Christmas Lights Switch On 17th Nov 07

St Helens Lights
Get under starters orders for the festive season in St Helens, which offers a bigger and better Christmas events programme than ever this year!

Enjoy an evening of free family fun entertainment in Victoria Square, St Helens town centre, to accompany the switch-on at 5pm there will be some of the most spectacular Christmas lights in the region.

There will be a whole host of family fun entertainment which will include jugglers, fire-eaters plus much more.

For further information please contact the Council’s Events Team on 01744 455326

A Brand New St Helens

st helens, posh, brand new This is a shortened reproduction of a Press Release from 23/10/07 launching the borough's latest initiative - A Brand New St.Helens

For further details please see the contact details at the bottom of the post.

St.Helens Council has launched "Brand New St.Helens", the Borough’s first ever integrated branding and destination marketing initiative, aimed at promoting "St.Helens plc" and showcasing the positive "post-industrial revolution" underway.

The new branding identifies St.Helens as the "Heart of the Northwest" to highlight the Borough’s location, connectivity, regional significance, and passionate "Northern soul". This is supported by a new St.Helens Visitor Guide, packed with details of the Borough’s rich tourism and leisure offer, plus a Development Review publication that highlights the spectacular ongoing physical transformation of St.Helens in terms of infrastructure, business developments, tourism and leisure schemes, public services, and residential development.

Central to Brand New St.Helens are the four key themes that will direct the marketing campaigns to be delivered.

"Connectivity, Catchment, Cost" highlights the Borough’s appeal as an accessible, cost effective business base for new and additional investment.

"Home of Champions" seeks to promote St.Helens’ winning business environment, which offers some of the best business support in the Northwest, not least via the best Chamber in the UK.

The existing website has undergone a complete revamp to support both these themes.

"Discover your Doorstep" is aimed at getting locals and day visitors alike to appreciate and utilise the Borough’s tourism and leisure assets, and is being accompanied by a major upgrade of

Last but not least is the "be POSH!" theme aimed at instilling and bringing out local pride. This will be rolled out via a dedicated website,, which highlights the many remarkable facts, people and other reasons there are to be Proud of St.Helens – POSH for short! People can put forward their own POSH suggestions, not just to herald events and celebrities past and present, but also to celebrate ordinary local people who are achieving extra-ordinary things.

st helensThe ultimate goal is to benefit the Borough’s businesses, residents and economy as a whole by attracting added investment and tourism. This will be achieved by raising the general profile of the Borough, enhancing St.Helens' overall image, and encouraging and increasing local pride.
Councillor Brian Spencer, the Leader of St.Helens Council comments: "There is a remarkable transformation taking place in St.Helens - Barclays Bank recently cited St.Helens as one of the top 11 places in the UK in terms of business start-up growth, while one of the world’s foremost artists has been commissioned to create an internationally significant new artwork here as part of Channel 4’s Big Art Project.

"The time has therefore come to adopt a more direct, confident, consistent and quality-focused approach to marketing the Borough, in order to capitalise on our prime location and connectivity at the centre of the Northwest region.

"Brand New St.Helens is in effect about promoting "St.Helens plc" – i.e. the Borough and its assets as a profitable business base, desirable residential location, and appealing visitor destination.

"We are positive that other local and external stakeholders will want to buy into the new branding and materials, to help take the promotion of St.Helens and its many positives to a new level."

For more information, visit the portal website or contact Laura Hutchings, Economic Development Marketing Officer at St.Helens Council, on 01744 671 749, 07747 762 167 or via

St Mary's Lowe House Carillon

Few people in St Helens could have failed, at some time or other, to have been stopped in their tracks by the sheer tonal beauty of the bells of St Mary’s, Lowe House, whether they be sounding out the cheerful bells of Christmas, or a splendidly rendered version of some religious or celebratory tune.

Carillons range in size from two to over six octaves, or from a minimum of 23 bells to as many as 77. A range of four to four and one half octaves (47 – 56 bells) is most desirable since almost all carillon music can be played on such an instrument (by comparison a piano has 88 notes, whilst an organ keyboard has 61). Most contemporary carillon music and much historic music is written for carillons with a range of four or more octaves.

The carillon at St Mary’s, Lowe House is one of the largest in the British Isles with 47 bells. The largest bell weighs 4 tons 4cwt. It is known as the “Thanksgiving” Carillon because it was erected in the centenary year of Catholic Emancipation and therefore is a celebration of religious freedom.

The bells are played by hand for which purpose a clavier of keyboard is provided, not unlike that of an organ.

This blog's author works next to the Church and what a joy it is during Summer afternoons to be able to stop for a few minutes and listen to the Carilloneur practising for upcoming services and recitals. In the heart of town, to be able to hear such cheerful and uplifting music is a rare gift indeed.

This short extract is reproduced from the website of St Mary's Lowe House Church. It is an extensive site and contains an excellent article on the full history of the Carillon and its arrival in St Helens in 1929, an event attended by many thousands of people.

"Purple Aki" jailed over Body Obsession

Here follows a synopsis of the week long trial that eventually led to the return to jail of the man known as Purple Akipurple aki

Man denies muscles ban

Nov 9 2007 Liverpool Echo
A LIVERPOOL man accused of breaching an interim sexual offences prevention order was caught on CCTV grabbing a young man’s bicep, a jury was told.

Akinwale Arobieke, 46, of Cavendish Gardens, Devonshire Road, Toxteth, denies breaching the order which bans him from “touching, feeling or measuring any muscle area”.
The case, being heard at Preston crown court, follows an alleged incident on May 24.

The following is an extract form the Lancashire Evening Post website on the same day

A convicted criminal known as 'Purple Aki' has denied breaching a sexual offences order which bans him from touching other people's muscles.
A man has told a jury he was grabbed in Preston, Lancashire, by a man he thought was a well-known "bogeyman".The events took place on May 24 this year when the man, known only as Jonathan, was shopping with a friend in Preston city centre.Akinwale Arobieke, 46, of Cavendish Gardens, Liverpool, denies two charges of breaching an interim Sexual Offences Prevention Order imposed in October 2006, which bans him from "touching, feeling or measuring any muscle areas".

Giving evidence from behind a screen, Jonathan told the jury at Preston Crown Court that as he and his friend crossed Fishergate outside Topshop the man grabbed him by his right bicep.He said the man asked him which gym he went to and said that must be where he recognised him from.He said: "He had hold of my right bicep throughout."Arobieke is alleged to have asked Jonathan about his gym training and told him he was getting bigger as a result.Jonathan said his friend started telling him about Arobieke and man reacted to by tightening his grip on the young man's bicep and denying the allegations.

Arobieke is then said to have asked Jonathan to go and talk to him down Canon Street free from his friend's interruptions and gestured with his head for him to walk away with him. However, worried by the claims his friend was making, Jonathan shook the man off his shoulder and went to join his friend.The pair later reported the incident to a security guard in the Mall St George's.

They met another friend after work and looked up 'Purple Aki' on the internet.Jonathan spoke to his mother about what had happened and she urged him to report the incident to the police.Robert Platts, defence, read the jury an account of Arobieke's notoriety taken from the website Wikipedia, which stated: "Akinwale Arobieke, known locally as Purple Aki, is a convicted criminal from the North West of England."He was widely believed to be an urban legend until his imprisonment in Liverpool in 2001. He was well known as a "bogeyman" in the area, with stories of his activity reaching as far as Wigan and Doncaster."Many stories talk of his sexual attacks, but he has never been found guilty of anything of a sexual nature."Mr Platts quoted further references to Arobieke's criminal history taken from the site and added: "The jury will hear that is factually incorrect."

However, Mr Platts said: "Mr Arobieke accepts he was in Preston that day and around the area we are talking about, but he denies any contact with you."What I suggest happened to you is that (your friend) spotted him because he knew a
bout him because of his Liverpool football (friends] and the fact that he had in the past downloaded him through the net."He spots him and says there and then 'that's Purple Aki' at a distance from you and from that point on you spot him two or three times."You were going round following him."Prosecutor Jonathan Clarke said on the same day a similar incident was recorded on CCTV in the St George's shopping centre.He said Arobieke was seen grabbing the bicep of another young man who was out shopping with his girlfriend.The man did not report the incident but was traced through local media appeal following Jonathan's complaint.

Then on November 14th the following appeared on the Lancashire Evening Post site

Man at centre of muscle-squeezing claims blames Wikipedia

A man accused of breaching a court order from feeling people's muscles told a jury he was at the centre of a plot to "stitch him up".
Akinwale Arobieke, 46, of Cavendish Gardens, Liverpool, admitted having a previous obsession with body building but said since he had not committed any offences since his conviction for harassment in 2001.He claimed allegations that he breached his interim Sexual Offences' Prevention Order by squeezing the biceps of two young men in Preston in May this year were untrue and that witnesses had read lies about him on the Internet.Prosecutor Jonathan Clarke accepted the complainant involved in the first incident on Fishergate had researched Arobieke on the Wikipedia website.However, he said although the 2001 harassment charge was made up of numerous incidents involving 14 young men – most of which involved him grabbing their muscles and complimenting them on their physique – it was not detailed on Wikipedia.Arobieke said he had never visited the site as he found its contents offensive and declined the opportunity to view a printout.He said: "When you do something wrong you can only be punished so much. I have admitted what I have don
e in the past and I want to move forward."He also said vital evidence which would have clarified the events in Fishergate had been destroyed: "I said that the CCTV footage was my only defence and my only defence was deleted."However, CCTV footage of Arobieke and the second complainant, Carl, in the Mall St George's, was shown in court.Mr Clarke said the video appeared to show the men talking and the witness flex his bicep. He then said it appeared Areobieke grabbed the man's bicep, a claim Arobieke vehemently denied.He said: "I don't deny I walked past him and there was contact but I wasn't in breach of my SOPO. When I went into town that day I had no bad intentions at all. I had no bad thoughts whatsoever."He claimed that Merseyside Police had made a payout to him for "untruths they made about me to put my life in danger" in 1999.

Man jailed over 'body obsession'

Then this is the final article which appeared on November 15th in the LEP

A man who a judge said had "deliberately and audaciously" ignored a court order by travelling to Preston where he approached a shopper and touched his bicep, has been sent to prison.
Akinwale Arobieke was a man "obsessed" with other people's bodies, the court was told, and under a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), was banned from "touching or feeling other people's muscles in public". After a week-long trial at Preston Crown Court he was convicted on one charge of breaching the order and cleared by the jury of another breach.The trial was told that Arobieke had, in May this year, approached a man in St George's Shopping Mall and touched his bicep. Although the man was not put in fear by the action, he later recognised himself in a CCTV photograph in the Lancashire Evening Post and reported what had happened to police.The original order came about on an application by the Chief Constable of Merseyside the day before Arobieke, 46, of Cavendish Gardens, Devonshire Road, Liverpool, who denied the breaches, was due to be released from a sentence imposed at Preston Crown Court.He had been sentenced to six years in December 2003 for 15 offences of putting people in fear of violence and one of intimidating a witness. By breaching the order in Preston, Arobieke became e
ligible to be returned to prison to complete the six-year term for which he had been released early.Judge Stuart Baker sentenced him to 15 months outstanding from the original term and added six months for the breach.Because of time spent on remand in custody for the breach, the effect of the sentence would mean he has to serve the 15-month term.The judge told him his actions "leave me to conclude you have not overcome your obsession". Judge Baker said he accepted the incidence of touching had been brief and the man was never placed in fear.He had denied the Preston offence for which he was convicted by the jury despite CCTV evidence against him, added the judge.

A lot more information about an "urban myth" character called Purple Aki can be found in this Wikipedia article

Sutton Oak Welsh Chapel

Situated on Lancots Lane, Sutton Oak , St Helens, the Chapel is a grade 2 listed building, in need of much restoration. It is also the last of the Welsh Chapels, the 3rd oldest church in St Helens, and by all accounts the only building in the North West which is made up of copper slag-industrial waste from the copper smelting works, which used to be opposite the Welsh Chapel.

The Sutton Oak Welsh Chapel Society are currently in the middle of a large scale renovation programme to restore the building to its former glory.

Regular services are held - in English - and the Chapel is open to visitors every Friday.

For full details of the Chapel and the work done by the Chapel Society visit their excellent website

St Helens Tourism & Leisure Awards

st helens town hall

Last chance to salute our champions
DO you know someone who deserves an award for all the hard work they do on behalf of our town?
You'd better hurry as the final deadline for entries to the 2007 St Helens Tourism and Leisure Awards is fast approaching. It has been extended by a week due to the postal strikes, so you have until Friday November 2 to get your nominations in and help to find the very best of the local tourism and leisure industry.
Following the huge success of the 2006 gala awards evening earlier this year, attended by over 370 people, St Helens will once again be celebrating the excellence and achievements of all those businesses, organisations, and individuals who contribute to the borough's growing tourism industry. They will recognise the people across the borough who have been instrumental in ensuring that visitors have enjoyed their time in St Helens during 2007.

All members of the public and businesses operating within the sector are encouraged to make nominations in any of the 13 categories:
Most Welcoming Receptionist
Most Helpful Retail Assistant
Most Professional Sports and Leisure Person
Tourism, Hospitality, Retail or Leisure Apprentice
Most Professional Bar Person
Most Professional Waiter/Waitress
The Unseen Hero
Young Chef Award
Chef of the Year
Team of the Year
Most Supportive Tourism/Leisure Manager/Supervisor
Tourism/Leisure Entrepreneur of the Year.
2007 St Helens Ambassador Councillor Neil Taylor, Executive Member for Urban Regeneration at St Helens Council said: "I would encourage local people and businesses that have been impressed by the high standards of an individual or team working within the borough's growing tourism and leisure sector to nominate them for an award and help us to officially recognise their efforts and celebrate their contribution to the industry.
"St Helens is now a growing regional destination of choice for visitors. With its mix of glorious countryside, fascinating heritage, vibrant nightlife and quality sporting events, St Helens has something to offer everyone"
Dickon White, Chair of the St Helens Tourism and Leisure Business Network and Managing Director at Haydock Park Racecourse says: "The annual St Helens Tourism and Leisure Awards recognise the hard work and commitment of all those involved in the tourism industry in the borough and we are looking forward to another exciting competition. This event will showcase what has been achieved during 2007 by the private sector working in close partnership with public agencies such as St Helens Council, The Mersey Partnership and the Northwest Development Agency".
Entries will be accepted up until Friday, November 2, and the shortlist of successful candidates will be announced later that month. The awards ceremony will take place on Friday, January 25 2008 at Haydock Park Racecourse.
To request a nomination form, or for further information about how to enter the 2007 St Helens Tourism and Leisure Awards, contact Alexandra Holt, Tourism Development Officer at St Helens Council, Town Hall, Victoria Square, St Helens WA10 1HP, call 01744 456078, or e-mail

North West Museum of Road Transport

Visitor Information

2007 Opening Times
Every Saturday & Sunday from 11.00 - 16.00


Adults £3.50

Child £2.00

Family £10.00

Concessions £2.00

Educational & Group Visits can be arranged midweek please contact us for details

How to find us map details

The museum is a short walk from St. Helens bus station and St. Helens Central Merseyrail station. For detailed public transport information log on to or call Traveline on 0871 200 22 23

Paul Holmes
Information Officer
North West Museum of Road Transport

The New St Helens Stadium

St Helens Stadium, United Glas

Exciting plans are in place as a result of four years’ hard work, to transform the derelict United Glass site by landowner and developer Langtree Group plc, St Helens Council, St Helens Rugby League Club, retailer Tesco and housebuilder Taylor Woodrow.

Under the dynamic proposals, a stadium would be built befitting the most successful club in modern rugby league history and provide one of the biggest economic development initiatives in the recent history of the borough.

The success of this project is entirely dependent upon all aspects of the scheme being delivered.

In summary, these developments are:

The transformation of the derelict former United Glass site to create a new 18,000-capacity stadium for St Helens Rugby League Club, a 140,000 sq ft Tesco Extra, as well as associated public realm and infrastructure improvements which will go hand-in-hand with the development

The redevelopment of the existing town centre Tesco store in Chalon Way into alternative high quality retail use, significantly enhancing and extending the town ’s retail offer

The development of the existing St Helens Rugby League Club site at Knowsley Road to create high quality family housing, which will enhance the existing community.
Together, these developments will create thousands of new jobs and pump millions of pounds into the local economy, strengthening the borough ’s economic base.

They will also deliver increased civic pride, enhanced social inclusion and improved brand image for the town.

The three cornerstones of the scheme are inextricably linked. If any single element were to fail, the entire project would collapse.

'Without the development of a retail store on the former United Glass site it would not be financially viable to construct the proposed new stadium.

This is because the retail store would act as an enabling component, facilitating the development of the stadium and associated infrastructure and public realm works.

Furthermore, the relocation of Tesco from its existing site is required for the proposed retail development to proceed at Chalon Way in the town centre.

Over and above the benefits delivered by the development of a derelict industrial site, the redevelopment of a prime town centre retail opportunity would generate significant additional economic benefits and is essential in justifying the provision of public sector support and funds necessary to redevelop the former United Glass site.

The development of the existing stadium site at Knowsley Road is also essential to help fund the stadium development.

It is essential, therefore, that each of the separate elements of the proposal be regarded as inextricably linked.

Each of the parts is vital to achieve the whole. And each of the parts is vital to achieve the significant economic benefits that would flow from the overall proposal and which would justify the expenditure of public funds.

This plan will deliver a positive economic impact on a scale that St Helens has never seen before.
With thanks to Langtree Group PLC. Visit the website for full details and to register your support

Sutton Beauty Website

Sutton Beauty A wonderfully-constructed and informative website, it is described in the creator's own words as

"a photographic appreciation of the Sutton district of St Helens, England"
Sutton has changed so much over recent years with the demise of its industrial base and its current regeneration into a diverse environment. This site aims to showcase some of its outstanding areas of natural beauty. The website is intended as a long-term project to document this renewal.

The site extends to over 50 pages of informative text and is illustrated with the creator's own images.

Click here to view the site

Hoax 999 Callers to be Targeted

Hoax 999 St Helens

Do you know who’s making hoax calls?

15/10/2007 Extracted from News Release by Merseyside Fire Service

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has launched a new attack on hoax callers.

A web page has been introduced where people can listen to genuine hoax calls to the fire service control room to try and identify the culprits.

Anyone who recognises who is behind the call is asked to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The initiative has been introduced by the Fire Service’s Mobilising And Communications Centre and Threat Response Group in response to an increase in hoax calls received by operators.

This year (since January 1) there have been around 900 hoax calls to the fire service, compared to around 700 in the same period last year.

Chris Case, who heads up the Threat Response Group, said: “Malicious calls can take life-saving firefighters and appliances away from genuine incidents. We are doing all we can to tackle this issue but now we are asking for the public’s help to identify the people making these calls. We need these calls to stop before somebody is injured or killed.”

The Fire Service already has a number of schemes in place to reduce hoax calls.

New technology is making it easier for to identify the location of the caller. When a call is received in the control room, the phone number is revealed to staff and new technology is able to flag up whether this has been used to make a false call in the past. Operators can now challenge to better effect anyone on the line who they suspect is a hoax and warn them that action will be taken.

Partnerships with phone companies are now proving to be more effective, with the control room staff informing them of repeat callers resulting in major mobile networks disconnecting repeat offenders. In the last two years nearly 100 phones have been disconnected as a result of hoax calls to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s control room.

Now a selection of the hoax calls from across Merseyside will be available on
To listen to calls from St Helens click here.
If you know who has made them, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

St Helens

St Helens wikiHistorically part of Lancashire, St. Helens grew during the 19th century as a significant centre for Coal mining and Glassmaking. Today, St Helens is still very much an industrial and commercial town, its urban area having a total population of 176,843 at the time of the 2001 census.
World of GlassThe St Helens Borough covers roughly 30 sq/km over an area of soft rolling hills used primarily for agricultural purposes, mainly pastoral. The highest point in the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens is Billinge Hill, 3.75 miles north from the town centre. The town is landlocked with a stream running through, Mill Brook/Windle Brook running through Eccleston and connecting with the (disused) St.Helens Branch/Section of the Sankey Canal in the town centre. St Helens is around 160 feet above sea level.

As late as the start of the 19th century, St Helens did not exist. It was formed from the townships of Eccleston, Windle, Parr and Sutton, townships of the parish of Prescot which became civil parishes on their own in 1866.

St Helens takes its name from St Helen's Parish Church in Hardshaw, within Windle. The parish church was rebuilt in 1816 and rededicated to St Mary. However, after the church was rebuilt between 1916 and 1926 following a fire, the dedication returned to the historic "St Helen, St Helens".

St Helens was built both physically and metaphorically on coal: the original motto on the borough coat of arms was "Ex Terra Lucem" and local collieries employed up to 5,000 men as late as the 1970s, whilst during the boom years of the British coal industry (1913 being the peak year of production with 1 million employed in UK mining) the St.Helens division of the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Federation (the local miners' union) had the largest St Helens Roofsmembership (10%) of that federation. Owing primarily to the abundance of winnable coal reserves, the quality of local sand, the near availability of Cheshire salt and the transport revolution -- first the Sankey Canal and then the railways from 1830 onwards -- a glass and chemical industry was established in St Helens. The Sankey Canal was opened in 1757 to transport coal from the pits in Haydock and Parr to the River Mersey. An extension to the canal (the St.Helens section) was made in 1775 linking the canal to St Helens. In the 1830s, the St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway was built for the same purpose.

Its clock tower originally had a steeple but this was destroyed in a fire in 1913. In the centre of the modern town centre, adjacent to St Helens Town Hall, is the Gamble Institute, built in 1896 and named after Sir David Gamble, who was the first mayor and who also gifted the land for the building. Today, the Gamble Institute building serves as the central library and also houses other municipal offices and archives. Other buildings of note are the Friends' Meeting House, the Beecham Clock Tower - which is now part of St Helens College - and St Mary's Lowe House Catholic Church. The town, and old county borough, included the suburbs of Clock Face, Sutton and part of Windle.

The glass industry is no longer the major employer it once was, however it still employs over a thousand people in St Helens. The large Pilkington Brothers works, founded in 1826, dominates the town's industrial quarter and still produces all the UK's output of flat glass.

Volunteering on Merseyside

Listed Buildings

Listed Buildings are those buildings which are considered not just to be of interest, but of special architectural or historic interest, and are included in a list published by the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport.

Any building of special interest which is more than 30 years old and which meets certain criteria is eligible for inclusion on the statutory list.

The principal factors taken into account when considering a building for inclusion on the list are:
Architectural Interest : Buildings which are of importance to the nation for the interest of their architectural design, decoration and craftsmanship, and important examples of particular building types;
Historic Interest : Buildings which illustrate important aspects of the nation’s social economic, cultural or military history;
Close historical associations with nationally important people or events;

More than half of the 142 listed buildings in St.Helens represent three social and historic themes. These range from farmhouses and outbuildings, churches and memorials and industrial buildings. Whereas most of the farms date from the late 17th century to the late 18th century, most of the churches are late 19th century to early 20th century.

Click on the link below for a breakdown of all the Listed Buildings in St Helens.

Listed Buildings of St Helens

St Helens Hospital Redevelopment

St Helens HospitalSt Helens Hospital is being redeveloped, with the construction of a new Diagnostic and Treatment Centre on land recently purchased from St Helens Council.
The new facilities occupy a total floor area of circa 25,000 square metres, equivalent to 5 football pitches. Accommodation provided in the new facility includes:
Out-patient clinics;
Diagnostic facilities including Radiology, Pathology and Cardio-Respiratory;
Treatment facilities including Operating Theatres, Day Case Ward, Opthalmology, Endoscopy, Dental and Rehabilitation units;
Cancer Day and Breast Clinic Services;
Intermediate care beds
New Restaurant facilities.

The building is built over four floors, with the lower two floors housing the Clinics and Diagnostic facilities and the Day Case accommodation on the upper two floors.
A new access area, with drop off facilities at Lower Ground and Ground Floor Level is being provided, with a landscaped walkway to the main entrance.

New Entrance to Diagnostic & Treatment Centre.
A large atrium entrance space will be the focal point of the new hospital, providing access to all the various departments.

Construction of new facilities commenced on site on the 3rd July 2006 and will be completed in September 2008. The building will be occupied and opened to the public in November 2008.

Following occupation of the new facilities, demolition of the vacated buildings will commence, allowing for provision of new car parking and landscaping to the site. Car parking provision on the hospital site will increase from the current figure of 400 spaces to 696 spaces, with dedicated areas provided for staff, visitors, disabled and drop off zones.

Visit St Helens & Knowsley Healthcare Trust Website

The Sankey Canal

The Act authorising the Sankey Brook Navigation was passed in 1755. The Canal which was cut subsequently was carrying coal by 1757, making the Sankey England's First Canal of the Industrial Revolution.
The Engineer for the Sankey was Henry Berry, who was Liverpool's Second Dock Engineer. With Thomas Steers, Liverpool's First Dock Engineer, he had a part in building the Newry Canal in Northern Ireland, the first Canal in the British Isles.

The Sankey was built to bring coal down to the growing chemical industries of Liverpool. They rapidly expanded, and spread back along the line of the Canal to St Helens, Earlestown, and Widnes, which were small villages until this period. The Sankey can thus be credited with the industrial growth of the region.
The Sankey was built for Mersey Flats, the sailing craft of the local Rivers - the Mersey, Irwell, and Weaver - and the Lancashire and North Wales coasts. To allow for the masts of the flats, all the roads in the Canal's path had to be carried over on swing bridges. When the Railways came, they too had to cross in similar fashion - except at Earlestown, where Stephenson erected his massive Viaduct for the country's first passenger railway from Liverpool to Manchester, leaving 70 foot headroom for the flats' sails.
England's first double locks were built on the Sankey at Broad Oak, St Helens. A second set were built later at Parr.
Built primarily to take coal down to the Mersey and Liverpool, the final traffic on The Sankey was very different, and in the opposite direction - raw sugar for the Sankey Sugar Works at Earlestown, from Liverpool.
The ending of the sugar traffic in 1959 led to the closure of the Canal in 1963. North of the Sugar Works, closure had taken place in 1931, and fixed bridges quickly replaced the old wooden swing bridges. The Canal, however, remained largely in water right up into the centre of St Helens, although its terminus had been truncated in 1898, when Canal Street was built over it.
The Sankey's immediate commercial success, followed soon after by that of the Bridgewater, led to a mania of canal building, and for extension schemes for the Sankey. One would have linked it to the Leeds-Liverpool near Leigh, to the North-East, and another to the Bridgewater and the Trent and Mersey via an aqueduct over the Mersey at Runcorn to the South-West Apart from early extension (1762 - to Fiddlers Ferry from Sankey Bridges, for better locking into the River, and 1775 - to St Helens itself) the only major change came in 1832, when, to meet Railway competition, an extension was built down to new locks at Widnes.
The Sankey Canal became more commonly known as the St Helens Canal after 1845, when the St Helens Railway Company took over the then more prosperous Canal Company to form the St Helens Canal and Railway Company

The Sankey Canal Restoration Society (SCARS) was formed in 1985, with the help and encouragement of the St. Helens Groundwork Trust. The principal aim of the Society is to achieve the full restoration of the Canal. To bring this about, the Society actively publicises and promotes the cause of the Canal, particularly in the three Boroughs through which it runs - Widnes (Halton), Warrington, and St Helens.

The Society supplements and supports the work the three Boroughs carry out themselves, particularly through their respective Ranger Services, covering the Canal's length.

In their turn, the Boroughs have positive policies towards the Canal and its restoration. A Feasibility Study was completed in the mid-1990's. Our partners in the Local Authorities are now working on a follow-up Economic Benefits Study.

SCARS carries out a Restoration Programme throughout the year, often in conjunction with the Waterway Recovery Group, which is the practical work arm of the national canals' organisation, the Inland Waterways Association.

The IWA supports the Society's aims, and is represented on its Executive Committee. From September to April, monthly Members' Meetings are held. These usually take the form of talks illustrated with slides, covering the Sankey itself, restoration work on other canals in the country, and subjects of related interest to the Canal and the towns it served.

During the warmer months, Guided Walks are organised along the Canal, and visits to other restoration projects are undertaken.

A team of Members staffs the Society's publicity caravan and stall at various Shows and Rallies in the region.

All information Copyright SCARS. With thanks

Sankey Valley Country Park

Sankey Valley SwansSankey Valley Country Park provides a balance of nature conservation and public recreation. At present the Country Park has numerous footpaths for the rambler to explore, a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the nature enthusiast to enjoy, along with numerous areas to fish (permits can be obtained through the local fishing clubs).

Blackbrook Canal Reed Beds
Sankey Valley Country Park forms part of the Netwon Heritage trail which can be followed from Castle Hill in Newton-le-Willows, through the Country Park and back to Castle Hill on a loop walk. The Sankey Valley Country Park is also a continuous link from St.Helens town centre, through Warrington and on to Spike Island at Widnes. Along with the natural environment aspects of the Country Park, the Valley also has some of the most important historical landmarks found within St.Helens, some of which can be viewed elsewhere on this web site.

There are frequent activities organised by the Park Rangers throughout the year. For a full list click on the link below.

Visit the Sankey Valley Country Park Website

St Helens Parks Win Green Flag Awards

St Helens, Park

North West scoops awards for best parks and open spaces
The best parks and green spaces in the North West were named today by Baroness Kay Andrews, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State.
A record 538 Green Flag Awards - the national standard for parks and green spaces - have been awarded to sites across the country. And the North West comes out top of the tree with 159 - 36 more than last year's bumper crop.
The scheme has been running for 11 years and this year has seen a 32 per cent rise across the country in the number of winners, further evidence of the renaissance of our parks and green spaces. Winners are judged to be welcoming, safe and well maintained and involve the local community.
Baroness Andrews said:
"I'd like to congratulate all of the Green Flag winners this year. The huge rise in winners is yet more evidence that across the country the standard of our parks continues to rise. Parks are an oasis of calm and natural beauty and have a vital role to play in our modern lives as places where people come together to relax, exercise and play.
"Green Flags are awarded to the country's best parks but everyone should be able to enjoy great quality parks and green spaces. Our ambition is that all communities should benefit from this renaissance and local people have the opportunity to take part in the transformation of their parks. "
Paul Todd, the Green Flag Award scheme's programme manager, said:
"We are once again delighted with the huge growth in winners, highlighting the importance quality green spaces play in our communities. These winning sites are all freely accessible to the public, providing time out from the stresses of modern day life. "Well done to the many dedicated parks staff, friends groups and passionate individuals who have worked hard to provide these vital green spaces which help improve the quality of life for everyone."
In addition, 60 community run sites were awarded Green Pennants and 30 sites achieved Green Heritage Site Accreditation.
Following the announcement, many of these Green Flag Award winners will be celebrating their success with special events in their parks. See for details.
The Green Flag Award is a key component of the Government's commitment to create cleaner, safer, greener communities. This year's winners will celebrate their achievements at a major ceremony at the Royal Armouries, Leeds. Supported by Leeds City Council, Caliba Signs and Sutcliffe Play, winners will be awarded their Green Flags at the event, which for the first time includes a suppliers' exhibition.

The Parks in St Helens Winning Green Flag Status were

St Helens Council Bankes Park Helens
St Helens Council Clinkham Wood Community Woodland Local Nature Reserve
St Helens Council Mesnes Park Helens
St Helens Council Taylor Park Helens
St Helens Council The Duckeries
St Helens Council Downhall Croft Park
St Helens Council Siding Lane Park

Well done to all those responsible for the upkeep of these green spaces

St Helens Chamber of Commerce is Top Performer

St Helens Chamber of Commerce

St Helens Chamber is an important feature of the local business environment and is continually improving to meet the changing needs of its strong Membership and improve the economic success of St Helens businesses and people

Their range of products and services are continually being updated and improved to ensure that both businesses and individuals experience real benefit. Whether people need help to start their own business or on want help and support to find the right training, St Helens Chamber can help.

Their comprehensive range of business support services ensure that we have something to offer all businesses, from the self-employed to the much larger businesses. Whether businesses want in-depth advice or just a simple answer to a business question, they can point them in the right direction.

St Helens Chamber represents all industry sectors, and Member companies range from sole traders to large corporations and multinationals.

ST HELENS Chamber of Commerce is officially the top performing chamber in the UK, a recent report revealed.
The British Chambers of Commerce regularly audits and accredits the country’s chambers to ensure they are continually delivering the highest standards of quality and performance.
St Helens was judged to have an “exemplary” performance in five key areas and “very good” in every other area.
The statistics meant it was outperforming every chamber in the country.
Chief executive Kath Boullen says: “This is a great achievement and is a tribute both to the commitment and dedication of the chamber staff and the support of our board and loyal members.”
New figures show business is booming in St Helens.
Over the past 12 months, 31 companies have relocated to the borough, creating up to 306 new jobs.
Another 20 local firms have moved to new premises within St Helens.

Visit the St Helens Chamber of Commerce Website News Story from The Liverpool Echo

Willowbrook Hospice

Willowbrook Hospice is an Independent Charity, which was set up in 1997 to run a Specialist Palliative Care Unit. The Hospice is governed by a Board of Trustees and run on a day to day basis by a Chief Executive and a management team.

The clinical team is led by a Consultant in Palliative Medicine who is responsible for delivering three main services, the In-patient, DayTherapy and Out Patient services. Although approximately 95% of patients have cancer they treat other life limiting diseases such as Motor Neurone Disease, end stage heart Failure, renal failure.

They have 9 in-patient beds, 30 day therapy places a week and weekly out patient clinics whicj provide care for approximately 1000 patients a year working in partnership with the local health care community. They liaise very closely with the Hospital Specialist Palliative Care Team, the community Specialist Palliative Care team and the local Primary care teams, which includes the local GPs and district nurses.

The Hospice is situated in Prescot to serve the surrounding local communties of St Helens and Knowsley. There are 75 full and part time staff and over 250 volunteers who work for Willowbrook Hospice. The hospice could not function without the valuable contribution of our volunteers.

It costs £2m year to run the Hospice. The Hospice is part funded by the NHS who make a contribution of approximately a third towards our running costs, which means that they have to rely on generous donations from the public and their own fundraising efforts to raise the other two thirds.

Julie Garner runs the Fundraising Project from an office in St Helens and a separate Trading company runs the Willowbrook Hospice Lottery and five Charity shops situated in St Helens, Thatto Heath, Earlstown, Rainford and Prescot.

The Mersey Forest

Mersey ForestStretching from the sandy dunes of Sefton in the north, down across the Cheshire Plain to the canals and woodlands of Northwich in the south, The Mersey Forest is the biggest of the UK's 12 Community Forests.

In all it covers 465 square miles (1204 km2) – larger than the area of 100,000 football pitches (or almost four times the size of Malta!) – and is part of a 30-year plan to transform the landscape across Merseyside and North Cheshire.

The regeneration of The Mersey Forest is being achieved thanks to a partnership comprising of the Forestry Commission, Natural England, nine local authorities, The Mersey Forest Team and a host of other organisations and individuals who share the vision for creating The Forest.

In the 12 years since it was established over 3,750 hectares of new habitat have been created, and around 10 million new trees planted.

The Forest now provides the four million people who live within 20 km of its boundaries with a place to explore, a place to enjoy, and a place to relax.

It is helping to improve health, reduce pollution and turn derelict land into new green spaces, providing the green infrastructure for our area and stimulating the local economy by boosting tourism and creating jobs.

Visit The Mersey Forest Website

The Story of Taylor Park

taylor park st helens

Taylor Park, St Helens is the largest of the town’s Victorian Parks, opened to the public in 1893 and is Grade 2 listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. It is 21.25 hectares in size and originally formed part of the Eccleston Hall Estate.

Thanks to an external funding package including the Heritage Lottery Fund the park’s facilities have recently been restored and is a very popular visitor attraction.

The park facilities include a large dam, rock garden, quarry garden, children’s play area, woodland walks, panoramic views across the surrounding landscape, boathouse, tearoom and a visitor centre.

The on site Ranger Service together with the Friends of Taylor Park organise an annual programme of events including an annual boat regatta that involves the resident model boating club.

The large dam and the quarry garden is utilised by the Council’s Youth Service to provide water activities, abseiling, rock climbing and other outdoor pursuits.

St Helens Greenspace Strategy

Green spaces can make an immensely important contribution to the quality of everyday life. They can provide a variety of attractive, safe and accessible outdoor environments, which appeal to a wide range of different people from toddlers playing to elderly people socialising. They are often are highly valued and have an important role in helping to create good places to live and work.

What is the St Helens Greenspace Strategy?

The strategy recognises the importance of green space and sets out to improve the provision of high quality, well used spaces in the Borough, which will meet the needs of local people both now and in the future. To do this it provides a policy framework for the protection, improvement, accessibility and use of green spaces, making the best use of available funding. It seeks to involve local people and partner agencies in the provision and management of the Borough’s green space.

Many types of green space are included in the strategy such as natural areas like the Sankey Valley and Colliers Moss as well as the familiar urban parks and recreation grounds such as Victoria Park and Queens Recreation Ground. Other types of green space included are allotments, woodlands, waterways and reservoirs. There are greenways offering footpath and cycleway links between many green spaces and to the countryside beyond the built up areas. It includes sites both in public and private ownership. Together this rich variety of sites provide opportunities for a wide range of leisure pursuits such as active sport, gentle relaxation, children’s play and nature watching

Visit St Helens

Thatto Heath Meadows

Thatto Heath Meadows is the site of St Helens' fourth nature reserve and was officially opened by the Mayor of St Helens.

The Meadows, off Sutton Heath Road, is a small river valley that has remained undeveloped. It represents a remnant of countryside, providing a link with the area's agricultural heritage, where field patterns are still visible. This piece of land was chosen as a nature reserve because it is a good wildlife site which is easily accessible for local people.

Designated in 1986 and covering 4.5 hectares, the meadows contain unimproved grasslands and hedgerows, providing an important habitat for many different species of plants, birds and mammals. There is also a stream valley running through the site, again providing additional habitats.

An unusual remnant of countryside within an urbanised and industrial area, the stream valley retains much of its pre-industrial landform and traces of field patterns dating back to 1843. The site was originally part of Four Lane holdings from the 1970s.
A 10 year partnership between the Council and the St Helens Wildlife Advisory Group has resulted in the creation of four nature reserves across the Borough at Stanley Bank Meadow, Clinkham Wood, Siding Lane in Rainford and now at Thatto Heath.

Councillor Terry Hanley, Portfolio Member for Environmental Protection, said: "The opening of Thatto Heath Meadows shows the progress the Council is making in its commitment to nature conservation in St Helens. The programme is an important element of the Council's Policy for Nature and access to nature is a prime objective.

Blackbrook Bypass Wins Award

The Blackbrook Bypass scheme has scooped two national awards

The Blackbrook Diversion Scheme - Stanley Bank Way - has scooped two national awards. It has earned the accolade of the Green Civil Engineering Project of the Year which is sponsored by Construction News and Public Project of the Year category winner at the Builder and Engineer Awards.

The first award is given to a project completed in the last three years that demonstrates that environmental sustainability was high on the agenda throughout its development, from the earliest design right through the construction period.

One of the main criteria for judging the second award was whether the project could demonstrate that it made a significant contribution to reducing carbon footprint. The Blackbrook Diversion has removed up to 20,000 vehicles a day from the cenMap of Blackbrook Bypasstre of Haydock and the scheme embodied sustainability features from the outset, with 76% of the materials used having a recycled content.

During construction, heritage sites were opened up including the former Garswood Colliery and Stanley Bank Country Park.
The road was officially opened earlier this year by the former Transport Minister Dr Stephen Ladyman.

10 Things you Mightn't have known about Saints

  • Saints logo

St Helens RFC was founded in 1873, and moved to their current ground at Knowsley Road in 1890. They were founder members of the breakaway Northern Union in 1895, from which the 13-a-side game we know today evolved.

  • Saints played in the first Rugby League Challenge Cup Final in 1897. Since then, they have played in 18 Finals, lifting the famous trophy on 10 occasions. Their most recent success was in 2007, when they beat Catalan Dragons at The New Wembley.
  • Saints’ mascot is St Bernard, who once appeared on BBC’s Newsnight programme.
    Saints’ famous fans include comedians Johnny Vegas and Ricky Tomlinson, and 13-times World Darts Champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor.
  • In 2007, Saints matches will be televised live on Sky TV 11 times in the first 17 weeks of the season.
  • The recognisable ‘red vee’ strip actually only first appeared in 1961, for the Challenge Cup Final against Wigan. They won 12-6, and the kit has since become synonymous with the Saints.
  • Some of rugby league’s most famous names have played for St Helens, including Tom van Vollenhoven, Vinty Karalius, Ray French, Alex Murphy, Kel Coslett, Mal Meninga, Paul Newlove, Chris Joynt and Jamie Lyon.
  • Saints have 11 Great Britain internationals in their squad: captain Paul Sculthorpe, Keiron Cunningham, Nick Fozzard, Ade Gardner, Lee Gilmour, James Graham, Sean Long, Leon Pryce, James Roby, Paul Wellens and Jon Wilkin.
  • In 2006 Saints achieved their highest average attendance in 40 years, welcoming 10,807 fans to Knowsley Road in Super League XI.
  • The Saints-led annual Merseyside Tag Rugby Festival for Year 6 schoolchildren (aged 10-11), involves over 40 Liverpool primary schools and more than 1200 schoolchildren.

Visit Saints Website All information above Copyright Saints RLFC

The Face of Sutton Manor

A public artwork that will be created on a former St Helens pit site could take the form of a colossal facial sculpture.

The face' could also emit a shaft of light, to mark special occasions, such as a Saints cup victory or a public event, according to attendees of initial public discussions for Channel 4s Big Art Project.

Ideas for a striking structure on the former Sutton Manor colliery, overseeing the M62 motorway, are being masterminded by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa.

Organisers hope the end product will rival Gateshead's Angel of the North'. But the project has already divided opinion, with some people questioning the need for such an artwork.

St Helens Council confirmed an event to share information about proposals had taken place for the Sutton Manor community.
Big Art Project
A statement was issued by Council Leader Brian Spencer, which read: "The attendees were given a presentation about the latest concept created by internationally acclaimed artist Jaume Plensa.

advertisement"It is inspired by the human face and intended to symbolise the area's positive future."

Cllr Spencer added: "This is very much the start of the process of developing a detailed proposal which will be subject to further wider public consultation."

The artist is now beginning to work on detailed proposals, while engineering experts, Arup, have been commissioned to carry out a feasibility study.

Such a structure would also come under planning scrutiny.

Funding of £700,000, including £100,000 from St Helens Local Enterprise Growth Initiative, has been set aside for the project. Councillor Spencer stressed that none of the funding is coming from Council tax-payers' money.
Visit the TV programme's website

LOOK out for more developments on the artwork in your Star and on the website

Completion of New Train Station

st helens train stationAt the forefront of any city's rejuvenation is helping the community with issues such as transport facilities.

Spencer has recently carried out a transformation of St. Helens train station which has now become a 21st century transport hub, fitting in with the cultural image of the surrounding area.

The entrance of the station makes it an iconic feature of the towns up and coming redevelopment programme with its twin copper clad fins.

Spencer has constructed a new two-storey main building, made out of glass and steel, which has been built on the Wigan-bound platform. It comprises a new ticket office, comfortable waiting areas on both platforms, new lifts, stairs and new customer information systems. The platform and waiting room facilities were upgraded and a new bridge was built for increased access to the Liverpool-bound platform.

The station was criticised in 2004 in a passenger survey for being an unwelcoming gateway to the town, which in turn discouraged the community to use the trains. Now that the new station has been built it is obvious to see the positive effects. Railways Minister, Tony McNulty, has said that,

- This redevelopment will give St. Helens a train station that encourages people to use public transport instead of jumping in their cars. It will also create an impressive new gateway to the town, which will leave visitors and commuters alike in no doubt that St. Helens is moving towards a brighter future -

The station has connected areas of the community together, linking regions of high unemployment with employment sectors. Council leader, Marie Rimmer, stated that St. Helens station - will further enhance St. Helens reputation as being a premier work, live and play destination due to its good transport connections -

Community Support Officers

Being a Community Support Officer in Blackbrook

By CSOs Samantha Cox and Neil Draper

We began work as the Community Support Officers covering the Blackbrook Ward in April this year and work from Newton Police Station in Earlestown.

Since we began, we’ve been out on regular foot patrols, providing a reassuring, highly visible presence on the streets and have been introducing ourselves to the local residents and business community. We’ve also had regular contact with the local schools and developed relationships with the community centre, the Tenants and Residents House, the Rangers at Sankey Valley as well as local councillors.

We attend as many community meetings as possible and interact with the local community on a daily basis, finding out what issues matter to them, informing them of what we are doing to tackle those issues and letting them know we are here to help.

Local surgery

We have set up a Surgery which is held every second Tuesday of the month from 3 - 4pm at the Tenants & Residents House, Bidston Avenue.

We would encourage residents to come along and meet us, tell us what issues are important to them and use the opportunity to get a wealth of crime prevention information. In addition, we’ve set up a further surgery on 28 September between 6– 7pm at the Rangers Office, Sankey Valley Park. Please come along and meet us.

School visits

We are regular visitors at St Mary’s Blackbrook Primary School and have recently been involved with a walk to school session, encouraging children and parents to walk to school rather than taking the car.

In addition, we gave a presentation on road safety, stranger danger and personal safety to the children prior to the school holidays. We felt it was really important that all the children should be made aware of some dangers they may encounter, so that they could enjoy their summer holidays in safety.

As it is the school holidays, we arranged an Activity Day on Friday (26 August) at Chain Lane Community Centre for 6 - 10 year olds, giving children and parents an alternative option for fun day out.

Our role also involves being involved with problem solving at a local level, working in partnership with other agencies such as the Council’s Environmental Wardens and Housing Associations and targeting areas that experience problems with youth disorder.

We will continue to develop links with local shops, businesses, vulnerable and community groups as well as local residents, working with you to make the area a safer, more pleasant place for residents and visitors alike.

Wireless to Connect St Helens

Liverpool University is working with a local school to provide low-cost wireless access for a community in St Helens.
The first pilot of Community Grid is being rolled out from St Cuthbert’s Catholic Community College of Business and Enterprise in St Helens, initially providing access to 250 homes.
The service will be free of charge for a year, after which time users will have pay a subsidised fee.
‘This is a response to the government’s challenge to use of digital technologies to transform communities,’ said Dennis Kehoe, director of the Advanced Internet Methods and Emergent Systems (Aimes) Centre at the University of Liverpool.
‘We were one of the projects given the go-ahead in the North West. The key is to make it affordable and simple to overcome the price and technology barriers. We hope it will transform people’s lives.’
The project is jointly funded by the North West Development Agency, the European Regional Development Fund, St. Helen’s Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and registered social landlord Helena Housing.
Users will be provided with a thin-client system that will use broadband to link to a hosted service and provide direct access to selected areas of the internet and various software applications. Training and help desk support will be provided.
‘The grid will encourage a sense of community by providing a vehicle for publicising the activities already in place and helping create and promote new ones,’ said project manager Marie Messenger.
Online forums will be set up to cater for local interests and to connect people. ‘It brings community news and information on local activities, services and leisure into people’s homes.’
‘It will also allow schools and other education providers to support students online,’ said Messenger. ‘Housing associations, community groups, councils and health authorities can all be connected directly to this community of users.’
The network could also be used by retailers to offer services such as special offers on food, school uniforms and household goods, as well as offering e-learning opportunities