North West of England
On this page:
Cheshire, Merseyside and Lancashire cities
The North West comprises the counties of Cheshire and Lancashire, with the conurbations of South East Lancashire (including Manchester) and Merseyside (including Liverpool).
Manchester and Liverpool (pictured right) are the largest cities of the North West, both important ports.
Liverpool is Britain's second largest port after London: its area is called Merseyside because it stands on the river Mersey.
Liverpool Cathedral is Church of England and the seat of the Bishop of Liverpool. It's Britain's biggest Cathedral. Built on St James's Mount, it dominates panoramic views from the top.
It should not be confused with Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, which is Catholic, a modern building and the seat of the Archbishop of Liverpool. Christmas Midnight Mass on the BBC is often televised from it. Both churches are quite large.
Among Liverpool's landmarks are the well-known Liver Building, the war museum in Chapel Street, the Cavern Club where the Beatles first played, in Mathew Street, and the Albert Dock. In the city centre, Liverpool ONE is a shopping, leisure and residential complex, born from the redevelopment of 42 acres of underutilised land.
The Wheel of Liverpool is the Merseyside's answer to the London Eye. Spectacular views, accompanied by commentary, offer you a different visual experience of the city from above. Its height is an impressive 196ft (60m). It consists of 42 capsules, among which is a luxury VIP capsule with glass floor, DVD player and the option of champagne.
Liverpool's waterfront frequently host events, like for example the re-enactment of the first transatlantic sailing from Liverpool. The annual International Mersey River Festival, held in the summer and attracting hundreds of thousands visitors, is free (unless you attend specific events). This year it will host the Northern Boat Show: yachts, sailing and powerboats from 150 exhibitors in the Albert Dock.
The International Mersey River Festival holds activities for all the family, air shows, flyboarding, water sports sessions, walking tours, model boat displays. People can explore Tall Ships, naval vessels and barges. There is Music on the Waterfront, sometimes with performances from the Band of HM Royal Marines.
The port of Manchester lies 58 kilometers inland but is connected to the sea by the Manchester Ship Canal. Both these cities have football teams which are among the best of the English league, and people travel to them just to watch Man United or Liverpool in action. Both Manchester and Liverpool have busy airports.
Near Manchester is the famous seaside resort of Blackpool, a large town renowned for its illuminations and its guesthouses landladies.
Chester is Cheshire's county town, a historical town with Tudor timber-framed houses.
Culture & economy
The Industrial Revolution started in Derbyshire and the North Midlands, but developed round Manchester. The German philosopher Friedrich Engels, who was friend and co-wrote several books with Karl Marx, owned a family factory here, which inspired his own compassionate expose book The Conditions of the Working Class in England.
The North West is the home of the cotton-textiles industry, with which in the 18th century it became closely associated. Spinning and weaving became prevalent; cotton mills and factories could be seen all over Lancashire. Cotton trade increased, and so did the number of mill towns.
This industry is now declining, rapidly being replaced by diversified manufacturing (food processing, chemicals, computers, glass, and rubber products) but still ravaged by the Industrial Revolution. Modern Manchester's industries include clothing, banking and manufacturing. The former textile towns of Blackburn, Bolton, Oldham, and Rochdale have a wide range of industries, including brewing, electronics, chemicals and paint, textile machinery, and boatbuilding.
The North-West region has a particular, individual accent. Its humour was expressed in variety-hall acts, of which George Formby and Gracie Fields were typical examples. It gave birth to British rock music, with the Beatles and other groups in Liverpool.
After the preminence of Liverpool, more recently Manchester became the capital of British rock.
The area has many natural and landscape attractions. Many canals, among which the Leeds and Liverpool Canal (pictured right) and the Manchester Ship Canal, all heavily used for commerce, dominate the landscape of the region.
The North West is mostly rural. Much of it is unspoilt countryside.The Pennine Hills are in the east, while in the west is a large, fertile plain. In the region are some designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). One of them is the Forest of Bowland, in north-east Lancashire and North Yorkshire, part of the Pennines, a vast, unspoilt area of diverse landscapes, with heather moorland, peat moorland, gritstone fells, valleys, 13 per cent of which is designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The major rivers of the North-West are the river Lune in the north, and in the south the river Mersey, running between Lancashire and Cheshire.
Notable is also the Cheshire Plain, a great place for walks, rolling from the Pennines to the hilly countryside of north east Wales.