The Future of Crewe
Crewe is located at the centre of a strategic road and rail network with 4.9 million people within one hours travel. It is recognised as a focal point and hub for regional connectivity and as such is in a pivotal location to drive growth. The growth plans for Crewe capitalise on its current and future connectivity, capacity for growth, its strong technological and human capital base and growing competitiveness. The growth aspirations for Crewe are long term, but both the public and private sectors within Crewe recognise the importance of creating the conditions for growth now, and Crewe Engineering & Design UTC sits at the heart of these plans.
As the largest town in South Cheshire, Crewe is already the area’s primary centre and economic hub. Its 5,000 businesses include concentrations of advanced engineering built on its rich rail and automotive heritage. Planned growth for Crewe through the All Change for Crewe Regeneration Programme will deliver significant population and jobs growth. As evidenced in the SQW ‘Cheshire East High Growth Region’ document with just the provision of an enhanced station at its current location, it will generate up to 6,000 jobs and locally.
But this is just the start of it. The development of a HS2 ‘superhub’ at Crewe will have the capacity to super-charge growth and generate 40,000-60,000 jobs and provide a huge boost to the local economy.
Bentley are investing £800m in a their Crewe site, and OSL Rail and Jacobs are welcoming new contracts through the £38bn investment in the rail industry through Control Point 5 (with £500m specifically in the North West). Such investment requires additional recruitment both directly in the partner companies and through their supply chains.
Crewe – A Market Town
A small market centre until the early 19th-century, Crewe boomed after the arrival of the railways in 1837 and became renowned as the first great railway town. Still a busy industrial centre it has seen much modern residential and retail development. There are some interesting historic buildings, including the 19th-century Market Hall.
Crewe did not come to prominence until the 1830s, when the Grand Junction Railway Company chose it as the site for its locomotive works (known in the surrounding area simply as Crewe Works), following the thwarting by local landowners of its original plan to locate four miles away in Nantwich. GJR chief engineer Joseph Locke helped lay out the town. From a population of just seventy in 1831, the town exploded to 40,000 in 1871.
Economically, Crewe is perhaps best known for its association with the railway industry, being a major junction and once home to a bustling railway works. From 1946 to 2002 it was the home of Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor car production. From the end of 2002 Rolls-Royce production ceased at Crewe while the Pyms’ Lane factory now produces Bentley motor cars exclusively.
The advent of railways transformed a rural parish into a hive of industry. The first railway station appeared at Crewe in 1837, but the town’s growth really began when the Grand Junction Railway built workshops here in 1843.
The first steam locomotive was built at Crewe the same year – the Tamarlane, No. 32. A celebratory ball and banquet was held in its honour. Then two years later No. 49, Columbine, a Standard six-foot locomotive, was rolled out.
By the 1860s Crewe served as a junction for several railways. Steel manufacture came to the town with the LNWR’s Bessemer plant in 1864. During the heyday of Crewe Works, just before the First World War, some 8,000 workers were employed on site.
The last steam locomotive serviced at Crewe was Oliver Cromwell (Britannia Class) in 1967. Over the next two decades diesel electric locomotives, heavy freight locomotives, and high speed trains were all constructed here.