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Speke (pronounced Speak) is an area of Liverpool, Merseyside, England, close to the boundaries of the Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley. It is 7.7 miles (12.4 km) south east of the city centre and to the west of the town of Widnes.

Speke is bordered by a number of other areas; Garston, Hunts Cross, Halewood and Hale Village and is located near to the widest part of the River Mersey.

The name derives from the Old English Spec, meaning 'brushwood'. It was known as Spec in the Domesday Book, which gave Speke Hall as one of the properties held by Uctred. (Today Speke Hall, now a Tudor wood-framed house, is open to the public.)

In the mid 14th century, the manors of Speke, Whiston, Skelmersdale, and Parr were held by William Dacre, 2nd Baron Dacre.

Until the 1930s, Speke was a small village with a population of 400; by the end of the 1950s more than 25,000 people were living in the area. The local All Saints Church was built by the last resident owner of Speke Hall, Miss Adelaide Watt.

From 1795 until 1921, the Speke estate had belonged to the Watt family; when the family died out, the estate was placed in trust. It was bought by the Liverpool Corporation in 1928 for £200,000; the Corporation's intention was to build a complete self-contained satellite town (this was at a time when thegarden city movement was underway). The parish of Speke became part of the county borough of Liverpool in 1932, having previously belonged to the Whiston Rural District.

Constructed between 1930 and 1933, by the start of World War II, Speke Airport was the second busiest in the UK. Retention of control by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in London after the war meant that it had lost its leading position in the UK by the 1950s.

The industrial rise of Speke continued until the mid-1970s, when an equally rapid decline ensued. The closure of the Bryant and May match factory was a noted example of these problems, as was the closure of the Triumph car plant. The area has however retained a large pharmaceutical plant, currently owned by Novartis.

When the 2000 Index of Multiple Deprivation was published Speke was revealed to be the second most deprived ward in England and Wales (out of 8414). Only Benchill in Manchester had a higher level of deprivation


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