A history of Frodsham in photographs

PUBLISHED: 00:01 13 February 2014

The Quay, Frodsham Bridge, 1900 to 1913, the railway viaduct towers over the white cottages on the quayside.

The Quay, Frodsham Bridge, 1900 to 1913, the railway viaduct towers over the white cottages on the quayside.

Archant

In its long history, Frodsham has been a port, a market town, a summer playground and a place with more than its fair share of famous residents

Frodsham Manor was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, and in 1209 the Earl of Chester granted a charter making it a borough.

Ancient history perhaps, but that latter event, over 800 years ago, still shapes the Frodsham of today. Burgage plots of one acre apiece were marked out along Main Street, and buildings stand on those original plots. The Golden Lion pub, for instance, can trace its history back to a plot designated in 1361.

Another pub boasting centuries of history is the Bear’s Paw, built from local sandstone in 1632 as one of several coaching inns

More of Frodsham’s long history later, but it’s worth bearing in mind that perhaps the greatest change wrought to Frodsham - a population explosion - has happened in much more recent times.

‘Between the 1960s and 1980s, 3,500 people moved in to Frodsham. We have got just over 9,000 people there now,’ says Kate Dodgson, who works for Frodsham Foundation, promoting enterprise in the town. ‘When ICI, BICC and Shell were expanding, an awful lot of those workers moved into Frodsham, so a lot of properties are ‘60s and ‘70s builds. Obviously that’s had a knock-on effect on the town’s demographic. We have this bubble of people around the same age. We have a hugely ageing population.’

Back to the Middle Ages, Frodsham became a thriving market town and trading centre. A market was established in 1661, continuing to this day every Thursday.

Salt exports, among other things, kept Frodsham Quay busy for centuries. The River Weaver made this an important port, and a small dockyard developed on the west bank of the river, at its busiest during the Napoleonic Wars.

‘The Weaver used to come right up to Ship Street,’ says Kate. ‘The oldest properties in Frodsham are tiny fishermen’s cottages on The Knoll. The water levels have changed quite a lot. 
All the marshes are pumped to keep 
them dry.’

The 19th century saw much civil engineering activity in the area, with the railway arriving in the 1850s, the bridging of the Weaver and the completion of the Manchester Ship Canal.

While larger towns and cities built smoky factories, Frodsham never developed into an industrial town. Perhaps that is why it remained an attractive place to 
live for those who had made their money from the Industrial Revolution, people such as Oldham cotton man Edward Abbott Wright, who bought Castle Park, built on the site of the former Frodsham Castle, in 1861. The house is now owned by Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Other notable buildings in Frodsham include St Laurence’s Church, another sandstone building with a history stretching back to the 12th century, and the facade of the otherwise demolished Trinity Methodist Church.

But one structure still dear in many memories is the helter skelter which stood from 1908 to 1977 in the ‘pleasure grounds’ on Overton Hill.

‘It used to be the highest helter skelter in the country. There were swinging boats and donkey rides and people really did come from miles around to Frodsham,’ says Kate. ‘In 1963, the Beatles played at the Mersey View, next to the helter skelter, which was big on the cabaret circuit.’

Many thanks to the Frodsham and District History Society Image Archive for these pictures. You can browse the archive and buy prints by going to www.frodshamhistoricimages.co.uk

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