Coordinates: 53.45°27′00″N 2.6330555555555555°37′59″W / 53.450°N °W / 53.450; -2.633
[[Image:|240px|Newton-le-Willows is located in ]]
Newton-le-Willows ()

 Newton-le-Willows shown within
Population 21307 
(2001 Census)
OS grid reference SJ580949
Metropolitan borough St Helens
Metropolitan county Merseyside
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district WA12
Dialling code 01925
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament St Helens North
List of places: UK • England •

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, to the east of St Helens, to the north of Warrington and to the south of Wigan.



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.

Railway town

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 today 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. Today, they are two of the oldest railway stations still 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. Today the town is the home of the head office of Nicholls Foods, the company that makes 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 their 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. It was quite reasonable to say that in the 1880s, Earlestown were the biggest rivals of Everton. Today 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, Wigan and Leigh being neighbouring towns, however the town has never had a rugby league team of note until recently. Rugby Union has always been 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 RLFC player Steve Hampson.

Cricket is now the major contested 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. A parliamentary borough from the 16th century until 1832, the developing industrial town became an urban district in 1894 under the name Newton in Makerfield. The name of the urban district was changed in 1939. On 1 April 1974 it lost its independence to become part of St Helens Borough of Merseyside.[3]


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, 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. Today, 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 in to a poor state of repair, it has recently been registered as a grade 2 listed building.

Shopping Centre

Today the modern day town centre is based in the Earlestown district of the town, with the 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).

The market is still the main attraction for people from the surrounding areas. There are many small long established independent retailers however the number of national retail organisations represented in the town is increasing. As with many other towns, many of the larger retail stores have closed, such as Woolworths in 2009 and Safeway. These were both due to the companies ceasing trading, also the large Somerfield and Co-op town centre stores have closed due to the companies merging, however the Co-op still has a small store in the Wargrave area of the town. A positive sign for the town is how the these larger premises have quickly been relet to other national retailers. Tesco acquired the Safeway store when this closed down, Wilkinson a large national homeware and discount retailer 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, Netto supermarket and Bewise 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 Holyhead. 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 and major towns of Warrington, St. Helens, Wigan and Leigh.

Bus services that serve the area include Arriva North West's 34/34A services and Merseytravel's 141 service.

Notable people

  • Rick Astley, pop star, who has had a UK and two US #1s and sold 40 million records.
  • Andy Burnham, Leigh MP, Labour leader candidate and former Health 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. Today, he runs the Cotton Traders sportswear firm in nearby Altrincham.
  • Joe Fagan, the former Manchester City player and European Cup winningLiverpool 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.



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