Crewe Lyceum Theatre
The Edwardian Crew Lyceum Theatre sits in Heath Street, just off Vernon Way and close to the...Crewe Lyceum Theatre
Crewe’s location on the West Coast Main Line, and its huge junction and railway station, make it one of the key towns on the British transport map. Originally a station alone, Crewe is also unique in being one of the only places in the country that was built to serve the railways completely – instead of the other way around.
There’s a local legend that Crewe’s expansive Queen’s Park, which was designed and laid out by a locomotive engineer, was an attempt to prevent the Great Western Railway from creating a rival station to the Crewe junction. Whether this is true or not is impossible to prove. What is true is that the effect Crewe has had on the UK railway system, and the effect the railway system has had on Crewe, are central to the history both of the town and the Cheshire area as a wholeRead more
Boer War Memorial Base
by Terry Hughes
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Crewe’s architecture barely predates the founding of the town proper, which occurred some 7 years after the founding of the station. Prior to the coming of the railway, Crewe village (which wasn’t called Crewe at the time) had a population of just over 70 residents. Modern Crewe has more than 80,000 residents: an expansion of more than 1,000 times its size in little over 150 years.
Everything in Crewe is linked to the rails that brought progress to the northwest. The railway engineers designed parks, laid out the streets and even left endowments for the upkeep of some of the town’s buildings. The church was kept by the railways, the school came under the railway’s purview and the gasworks and waterworks were built soon after.
Local cheese was provided at the railway-owned cheese market. John Compton’s clothes factory was built for the man whose uniforms clothed the railway workers.
Crewe is still heavily involved in the railways. Crewe Works continues to maintain railway hardware, and there’s a maintenance depot north of the station devoted to electric rolling stock.
The town isn’t only powered by rail, though. Rolls Royce (the luxury car manufacturer, not the aircraft engine arm of the business) used to have its plant here. Now Bentley makes its own vehicles in the same factory
Crewe station is a place of pilgrimage for trainspotters and railway enthusiasts. The massive 12 platform installation is still one of the biggest in the north west. The Crewe Heritage Centre, which includes signal boxes that visitors can use, and a working stretch of standard gauge line, which runs the guards van on special days.
Crewe Alexandra, naturally nicknamed the Railwaymen, play locally at the Alexandra ground in Gresty Road. Like Queen’s Park, the club is subject of local rumours: in this case, that the team was named for Princess Alexandra of Denmark. A rival claim states that the club was actually named for the pub in which it was formed (the Princess)!
Despite its small size, Crewe has not one but two shopping malls: the Market Centre, and the Victoria Centre. The town is also blessed with a number of indoor and outdoor markets.
As befits its historic railway town status, the easiest way to get to Crewe is on a train.
The station, which the town was actually built around, has major rail links to London in the south, Manchester in the west and Chester and Liverpool too. You can get a direct train, or a transfer train, to most locations on the UK railway network when you embark at Crewe. It is estimated that more than 10,000 rail users pass through the gateway to the north in a single travelling day.
Crewe is connected to Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport, and Manchester International Airport, via motorways and A roads. You can reach most national and international destinations by travelling out from Crewe to ether Liverpool or Manchester.
The town is linked to the national road network by the M6 motorway – which provides transport links to the whole of the north west.
Walking will put the tourist in front of most of Crewe’s visitor attractions. Outside of the railway station, the town is a compact and pleasant one, and there are only a few central streets down which a person can walk
There are plenty of bus stops in and around Crewe, many of which are served by First, Arriva, D and G and Connect. Be aware that different bus companies will not accept tickets purchased on other proprietor’s routes: so it can be wise to plan your journey in advance.
Crewe is well linked with cycle networks. There are several sections of the National Cycle Network running through and around Crewe, and there are also new local routes in place that allow the cyclist to travel next to or on Crewe’s major roads in traffic free lanes.
You’ll find some of Crewe’s best sights by taking the healthy options (walking or cycling). Have a look at Queen’s Park for one of the UK’s loveliest examples of a planned Victorian public space.
Crewe’s history is quite unique. Despite its quaint olde worlde appearance, there was no official Crewe town until the middle of the 19th century, when Joseph Locke formally planned the settlement to give order to the collection of buildings that had begun to grow up around the new, important railway junction.
The station and junction opened in the late 1830s: and the station was the first to be called Crewe. In other words, the town itself was named after the already-existing station. To make things even more unusual, Crewe parish – for which the station was named – has nothing, nor ever has had anything, to do with either the train station or the town named after it. Crewe parish is adjacent to Crewe, but Crewe isn’t part of it and neither is the station.
This perplexing state of affairs is the source of a local riddle, which asks the confused recipient of the conundrum to work out what is not Crewe, but is Crewe, and vice versa!
Grand Junction Railway Company
The railway station was designed and built by the Grand Junction Railway company – later to become London and North Western Railway. Had the neighbouring towns of Nantwich or Winsford accepted the original GJR proposals for building the station, Crewe as a town would not exist.
Queen’s Park, a large and pleasing Victorian public space in the heart of Crewe town, was designed and finished by Francis Webb, one of the engineers associated with the railways. Webb designed and built engines for the London and North Western Railway, the company that took over ownership of Crewe station from GJR.
Local rumours suggested that the Queen’s Park, which is still one of Crewe’s major attractions, was actually laid down to prevent a rival railway company from building a station to compete with Crewe. There is no documentary evidence to suggest that this is the case – but the rumour proves just how important the railways were to Crewe!