A brief History of Halton
Links between the two towns of Widnes and Runcorn stretch back 900 years to the early 12th century when land on both sides of the river formed part of the Halton Barony
Citizens from the Widnes area had to pay taxes at Halton Castle in Runcorn and a ferry service soon linked the two settlements.
Around the mid-19th century, the British chemical industry began in Widnes utilising Lancashire coal and Cheshire salt. Factories developed on both sides of the river and trade, labour and skills quickly became interlinked. As a result of this, in 1868 the London to Liverpool railway opened, followed in 1905 by a transporter bridge to carry road traffic and pedestrians. These constructions reinforced the links between the two towns which were increased even further when the borough’s current major landmark, the Silver Jubilee Bridge, opened in 1961.
The bridge is listed for its architectural importance and is reminiscent of the Sydney Harbour Bridge! The next landmark on the skyline is now being built, the Mersey Gateway – a major scheme to build a new six lane toll bridge over the Mersey between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes that will relieve congestion, create new jobs, increase journey time reliability and be the catalyst for regeneration. It is due to open in 2017.
Located within the M56 & M62 corridors, Halton is ideally situated at the heart of the region’s motorway network formed by Liverpool, Manchester & Chester
Transport within the Borough is made easy by the modern network of roads and expressways. Halton has a unique system
of 17km of dedicated Busway serving the major employment and residential areas. Located within the M56 & M62 corridors, Halton is ideally situated at the heart of the region’s motorway network. Two railway stations, Runcorn Mainline & Runcorn East, provide fast and frequent services throughout the UK. Commuters can be in Liverpool in 20 minutes, Manchester in 40 minutes and London in
less than 2 hours. There are also regular connections to Birmingham, Chester, Crewe, and North Wales.
Halton is ideally located between Manchester International Airport and Liverpool John Lennon Airport, one of Europe’s fastest growing regional airports. Plus its proximity to Liverpool and Birkenhead means that ferries to Ireland and the Isle of Man make those journeys
easily accessible. Liverpool Cruise Terminal is fast earning a reputation as a desirable embarkation point for those who prefer travelling from closer to home. An increasing number of cruise lines now include the city as their UK departure point. The construction of the Mersey Gateway, a major scheme to build a new six lane toll bridge over the Mersey, is estimated to be complete by 2017. This landmark structure, named as one of the world’s most important infrastructure projects, will bring about much needed traffic relief for the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge. It will also provide a major strategic new transport route linking the Liverpool City Region, north Cheshire and the North West to the rest of the country.
Hours to London by Train
Minutes to Liverpool by Train
Minutes to Manchester by Train
Construction work has now started on the new Mersey Gateway Bridge which will provide a crucial new road link between Runcorn and Widnes The Merseylink team started work in April 2014 and the new bridge should be open to traffic by autumn 2017. Both the new Mersey Gateway Bridge and the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge will be tolled once the new bridge opens, but they will be free for Halton residents to cross*. The Mersey Gateway Project is a major scheme to build a new six-lane toll bridge over the Mersey between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes that will relieve the congested and ageing Silver Jubilee Bridge.
Housing in Halton
The Borough offers an abundance of housing to suit all budgets ranging from apartments and smaller 2/3 bedroomed homes to new build providing 3 and 4 bedroom luxury detached houses
House prices in Halton are well below the national average for England and also beneath the average for the whole of the Northwest making Halton an attractive proposition when buying a home. The average price of a house overall in Halton is £143,400, with the Council ward of Riverside in Widnes providing the cheapest at an average of £68,300 for a terraced house, and Birchfield ward, also in
Widnes, providing the most expensive at an average of £268,700 for a detached.
A buoyant rental market also exists starting at around £400 per month for a 2 bedroom terrace house up to £800 per month for a family sized 3 bedroom semi-detached. Halton has a comprehensive social housing strategy with a number of Registered Social Landlords (RSL).
Halton Housing Trust (HHT) is the largest RSL in the Borough. This forward thinking and dynamic not- for- profit housing association owns and manages 6,400 homes throughout Runcorn and Widnes. It provides many different types of homes ranging from semi-detached houses, flats and maisonettes to more specialist bungalows specifically designed for older people.
Education in Halton
All age groups are well provided for within the education system in Halton. There is a well-established pathway from youngsters taking their first steps into a nursery environment through to college students deciding on their future careers.
There are over 30 day nurseries spread across Widnes and Runcorn. There are also eight children’s centres providing many different children and family services including activities for parents, parents-to-be, their babies, toddlers, young children and the rest of the family.
Halton excels at providing good education for young people of all ages. There are 22 primary schools, six high schools and three providers for the 16-18 age group.
Halton GCSE results are now consistently above the Regional and National rates. The majority of primary schools also perform well above the national average in the core subjects of English, Maths and Reading with an average of 80% of all pupils achieving Level 4 or above.
further education college serving the borough of Halton and the surrounding areas. The College has this year been ranked as the top performing College in the country on all three of the Department of Education’s vocational performance measures, following the achievement of 100% vocational pass rates and 72% triple distinctions results for its students.
Cronton Sixth Form College’s A level results also rank within the top 7% nationally with a 99.2% pass rate and 80% high grades achieved in the summer of 2014.
Riverside College’s Kingsway Campus is home to a wide range of full and part time vocational courses and apprenticeships, from foundation to degree level study. At Cronton Sixth Form College, students can choose to study from a vast range of full time A level and vocational programmes.
In recent years, significant investment has transformed both Colleges into truly inspiring places of learning, providing the latest equipment and technologies in order to prepare students for the modern workplace. Facilities include state of the art theatres, studios, laboratories, sports hall and gym, and a brand new Engineering and Construction Skills Centre which was officially opened in 2015.
The College works with a wide range of local and national employers and universities to provide exceptional opportunities for its students during their course such as work experience, trips, visits and master classes. This maximises opportunities for students to progress onto exciting degrees and careers.
Help for employers and employees
Halton Employment Partnership (HEP) is a strategic level Partnership which brings together expertise from various employment, learning and skills development agencies in Halton and can support inward investors and local businesses with a ‘complete employment offer’. One prime aim is to assist with recruitment and training and it offers tailored support for large and small scale recruitment projects. It also has a brief to ensure that inward investors and local businesses have a readily available and skilled workforce.
Additionally, entrepreneurs can be assisted with business start-up support. HEP includes various Halton Borough Council departments, Job Centre Plus, Riverside College, the Chamber of Commerce, Local Housing Trust, private and voluntary sector training providers, National Apprenticeship Service and Skills Funding Agency.
HBC Divisional Manager
Employment, Learning & Skills
Tel: 0151 511 8382
Health in Halton
Halton is fortunate to be served by no less than 5 modern, state of the art hospitals
- Halton General Hospital, Runcorn
- Cheshire and Merseyside Treatment Centre (CMTC)
- Warrington NHS Foundation Trust Hospital (Warrington)
- Halton’s Clinics and Walk-In Centres
General surgery, orthopaedic surgery, urology, minor injuries (not accident and emergency), endoscopy, step down care, cancer care, programmed investigations unit, renal dialysis, chemotherapy and cancer support, genito-urinary medicine and a full range of outpatient services. Support services include:
- Occupational therapy, physiotherapy, dietetics, outpatient services, diagnostic services, radiology and a range of specialist nursing services
- There are around 50 inpatient beds at Halton Hospital – and a further 40 beds at the Cheshire and Merseyside NHS Treatment Centre (CMTC) located on the hospital campus
- Over 1,000 staff provide care from the Halton site
- Around 225 operations a week were carried out at Halton over the last year
- There are four specialist operating theatres at the hospital – and a further four orthopaedic surgery theatres at CMTC
- A 24 bed intermediate care ward provides services for patients requiring basic care and support before being sent home from hospital
- Runcorn Urgent Care Centre – this replaced the existing Minor Injuries unit in February 2015 and is open from 7.00am until 10.00pm, every day of the year. It is a single point of access to urgent care services, reducing the need for some patients to travel to A&E. The aim is to initially assess more than 95% of patients in less than 15 minutes.
- Endoscopy unit – a new £500k opened in February 2015 allowing patients to have gastrointestinal endoscopies locally
- Macmillan Delamere Unit – a £1 million refurbishment has created a state-ofthe-art cancer support and information centre
- Renal dialysis unit – this provides 12 dialysis stations for up to 60 local patients CANtreat cancer centre – the trust worked with the cancer charity CANtreat to develop a new chemotherapy centre that allows more local people to receive their care closer to home
- The hospital has been entirely free of MRSA infection over the last six years
Home of orthopaedic surgery and treatment services located just across from the main Halton General building
- The state-of-the-art centre provides surgery ranging from hand and foot operations through to spinal back surgery and hip replacement operations and sports injuries
- Four operating theatres for hip, bone and joint surgery and treatments
- A 44 bed main ward in a mix of single-rooms and four-bedded bays
- A day ward for day case surgery
- Full outpatient clinic and physiotherapy centre
- MRI, CT, x-ray and ultrasound scanning
There are around 500 beds at Warrington Hospital (located less than 6 miles from Widnes)
- Around 3,000 staff work across the wards and departments
- It is a designated trauma unit and the accident and emergency department sees over 100,000 patients every year
- Over 3,000 babies are born each year in the maternity unit
- Infection rates have reduced by over 90% since 2007
- Dementia care – the new £1 million
- specialist Forget Me Not ward opened in May 2014 for patients who need expert care services
- Intensive care – this £7 million unit is one of the most state-of-the-art in the region and means that critical care and high dependency care can be provided for to up to 20 patients
- Labour Ward – redesigned in 2013, it provides en-suite rooms, active birthing rooms and an area where partners can stay overnight
- A&E – around £2 million has been invested to create more capacity, increased staffing levels and provision of a full acute medical unit
There are eight Clinics/Walk- In Centres located in Widnes with a similar number in Runcorn. Crow Wood Health Park specialises in paediatric consultant services for those living in Widnes.
Widnes Health Care Resource Centre
- This state of the art modern health centre is home to several GP’s surgeries, physiotherapists, phlebotomists, podiatrists and provides treatment of minor injuries and illnesses, facilitating referrals elsewhere as appropriate.
- There are over eight GP surgeries in Widnes alone, most providing a minimum of four, and in some cases, up to ten doctors available for consultation.
- In addition to routine medical care, many provide additional clinics and services; ante natal, diabetes, well person, sexual
health and travel clinics. A similar number exists in Runcorn supported by two modern Health Centres; in the town centre (St Pauls Health Centre) and at Castlefields. Widnes also has four Health Centres and a modern Walk-In Centre.
Lifestyle in Halton
Those who either live or work in Halton have amenities, attractions and activities in abundance.The area offers endless opportunities
to enjoy the outdoors, with three canals and miles of footpaths right on the doorstep.
From shopping parks to Green Flag award winning parks, rugby to rambling, medieval ruins to a state of the art theatre, there are certainly many diverse opportunities to be explored throughout the area. There is no need to go out of the borough to find ideas to fill valuable leisure time.
In Widnes, The Hive is a big success with a brownfield site transformed into a high quality leisure park with a 5 screen cinema, bowling alley, ice rink and restaurants. At Select Security Stadium, rugby fans can enjoy watching Widnes Vikings, a club with a long and proud heritage in rugby league.
Over in Runcorn, there is a cinema, the award winning Brindley theatre and even a Snowsports Centre.
The picturesque villages of Hale and Daresbury hold their own surprises; one of the thatched cottages in Hale was once home to England’s tallest man, 9 3” John Middleton and Daresbury’s most famous resident was the famous children’s author, Lewis Carroll. Both areas also offer scenic walks; ambling along the Mersey coastline at Hale or wandering through the lush Cheshire countryside surrounding Daresbury.
Nature lovers are catered for with plenty of bird watching locations, nature reserves and sites of special scientific interest (SSI’s) on both sides of the bridge. Culture vultures can wander in the footsteps of ancient abbots amongst the medieval ruins at Norton Priory Museum and Gardens and also experience the intricacies of science at Catalyst Science Discovery Centre.
Shopping options are plentiful. There are big brand names at Runcorn Shopping Centre and Widnes Shopping Park and innumerable independent traders throughout both town centres. Runcorn has a weekly outdoor market and Widnes Market is renowned for its friendly atmosphere and variety of stalls, both indoor and out.
Eating out is easy, with plenty of options for all ages, budgets and tastes. National chains such as Frankie & Benny’s, Nando’s and Brewer’s Fayre can be found at The Hive, with lots of smaller, independent cafes and restaurants dotted throughout Widnes & Runcorn town centres. The Brindley café, for example, overlooks the Bridgewater Canal and is a great place to relax, enjoy a homemade cake and watch the boats pass by. Many of the pubs, such as the Ring O’Bells in Widnes and The Prospect in Runcorn, are renowned locally for their food and regularly hold special themed nights offering different cuisines.
For those who do want to venture further afield, the stunning scenery of North Wales and the Lake District is within one hour’s drive. Chester, Liverpool, Warrington and Manchester can all be reached in half an hour and offer their own sporting, shopping and cultural opportunities.
Chester is surrounded by its City Walls, the oldest, longest and most complete in Britain with parts that are almost 2000 years old. Its Amphitheatre is the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain and you can often see Roman centurions marching through the city leading tours and school parties.
The city is renowned for its independentstores which sit alongside global brands. Many are situated on The Rows which are completely unique in the world to Chester. Continuous half-timbered galleries, reached by steps, form a second row of shops above those at street level and nobody is quite sure why they were built in this way.
Chester Zoo is the largest zoo in Britain and the first in Britain to be built without cages and bars. Its new £40m ‘Islands’ zone is the “biggest and most ambitious” development in the history of UK zoos, enabling visitors to explore the habitats of six exotic South East Asian islands.
With its unique attractions, exciting events, world class sport offerings, unrivalled musical heritage and some of the best shopping in the North West, Liverpool has something to cater for everyone’s taste.
With the largest collection of museums and galleries anywhere outside of the Capital, Liverpool’s culture and heritage are at the very heart of the city. Boasting a truly iconic, UNESCO world heritage waterfront and skyline, what better way to experience it than aboard a Mersey Ferry?
The magnificent Albert Dock forms part of the UNESCO site and is one of Britain’s top heritage attractions. Apart from being the UK’s largest group of Grade1 listed buildings, it is home to award winning visitor attractions including the Beatles Story, International Slavery Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum and Tate Liverpool.
Shoppers are spoilt for choice between gleaming new city-centre shopping centres, boutique arcades, bohemian streets and farmers markets.
Liverpool ONE, right in the heart of the city, is the huge open-air shopping district that is home to more than 160 famous high street and designer names, including the only Beauty Bazaar Harvey Nichols in the country.
The exclusive Metquarter and the ultra-fashionable Cavern Walks are the place to find designer names such as Armani and Vivienne Westwood.
Bold Street, with its eclectic independent stores, has been rated by Lonely Planet as one of the best shopping streets in the country.
The busy town of Warrington is only a 15 minute drive from both Widnes & Runcorn and there are also excellent train links. It is currently undergoing huge redevelopment around the town centre and waterfront area, with plans for a new market hall, a 2,000-seat multiplex cinema, a new council office and a public square.
It has plenty of shopping opportunities such as the Golden Square shopping centre which has all the big brand names alongside smaller boutiques selling everything from clothing to stationery. Warrington also has a traditional market.
For culture lovers, Warrington Museum & Art Gallery has over 200,000 objects and pieces of art under one roof. Families are catered for at their very own theme park, Gulliver’s World, and Speedkarting. Warrington is the largest indoor go-karting circuit in the UK.
Green Flag award winning Walton Gardens is set around an Elizabethan style hall, often used as a film location. One of the park’s most popular attractions is the children’s free zoo which has a wide variety of friendly residents including chipmunks, red squirrels and ponies.
There is also a lively night-time economy with lots of bars and restaurants in the town centre.