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Cheshire (or archaically the County of Chester) is a palatine county in North West England. Its county town is the city of Chester. It borders the ceremonial counties of Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, Staffordshire (with Stoke-on-Trent), and Shropshire. It also borders the current unitary authorities of Flintshire and Wrexham in Wales.
Cheshire's largest town is Warrington, however the administrative centre for Cheshire is Chester, the historical county town. This is partly because Warrington is a unitary authority, and therefore, officially, an administrative county on its own. Other important towns in Cheshire are: Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Macclesfield, Runcorn and Widnes.
Cheshire in the Domesday Book was recorded as a much larger county than it is today. Its northern border was the River Ribble, and it was recorded with eighteen hundreds, six of which were north of the River Mersey.
In 1182 the land north of the Mersey became administered as part of the new county of Lancashire instead. Later, the hundreds of Atiscross and Exestan became part of Wales. Over the years the ten hundreds consolidated to just seven — Broxton, Bucklow, Eddisbury, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Northwich, and Wirral.
In a local government reform in 1974, some areas near the border with Lancashire became part of the new metropolitan counties of Greater Manchester and Merseyside, notably Stockport, and much of The Wirral Peninsula was also lost, as was the North-Eastern tip, comprising the areas of Woodhead and Tintwistle,which transferred into Derbyshire. Also at this time, Cheshire regained Warrington and the surrounding district from Lancashire, as well as Widnes.
Halton and Warrington became unitary authorities independent of Cheshire on April 1, 1998, but remain part of the county for ceremonial purposes, as well as fire and policing. A referendum for a further local government reform connected with a regional assembly was planned for 2004, but was abandoned.
Cheshire covers a boulder clay plain separating the hills of North Wales and the Peak District of Derbyshire. This was formed following the retreat of ice age glaciers which left the area dotted with kettle holes, locally referred to as meres. The bedrock of this region is almost entirely Triassic sandstone, outcrops of which have long been quarried, notably at Runcorn, providing the distinctive red stone for Liverpool Cathedral and Chester Cathedral.
The eastern half of the county is Upper Triassic Mercia mudstone laid down with large salt deposits which were mined for hundreds of years around Northwich. Separating this area from Lower Triassic Sherwood sandstone to the west is a prominent Sandstone Ridge. A 51km footpath follows this ridge from Frodsham to Whitchurch passing Delamere Forest, Beeston Castle and earlier iron age forts.
Cheshire is a mainly rural county with a high concentration of villages. Most of the industry is in the North adjacent to the Mersey, notably the centre of the British chemical industry, including ICI at Runcorn (originally sited here because of the proximity of salt mines). Crewe was once the centre of the British railway industry and remains a major junction. Towns in the east of Cheshire form Manchester's most affluent commuter belt with some of the UK's highest property prices outside the Home Counties. Cheshire is rich in canals, particularly the east of the county with its strategic importance between Manchester, Stoke and Birmingham. The Rochdale, Ashton, Peak Forest, Macclesfield, Trent and Mersey and Bridgewater canals have been restored for leisure use, forming the "Cheshire Ring".
This is a list of the major towns and cities in Cheshire.
Places of Interest
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