Whiston Origins and History

From the 11th Century, South Lancashire was divided into six districts known as 'Hundreds' or 'Wapentakes', As the Whiston area at that time was part of the parish of Prescot, it appeared as such on the district maps of the time within the West Derby Hundred(WFN100).

Early references show the township as Quitstan (1245); Wystan, Quystan (1278); Whystan, Whytstan, Whyghstan (1292); Quistan (1346); eventually reaching its present spelling of Whiston around 1355.

Whiston is located 1 1/2 miles south of Prescot, 3/4 mile east of Huyton Quarry, 4 miles south-west from St. Helens and 1 1/2 miles west from Rainhill.

Over the centuries, Whiston had many changes in land ownership. The Lords of Whiston and Halsnead were the heads of very influential, powerful families which included: Gernet; Dacre; Travers; Bold; Ogle; Case; Le Norreys; Pemberton; and latterly the Willis family whose descendants owned the Halsnead estate continuously from 1684 until 1929 when it was sold by auction. The Willis family were also the chief landowners within the Whiston district as a whole. The historical building of Halsnead Hall (WH92/1DUP) built in the 17th Century, stood until 1932 within the huge wooded area known as Halsnead Park. In recent years, part of the park was converted into a static Caravan Park.

Obviously agriculture was the main employment over many centuries changing little in the process and in 1955 part of Whiston's past was unearthed by the discovery of a medieval spade (WH41). Gradually, other industries developed to provide local employment.

The township of Whiston is historically linked with coal mining, the first reference to which appeared in 1521. Many shafts were sunk around the area including those at Carr Colliery of 1760's; Whiston Colliery of 1802 (closed 1890); Halsnead Colliery of 1802 (closed 1895); but the most familiar pit within the area was at Cronton Colliery (WH93/20) which was begun in 1913, the first coal from which was raised in April 1915 (this was originally called the Hulton Colliery Co.). The collieries made good use of branch lines constructed for ease of transportation to a widening market.

In the late 19th Century, the site of the former Whiston Colliery was developed. It opened in 1898 as the Whiston Metallic Brick Works, known as Tushingham's, manufacturing bricks made from a mixture of local clay and shale until its closure in the early 1970's.

Whiston township was also known for its pottery: the earliest reference being in the late 18th Century. The main area for this industry was in the west of the township leading into Huyton Quarry where one can find a present day reminder in the old street name of Pottery Lane. Smaller industries included file and tool makers who provided items for the clock and watch industry in nearby Prescot.

Until the 19th Century, the religious faithful attended the churches in either Huyton or Prescot but eventually a number of small chapels were built in Whiston to cater for those of a non-conformist persuasion. Firstly a traditional Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was erected in 1832, followed by a Free United Methodist Chapel in 1879, and later a Welsh Methodist Chapel was erected in 1890 to provide a place of worship for the families of the Welsh miners who had settled here in large numbers.

Although the ancient Cross of the township has not survived, it presumably occupied the site on the high ground at the junction of Dragon Lane and Cross Lane (formerly Stank Lane). This area became historically known as Whiston Cross.

The consecration of the parish church of St. Nicholas (WH92/14) took place 30th July 1868 on a site purchased and given by the then vicar of Huyton, the Rev. Ellis Ashton. The road on which it stands was originally called Tarbock Road but is now known as Windy Arbor Road. The following year in June 1869, part of the Whiston township together with part of the township of Tarbock, was formed into its own parish. The formation of the Whiston Rural District Council in 1874 brought about greater control of local affairs which had previously been dealt with by governing bodies in Prescot.

The local Roman Catholic Church of St. Luke in Shaw Lane, was built in 1937 and a second one dedicated to St. Leo in Lickers Lane, although consecrated in 1977, contains pews from the old church of St. Augustine's, Great Howard Street, Liverpool which are over 100 years old. Prior to these churches construction, the Catholic population would have attended either the Portico Chapel, Eccleston, or Our Lady Immaculate and St Joseph, in Prescot.

The Village School (Msc/94:A1/16) originally built in 1840 was enlarged in 1900 to accommodate the education of the children of the growing population.

Following the Great War, a War Memorial (WH92/4) was erected in the grounds of St. Nicholas Church to commemorate those connected with the parish who had lost their lives. But, in 1928, it was struck by lightning and was replaced with a new War Memorial (WH92/20) unveiled with ceremony in 1932.

The most widely known present-day location in the township is Whiston Hospital (WH14) the main buildings of which are sited on the corner of Warrington Road (formerly Turnpike Road), and Dragon Lane. The original buildings here of 1843 housed the Poor Law Institution - the Prescot Union Workhouse and Infirmary. From the time of initial construction to the present day, the site has been enlarged on numerous occasions, the most recent additions being a new maternity block and a new accident/emergency unit.

Close to the hospital in Stoney Lane, is the site of Stoves Ltd. (WFN179), gas appliance manufacturers who began production in 1925. Although for periods trading under the names Newhome, Valor, and Valor-Newhome, it has always been known locally by its original name and the company has in recent years reverted back to Stoves Ltd.

The construction of the M57 and M62 motorways brought greater accessibility to the area and with it a need for developments in the hotel trade. Old place names have been used in recent times with the opening of new hotels around the area: The Chapel Brook and the Logwood Mill (now known as the Village) are prime examples of local links to the past.

Local government re-organisation in 1974 brought Whiston into the newly created Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley (WFN176).

(figures in brackets are reference numbers of photos in the main site)

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