St Helens Heritage Trail
ASK people to
sum up St Helens in two words and usually those words are Glass and
Rugby, I know thatís three words if you want to be picky, but you
know what I mean. Last Friday was the launch of the St Helens
Heritage Trail, essentially a tour map to guide people to places of
local interest, in an effort to get more people to visit the town
and to discover some of its less obvious attractions. Iím a Young
Leader with the Girl Guides and so this is an insiderís view of the
results, but itís not going to be a PR job in case youíre wondering.
The St Helens Girl Guiding Association along with local archivists
and historians were behind the creation of the trail and I asked
some of the people involved about the project.
The St Helens Guides were invited by St Helens Community Empowerment
Network (CEN) a non-political network of local voluntary and
community groups who liaise with the council on various issues, to
produce the trail as part of their the Girl Guiding Associationís
Centenary Celebrations. Although St Helens Guides involvement has
been behind the scenes apart from providing guiding uniforms from
the past 100 years, worn by a few of the girls who helped to show
people around the trail along with a couple of the Girl Guide
Leaders who were acting as tour guides for the initial launch
The buildings on the trail were originally chosen for their
historical period value but then it was decided to also add
buildings with an interesting individual history or story.
The National Lottery, along with St Helens Council, provided the
funding; the council also provided access to records and expertise,
as well as enabling the production of the finished guide.
It wasnít all plain sailing as there were difficulties trying to
establish facts and all the information had to be independently
verified by two sources before it was allowed into the guide.
On a personal level, having walked the trail, I felt that it is
maybe slightly too long for comfort and also, after the launch
weekend; anyone walking the trail will have to do so without the aid
of a tour guide, having to rely on a trail map. The information in
the actual guide is a bit sparse and there is a distinct lack of
public conveniences marked on it, so if you donít know St Helens
youíre going to be a bit stuck, especially if youíre doing the trail
Taken as a whole, the trail is a good idea, but could probably do
with a bit of polishing to make it shine. Letís hope we can build on
this for the futureÖ
FACT FILE:- "Did you know?"
One of the buildings on the trail is the
Friendsí Meeting House, This attractive stone-built Grade II hall
dates from 1679, is the oldest building in the town and has been
used for Quaker worship for over 300 years since its establishment
by George Shaw of Bickerstaffe. The building and garden have been
recently restored & are an important element of the George Street
Conservation Area. The sundial over the door is dated 1753, while a
curiosity in the garden is a huge glacial boulder, said to have been
deposited from the Lake District following the last ice age.
Another building on the trail is the Citadel Arts Centre, commonly
referred to as The Citadel, and is a multi disciplinary arts centre
situated in the town centre of St Helens, Merseyside, occupying a
Victorian building on the corner of Waterloo Street and Milk Street.
The centre offers an artistic programme consisting mainly of live
music and community arts, as well as creative writing classes, art
classes, dance and drama groups and music classes.
The building was originally constructed in 1861 as a music
hall/theatre simply named the 'Theatre Royal'. It replaced an
unspecified earlier building on the site. The theatre originally had
two balconies and a large stage with a small fly tower. It had
capacity for over 1300 people. The remains of the second balcony can
still be seen today. The theatre was popular with touring companies
and, despite numerous different owners, it grew in popularity until
the venue was deemed to be unfit for purpose.
In 1887 the manager, a Mr Wallace Revill,
purchased a plot of land on Corporation Street in St Helens, and a
new theatre was constructed. Revill vacated the Milk St building and
took the name 'Theatre Royal' with him. The new Theatre Royal still
The Salvation Army purchased the building in 1889 and began an
extensive programme of refurbishments which removed the stage and
fly tower, the upper balcony and also the boxes. This was furthered
in 1904 when the building was altered even more. It was reopened by
Col Pilkington, of the famous Glass manufacturers in June 1905. The
building was used by the Salvation Army as their Citadel (from
whence its new name came) up until the early 1980s. It was then put
up for sale.
Today The Citadel is the only Arts Centre in St Helens. From 1988 up
until 1999 the venue primarily was a rock, blues and jazz venue. It
also played host to a Spice Girls Concert! Since a major
refurbishment and restructuring in the year 2000, the organisation
has changed considerably. As well as the music programme, The
Citadel now offers an extensive range of inclusive creative arts. In
2002 the venue was voted as one of the top 10 jazz and blues venues
in the UK by the newspaper, The Independent.
2008 saw the launch of the St Helens Choir, in co-ordination with St
Helens Council and the Sing Out 08 promotion (part of the Liverpool
capital of culture operation).
In 2009 The Citadel celebrated its 21st birthday with a special
event with invited guests and members of the public. Also in 2009
The Citadel was awarded Big Lottery Young Peoples Fund 2 as part of
the National Lottery's ongoing Arts Council investment scheme to run
its Music Mecca project.
2010 saw the launch of Music Mecca, a 3 year project designed to
offer free music workshops to young people across the St Helens
area. Music Mecca was one of the featured promotions for the St
ESQUIRES OPENS IN
now flooded with coffee shops and tea shops, so it was quite a shock
to hear that yet another had opened in the Town Centre. Coffee
consumption in Southport offers a brisk market place, with coffee
and tea shops maintaining strong hold of many properties within the
Town Centre. It is hard to see how yet more would help Southport,
but we think this one will. Many of the big chains cluster bomb
areas especially in smaller areas such as suburbs or small towns,
driving out local traders, so what makes this one different? With
the likes of Nero, who have opened up not one, but two shops in just
a few seconds walking distance of each other, how can they do get
into the market place? The new shop, Esquires Coffee House, opened
its doors to the public on 13 September 2010 after holding a privet
launch on the previous Sunday. The coffee house is located near the
Southport War Memorial on Lord Street and offers a new approach to
the traditional high street coffee shop. Inside Southport Franchise,
Linda and the groupís national training manager, Paul Sharp, showed
us just what separates them from the likes of Nero and Starbucks, as
well as the countless local small business shops that are in and
around Southport. Inside they not only have relaxing chairs and a
well lit shop, but also a TV with the news on, Free Wi-Fi and, we
have been told, that they will soon have evenings with live music!
This is a welcome addition and should be a good supplement to the
townís food and drink market and a far cry from the likes of many of
the large coffee shops. The shop is well laid out and appears to be
very accessible for wheel chair users, but we have not tested that
one yet. The shop offers quite a few quirky items as well, like
chocolate penguins, appealing to the younger market. The coffee is
well made and is smooth to drink, thanks to a very good coffee
roast, all adding to a very enjoyable experience. We will be
watching this space to see what happens. Good luck to all the staff
and to Linda!
dermatology clinic in memory of husband
MRS June Bibby
of Ormskirk, a retired medical secretary, has presented a
state-of-the art camera to the Dermatology clinic at Ormskirk in
memory of her late husband Jack. "Jack had to come to
the clinic for treatment for 10 years and every one was wonderful to
us both. He actually looked forward to coming as the staff had
become more like friends. I just wanted to show my appreciation for
all the care he received over those 10 years." said Mrs
Bibby. Jack Bibby, a retired watchmaker, died aged 81 in March
2009. Dr Aamir Memon, Consultant Dermatologist gave his thanks to
Mrs Bibby:- "We are very grateful to Mrs Bibby for the very
generous donation. This new camera will be extremely useful to us.
It is a Polaroid, which enables us to instantly print small pictures
onto self-adhesive paper that we can put into the patient's notes.
It will enable us to keep a record of someone's condition so we can
see clearly how the treatment is working."