Coordinates: 53°27′00″N 2°37′59″W / 53.450°N 2.633°W / 53.450; -2.633

Newton-le-Willows is located in Merseyside

 Newton-le-Willows shown within Merseyside
Population 21,307 
(2001 Census)
OS grid reference SJ580949
Metropolitan borough St Helens
Metropolitan county Merseyside
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district WA12
Dialling code 01925
Police Merseyside
Fire Merseyside
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament St Helens North
List of places: UK • England • Merseyside

Newton-le-Willows is a small market town within the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, in Merseyside, England. Historically a part of Lancashire, it is situated about midway (about 15 miles from each) between the cities of Manchester and Liverpool, 4 miles (6.4 km) to the east of St Helens, 5 miles (8.0 km) to the north of Warrington and 7 miles (11.3 km) to the south of Wigan.



Newton now stands in the centre of the large Greater Manchester and Merseyside conurbation. The town was mentioned in the Domesday Book and was a small agricultural village until the arrival of the railways. When the railways arrived in 1830, the then village had some importance, as an administrative centre (being one of only six boroughs in the whole of Lancashire). There was some industry, as there are five cotton spinners recorded in an 1825 directory. However, it was the coming of this new fangled type of transport (and all its associated industry) that was to transform the small village into the World's first "railway town", although places such as Crewe, Derby and Swindon soon overtook Newton in size and importance. The town also developed into a major coal mining area, being on the South Lancashire Coalfield. Despite being in such a urbanised area, the town is almost completely surrounded by green belt, the only actual location that runs into Newton being Lowton.

The fields between Newton and Winwick were the site of one of the last battles of the Second English Civil War,[1][2] but perhaps its most notable claim to fame is the suggestion that it was the location of the Battle of Brunanburh[citation needed]. Popular local hostelry the Kirkfields Hotel has also been mentioned as a contender for the title of the Most Haunted Public House in Britain.

Railway town

Newton-le-Willows railway station
Huskisson Monument
Sankey Viaduct crossing Sankey Brook

Newton's history since the 19th century has been very closely linked with the railway industry. It was little more than a village when the famous Vulcan Foundry was opened in 1831 and later developed into one of the world's foremost locomotive manufacturers. Vulcan Village, the southernmost suburb of Newton was developed to house workers from the foundry and has in recent years become a conservation area.

The western area of the town, Earlestown was developed also with the coming of the railways. Earlestown was also built as a factory village, but for the Viaduct Foundry, which later became the London and North Western Railway's principal waggon works. Since Victorian times, Earlestown has been the fastest growing area of the town and thus Newton-le-Willows' town centre is situated in Earlestown.

Between Earlestown and the Vulcan Village is the largely residential suburb of Wargrave.

William Huskisson, Member of Parliament for Liverpool and an early supporter of railways, was killed at Parkside near Newton when he was run down by Stephenson's Rocket locomotive on the opening day of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. There is a memorial at the spot where the accident happened. A modern bridge in the town centre is named in memory of Huskisson.

Newton has two historic railway stations. Newton-le-Willows railway station is situated in the old original part of town and like Earlestown railway station, was opened in 1830. They are two of the oldest railway stations in existence. Earlestown was an important junction where the original Manchester and Liverpool line was joined by the 1837 line running south to Birmingham. The town has also had three other railway stations, situated at Parkside, where the first fatal railway accident happened, at the Vulcan Village and one serving the old racecourse, closed when Haydock Park Racecourse was opened. Two other local railway related landmarks are Newton Viaduct, and the Sankey Viaduct which is locally known as "the Nine Arches".

Other industries

The town also had other industries, namely sugar refining, chemicals, glass, biscuit manufacturing machinery and coal mining. Parkside Colliery, opened in the 1960s with an expected lifespan of 100 years but closed in 1992. The colliery hit the national headlines due to demonstrations against its closure. The closure of Parkside marked an end to Lancashire's centuries old coal industry. The town is the home of the head office of Nicholls Foods, the makers of Vimto soft drinks.

Sporting town

Newton-le-Willows racecourse closed down in the 1890s and was replaced by Haydock Park Racecourse. The Old Newton Cup is the world's oldest continually competed for trophy, with a history dating back over 300 years.

Football has always been an important sport within the town, and there has been a couple of spells that Earlestown Football Club has been quite successful. The team competed in the Lancashire Combination league which at the time (1950s/1960s) was the equivalent of today's Northern Conference. Earlestown enjoyed a local rivalry with a number of teams which would go on to national prominence, especially Wigan Athletic. Earlestown was a very ambitious club who hit the headlines when they signed Wilf Mannion as player manager. Crowds of one or two thousand were not unknown for local derbies. However, falling gates and the cost of a professional squad forced the club into bankruptcy in the mid 1960s. In its earlier history, Earlestown FC created a few pieces of history, including being defeated by Everton in the Liverpool Cup which was the Toffee's first cup final victory. A year later, Earlestown won the final beating an Everton side that would help form the football league just three years later. Earlestown also played Everton in the first ever match at Anfield stadium.[3] A number of smaller teams operate in the town, the most prominent being Vulcan Newton FC who have previously been in the Lancashire Combination and North West Counties League.

This area is a hotbed for Rugby League with St Helens, Warrington, Widnes, Wigan and Leigh being neighbouring towns, however the town never had a rugby league team until recently, when in 2002, Newton Storm ARLFC was formed. Storm has become one of the fastest growing amateur rugby league clubs in the north west. Rugby Union was historically the most popular code in this town, with two teams, Newton-le-Willows RUFC and Vulcan RUFC being prominent teams in the South Lancashire and Cheshire leagues. The most prominent players in the past have been former England and British Lions international Fran Cotton, and Wigan player Steve Hampson.

Cricket is now the major sport in the town, with Newton C.C. playing in the Premier Division of the Liverpool Competition, a major north west league with teams stretching from the Fylde coast to North Wales competing in it. Vulcan C.C. also represent the town on a more localised level. Newton has produced a number of players who have progressed onto Lancashire County Cricket Club.


Forming part of the historic county boundaries of Lancashire from a very early time, Newton-le-Willows is an ancient town having been mentioned in the Domesday Book. It was initially part of the Fee of Makerfield, which was part of the West Derby Hundred. It was later made a parliamentary borough from 1558 until 1832, one of the earliest in Lancashire. From this date until 1894, the town came under the control of a Court Leet and Improvement Commissioners. The developing industrial town was then created into an urban district under the name Newton in Makerfield. The name of the urban district was changed in 1939 to Newton-le-Willows. On 1 April 1974 it lost its independence when Newton-le-Willows Council merged with a number of neighbouring local authorities, to create St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council.[4]


Newton-le-Willows is a small market town in North West England, situated on the western boundary of Chat Moss. The town consists of four districts,[citation needed] Earlestown, Wargrave, Vulcan Village and the original ancient Newton in Makerfield area, that makes up the eastern part of the town.

Two town centres

The old centre of Newton is on the A49 road (formerly the Warrington-Wigan Turnpike Road) and has a number of Georgian buildings, and is an attractive residential area. The High Street area has a village appearance with small local shops serving the local area. There used to be a street market outside the parish church, which in the 1890s was moved to Earlestown. The old town hall was demolished some years ago after serving as a civic hall.

With the Industrial Revolution, the area of Earlestown developed about a mile west of the original Newton centre. As this part of the town grew, amenities were moved to Earlestown from Newton. As the market was moved to Earlestown and a new town hall was built to house the old Newton council, the new town centre became based on Earlestown. During recent years the town hall in Earlestown has been allowed to some extent to fall into a poor state of repair, it has recently been registered as a grade 2 listed building.

Shopping centre

The town centre is now based in the Earlestown district of the town, with its main shopping street, Market Street, being pedestrianised during the 1980s. Bridge Street, Oxford Street, Queen Street and Earle Street make up the shopping area (Earle Street was formerly named Pepper Alley Lane up to the late 19th century[citation needed]).

The market is a major attraction for people from the surrounding areas. There are many small long established independent retailers although the number of national retail organisations in the town is increasing. As with other towns, many larger retail stores have closed, such as Woolworths in 2009 and Safeway due to the companies ceasing trading. The large Somerfield and Co-op town centre stores have closed due to those companies merging, however the Co-op has a small store in the Wargrave area of the town. A positive sign for the town is how the these larger premises were relet to other national retailers. Tesco acquired the Safeway store, Wilkinson took over the former Somerfield store and the former Co-op superstore was subdivided into a number of units which provided the town with a new main post office, Morrisons supermarket and Store Twenty One clothing store. The former Woolworths store soon reopened as Heron Frozen Foods, a fast growing Yorkshire based food retailer. Other major national retailers to have opened in the town recently include Superdrug, McDonald's, Shoe Zone and Card Factory. The town also has a number of other long established national companies like Boots, Greggs Bakers and Johnsons Cleaners and most of the major banks. Whiston Motor Factors have taken over the old Fred Morts jewellers in Oxford Street and there are a number of free car parks in the town centre. Another small retail area exists at Park Road South in the Wargrave area of the town, with the small Co-op supermarket.


The M6 and M62 motorways, and also the A580 East Lancashire Road pass close to the town. This has helped Newton become an important commuter town now that most of its industry has gone. There have been many new housing estates built around the outskirts of the town.

England's first operational canal, the Sankey Canal passes through the town and is crossed, on the Sankey Viaduct, by the world's first passenger railway, also within the boundaries of the town.

Newton-le-Willows and Earlestown railway stations have a good regional service with regular trains running to Manchester and Liverpool, St Helens, Warrington, Chester, West Yorkshire and along the North Wales coast to Llandudno. Earlestown is a very large station for the size of the town, with 5 platforms. On platform 2 is the old waiting room, regarded as one of the oldest remaining railway buildings.

There is a small bus station in Tamworth Street, with a number of bus routes running around the town, and out of town services connecting neighbouring Burtonwood, Haydock, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lowton, Garswood and major towns of Warrington, St. Helens, Wigan and Leigh.

Local media

From Victorian times until 2007, the town had a number of local newspapers. The Newton and Golborne Guardian was the longest established, which ceased publication in 2007. Other papers to have served the town over the years include The Earlestown Guardian, and Newton Reporter. The town comes within the distribution area of the St Helens Star and St Helens Reporter, both free newspapers. The Warrington Guardian, Liverpool Echo, Manchester Evening News and Wigan Evening Post are widely available within the town.

Local radio is provided by both Wish FM of Wigan, and Wire FM from Warrington. Regional radio is provided by Real Radio North West, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Manchester.

The town falls within the North West region for the BBC and Granada TV region for ITV.

Places of worship

Once part of the ancient parish of Winwick, the town is split into four Anglican parishes, St Peter's covering Newton, St John's covering Earlestown, Emmanuel covering Wargrave and All Saints' covering the northern parts of the town.

Similar to other towns in Lancashire, Newton has a large Roman Catholic population and there are three Catholic churches in the town, St Patrick's in Earlestown, St Mary and St John's in Newton and St David's in Wargrave.

There is also many other denominations represented in the town, such as the Methodist and Baptist churches in the town centre.

Notable people

  • Rick Astley, pop star, who has had a UK and two US #1s and sold 40 million records
  • Andy Burnham, Leigh MP, former Labour leadership candidate and Shadow Education Minister was educated at St Aelred's High School in Newton
  • Ed Clancy, Olympic Gold Medalist for Great Britain in the Team Pursuit event at Beijing 2008
  • Fran Cotton, started playing for Newton RUFC before moving onto to Sale, England and The British Lions; he runs the Cotton Traders sportswear firm in nearby Altrincham
  • Joe Fagan, the former Manchester City player and European Cup winning Liverpool F.C. manager, who resigned his post after the Heysel disaster started his career playing for Earlestown Bohemians FC in the 1930s
  • George Formby, then an unknown local comedian from Wigan, made his first stage appearance (as George Hoy) at the Hippodrome Theatre Earlestown Newton-Le-Willows
  • Roger Hunt, former Liverpool and England World Cup Winning footballer was born in the neighbouring village of Culcheth; his family's business Hunt Brothers Haulage is based in Newton le Willows
  • Wilf Mannion, former Middlesbrough and England winger was the manager of the town's most successful football club, Earlestown FC between 1960 and 1962
  • Rodney Porter, scientist, won a Nobel Prize in 1972
  • John Randall, scientist, The developer of the Magnetron used in Radar Systems, was born on 23 March 1905 in Newton-le-Willows
  • Pete Waterman, the famous record producer is a former resident of the town, and appropriately having once lived there has a famous interest in old railways
  • Colin Welland, writer and actor, won an Oscar for writing the script of the film Chariots of Fire
  • Martin Kelly, current Liverpool F.C and England U-21 international was raised and lives in Newton




  • Liverpool & Manchester Railway 1830–1980, Frank Ferneyhough, Book Club Associates, London, 1980, (no ISBN)

External links

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