Photograph supplied by and © of Dave Cleverley
Prior to 1974, when Hale devolved to the Cheshire district of Halton, the town and surrounding area were an integral part of Lancashire. A riverside township whose eastern, southern and western limits are bounded by the Mersey, Hale stands some 10 miles from the centre of Liverpool lying approximately two miles east of John Lennon Airport. The furthest extremity, Hale Point, originally constituted the southernmost part of the county of Lancashire. A ferry from Hale to Runcorn operated as early as the 12th century(1), while a ford across the Mersey between Lancashire and Cheshire was in use from antiquity until the 18th century(2). Historically, agriculture predominated in the area, but at the western corner lies ‘Dungeon’ where existed extensive salt workings until the nineteenth century.
Before the conquest, Hale with Halewood formed one of the six berewicks of Edward the Confessor's manor of West Derby(2). Following the Norman invasion, the area passed to William the Conqueror and remained in royal hands until 1203 when King John granted the village of Hale in its entirety to ‘Richard de Meath’. After many legal disputes, the estate eventually became consolidated in the fourteenth century in the hands of the ‘Ireland’, later the ‘Ireland Blackburne’, family(2).
The village was described in the 1870’s thus, “Hale, a village, a township, a chapelry, and a subdistrict in Childwall parish and Prescot district, Lancashire. The village stands on the coast of the Mersey, 2 miles S W of Halewood r. station, and 10 SE by E of Liverpool; is a picturesque and pleasant place, much frequented by pleasure parties from Liverpool; and has a post office under Warrington. The township comprises 1,626 acres of land and 2,165 of water. Real property, £3,847. Pop., 648. Houses, 122. The manor belonged, in the time of William the Conqueror, to John de Ireland; and has descended from him to its present proprietor John Ireland Blackburne, Esq. Hale Hall, Mr. B. 's seat, was built, in 1674, by Sir Gilbert Ireland; has a recently erected front; and commands a fine view of the Mersey. A decoy pool, for catching wild fowl, is about ¼ of a mile from the village. The chapelry is more extensive than the township, and is of very ancient date. Pop., 1,062. Houses, 202. The living is a p. curacy in the diocese of Chester. Value, £105. * Patron, J. I. Blackburne, Esq. The church is a plain building, with aisles, porch, and tower. Charities, £15. John Middleton, known as "the child of Hale," who was 9 feet 3 inches high, was born here in 1578, and died and was buried here in 1623. The sub-district contains the townships of Hale, Speke, and Halewood. Acres, 13,042. Pop., 2,424. Houses, 430.” (3)
1. Farrer, Lancs. Pipe R. 249, 253.
2. 'Townships: Hale', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3 (1907), pp. 140-149.
3. John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)