Knowsley History - Kirkby | Huyton | Halewood | Stockbridge Village | Whiston | Prescot

The History of Knowsley - Liverpool City Region

Ford cars produced in the 70s at the Halewood factory - Liverpool City Region

The Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley is a metropolitan borough within the Liverpool City Region. Its major commercial centres are in Kirkby, Prescot and Huyton, the former being the headquarters for the borough. It has a combined population of over 150,000 people comprising of the towns and districts of Kirkby, Prescot, Huyton, Whiston, Halewood, Cronton and Stockbridge Village.
As a Metropolitan Borough it was formed in 1974 as part of the Metropolitan County of 'Merseyside', after the merger of Huyton-with-Roby Urban District, Kirkby Urban District and the Prescot Urban District. The village of Knowsley which the borough is named after is hundreds of years older than the neighbouring city of Liverpool, appearing in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Chenulveslei'. Later variations of the name include: Knuvesle (1199), Knouselegh (1258), Knouleslee (1261), Knusele (1262) and Knouslegh (1346). The Knowsley region has grown over the 20th century with the relocation of many families from the city of Liverpool. It has a predominantly scouse population with strong sporting ties to both of the major football teams within the city, Everton Football Club and Liverpool Football Club.
The area has proved to be a factory of talent for the country, with a gluttony of famous faces and football stars descending from the region. The 23 man England squad for the 2014 World Cup consisted of three players from Knowsley alone, Leighton Baines, Steven Gerrard and Rickie Lambert. Quite an extraordinary achievement, given that the population of England as a whole is around 52 million and Knowsley is just 151,000. If ever there was a statistic to highlight Knowsley's dominance in the footballing world, surely this is it!
Together with Ross Barkley and Wayne Rooney, there were a total of 5 players from the 23 man squad from the Liverpool City Region. Of course Knowsley doesn't just churn out exceptional footballers, a whole host of famous writers, actors, comedians, politicians and musicians have come from Knowsley. Indeed, there are plenty of reasons to stand tall and be proud of Knowsley!


The History of Huyton Town

Huyton railway station in the early seventies Huyton was first settled around 600ce by the Angles who were one of the main Germanic peoples to have settled in Britain after the Roman period. The settlement was founded on a low hill surrounded by the marshy land now known as the Huyton Wetlands. The name Huyton gives a clue as to its origins, with the first part of the name meaning a landing-place, most likely referring to the banks of the River Alt. Both Huyton and Roby are mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, with Huyton being spelt as 'Hitune'.
In the 1930's, the city of Liverpool designated a large area to the east of the city as an overspill area aimed at easing the congestion within the city boundaries. After purchasing a large area of land from the Earl of Derby's Knowsley estate, Liverpool City Council built the four large housing estates of Longview, Fincham, Huyton Farm and Woolfall Heath.


The History of Kirkby Town

Kirkby Town Centre The history of Kirkby dates back to 870ce, when it had a population of just 70 people and was known by the name 'Cherchebi'. The name Kirk-by is from the Old Norse word elements 'kirkja' and 'byr', it is believed to be of Danish origin meaning 'church' and 'settlement' or 'village'. Most of the early settlers to Kirkby arrived via Ireland around 900ce. The current size and scale of the town is a result of the Liverpool Corporation buying land in 1947, following the Liverpool Blitz. It was designated a new town in 1950 and quickly became one of the largest overspill estates for Merseyside. Large-scale development began in the February of 1950 with the construction of the Southdene neighbourhood. The town grew expedientally, making it by far the fastest growing community in the United Kingdom. From a population of a mere 3,000 back in 1951, rising to more than 52,000 just ten years later.


The History of Prescot Town

Prescot Museum in Knowsley Historically a part of Lancashire, the name Prescot is believed to be from Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning 'priest cottage'.
At the end of the 16th century and into the early years of the 17th century, Prescot was home to a purpose-built Shakespearean theatre called the Prescot Playhouse. Prescot is currently attempting to raise funds to rebuild the Elizabethan theatre.
In 2007, the 'Shakespeare North Trust' was founded to promote the historical connection with William Shakespeare - a subject that is currently being researched at Liverpool's John Moores University. During the 18th and 19th centuries it was at the centre of the watch and clock making industry. This ended with the failure of the Lancashire Watch Company in 1910.
In later years the BICC company was the primary industrial employer in the town. BICC ceased operations in Prescot in the early 1990s before the site was demolished and later cleared.
The land remained desolate until in 2000, when it was then regenerated into what is now known as Cable's Retail Park, the name of which is a reference to the BICC company and the history of the site on which it was built.


The History of Halewood

The Ford Anglia was the first car made in the Liverpool City Region

Halewood was mainly agricultural land until the 1960s, when it grew from the overflow of Liverpool. Today it has a scouse population of over twenty thousand people. It's had a rich car manufacturing heritage since 1963, when in its heyday employed around 9,000 people.
The giant factory has been produced a long line of popular vehicles like the Ford Anglias, Ford Corsairs, Ford Escort, the Jaguar Land Rover, the Land Rover Freelander, the Range Rover Evoque and the Jaguar X-Type. Gearboxes for the Ford Transit, Ford Fiesta and the Land Rover Defender are also built on the same site.
The town is served by 'Halewood Railway Station' which was opened in 1988. Recent developments within the town have improved the area, as the future of Halewood is certainly looking bright.


History of Whiston

Whiston's recorded history begins in the 13th century, but its roots are much older. A polished stone hand-axe, a relic of the Neolithic Age, was discovered there in 1941. In 1986, fragments of flint tools were also found on a local farm. The village gave its name to and formerly administered the Whiston Rural District, which operated under the county of Lancashire from 1895 until 1974. This ceased to exist upon local government boundary changes and the formation of the Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley. Whiston has strong ties with the coal industry and was well known for its coal mines. In 1843, the original Whiston Hospital was built when the Prescot Poor Law Union established the Prescot Union Workhouse on Warrington Road. The hospital has been extended and rebuilt several times, first in 1871 with a medical isolation unit added for cases of cholera and other serious infectious diseases in 1887. More recently in 2013, a six year construction was completed at a cost of over £300 million - money well spent as the hospital is of vital importance to the city region and beyond.


History of Stockbridge Village (Cantril Farm)

The district was built in the 1960s as Cantril Farm to rehouse some 15,000 people from inner-city slum clearances, and consisted of mainly council-owned properties which included several high-rise blocks of flats.
A view of the high-rise flats in Stockbridge Village It was part of a deal to rehouse some 200,000 people from inner-city Liverpool in new residential areas beyond the city's borders, with other families from inner-city Liverpool moving to other overspill places like Leasowe, Huyton, Kirkby, Halewood, Skelmersdale and later, Runcorn New Town. A total of nine tower blocks were built in the late 1960s, however 4 of them have since been demolished and the remaining 5 have been refurbished in a multi million pound regeneration project.