The industrial town of Runcorn stands on the south bank of the Mersey Estuary, where it narrows to form the Runcorn Gap.
An ancient settlement, Runcorn was Saxon fortification in the early 10th century to guard against Viking attack. In 1071 Runcorn became part of the Halton barony, belonging to the Norman earls of Chester, and a wooden fortress was built here to guard the Lancashire and Cheshire plains and the river estuary.
A stone castle was built in the 12th century to replace the timber structure, but in the English Civil War the castle was dismantled by the Parliamentarians who took the town from the Royalists in 1644.
The area remained rural until 1773 when the Duke of Bridgewater extended his canal to Runcorn to link Manchester with the seaport of Liverpool. When a connection was made to the Trent and Mersey Canal in 1777, the town also had water connections with most of the interior of England.
The Port of Runcorn grew rapidly and other industries also began to develop, especially the quarrying of Runcorn Sandstone, tanning, the manufacture of soap and chemicals and shipbuilding.
By the 19th century Runcorn had become a highly industrialised and polluted town.
The 1868 Runcorn Railway Bridge across the Mersey gave the town direct railway access to the rest of the country via Crewe.
In 1894 the Manchester Ship Canal opened, allowing ocean-going vessels to travel as far as Salford and some of these ships used the Port of Runcorn. In 1905 Runcorn and Widnes, on the north bank of the Mersey, were given direct vehicular access for the first time with the opening of the Widnes-Runcorn Transporter Bridge.
In the first half of the 20th century Runcorn continued to be dominated by the tanning and chemical industries and in 1926 several chemical companies formed Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), one of Europe's leading chemical companies.
In 1964 the Widnes-Runcorn Transporter Bridge was replaced in 1961 by the the Runcorn Bridge, the Silver Jubliee Bridge.
Rucorn was designated a New Town in 1964 to house the overspill population of Liverpool and was the first to pioneer bus-only routes over a large scale.
The decline of tanning, the last tannery closed in 1968, and the chemical industry led to the development of light industry.
Today Runcorn is one of the most industrialised parts of the UK, but the traditionai ndustrial past is of interest for vsitors.
Attractions to visit in Runcorn include the Civil War scarred Halton Castle and Runcorn Bridge, the largest steel arch bridge in Europe.
Beside the Bridgwater Canal stands the Brindley, the town's brand new arts centre, named after James Brindley the engineer responsible for the Bridgewater Canal.
The Halton Lea Shopping Centre in Runcorn New Town was the first American-style shopping mall to open in the UK.
The ruined Norton Priory is Runcorn's main tourist attraction.
Towns Near Runcorn To Visit - straight line distance:Widnes (1.83 miles) Frodsham (3.50 miles) Daresbury (4.17 miles) Huyton (6.39 miles)
Halton Castle One of two surviving Norman castles in the county.
Norton Priory A lovely ruined priory to visit.
Brindley Theatre and Arts Centre An award-winning arts centre, ideal for a night out.