of which £421 are in the gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 1, 377; in 1861, 1, 190. Houses, 229. Watermen's church is a separate charge, in the diocese of Chester; but has not assigned to it any definite population. Value, £150. Patron, the Bishop of Chester.—The sub-district contains the Great Budworth townships of Northwich, Castle-Northwich, Witton-cum-Twam-brooks, Winnington, Cogshall, Comberbach, Marbury, Marston, Wincham, Lostock-Gralam, Nether Peover, Allostock, Hulse, Birches, and Anderton; and the Davenham townships of Leftwich and Shurlach. Acres, 12, 473. Pop., 12, 941. Houses, 2, 713. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Weaverham, containing the Weaverham and Whitegate township of Weaverham, the Weaverham and Great Budworth township of Hartford, the Weaverham townships of Cuddington, Wallerscoat, Ouston, Crowton, and Acton, and the Delamere townships of Delamere, Eddisbury, and Oakmere; the sub-district of Over, containing the Over and White-gate township of Over, the Over township of Low Oulton, the Whitegate townships of Marton and Darnhall, the parish of Little Budworth, the Middlewich townships of Weaver, Wimboldsley, and Clive, and the Davenham townships of Wharton, Moulton, and Eaton; and the sub-district of Middlewich, containing the Middlewich townships of Middlewich, Newton, Sutton, Occlestone, Kinderton-with-Hulme, Mooresbarrow-with-Parme, Sproston, Ravenscroft, Croxton, Stublach, and by ley-with-Yatehouse, the Davenham townships of Davenham, Rudheath, Shipbrook, Newhall, Whatcroft, Bostock, and Stanthorne, the Great Budworth township of Lach-Dennis, and the Sandbach township of Goostrey-with-Barnshaw. Acres, 65, 445. Poor rates in 1863, £12,084. Pop. in 1851, 31, 202; in 1861, 33, 338. Houses, 6, 925. Marriages in 1863, 250; births, 1, 396, of which 132 were illegitimate; deaths, 790, of which355 were at ages under 5 years, and 18 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 2,009; births, 12, 209: deaths, 7, 192. The places of worship, in 1851were 21 of the Church of England, with 9, 998 sittings; 4 of Independents, with 1, 130 s.; 2 of Baptists, with 250 s.; 1 of Quakers, the s. not reported; 1 of Unitarians, with 30 attendants; 21 of Wesleyan Methodists, with3, 357 s.; 1 of New Connexion Methodists, with 108 s.; 11 of Primitive Methodists, with 1, 363 s.; 17 of the Wesleyan Association, with 2, 413 s.; 1 of Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, with 200 s.; 1 of Roman Catholics, with 100 s.; and 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 36 attendants. The schools were 36 public day schools, with3, 657 scholars; 50 private day schools, with 1, 209 s.; 46 Sunday schools, with 4, 473 s.; and 2 evening schoolsfor adults, with 17 s. The workhouse is in Leftwich; and, at the census of 1861, had 110 inmates. The hundred contains 5 parishes, and parts of four others; and iscut into the divisions of Congleton and Middlewich. Acres of thediv., 40, 348. Pop. in 1851, 15, 864. Houses, 2, 970. Acres of the M. div., 29, 540. Pop. in 1851, 17, 182. Houses, 3, 437. Pop. of both in 1861, 47, 208. Houses, 9, 700.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a township, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Northwich CP/Tn       Northwich PLU/RegD       Cheshire AncC
Place names: BLACK SALT TOWN     |     NORTHWICH
Place: Northwich

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.