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About sharing image captionCrewe has changed a lot in recent years, say Ian Smyth, Mick Cartwright and Neil Jones Crewe and Nantwich is one of the UK's most marginal constituencies, with Labour taking the seat from the Conservatives in by just 48 votes.

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With days to go until another general election, what issues are firing up voters? There was a time when you couldn't move for bikes outside the town's famous Crewe Works.

Row upon row of them were parked up on the pavement, their owners among the thousands of workers inside West Street's huge warehouses, building locomotives for the UK's railways. As employees prepared to down tools at the end of the day, staff at the town's many pubs along what was known as the "Golden Mile" were pulling pints, lining them up along the bar ready for the teatime rush.

At Nantwich Road Working Men's Club - itself built to serve the town's railway workers - regulars are reminiscing about the good old days. At its height, Crewe Works employed 20, people.


Today, transport manufacturer Bombardier employs about on the same site. Its future prospects could be boosted if it secures a contract to service rolling stock for High Speed 2 HS2.

But the demise of the industry the town was literally built for is a harsh reality its people have had to come to terms with, along with the changing landscape.

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All the old buildings have gone. They've knocked a lot of the wrong buildings down as well," says Neil Jones, who runs a double glazing firm. It's darts night, and the lads from Cheese Hall, a Victorian pub in the heart of Crewe, have arrived at Nantwich Road for btc stoke on trent competition. As the rivals line up at the oche, yards away from an enthusiastic dominos match, one of the touchiest subjects in town is being discussed: the demolition of what remains of the famous Crewe Works wall.

The redbrick structure marked the boundary of the once sprawling engineering site. It is said that during World War Two, black outlines of houses were painted on it to fool German bombers into thinking it was an estate, rather than a factory helping the war effort. Today it is all but gone, the site behind it crumbling rubble.

The town can't cope.

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Luxury carmaker Bentley employs 4, at its Pyms Lane headquarters on the same site where Rolls-Royce used to be based. Cereal producer Mornflake has been growing oats in Cheshire since Still run by the same family, it has about employees at its headquarters in btc stoke on trent town.

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Housebuilding, too, is on the up. Cheshire East Council has earmarked land around Crewe for up to 4, new homes before Many projects have been completed, with others under way. The town's railway connections, proximity to Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, and the fact it is just a few miles from the M6, make Crewe an attractive prospect for commuters looking for reasonably priced homes.

When talking to locals about the new housing estates, the issue of infrastructure comes up again. Are there enough doctors and schools to fare soldi con youtube with newcomers, they wonder?

'If HS2 doesn't come to Crewe, what then?'

If it goes ahead, the high-speed line would go via Crewe with an "HS2 hub station" planned on the site of the town's main station. Stopping in Crewe twice an hour, HS2 would cut journey times to London from 90 minutes to Crewe is already a major junction on the West Coast Mainline, with more than 3m people passing through the station each year. If it doesn't happen, what then? There's a lot of work here," Neil Jones says.

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Among the big employers are electrical goods firm AO, distribution centre Brightstar and global insurer Assurant. Iraqi Rozghar Ahmed agrees that work is not hard to find.

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The year-old, who has lived in Crewe for two months, has found a job in a shop in the town centre. He sought asylum in England years ago, living in Eastbourne and Manchester before coming to Crewe.

He hopes his family can join him here. He likes Crewe, but says he has met very few English people since arriving. Many of these stores line West Street, home of that once treasured wall. A resident tells a story of a relative coming back to Crewe for a family funeral, several years after his last visit. The main parties are working hard to unite the voters of traditional working-class towns like Crewe and their neighbours in leafier Nantwich.


But while the big issues of HS2 and Brexit - Crewe voted to leave - loom large, many people say they are simply btc stoke on trent for a representative who will fight for positive change closer to home. Investment in the town centre is desperately needed, say friends Maureen Tomkinson and Beryl Davis. Lifelong Crewe residents - although they prefer to say they live in Sydney, a village three miles from the centre of town - they say the shopping centre has gone downhill rapidly.

The Grand Junction retail park just outside the town centre has sprung up in recent years, but investment in the town centre has been virtually non-existent since a plan to transform it collapsed in amid the global financial crisis.

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There's no date for demolition yet. It's desperately needed, says Tilly Hulme, There's no way you could do your Christmas shopping here. It is where the members of Nantwich Road Club might go if they wanted a nice meal.

Certainly, its characterful streets, pretty Tudor buildings and independent shops indicate a prosperity that people feel is lacking down the road in Crewe. For Mrs Tomkinson and Mrs Davis, it is the restoration of pride in Crewe that is just as important as investment - the need to create a town where young people want to stay and grow old, instead of losing out to Manchester and Liverpool. They remember fondly the throngs of workers leaving the factories, spending their wages in the town's shops and pubs.

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