Widnes is an industrial town within the Halton (borough), in Cheshire, England, with an urban area population of 57,663 in 2004. It is located on the northern bank of the River Mersey where the estuary narrows to form the River MerseyRuncorn Gap. Directly to the south across the Mersey is the town of Runcorn. Upstream and to the east is the town of Warrington, and downstream to the west is the neighbouring area of Speke, of the city of Liverpool. Historic counties of England part of Lancashire, the town was transferred to Cheshire in the 1974 local government reorganisation.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution Widnes consisted of a small number of separate settlements on land which was mainly marsh or moorland. In 1847 the first Chemical substance factory was established and the town rapidly became a major centre of the chemical industry. The demand for labour was met by the immigration of large numbers of workers from Ireland, Poland, Lithuania and Wales. The town continues to be a major manufacturer of chemicals and there has been a degree of diversification of the town's industries.
Widnes lies on the southern route of the Liverpool to Manchester Lines railway line. The main roads passing through the town are the A557 in a north/south direction and the A562 road which runs east/west. The Sankey Canal (now disused) terminates in an area of the town known as Spike Island, Cheshire.