The Weaver is a river that flows through Mid Cheshire and was made navigable between Frodsham Bridge and Winsford Bridge by an Act of Parliament passed in 1721.

The work included 11 timber locks and was completed in 1732. An unusual clause within the act stipulated that any profits from the toll that was applied to trade using the stretch of the river should be handed over to the county of Cheshire for further improvements to roads and bridges.

Following construction completion, the toll was reduced by 20 per cent. The navigation route was, however, not in profit until 1775 when the first profit payments were made to the county.

Largely due to the salt industry over the next 70 years, the traffic increased considerably and so did the toll profits, amounting to more than £500,000 by 1845 (which would equate to £50 million today).

Also, in the 1840s, a controversial bill went through Parliament called the Weaver Navigation Churches Bill which had a mixed response from various Cheshire towns as it proposed to use the funds from the toll profits for other uses.

Northwich Guardian: Castle ChurchCastle Church (Image: Rose Hurley)

The Navigation trustees proposed to use those funds to build three churches for the watermen who worked on the Weaver.

Several times the watermen had been turned away from existing churches including that of St Helen's in Witton, Northwich, as the locals were concerned that they wouldn't be able to worship there themselves because of lack of capacity.

The Weaver watermen also petitioned the trustees for a day off so a bylaw prohibiting Sunday working came into being in 1837.

The trustees released cash for the building of the three churches and connected schools for the boat workers and their families, with the vicars' and teachers' wages paid for by the trustees.

The Church Bill was passed, and construction was completed for a church at Weston Point, Runcorn (1841), said by many to be the only church functioning on an uninhabited island in England isolated by the dock area; the Holy Trinity Church, Castle, (1842) which faced the Navigation buildings and still exists; and Winsford's Christ Church which was built in 1844.

Northwich Guardian: Weaver Church, WestonWeaver Church, Weston (Image: Rose Hurley)

This watermen's church (Christ Church) was stone built and located on Over Lane (which would later become High Street) and the junction with Queen Street within sight of the river.

Unfortunately, as with a lot of buildings in the local area of Mid Cheshire, in 1881 it was reported in the local newspaper the church in Winsford had subsided, was in a dangerous state, and needed to be pulled down.

The Navigation trustees vowed to build a new church in its place.

The new church was built of massive wood baulk foundations, with a timber framework infilled with red brick. The church became a notable building and watermen could see the church clock which faced the river and used it to keep time.

The old council offices stood by the church as can be seen in the photo from the early 20th century.

Northwich Guardian: The demolition and construction of the new bypass showing the church The demolition and construction of the new bypass showing the church (Image: Rose Hurley)

Sadly, the church was demolished in the 1970s as a part of the controversial Winsford re-generation programme where half the High Street made way for the new dual carriageway.

It was rumoured that the church clock would be saved but was dramatically dropped and smashed during the final stages before the church demolition.

A famous landmark of old Winsford where many of the more senior Winsfordians will recall having climbed atop the church wall and walked on it as children.

Northwich Guardian: Winsford church wall complete with railings Winsford church wall complete with railings (Image: Rose Hurley)

That was after the last war when the iron railings had been removed for the war effort.