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The Urbanisation of Ellesmere Port

A Brief History of Ellesmere port

Ellesmere Port and Whitby are really similar in one way or another. Whitby is a Norse name meaning white farm house, suggesting that there was a white house in some part of Whitby, this however was not mentioned in the Domesday Book. It was part of the parish of Eastham, although the villages of Hooton, Great Sutton and Little Sutton were mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Whitby Tithe Map

Ellesmere Port
and Whitby by 1939

Ellesmere Port came to be after the building of the Shropshire Union Canal. Some Shropshire buisness men came and had meetings in the town of Ellesmere (Shropshire) under the leadership of Lord Edward Clive in August 1791. Then in the September of 1792 the decision was made final and there was then put into plan the Shropshire Union Canal. They chose as a committee to employ William Jessop, a civil engineer, to act as consultant to the building of the canal. Midlands iron master John Wilkinson was used as influence to get Thomas Telford in place as general agent.

Thomas Telford made all the designs and architectual plans along with the plans for bridges, aqueducts, tunnels, locks and other constructive plans. Then after the connections of the River Severn at Shrewsbury and the River Mersey at Whitby, goods began to be delivered up and down the rivers and then onto the canals. The port got its name from being Ellesmere's port and then became Ellesmere Port, although for many year's until the mid 19th century it was known simply as Whitby Locks.

Census Records 1821-1831

Population Summary
People think that Ellesmere Port is very honoured to have a real celebrity such as Thomas Telford with a link with the towns origin. He also gave the town locks, docks and warehouses. Telford died in 1834, then another famous builder came along and finished off Telford's plans for the town. The first ever houses that were made in the port were made really close to the dock, the road they were built on was called Dock Street this was the first main road to be built. The road with shops on mainly was Queen street, then the houses on Station Road were converted into more shops because the population of the town was increasing and people needed different facilities and goods.


Childer Thornton

Childer Thornton has a well known Inn called The Half Way House, which used to be a stopping place for the Stage Coach Service between Chester and New Ferry in the 1770's. It also has Hooton Parish church, which was built between 1858 and 1862 at a cost of 5000. The interior of the church is in an Italian style and reaches a height of 95 ft. The most important features are: round arches, an ornate dome in the Byzantine style and the church had a private family entrance. The church was built for Mr R Naylor, a wealthy Liverpool banker as a tribute to his wife.

Little Sutton

The village of Little Sutton developed around the main highway of Chester Road, linking Birkenhead and Chester. The railway station was known as Sutton originally and was a station on the Hooton to Helsby line which opened on 1st July 1863. However, as there was already a station called Sutton on the Birkenhead to Chester railway, that station changed its name to Ledsham and this one became Sutton. In 1886 it changed its name to Little Sutton and the village therefore also retained this name.

Stanlow and Ince

To the east of the Ellesmere port town centre, Stanlow and Ince are now closely linked to the large Shell complex. An abbey was founded at Stanlow in 1178, the abbey was built on marshland and after the dreadful floods and storms in 1279 and 1287 then a few years later a fire broke out and the event caused the monks to leave and go somewhere else (Whalley in Lancashire). You can find the Abbey site and partial ruins cut off on the strip of land between the Ship Canal and the Mersey, although you are not allowed to access it, due to safety reasons.

Ince is probably the oldest settlement, its site is on marshland and only a few areas have not been built on due to excess marshland. Ince got its name from the ancient word "Ynys" or island. Ince still has its village square and atmosphere. The village stocks are said to date from 1671 and can be seen from a nearby lane. There is a partly restored Manor House, which was owned by the Abbots of Chester, but many of the bricks can be found within the walls of nearby barns and houses.

Part of the church in Ince is early English and the rest of the building dates from 1854, but the tower and chancel roof dates from the 17th Century.


Hooton's original name was Hotone and appeared in the Domesday Book.

Near the end of the 15th Century, the Stanley family built a Manor House, made from timber and stone. This was then later pulled down in the 18th Century and replaced with a Mansion named Hooton Hall, built from local Storeton Stone, which was designed in the Italian Palladian style for the fifth Baronet, Sir William Stanley, by the fashionable architect, William Wyatt. In the middle of the 19th Century they sold it to their Liverpool Bankers.

Hooton Park was used during the First World War as a Military Hospital and in 1917 an airfield was built to train pilots from Canada and America. During the Second World War, Hooton was also used as a Military airfield until the Royal Auxiliary Airforce disbanded in 1957.

In 1962, the airfield was transformed into the Vauxhall factory and more recently local volunteers have fought to keep the original airfield hangars for local interest.


The Overpool estate was built for the same reason as the Rivacre estate to house people coming in from Liverpool. The Rivacre estate isn't too far away from the Overpool estate so only a few more houses had to be built to house the people from Liverpool. Most of the area in Overpool was fields and there was also a cemetry round the corner from the estates. The German prisoners of war were made to make the plumbing and the sewage systems in that particular area also some houses if the people building the houses were down on staff. The houses and shops in the Overpool area are still there today though the shops have probably changed over the time of them being there.

Overpool 1959

Rivacre 1958


The Rivacre estate was built in order to house all of the people coming in from Liverpool,who had lost their house from the sevior bombing on the city. The people were comng in thousands and we the people of Ellesmere port had to come up with an idea on how to house the people in a fast way and in a descent living environment, so the people of Ellesmere port brought in some pre-fabricated houses on the back of lorries and positioned into place. These houses had a sufficent amount of space in them but the people of Liverpool who came over here seemed to be pleased with the houses we supplied them with. The Rivacre estate is situated down and around Rivacre Road here are many houses which are the pre-fabricated houses and they are still standing today, of course they have had some modifications done to them since they were first lived in during ww2. The people that had come in from Liverpool had some entertainment because just a short way down the road there was an outdoor swimming pool open in the summer to all of the public. The swimming pool closed down in the 1980's.


The Stanney estate has been built up over the years and mainly consists of council houses, although there are some houses which do not belong to the council. The Stanney estate was built in the 1960's and is still standing today. There are two areas of Stanney - Great Stanney and Little Stanney, Little Stanney is now mainly fields and farmland and it has been a small village for many years. In 1821, the census tells us that in Little Stanney there were 35 houses there and were owned by 41 families. They had 22 families who worked in agriculture they also had 5 families who worked in trade. Fourteen families worked in either of the two jobs. In the village, they had 110 males and they had 118 females living in that one village therefore the total amount of people that lived in Little Stanney was 228. Great Stanney was basically farmland and we know this because of the census in 1821. It shows us that there were two houses and two families and only the two families worked there. Their jobs were both to do with agriculture. The population of Great Stanney was 10 males and 8 females and the therefore the total population of Great Stanney was 18.

Great Sutton

The road which is now known as Old Chester Road, was originally the continuation of the main road from Birkenhead to Chester. The Church of St John the Evangelist was built along this road and consecrated in November 1879. The White Swan Inn is still on this road and dates back to at least 1850. Presumably the village grew again due to its position on the main route between Birkenhead and Chester.

Whitby Heath 1958

Ellesmere Port
Urbanisation by 1981


Ellesmere Port - The Making of an Industrial Borough by Peter J Aspinall and Daphne M. Hudson - Page 254
Printed in 1982 by the Borough Council of Ellesmere Port and Neston, South Wirral

Yesterday's Wirral by Ian and Marilyn Boumphrey - Pages 18, 21, 30
Printed in 1999 by Eaton Press Direct Ltd., Wallasey


By Greg Thomson 9YK and Lee Elliott 9T (November 2004)

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