And not before time some might say… but first a quick look back.
In the beginning
“Crewe – owes its prosperity entirely to the fact of its having become one of the most important railway centres in the world. The London and North West Railway Company has its works here – an enormous establishment for the manufacture of engines, carriages and all descriptions of railway plant.” So wrote John Bartholomew, Gazetteer of the British Isles, back in 1887.
With a population of 24,385 Crewe came into being almost entirely as a result of the railway station being built in 1837, followed by the development of Crewe Works by the Grand Junction Railway which later, with the addition of other railways, became The London and North West Railway Company. Over the following years many thousands of local people were employed and Crewe was indeed a thriving and important Cheshire town well into the 20th century.
But then… in more recent times and despite some good solid businesses, the good fortune of the town, its heart, along with its economy began to disappear. The reasons are many and not especially simple but it would be true to say that the Crewe of old is barely recognisable.
So what next…
All Change for Crewe is an ambitious strategic programme designed to support sustainable economic growth and development in the town. It’s not a short term fix and will require major investment over the next 20 years that will see the town revitalised. The plans include a centre for advanced engineering and manufacturing (sound familiar?) with a vision that would see the town becoming a sought after place for people to live, to work and to put down roots. Five key priorities include developing Crewe as a world-class hub for the automotive and rail industries, making the town a UK centre of excellence in employer-led skills, positioning Crewe as a market leader in renewable energy (geothermal as discussed by us very recently) and spearheading a £500 million infrastructure programme for the town. Bentley Motor’s £1 billion investment in new product development has already seen employment opportunities benefitting the local community and a proposed new University Technical College backed by Bentley, Siemens, OSL and Manchester Metropolitan will help deliver skilled workers needed to help realise both their, and the town’s ambitions for the future.
Love it or hate it HS2 also has the potential to turn Crewe into a hub station bringing more potential benefits to the town and the North in general – although the hub could be on an alternative site South of the town. It’s a controversial topic and the debate continues about the possibilities versus the realities. Pete Waterman OBE – friend of Crewe, known to us locally for his work through The London and North Western Railway Heritage Company of which is he Chairman, gives HS2 his seal of approval and here is a man who knows about trains, and about business, and about the way it is North of Watford. No doubt the debate will continue for a long time to come!
The Crewe of tomorrow
- 14,500 new jobs focused on the Basford strategic employment site
- Over £230million additional retail and leisure spend
- 20% population growth by 2031 (currently 83,000)
- Crewe Rail Exchange – a high quality gateway into Crewe developing a new station entrance, improved concourse and station facilities
- A new public transport interchange and improved access arrangements to relieve traffic congestion
The list goes on… and we think that the Crewe of old, a town with pride in its industrial heritage deserves not just a face lift, but a whole new face.