Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Runcorn-on-the-Mersey

Growing up I was sometimes a little vexed at being a Runcorn kid. There were so many beautiful villages and farming communities and nicer places close to our town that appeared to me to have an air of abundance and well-being that I never felt.......not only that, there were nice little neighbourhoods within 1/4 mile from my downtown street with houses that were 'posher' than our 2 up and 2 down. It was a case of 'you're alright, I'm not alright'.

As Lyndon Johnson once said, I told you that story so I could tell you this story..........

We will be cruising down the River Avon in June the week before we go to Wales to celebrate my older brother's birthday. (Wales was one of those places that was close to Runcorn that was attractive to me as a youngster)

Looking at maps of the Avon river I saw that almost all the towns are Summat-on-the-Avon. Stratford, Bidford, Welford, Weston etc and 100 more. Then I looked at the River Severn and saw the same thing -Upton on Severn, Worcester on Severn etc. In my youth it seemed to me that Runcorn could never aspire to the heights of Stratford. However there is one town on the Avon called Wyre Piddle. I wouldn't care to be from there but I read they have a nice pub where we may have lunch!

A few days later I was looking at some old maps of Runcorn that were made before the Manchester Ship Canal was dug and the gantry wall separated Runcorn from the Mersey.
I saw on the old map that- Runcorn-on-the-Mersey- was how my little home town was known in the 18th century. Can you imagine.

It was a town with spring baths and was renowned as a spa with health qualities gotten from the water. It had a river that sported salmon, hake, fluke and all kinds of fish before the industry polluted the river and buggered the fishing. There were sailing ships galore and at times even whales would somehow get disoriented and wander down from the Liverpool sand banks (where they were usually beached) to RUNCORN-ON-THE-MERSEY.

This is from a middle of the 19th century map.