ASK many people from Warrington, and those beyond, which industry the town was known for and there would be one answer – wire.

Rylands, Greenings, Lockers, the names of the firms roll off the tongue.

And with Lockers still in business today and Rylands now riding high in football, the names roll on.

It was in the early 1800s that wire became important to the town's industry.

By the 1870s Warrington had water and rail networks for freight traffic linked to the ports of Liverpool, Hull and Bristol as well as Manchester and the Pottery Towns in the Midlands.

While Cockhedge had become Warrington’s second major industrial site with Peter Stubbs tool factory joined by a cotton mill and glassworks, Bank Quay had also expanded.

In 1815 Joseph Crosfield had begun the production of soap in a disused factory near Liverpool Road and by the 1860s Crosfield’s had become one of the top five soap producers in the country.

Warrington may never have been a one-industry town but by the early nineteenth century wire working was its most important trade. Firms such as Rylands, Greenings, Lockers, Whitecross and the Firth Company were major employers.

The town’s wire workers supplied the demands of other industries producing woven wire ropes for collieries and shipping, gauze, perforated screens, sieves and conveyor belts, together with wire fencing and nails for builders.

In September 1913 a survey of Livelihood and Poverty demonstrated the diversity of the town’s industry: "There are in Warrington some of the largest ironworks in the United Kingdom also several wireworks where the processes of wire drawing and weaving are carried out.

"Firms manufacturing bedsteads, tubes, boilers and engines, and two of the largest gas-stove works in the country are established there. In addition there are tanneries and breweries. Other important trades are those in boxes, printing, glass, rubber, flour, white lead, timber and building materials. With so many industries upon which it is dependent, the town escapes comparatively lightly when one or a few of its trades are suffering from commercial depression or the effects of a strike."

This economic resilience helped Warrington survive the economic depression of the late 1920s to early 1930s and ensured that the town’s industries played a vital role in both world wars.

 With thanks to Janice Hayes' book the A to Z of Warrington which is out now.