infobox UK place
country = England
population = 7,856 (2001 Census)
region= North West England
constituency_westminster= Warrington North
postcode_district = WA4
Latchford is a
suburban districtand electoral ward of the unitary borough of Warrington, in Cheshire, England. It is around one mile south of Warrington town centre and has a total resident population of 7,856. [cite web |url=http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadDomainList.do?a=7&c=latchford&d=14&i=1001x1002&m=0&enc=1&areaId=545517&OAAreaId=388314 |title=Latchford (Ward) |author= United Kingdom Census 2001 |publisher=neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk |accessdate=2007-06-14]
A predominantly residential area, Latchford lies between the
River Merseyand the Manchester Ship Canal, and broadly consists of 19th century terraced housing and some open space. The Canal is crossed here by a swing bridge, a high level road bridge and the now disused Latchford railway viaduct.
Its name came from Anglo-Saxon "Læccford" = "Boggy-stream ford".
Latchford Railway Viaduct
Latchford viaduct was opened on 8th July 1893 and carried the former LNWR Stockport to Warrington line over the Manchester Ship Canal. It has a span of 250 feet and weighs more than 1,200 tonnes. The line saw its last passengers in 1962 but continued to carry freight until July 1985. Its closure was due in no small part to the viaduct's poor condition.
From a very early time, Latchford constituted a township and formed part of the
Grappenhallparish of the hundred of Bucklowin the ancient county boundaries of Cheshire, close to the border with Lancashire.cite web |url=http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit_page.jsp?u_id=10084295 |title=A vision of Latchford CP/Ch |author=A vision of Britain through time |accessdate=2007-06-14] cite web |url=http://www.ukbmd.org.uk/genuki/chs/latchford.html |title=Latchford |author=GENUKI |accessdate=2007-06-14]
Between 1894 and 1974, part of Latchford lay within the
County Borough of Warrington, and the registration countyof Lancashire, whilst the rest of Latchford became a civil parishnamed "Latchford Without" and was transferred to the administrative county of Lancashire.
With the local government reforms of 1974, as part of the newly formed Cheshire borough of Warrington, Latchford was reunited with its earlier county, Cheshire.
Latchford is bounded to the south by the
Manchester Ship Canaland Stockton Heathand to the north by the River Merseyand Howley.
Victoria Park is an area of open space beside the Mersey, within which is a modern sports stadium and a skateboard park. It contains a large Georgian manor house, previously the Old Warps maternity hospital, subsequently converted into flats. Nearby is an elegant narrow Victorian suspension bridge, Howley Bridge, which provides pedestrian access between Howley and Latchford.
The site that today is Victoria Park was originally the
Old Warps Estate. In 1897the local council bought the estate from the owners and converted it into a park to try and improve conditions for the local working-class people of the terraced housing of industrial Latchford. To mark the Jubilee of Queen Victoria the park was named "Victoria Park". The Georgian manor house "Old Warps" still stands and has been converted to a restaurant.
Before work on the Mersey commenced, Victoria Park was under the
River Mersey, in an area that was considered dangerous by even the most experienced seamen. In 1724various new weirs were built along the course of the River Mersey due to its often treacherous nature. The course of the Mersey was then altered and the land was converted into the Old Warps Estate. A weir was built and is still monitored 24 hrs a day by a "weir man" from a wooden building situated about the weir, which is where the tidal flow of the Mersey terminates. The Mersey is so improved now that salmon and trout are often seen as are herons, kingfishers and cormorants, especially in the wide pool on the river bend below the weir.
Howleyis provided by an elegant suspension bridge for pedestrians, (recently renovated by Warrington Borough Council).
Victoria Park has a large running track which is the home of Warrington Athletic Club, bowling facilities, a skate-park and various other leisure facilities.
Old Manor Lockmarks the northern extreme of the park.
The skate-park within Victoria park has approximately 40 visitors each day and is used by skateboarders, roller-skaters,
BMXers and mountain bikes. It has four main sections (three of which are bowls) and one main flat part. It also houses one ramp of approximately 10ft, which is mainly used by inline-skaters.
Black Bear Park
Black Bear Canal, now infilled and used as
Black Bear Park, once ran from docks on the River Mersey near Wilderspool Causeway (at the west of Latchford) to the Mersey at Manor Lock in Howley, providing a shortcut for shipping, avoiding a large river bend and weir.
In 1804, an eight-mile long canal was built between Latchford and
Runcorn. It was named the Old Quays Canal. Once the Manchester Ship Canalwas dug, in the 1890's, it was shortened to one mile, from Stockton Heathto the River Mersey, at Manor Lock. It was renamed the Black Bear Canal.
The Black Bear Canal remained in use for the transport of South American hides to tanneries, until the 1960's, when it fell into disuse.
Warrington Borough Councilbought the land and, after the death by drowning of a local boy in the late 1960's, many complaints from residents and parents and threats of civil disruption against Warrington Borough Council, it was converted in 1981 into a parkland forming a line from Victoria Park and the banks of the River Mersey, through to Stockton Heath. (The park also forms a part of the Trans Pennine Trail).
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