Emblematically Speaking - Runcorn Linnets
Tue 12th September 2017 | Runcorn Linnets | By Stewart Taylor
If we consider Runcorn Linnets to be something of a legacy club, following the well known and successful Runcorn FC, then there is a story to tell about the evolution of the club emblem.
The emblem used by Runcorn Linnets today is, to all intents and purposes, the town coat of arms of Runcorn which were granted in October 1956.
As the old Runcorn FC predates the granting of this coat of arms, then something else had to be used as an emblem by the old club from their foundation at the end of World War One.
The incorporation into the emblem of a sailing ship dates back to early times at the club and is still present today although there were times when a simple capital R with a Linnet inside was used, and a representation of a Linnet is also recognised from the club records.
The town coat of arms was a regular feature on Runcorn FC shirts from 1986, although the colours were not always accurately reproduced.
When printed or embroidered on to the shirts, the town coat of arms motto “Navem Mercibus Implere” (Fill the Ships with Goods) was generally replaced with the wording Runcorn AFC and then Runcorn FC Halton - the club's playing name in its nomadic last five years in existence at Widnes and Prescot.
The present club's crest, which has been ever present on the shirts, was further modified from the original town crest with colour ways being changed and two "Linnets" incorporated into the new design.
Much of the blue colour of the town coat of arms was changed to green with what had been gold in colour becoming mainly yellow. This is no coincidence if we consider the playing colours of the club.
The linnets can be seen superimposed on the two heraldic fountains which sit either side of the crossed knives on the shield.
As we have seen in the study of club emblems throughout this series so far, the various devices displayed, particularly when a modification of a town coat of arms is used, can tell us a great deal about the history of the town. This one is no exception.
If we start, as usual, with the arms (shield), the dominant feature is a sailing boat. The ship upon the waves was suggested by the former device of the local Council, which flies the ancient flag of England and has a wheatsheaf from the arms of the Cheshire County Council.
Whilst we might consider Runcorn as a relatively new town there is a lot of history around and, as is often the case, this history lies with powerful and influential families.
In this case we are talking about the ancient Cholmondley family which can trace its lineage, although not the name, back to the times of the Domesday Book (11th century).
Throughout the centuries there were many distinguished members of the family and, in recognition of their work, the head of the family was created Earl of Rocksavage in 1815.
So there we are, and I thought Rocksavage was the name of a chemical plant! The relevance here is that the wheatsheaf is prominent on the arms of the Marquessate of Cholmondley.
The blue and white waves below the ship represent the four waterways which have played so great a part in the life of the town at different times - the Mersey, the Bridgewater Canal, Manchester Ship Canal and Weaver Navigation.
The red band across the top of the arms (known as a chief in heraldry) represents industries in the town. Particularly old sandstone quarries and the fires of the more modern engineering plants.
The two ancient flaying knives are the symbol of St Bartholomew who was the patron saint of tanners. The tanning industry being one of the early chemical based industries in Runcorn.
These stand between the two heraldic fountains referred to previously where the linnet is superimposed on four wavy lines, originally white and blue but green and yellow on the club emblem. It has been suggested that these wavy lines represent water, chemicals, brine and wells – all of great importance to the town.
The crest features a red mural crown which represents Halton Castle which is an 11th century Grade 1 listed ancient monument administered today by the Norton Priory Museum Trust.
The mural crown supports a black lion which is from the arms of the famous Savage family of Clifton. Perhaps the most famous of the land owning Savage family was Bishop Thomas Savage who was Archbishop of York in the early 16th century.
The lion supports a crozier representing Norton Priory, from which hangs a shield of the arms of William Fitznigel, Baron of Halton in Norman times. The crown worn by the lion indicates the reversion to the Crown of the ancient Barony of Halton.
Somewhat comprehensive this one and, again, a fine representation of a detailed town coat of arms, modified by an organisation representing the town to take on board a number of elements which directly apply to that organisation.
(Our thanks to Dave Bettley and Derek Greenwood for their assistance in the writing of this article).