When asked to describe Partington, it might be easy for a younger resident to think of an isolated community with a bad reputation that it’s simply struggling to shake off. They might consider a lack of transport, a lack of jobs and a lot of waste ground which it’s hard to imagine was ever a hugely significant part of industrial Britain. Despite the regeneration that has gone and is still going into the area through the Health and Wellbeing Centre, the Children’s centre and more recently the Fuse, there is much more to be done to bring Partington back to its former glory. So what exactly was its former glory? Despite being a small and fairly isolated town, Partington actually has a fascinating and very significant history!
In the 10th Century a small settlement called Pearta's Town sat on the banks of the river Mersey. Around this time the Vikings sailed up the river and the town that we now know and love was raided - killing about 20 people! In 1359 the Bubonic Plague arrived in Partington and around half of its 90 residents died. The area for many centuries was simply a group of small farmsteads with no real town or village centre. In 1664 the village still had just 99 people living there! Around this time there was a monastry near Warburton called St John of Jerusalem and it is said that Coroner's Wood which sits by present day Oak Road was a graveyard for the monks. The monastry was destroyed around 1536 and nothing of it remains today.
Through the following centuries Partington was a peace-loving village and local people caught Salmon in the Mersey whilst yew trees were grown locally to make long bows for the English Archers. It was during this time that the village stocks were in use - erected in the 14th Century they have been moved to various sites around the town and currently still sit on the old village green today (though sadly they are no longer in use!).
The paint works that sits on Wood Lane to this day started out life as a tanners treating cow hides and later became a corn mill before it became a paintworks. At that time Mr Bracegirdle was the village blacksmith and his forge was behind the old King Billy pub on Moss Lane. The area where the new shopping centre is currently being built used to be known as the 'lumpits' and acted as a playground for local children. By the side of what was the Greyhound pub on the main road is a short stretch of cobbled road. This bit of road goes right back to the early days of Partington and was the 'Wints' (or Wynts).
In 1755 a paper mill was opened in Partington and was actually the first ever factory in Trafford! Partington still has a couple of Grade II listed buildings that go back this far. The paper mill provided employment for the region and industry in Partington began.
Partington coalIn 1894 the Manchester Ship canal was completed and amazingly, for ¾ of a mile through Partington it was widened and a huge coal ship port was built there! The port had a huge coaling basin and four hydraulic coal hoists used to load up the ships. Due to the coal port that was here, Partington also had to build a major railway depot to help with transportation of the coal. Now the village was industrial and thriving with the best transport links to the sea in the entire region so other industries built factories here like the Partington Steel and Iron company. This company became Lancashire Steel Corporation in 1930 until it finally closed in 1976.
All this industry meant that for the early 20th century, Partington was thriving. Hundreds of workers would stream from the train station down to the port and the various factories that were running here. A ferry enabled workers from Irlam to cross the ship canal easily and this ran until a fire sadly destroyed it. Although hard to imagine right now, Partington provided jobs for the region.
Until the 1960’s Partington still had a relatively small population of around 700 people. A friendly village, people mostly lived in farms and worked in local factories. In the 1960’s Manchester council decided to pull down the now inadequate Victorian terraced housing in the city centre but needed to re-house the residents. Partington became one of those ‘overspill’ estates where vast housing developments were built and the people of Manchester were shipped out and left in Partington. By the 1970’s Partington’s population had jumped up to over 9000 but with the local factories and works now struggling and eventually closing, the new residents of Partington often struggled to find work as transport links were cut and the railway line closed in 1964.
Partington quickly declined through a lack of transport and employment and became one of the most deprived areas in the Greater Manchester conurbation. As a result during the 1980’s it gained a negative reputation locally and over recent decades the shopping precinct has been demolished and pubs closed. However, it’s not all bad news. Partington has a strong community and a lot of great residents who are working extremely hard to reinstate the area both in reputation and in local facilities. A struggling High school and Primary School have recently been given ‘Academy’ status and under new leadership are thriving with Broadoak School recently being awarded ‘Outstanding’; the highest possible accolade by OFSTED. Plans The Fuseare in place to build new shops, a new shopping area and the churches in the town are growing and beginning to fulfil gaps in local services such as professional debt support through Christians Against Poverty. The Fuse is a new state of the art facility which includes a theatre, sports facilities, recording studios and IT suites amongst other things, all of which is available for use by local residents and community groups.
Partington’s glory days all began through Trafford’s first factory, a paper mill just over 250 years ago. Over the last century, Britain’s paper industry was taken entirely overseas until 2011 when the UK’s only paper mill was built and began operation...in Partington. There’s a long way to go but the residents of Partington are hoping that this factory will mark the beginning of a new golden era of commerce and opportunity for Partington.