Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Evidence for the existence of Kirkby dates back to the Domesday Book, and a reference to Cherchebi, with a population of 80. The town's main church, St. Chads', was established at the time, and a Norman watchtower still stands on one of the main roads.
Up until 1947, the area was largely farmland, with a few cottages and farm buildings, some of which survive to this day. During the Second World War, the area was the location of a Royal Ordinance Factory. In 1947, the Earls of Sefton, the owners of the land, sold the right to build to the Liverpool Corporation, who were seeking to develop the area around the city in an attempt to alleviate the housing shortage caused by the Blitz, and to provide housing for workers on the burgeoning industrial estate.
The current population of Kirkby stands at 36,400 , somewhat down from its peak in the 1960s of 60,000, largely due to falling birth rates and the slow decline of the industrial estate forcing workers to look elsewhere. The town's industrial heritage has largely faded away, with service industries moving in to replace the factories. Major employers in the town included QVC and Barclaycard, with several other call centre companies also based in Kirkby.
The M57 motorway runs along the eastern edge of Kirkby, and the M58 connects just to the north of the town. The town is well served by public transport, with train connections to Liverpool (on the Merseyrail network) and Manchester (via Wigan), and multiple bus routes connecting Kirkby with several nearby towns. Construction on a new tram service linking Kirkby with Liverpool is expected to begin in late 2004 for completion by 2006.
Following the 1993 murder of local toddler James Bulger, UK tabloid and broadsheet newspapers, most notably The Sun, attacked Kirkby, Bulger's hometown, and Liverpool in general, accusing them of false grief ('self pity city') and blaming the town's decrepit state for his death – much in a similar vein as their attacks following the Hillsborough disaster. (This was despite the fact that the boy's killers were not from Kirkby, but from the Walton district of Liverpool.)
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