Neston gained a royal charter in 1728 as a market town and it was known as Great Neston to differentiate it from the neighbouring Little Neston. Until the growth of Birkenhead in the 1820s, Great Neston was the largest town in the Wirral Hundred and had a population of 1,486 in 1801, rising to 1,524 in 1850. The town's boundaries included the small settlements of Hinderton, Moorside Clayhill and part of Parkgate. In 1894 the area of Neston-cum-Parkgate was formed, which included both Little and Great Neston. This new area had a population of 2,201 in 1901.
Neston did serve as a port until the silting up of the River Dee meant that traffic initially transferred to Parkgate, and then to Liverpool in the nineteenth century. In 1760 a coal mine was opened in Denhall by Sir John Stanley and the coal was transported via the River Dee to Ireland and North Wales. Neston's Wirral Colliery survived until 1928 but competition from other larger coal mines resulted in its closure. The arrival of the railways brought improved transport links to the region when the Chester & Birkenhead Railway built a line to Parkgate.
Parkgate gained its name from the deer park which was enclosed in around 1250. The first mention of the village name is in the early seventeenth century when it was used to describe the estuary anchorage and the surrounding houses. The village's history includes its time as a port for Chester, a terminal for packet ships to Dublin, a ferry crossing point to Flint, a sea bathing resort and a fishing village. Its notable residents include Wilfred Grenfell, the missionary doctor who set up hospitals in the Labrador coast of Canada, was born at Mostyn House, the large black and white school still run by the Grenfell family and Emma, Lady Hamilton, who was born in nearby Little Neston and returned to stay at Dover Cottage to take the sea-bathing cure for a skin complaint.
Today the Parkgate branch of the railway has closed, but Neston has rail links to Wrexham, Flintshire and Merseyside. Neston has recently implemented a plan to attract tourism and commerce to the area. This Neston Market Town Initiative (NMTI) included the upgrading of the town centre and a new town website. Although the project was completed in 2008, the community regeneration work will continue through a new local community association, ch64inc, and the establishment of a town council in 2009. The population of Neston at the last census in 2001 was 3,521.