infobox UK place
population= 4,701 (2001 Census)citeweb|url=http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadTableView.do?a=3&b=792689&c=helsby&d=16&e=15&g=429383&i=1001x1003x1004&m=0&r=1&s=1208303746859&enc=1&dsFamilyId=779|title=2001 Census: Helsby (Parish)|work=Office for National Statistics|accessdate=16 April|accessyear=2008]
region= North West England
constituency_westminster= Weaver Vale
os_grid_reference= SJ491755 Helsby is a
villageand civil parishin Vale Royal, Cheshire, England. At the 2001 Census, Helsby had a population of 4,701
It is situated on the A56 main road between
Chesterand Runcorn. The neighbouring villages are Dunham-On-The-Hill, Frodsham, Elton and Alvanley. Helsby is a semi-rural village, with many dairy and arable farms, but is also in close proximity to a number of industrial plants around the Mersey estuary including the Royal Dutch ShellStanlow oil refinery, the Quinn Glass manufacturing plant, the Kemira fertiliserplant on Ince marshes and the chemical manufacturing site (previously ICI chemicals, now Ineos Chlor) and power station at Rocksavage. There are few jobs in Helsby itself, due to the larger surrounding cities, Chesterand Runcornoffering better prospects and a wider range of careers. The Tescosupermarket is one of the biggest employers there. The village is popular with commuters as a residential area, due to its good transport links to the M56 motorwayand rail networks.
There are traces of
Stone Ageand Iron Age settlements on the hills around Helsby (Helsby Hill is the site of an Iron Agehill-fort called Woodhouses), but the first known settlers of Helsby were the Vikingsin the tenth century AD. In fact the name 'Helsby' is derived from the Viking name "Hjallr-by", meaning "the village on the edge".
The village was recorded in the
Domesday Bookof 1086 under the Norman name of "Hellesbe". The Manor of Helsby was owned by a series of aristocratic landowners, most recently the Marquis of Cholmondeley.
Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru(Welsh Defence Movement), a Welsh republican movement, blew up a water pipe in Helsby. The water pipe was carrying water from Lake Vyrnwyto Liverpool.
A [http://www.helsbymethodist.org.uk Methodist Church] was established in 1800, 70 years before the
Anglicanchurch was built in 1870. Helsby also has one of the most successful schools in Cheshire: Helsby High School.Fact|date=April 2008
The village is home to three
pubs, all of which are alongside the A56 road. The 'Horse & Jockey' nearest to Frodsham, is now closed and the site is for re-development. The 'Railway Inn' pub offers Greenallscask ale (one of the few pubs that still does), and is frequently is host to live music. The 'Robin Hood' offers food and is owned by Marstons, offering a selction of their ales. They are also host to two darts teams. The 'Helsby Arms' was refurbished last year and is reputed for it's food and real ales.
It has been proposed that an
incineratorbe constructed at InceMarshes, near Helsby. This is highly controversial with posters being displayed around the local community in protest of these plans. [citeweb|url=http://iccheshireonline.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0100regionalnews/tm_objectid=16743380&method=full&siteid=50020&headline=docs-put-ince-in-the-dock-name_page.html |title=Docs put Ince in the dock|work=Chester Chronicle|publisher=icCheshireOnline|date= 24 February 2006|accessdate=17 May|accessyear=2008]
Local amateur football club Helsby F.C. play in the
West Cheshire Leagueand are based at the Helsby Sports and Social Club. The local rugby team Helsby R.U.F.C. compete in South Lancashire/Cheshire Division 4.
Munkyfest music festivalwas held in Helsby from 2001 to 2004.
The railway came to Helsby in 1850, with the construction of the line between
Chesterand Warrington. Helsby railway stationhas won awards as one of the best kept unmanned stations in the UK. The signal boxat Helsby Junction is still operated manually.
There are frequent bus links to
Runcorn, Warringtonand Chester, with some less frequent services to Ellesmere Port. Most of these run Monday to Saturday only.
The factory site at the western end of the village has for many years been the main source of employment in the village. Originally built in the 1880s by the Telegraph Manufacturing Company, as the Britannia Telegraph Works, the factory was used to manufacture
cables, and was most recently owned by BICC Electronic Cables. It employed up to 5000 people at its peak (from World War IIuntil 1970), but continued to decline following a series of redundancy initiatives started in 1970, and the site eventually closed in 2002. The site was then redeveloped for retail, light industrial and residential purposes. The first completed development on the site was a Tescosupermarket, which opened in September 2005.
Helsby has a wooded
sandstonehill (height 123 metres), which is a clear landmark on the Cheshire Plainoverlooking the Mersey estuary. The woodlandon the hill is a National Trust property. It is the site of an ancient British fort. The hill, which has steep cliffs on the northern and western sides which are now popular with climbers, is also a triangulationpoint, with a concrete pillar trig pointat the top.
The hill is often looked on as a bad place for climbing by climbers travelling along the M56 (from which it is clearly visible) on their way to the popular climbing destinations of North Wales. This is mainly due to the large formation of
algaeon its surface, largely due to the nearby 'Kemira GrowHow' fertiliser plant on the opposite side of the motorway. The hill, however, provides many routes from easy climbs suitable for beginners (some of which do not require ropes), to challenging climbs up to a grade 6c. The cliff is also split into to lateral sections. The main face is easily accessible from the ground. At the top is a large grassy area, followed by an easily accessible 10ft (or thereabouts) cliff to the summit, which is excellent for bouldering. Despite its often slimy appearance, the cliff's sandstone composition means it dries out extremely quickly after rain, and, after several accidents, several large metal spikes are to be found at the top of the main cliff for top-rope climbing that offer extra safety for climbers worried about the sandstone's crumbly nature.
The top of the hill also features an abandoned
Royal Observer Corpspost, which is to be found some 50ft east of the trig point. The post was abandoned in 1992 and is currently well protected by extensive barbed wire, as it is located in private land in a field used for livestock. Slimmer explorers can slide under the fence at one point, however the post was extensively damaged by fire a few years ago, and the large blast-proof hatch is now permanently open, meaning it is usually flooded, along with large amounts of decaying rubbish and plant matter. Only the foolhardy or those with a chemical warfaresuit should brave going down the dangerous and broken metal ladder.
The view from the hill is certainly a far better source of enjoyment. The top is easily accessed by way of the local roads, and the car park of Helsby quarry may be used. To access the summit, climbers proceed up Hill Road South - across the road from the car park - and through a gate and into woodland. Continuing up the path, keeping right, and through a large sandstone cutting, which was the route of a railway in
World War IIthey pass through another gate (and briefly out of National Trust property), turn left back over a stile, follow the path up, over another stile, to gain the summit.
The view is perhaps one of the best in Cheshire, and on a clear day offers commanding views of the Welsh Hills and on exceptionally clear day,
Snowdon. The landmarks of Liverpoolcan clearly be seen beyond the Helsby Marshes, Stanlowoil refinery, Kemira FertiliserPlant and Manchester Ship Canal. Also on very clear days, visitors can see across Lancashire, past Boltonto Winter Hill, often on mid-mornings (with the sun reflecting off it) visitors may make out the large white section on top of the Winter Hill TV Mast. The view looking back is not as good, but the Peckforton Hillsand Beeston Castlecan be discerned. Binocularsare recommended to fully take advantage of this view.
Sandstonewas extracted from a working quarry from the early 1800s until the 1920s. Much of the stone was transported by ferry to Liverpooland Birkenhead, where several buildings, including the customs house near Canning Dockwere built of Helsby stone. The quarry had its own dedicated tramway / rail link to IncePier. After stone production ceased, it was not until the late 1980s that an alternative use was found for the site, and in the intervening decades the derelict site was used as a tip by local residents. The site was acquired by the Borough Council in 1988, and transformed into a woodland park, which was opened in 1990. The park contains a range of trees- including oak, sycamore, rowan, silver birch, willowand beech- some of which were grew naturally during the sites period of dereliction, and some which were planted specifically in preparing the woodland park. The woodlandand grasslandare inhabited by many animal and bird species. Aside from the wildlife, the geologyof the site is one of its main features and it is designated a Regionally Important Geological site. The site features exposed rock walls and a tunnel, which enable Sandstone formations from the Triassicperiod (280-250 million years ago) to be viewed.
St Paul's Church, Helsby
* [http://www2.valeroyal.gov.uk/ Vale Royal Borough Council]
* [http://www.helsbyhigh.cheshire.sch.uk/ Helsby High School]
* [http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/-sczsteve/ Viking Wirral]
* [http://www.helsbymethodist.org.uk Helsby Methodist Church]
* [http://www.HVAG.org.uk Helsby Village Action Group]
* [http://www.helsbyfc.com/ Helsby Football Club]
* [http://www.helsbygolfclub.org/ Helsby Golf Club]
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