WIDNES, a manufacturing town of Lancashire, England, is situated on the Mersey, where it is joined by the Sankey Brook Navigation, and on the London and North-Western Railway, 13 miles south-east of Liverpool and 188 from London. Capacious private docks were constructed in 1866 and extended in 1884. The Mersey is crossed by a wrought-iron bridge, 1000 feet long and 95 in height, completed in 1868, and having two lines of railway and a footpath. The church of St Mary was erected in 1856, that of St Ambrose in 1880, and that of St Paul in 1884. Widnes is one of the principal seats of the alkali and soap manufacture, and has also grease-works for locomotives and waggons, copper-works, iron-foundries, oil and-paint works, and sail-cloth manufactories. It is governed by a local board of fifteen members. Until comparatively recent years it was a small township, dependent chiefly on agriculture. In 1851 the population was under 2000, but by 1861 the numbers had more than trebled. In 1871 the population of the urban sanitary district (area 3339 acres) was 14,359, and 24,935 in 1881 ; in 1888 it was estimated to exceed 30,000.
The barony of Widnes came from the Lacy family to the dukes of Lancaster and thence to the crown. In 1554-55 it was declared to be part of the duchy of Lancaster.