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Wilmslow History and the Local Environment

Wilmslow was originally an Anglo Saxon settlement, memorably called Wighelmes hlaw, which scholars translate as the mound of a man called Wighelm. Its most famous resident, now known as ‘Pete’, was killed by fellow settlers and is now on permanent display at the British Museum as a part of their Iron Age celebration.

Wilmslow remained a rural backwater until 1842 when the railway joining Manchester with Crewe was built and brought with it the opportunity for wealthy Mancunians to quit their urban surroundings for the more peaceful surroundings of the Cheshire countryside. It was one of the eight parishes of the Macclesfield Hundred of Cheshire. It was subdivided into the townships of Bollinfee, Chorley, Fulshaw and Pownall Fee. Under the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1866, the townships became civil parishes in their own right. Subsequently Wilmslow was created as a civil parish in 1894 when Pownall Fee and Fulshaw were abolished.

The town narrowly avoided becoming part of Greater Manchester in 1974 when the Council successfully petitioned – along with the neighbouring towns of Poynton, Alderley Edge and Whitworth – to remain in Cheshire and instead transferred authority to the newly created Macclesfield Borough. Despite this, the Office for National Statistics still considers Wilmslow to form a part of Greater Manchester urban area rather than that of Cheshire.

Today Wilmslow is known as part of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of north east Cheshire – the other two points being Alderley Edge and Prestbury. It is the headquarters of the Royal London Insurance Company (on the site developed by the Refuge Assurance Company) and the Information Commission. It is shortly to welcome Waters, a leading manufacturer of precision optical instruments, to a site ripe for development to the west of the town.

Aside from Wilmslow Pete, the town has been home to a number of key figures of British history of whom the most important must rank as Alan Turing, the mathematician behind the development of the Bombe machine, which fortunately cracked the Enigma code. His former home now carries a blue plaque. Perhaps less noteworthy in the overall scheme of things but probably even more famous are the ranks of celebrities and sportspeople who live locally including the cyclist Victoria Pendleton, the actors William Roache and Simon Gregson who both star in the TV soap Coronation Street and any one of a number of professional footballers. It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that the Aston Martin retailer on Water Lane admits to the position of leading dealer of the brand in the UK.

Transport remains a critical element of the town’s success and popularity. The centrally situated railway station provides a two hour journey to Euston. Manchester airport is only five miles outside the town and the motorway network of the M6, M56 and M60 mean that travel by car to the Lake District, North Wales and Chester or even the Yorkshire Dales is easily accomplished.