Crewe is a town within the unitary authority of Cheshire East and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England. According to the 2001 census the urban area had a population of 67,683. It is twinned with Mâcon in France ( below left) and Bischofsheim, near Mainz, ( below right )Germany.
Crewe is perhaps best known as a large railway junction and former home to a major railway works. From 1946 until 2002 it was also the home of Rolls-Royce motor car production. The Pyms Lane factory on the west of the town now produces Bentley motor cars exclusively.
Origins of the name
Crewe was named after the railway station, rather than the other way round. The town was founded as a "railway colony" in 1841 to provide houses for the employees of the railway works established shortly after the first railway lines were built in the area, though even from the start, it was called Crewe by many. Crewe was situated in the township of Monks Coppenhall which, with the township of Church Coppenhall, formed the ancient parish of Coppenhall. The railway station was named after the township of Crewe (part of the ancient parish of Barthomley) in which it was located. Eventually, the township of Crewe became a civil parish in its own right also named, rather confusingly, Crewe. This civil parish changed its name to Crewe Green in 1974 to avoid confusion with the adjacent town, which had been made a municipal borough in 1877. The railway station remained part of the civil parish of Crewe, outside the boundary of the municipal borough until 1936. So, throughout its history, the town of Crewe has neither been part of, nor has it encompassed first the township of Crewe, later the civil parish of Crewe, and later still the civil parish of Crewe Green adjacent to it, even though these places were the direct origin of the name of the town via the railway station which was also not part of the town before 1936. An old, local riddle describes the somewhat unusual states of affairs: "The place which is Crewe is not Crewe, and the place which is not Crewe is Crewe.
Until the Grand Junction Railway (GJR) company chose Crewe as the site for its locomotive works and railway station in the late 1830s, Crewe was a village with a population (c. 1831) of just 70 residents. Winsford, seven miles to the north, had rejected an earlier proposal, as had local landowners in neighbouring Nantwich, four miles away. Crewe railway station was built in fields near to Crewe Hall and was completed in 1837.
A new town grew up, in the parishes of Monks Coppenhall and Church Coppenhall, alongside the increasingly busy station, with the population expanding to reach 40,000 by 1871. GJR chief engineer Joseph Locke helped lay out the town.
The town has a large park, Queen's Park (laid out by engineer Francis Webb), the land for which was donated by the London and North Western Railway, the successor to the GJR. It has been suggested that their motivation was to prevent the rival Great Western Railway building a station on the site, but the available evidence indicates otherwise.
The railway provided an endowment towards the building and upkeep of Christ Church.
Until 1897 its vicar, non-conformist ministers and schoolteachers received concessionary passes, the school having been established in 1842. The company provided a doctor's surgery with a scheme of health insurance. A gasworks was built and the works water supply was adapted to provide drinking water and a public baths. The railway also opened a cheese market in 1854 and a clothing factory for John Compton who provided the company uniforms, while McCorquodale of Liverpool set up a printing works. Nevertheless, the dominance of the railway industry was such that times of recession were keenly felt.
Crewe crater on Mars is named after the town of Crewe. Crewe was described by author Alan Garner in his book Red Shift as "the ultimate reality". Bill Bryson described Crewe as "the armpit of Cheshire" in his 1995 book "Notes from a Small Island".
A planned redevelopment of Crewe's town centre and main shopping area has been delayed until 2010 because of "difficult economic conditions", according to developers Modus. There were also plans to revamp the railway station. This was pending a public consultation by Network Rail scheduled for autumn 2008, however, no such public consultation was made. Any scheme to shift Crewe station to Basford would not start until around 2014. Plans to revamp Queens Park are already underway, with railings to be replaced by November 2008 and bridge/perimeter work were on course to be completed by Wrekin by Spring 2009. However, the lake still remains dry, and progress is paused, as Wrekin - the company renovating the park - have recently been made bankrupt.
Crewe railway station is less than a mile from Crewe town centre, although it was not incorporated into the then-Borough of Crewe until 1937. It is one of the largest stations in north-west England and a major interchange station on the West Coast Main Line. It has 12 platforms in use and has a direct service to London (Euston) (2/hour, the average duration is now 1 hour 45 minutes), Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff, Derby, Stoke-on-Trent, Chester and many other towns and cities.
The main bus company in Crewe is Arriva, which also operates in the surrounding towns and villages.
A smaller operator from Staffordshire called D&G Coach And Bus LTD runs the smaller local routes.
Cheshire has adopted the comprehensive school model of secondary education, so all of the schools under its control cater for pupils of all levels of ability. Until the late 1970s Crewe had two grammar schools, Crewe Grammar School for Boys, now Ruskin Sports and Language College, and Crewe Grammar Schools for Girls, now King's Grove High School. The town's two other secondary schools are Sir William Stanier Community School, a specialist technology and arts college, and St. Thomas More Catholic High School, specialising in maths and computing.
Ruskin Road School
Although there are eight schools for those aged 1116 in Crewe and its surrounding area, South Cheshire College is one of only two local providers of education for students aged 16 and over, and the only one in Crewe. The college also provides educational programmes for adults, leading to qualifications such as Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) or foundation degrees. In the 2006/7 academic year 2,532 students aged 16-18 were enrolled, along with 3,721 adults.
Manchester Metropolitan University's (MMU) Cheshire Faculty ( above )has one of its two campuses in Crewe, in a part of town which has been rebranded as the University Quadrant. The second campus, about 6 miles (9.7 km) away in Alsager, is being relocated to Crewe over the next few years as of 2009, as Crewe becomes the university's Cheshire base for courses in business and management, the arts, exercise and sport science, humanities and social studies, education and teacher training. Initial expansion of the Crewe campus to accommodate the extra students and staff included the opening of a £30-million student village in 2005, part of an estimated £70 million investment being made in the campus.
Crewe's sporting claim to fame is that it is home to Crewe Alexandra F.C., for a long time one of English football's perpetual under-achievers. During the late 20th century the club enjoyed something of a renaissance under the management of Dario Gradi, playing in the First Division the second tier of the professional pyramid for five seasons from 19972002. They were relegated to the Second Division in the 200203 season, but were promoted back to the First Division after only one season. At the end of the 200506 season, Crewe were relegated to the third tier (renamed to League One) again. Crewe Alexandra will play in League Two (the forth tier of English football) during 2009-2010 having been relegated at the end of the 2008-2009 season.
Speedway racing was staged in Crewe in the pioneer days of the late 1920s/early 1930s. The venue was the stadium in Earle Street which also operated in the 1970s. The Crewe Kings raced in the lower division (British League Division Two, then the National League) from 1969 until 1975. At the time the track was the longest and fastest in the UK.
Suffragette, Ada Nield Chew began her activism in Crewe by writing a series of letters to the Crewe Chronicle, signed A Crewe Factory Girl, critical of the pay and conditions of women working in factories. At that time in 1894 she herself was working in Compton Bros. clothing factory in Crewe.