ABOUT WINDMILL HILL
Situated in the eastern part of Runcorn New Town and the Liverpool City Region, Windmill Hill is a housing estate with a population of just 2,400 residents.
Liverpool Housing Trust (LHT) became landlord of the estate in the late eighties when the Commission for New Towns transferred the Runcorn New Town housing stock to the Housing Associations.
In 2006 the Liverpool Housing Trust managed approximately 92% of the housing stock in Windmill Hill; today it is closer to 78%, with 6% of properties being classified as owner occupied. Over the years Windmill Hill has remained a close-knit community, with many residents having friends and family living on the estate.
In the low pale sunlight of the Mersey afternoon, the red brick pavings glint satisfyingly along the length of the streets, which are stopped by a skyline of woodland as the designers intended.
In Windmill Hill, life revolves more around the bus and the bicycle, and walking through a safe green path into the natural landscape that makes up part of the Mersey Forest woodland. Bordered in the north by the winding Bridgewater canal, boys can fish and old men can dream by the canal bank.
THE HISTORY OF RUNCORN NEW TOWN
In 1964, East Runcorn was designated a ‘New Town’ area for the over-crowded residents of Liverpool. During the 15 year period that followed between 1964 and 1979, Runcorn New Town saw around 40,000 new residents arriving from Liverpool. Massive housing projects were built as part of the Liverpool Masterplan, aimed at reducing the overcrowding in Liverpool’s inner city areas. They tranformed a once baron land of fields into new homes by the Runcorn Development Corporation for Liverpool housing associations like Riverside, Plus Dane, CDS Jackson, Liverpool Mutual Homes and the Liverpool Housing Trust. Halton Brook saw the first house built in 1967 and was the first estate to be finished. It was mainly south Liverpool residents like the Ford workers and their families that settled onto the first estate.
In 1972, the large housing estate of Castlefields was finally completed. The remaining eight estates that followed throughout the seventies are the Whitehouse Industrial Estate, the Astmoor Industrial Estate, the Brow, Southgate, Palacefields, Brookvale, Murdishaw and finally Windmill Hill.
By 1980, the total population of Runcorn stood at nearly 66,000. That’s an increase in its population of more than 153% in only 19 years. Runcorn experienced a huge shift in its demographic during this time too, as most of the new arrivals were young couples with children. Over the years the new town area of Runcorn has continued to have a close affinity to Liverpool, through continued family ties and an overwhelming support for the two local Premier League teams of Everton and Liverpool Football Club.
THE HISTORY OF WINDMILL HILL
Built on land that was once part of the Norton Priory Estate (Brookes Estate), Windmill Hill was developed in the mid 1970’s and was one of the last estates built in the New Town of Runcorn. With a total of 981 dwellings constructed by the Corporation, it was created in 2 development phases. The first phase was to the north of the busway, with the second smaller phase built to the south of the busway out along Nortonwood Lane. The 1st house to open on the estate was in March 1978.
“Tucked into a sloping site between Windmill Hill woods and a gentle curve of the Bridgewater Canal, Windmill Hill occupies an attractive site in the north east of Runcorn. There are six types of homes at Windmill Hill – a mixture of bungalows, houses and flats in size suitable for the single person up to a family of seven. The houses and patio bungalows faced in red brick are easily recognised by the single pitched roofs. The larger three bedroom bungalows have a traditional roof and the flats are in three storey group of six, sharing a carpeted stairway. Each dwelling has an individual back garden with flag stones to a rear gate. House fronts face onto a main footway and access roads, with car parking spaces close to the dwellings. Although Windmill Hill with its lovely parkland and views is the most rural of the New Town developments, it is not cut off from Runcorn life. The Runcorn Busway system has buses running on specially designated roads and links Windmill Hill to all the housing areas, industrial estates, Shopping City, railway stations and the Old Town. All the facilities of the New Town are only minutes away on the fast and frequent bus service.”
– Runcorn Development Corporation (1980)
When built, Windmill Hill benefitted from Norton Priory High School, a community secondary school and the adjacent Norton Priory Recreation Centre. As a result of an amalgamation in late 2001, the secondary school and later the recreation centre closed down. The land that formally occupied the school is now part of the much praised Pheonix Park.