TODAY it is one of Warrington's main shopping areas.

But the Cockhedge area has a much longer history in the town.

With the partial demolition and rebuild currently under way, we take a look at the role of the Cockhedge area as the industrial heart of Warrington in the 19th century.

Cockhedge, which along with Bank Quay, became one of the town’s two major industrial centres in the mid 19th century.

Janice Hayes, historian, said: “By the early 19th century, Cockhedge was fast becoming Warrington’s second major industrial site with Stub’s tool factory joined by a cotton mill and glassworks.

“By the 1840s Warrington was already engaged in fustian (or velvet) cutting and even when the cotton industry was at its peak in the 1920s, only six per cent of the town’s workforces was employed in the industry but almost 20 per cent of the town’s women workers worked in its mill.

Warrington Guardian:

“As its peak in the 1820s, the town had more than 20 firms engaged in cotton spinning or weaving.

“The smaller mills could not survive the cotton crisis caused by the American Civil War of the 1860s and only Armitage and Rigby’s Cockhedge Mill remained.”

By the late 1890s, terraced housing was crammed around the mill, which dominated Cockhedge and the nearby Central Station.

On February 20, 1896, Cockhedge Mill was badly damaged by a fire, which needed the attention of 17 firemen and both the town’s steam fire engines.

Tanning and brewing then started to take over as some of the major industries of the town.

By the post First World War depression of the 1920s, Cockhedge employed almost one fifth of the town’s female workers.

It also played a major role in the effort for the First World War.

By the 1950s the mill, run by Armitage and Rigby, began to fall into terminal decline as a result of cheap cotton imports.

In the 1980s, Warrington’s town planners had started to favour heavy industry moving away from the town centre while the retail sector was booming.

Charterhall Properties developed the new Cockhedge Shopping Centre which opened in 1984.

The old mill was demolished and it was these remaining girders which had supported the roofs of the old weaving sheds which were saved and given a new lease of life as the architectural feature of the new shopping arcade.