Lonely Planet Traveller: Ellesmere Port

Colloquially known as the ‘Wezzy’ by the locals, standing atop the rustic structure of it’s name sake bridge, the sun sets over the metallic railing of the train tracks, shortly followed by the chime and rattle of the carriage against the dirt trotted ground; the train leaves, and as you take in the musty air of the small Cheshire town, you suddenly feel as though you’re experiencing England for the first time, seeded in its industrial roots.

Situated in the south of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, Ellesmere Port was founded as an outlet to the sea from Ellesmere, Shropshire and Wales’ border. Today, the town is known more so for its Outlet Village, the UK’s largest outlet shopping centre, and at one point, the largest in Europe. From its plentitude of shops and leisure centres, such as the Vue Cinema and The Blue Planet Aquarium, it’s hard to imagine the humble roots of this city as one of the UK’s most important industrial centres, but evidence of its past remains. Far from the bustle of its Outlet Village, which rests on the outer boarder of the town, you slowly start to get a feel for what this town once was, as you abandon the restaurants and  shops, and enter its rural housing districts. With up and coming projects sprouting throughout the town, it seems like it won’t be long before all traces of industrialisation have been wiped clean, removed by Academy Buildings and Shopping Centre’s, making Ellesmere Port are rising tourism spot. But with that, we’re also loosing apart of what Britain used to be.

Even today, although diminishing, traces of its industrial roots remain.

So the question is, where do you begin? For the budding traveller hoping to experience Britain as it used to be, Ellesmere Port is key stopping point whilst travelling through what is debatably one of the most important urban/industrial areas the Britain, the Mersey. A night or two at its Travel Lodge, situated in a prime location only a five minute drive from the towns centre, and mere seconds from the towns Outlet Village, is an easy choice for a cheap yet luxurious nights stay. Of course, if you’re looking for something a little closer to home, the Port offers a plentitude of B&B’s throughout the towns vast housing estates and villages.

Whilst much of these shops have since been replaced, the structure and style still remain.

You won’t want to miss Ellesmere Ports famed National Waterways Boat Museum, for an intricate look into the makings of boat-building, or a detailed look into the history of the canals. The Museum itself has been feature of BBC4’s travel documentary, Behind the scenes at the Museum.

If a look into the true workings of Britain’s industry is what you’re after, then visiting Stanlow Oil Refinery is an experience you won’t soon forget. The second largest refinery in the UK, it has ran continuously for well over sixty years, and has been a source of work for the people of Ellesmere Port ever since.

Manchester Ship Canal as seen from Ellesmere Ports Boat Museum.

Or maybe you’d rather experience the local life of Ellesmere Port. Simply walking through the town will bring back any nostalgia from a simpler time in British history, and the locals are always happy to help when it comes to the odd direction or two.

So if you’re planning a trip through the British time-line, make sure to stop off at the aged town of Ellesmere Port to experience that history first hand.

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