St.Helens History - St.Helens | Newton-le-Willows | Rainhill | Haydock | Eccleston | Rainford

The History of St.Helens - Liverpool City Region

The Rocket Steam Locomotive by George Stephenson was the Winner of the Rainhill Trials

The Metropolitan Borough of St Helens is one of the six boroughs that make up the Liverpool City Region. St Helens was officially incorporated as a 'Municipal Borough' in 1868, when it became responsible for the administration of four townships consisting of Eccleston, Parr, Sutton and Windle. Eleven years later it became a 'County Borough' up until 1974, when it became a 'Metropolitan Borough' within the County of Merseyside.
The Metropolitan Borough of St.Helens consists of the town of St Helens, Newton-le-Willows, Rainhill, Haydock, Eccleston, Rainford and Billinge.
The town of St Helens which bares the name of the borough was first documented in 1552, however other areas that now make up the borough are much older - even dating back to the Domesday Book of 1086. Many of these original Parishes, Townships and local areas are named after the families that owned the land between the 11th and 18th century. With the Parr family owning the manor of Parr throughout the 11th and 13th centuries, and the Ecclestone family owning the Eccleston township from 1100 right up until the 1700's, when they moved to Southport.
The area rapidly developed during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, quickly developing itself as a significant centre for coal mining, locomotive manufacturing and glassmaking.
Today, along with its proud tradition of making quality glass, the borough is well known for its Rugby League, with St Helens RFC being a major team in the world of rugby.


The History of St.Helens Town

St Helens did not exist as a town in its own right until as late as the middle of the 19th century. Areas that are now encompassed within the town have a history dating back much further. Windle was first recorded in 1201 as 'Windhull', Bold in 1212 was called 'Bolde' and Parr named as 'Parre' in 1246. An old image of the Town Hall in St Helens The town has a complex evolution spurred on by rapid population growth in the region during the period of the Industrial Revolution. In the 17th and 19th centuries St Helens grew from a small collection of houses to a village, before finally becoming the significant urban centre of the four primary Manors and surrounding townships that make up the modern Town.
Today St Helens stands proud as a town on the up, with many of its old industrial areas regenerated or in the midst of regeneration. Following the launch of the 'Brand New St Helens' project in 2007, it has seen a lot of change in recent years, with the George Street Quarter regeneration and the creation of 'Langtree Park'.
It is viewed by many as the 'Heartlands of Rugby', with a history dating back some 160 years. It is home to both the former world champions of Rugby League 'St Helens RFC' and Rugby Union team 'Liverpool St Helens FC'.


The History of Newton-le-Willows Town

Although Newton-le-Willows is an ancient town having been mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, it has had several diffent names throughout the years, often referred to as 'Neweton', 'Newton', 'Newton-le-Willows' and 'Newton in Makerfield'. The Vulcan Foundry led to the purpose built Vulcan Village in south Newton-le-Willows Newton was named from the Old English word for an enclosure, farmstead or village. Makerfield is an ancient name for the district name from a pre-English Macer meaning a wall and the Old English feld meaning open land. Neweton was mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Makerfield was added to distinguish it from other Newtons and recorded as Makeresfeld in 1205 and 1351, as Makefeld in 1206, Makerefeld in 1213 and Makerfield since 1242. It was an agricultural village, albeit with borough status, until the arrival of the railways in 1830. There was some industry before then, with five cotton spinners recorded in an 1825 directory. However, it was the railways that drove up the population, affecting Earlestown to the west mainly, which has been the fastest-growing area of the town, transforming what was once a small village into the world's first 'railway town'.
In 1894 the town's name changed again, becoming 'Newton in Makerfield' before eventually being named 'Newton-le-Willows' in 1939 - which it has remained ever since.


The History of Rainhill

Rainhill rightfully celebrating its proud heritage as the birthplace of the locomotive The name Rainhill has been recorded since Norman times and is believed to come from the Old English personal name of Regna or Regan. After 'Roger of Rainhill' died in 1246, the township was divided into two parts, with each of his daughters being given a side each. One half was centred on the now standing Rainhill Manor public house in Rainhill Stoops, and the other centred on Rainhill Hall, just off Blundell's Lane. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the birth of the locomotive, Rainhill rose to world fame as the site of the Rainhill Trials in 1829, in which a number of railway locomotives were entered in a competition to decide a suitable design for use on the new Liverpool and Manchester Railway - the worlds first passenger railway. The winner was the Rocket, designed by the 'Father of Railways' himself, George Stephenson. The 150th anniversary of the trials was celebrated in 1979 by a cavalcade of trains through the ages, including replicas of the winner and runner-up in the trials.


The History of Haydock

Haydock Park Racecourse is home to the Old Newton Cup

Haydock is a large village in the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens with a population of approximately 12,000 people. The name Haydock is derived from the Celtic name heidd and -aco, meaning 'Wheat Barley' and 'Place' respectively. Another source also refers to the village as Heidiog. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries coal was the main industry in the village, this continued until the 'Wood Pit' colliery was closed in 1971. Today Haydock is most famous for its racecourse Haydock Park, home to the 'Old Newton Cup', which is the world's oldest continually competed for trophy, with a history dating back over 250 years. Haydock Park Racecourse replaced the old Newton le Willows course after it was closed in 1890. St Helens oldest community run organisation is 'The Haydock Brass Band' which was formed back in 1861 and is still going strong today.


History of Eccleston

Church Lane in Eccleston The name Eccleston means 'Church Farm' or 'Settlement and derives from the Welsh Celtic word 'Eglwys'. It is suggested that the name is connected with the adjoining town of Prescot which has had a church there for over a thousand years. The present Eccleston Hall dates from the 1820s but there have been halls on the site from the late mediaeval period. The Eccleston family were Lords of the Manor of Eccleston, owning the township between the 12th and 18th century.
Another famous resident was the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Richard John Seddon. The son of a local school headmaster, he was born in Eccleston and attended a local grammar school there before moving first to Australia at just 16 years of age, then later on to New Zealand four years later.


History of Rainford

Historically a part of Lancashire, Rainford formerly constituted an urban district. It is unknown when the village was founded, but its earliest record dates back to 1189. Rainford is well known for its industrial past, as a major manufacturer of clay smoking pipes and as a coal mining village, the latter continuing up until the Second World War.