Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub Memories Project

Mrs Hilda Gleave and Mrs Ann Clarke at Fox Street Silver Jubilee Party, Sankey Bridges, 1977

Mrs Hilda Gleave and Mrs Ann Clarke at Fox Street Silver Jubilee Party, Sankey Bridges, 1977

Here in the archives at Warrington Museum, we are undertaking a new project. With construction of the Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub well underway, we thought that this would be the perfect time to look back at the rich history of the area the new hub will serve.

We’ve scoured the official records in our collections of West Warrington and we have some huge gaps we need YOUR help in filling. We have old maps, documents and photographs of the area to help build up a great picture of life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but very little to tell the story of the area from the late 1940s to today. This recent history would help us tell the story of a moment in the history of Warrington. They show the growth of suburbs and housing estates and a new way of life.

We believe you can help us fill in these gaps although you may not even realise your stories and photos are of interest to others but we’d really like your help!

Here’s how:-

  • Were you one of the pioneers of the new districts like Hood Manor, Barrow Hall or Westbrook? Are you one of the residents of Sankey, Penketh or Burtonwood who has seen this area of Warrington change almost beyond recognition from the 1960s?
  • Did you take part in a Coronation party in 1953, or a Silver jubilee party in 1977, did you attend the opening of a new building, or were you one of the first students in a new school? Did you move to the area from somewhere else, and if so why did you choose Warrington?
  • Do you have any pictures of the area from the 1950s that you would be willing to let us scan and keep a copy of?
  • Do you have any posters or leaflets, adverts or parish magazines that record an event taking place that we could make a copy of?
  • Or do you have a memory of an event that took place that we could record you talking about?

We’d love to talk to you about any of these things or anything else you remember about the area. If you would like to share your memories, or would like to learn how to record other people’s memories and help us in that way, please contact me at the details given below.

Philip Jeffs
Archives and Heritage Officer
Culture Warrington,
Warrington Museum & Art Gallery,
Cultural Quarter,

Telephone:  01925 443023


Miss UK 1969 (Sheena Drummond) opens an extension at penketh Co-op in 1970, shown here with staff member William Smith

Miss UK 1969 (Sheena Drummond) opens an extension at penketh Co-op in 1970, shown here with staff member William Smith

Commemorating the 210th anniversary of Trafalgar Day

Trafalgar day

Trafalgar Day is an annual event celebrating the victory won by the Royal Navy, commanded by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson over the combined French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805.

A movement to celebrate Nelson’s legacy was prompted by the formation of the Navy League in 1894. Trafalgar Day was commemorated by parades, dinners and other events through the 19th and early 20th century. It is still commemorated by the Navies of the Commonwealth.

Warrington Museum & Art Gallery will be commemorating the 210th anniversary of Trafalgar Day with a display of museum and archive collections in the Archives display area of Warrington Library.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition: 23rd August 2015

The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is held annually on 23rd August. This is a significant date, as it commemorates an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island of Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti) in 1791. The date has been designated by UNESCO as a reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation.

We have a number of items in the Museum’s collections connected to slavery including a slave whip of plaited cow hide and a sand box inscribed ‘Health to Ye sick, Honour to the Brave, Success to Ye Lover, and Freedom to the slave’. Some of these items can be seen on display in Gallery 2.

There is also a portrait painting of Thomas Patten (1690-1772) in the Museum collections. He came from a family of wealthy merchants in Warrington, then in Lancashire (now in Cheshire). They operated a copper smelter at Bank Quay, near their home, manufacturing bangles for trading for slaves in Africa, as well as copper vessels for boiling sugar and distilling rum in the West Indies.

Within the Rylands family archive, records show that Thomas Rylands was an ardent supporter of the abolitionist movement, as Philip Jeffs discusses in his Glazebrook-Rylands blog.

Commemorative display for the Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo

Battle of Waterloo by William Sadler II

Battle of Waterloo by William Sadler II

The 18th June 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Waterloo. This was the final battle of the long running Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) fought between the French Empire and their European opponents. It brought over 20 years of conflict in Europe to an end and left a lasting legacy on the world.

After nearly 11 hours of fighting, French armies led by Napoleon were defeated by coalition armies under the Duke of Wellington and General Blücher. It marked the end of the Emperor Napoleon’s final bid for power, the so-called ‘100 Days’ and was the final chapter in what was a remarkable career.

To help commemorate this event the Museum has put together a display of collection items from both the Museum and archives. It is located in the ‘under stairs’ area off the main Large Art Gallery and is one of many events that are being held by a range of organisations in the UK throughout 2015.

The display supports the ‘Waterloo 200’ Project which is the official body recognised by the UK government to support the commemoration. ‘Waterloo 200’ is supporting a range of activities, from a service of commemoration at St Paul’s Cathedral to the restoration of Hougoumont Chateau on the Waterloo battlefield in Belgium.

Further information about the range of commemorative events and activities taking place can be found on the National Army Museum website.

Mr Smith’s: Your Memories Wanted…

Mr Smith's pictured in the 1980s. Image (C) Warrington Museum & Art Gallery

Mr Smith’s pictured in the 1980s. Image (C) Warrington Museum & Art Gallery

Did you enjoy a film at the Ritz or ABC cinema, dance the night away at Mr Smith’s nightclub or were you a part of the audience for ‘The Hitman and Her’?  Do you have any memories, photos or items related to Mr Smith’s, the ABC or the Ritz cinemas that you can share with us? Warrington Museum & Art Gallery is developing an exhibition to commemorate and celebrate the iconic Mr Smith’s building and we need your help.

If you can help us please call into the Museum and leave your contact details with our Front of House team or contact Michelle Hill at the Museum on 01925-443536 or

Group Therapy exhibition at FACT

Brain scan featuring in the research process for Katriona Beales’ new commission on internet addiction. Courtesy of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging and Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Consortium of the Human Connectome Project.

Visitors to Pete Regan’s De Profundis exhibition currently on show at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery may also be interested in another exhibition exploring mental health and wellbeing.

The exhibition Group Therapy: Mental distress in a digital age is on show at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) in Liverpool until 17 May 2015. Originating from FACT’s extensive work within mental health and wellbeing, the exhibition explores the complex relationship between technology, society, and mental health.

Works by artists, designers and researchers including new commissions from the vacuum cleaner, Katriona Beales, Kate Owens & Neeta Madahar and Quintan Ana Wikswo as well as restaged work from UBERMORGEN encourage visitors to rethink their understanding of mental health and wellbeing, by asking how far our personal wellbeing is related to the values of the society we live in and the impact of new technologies.

Follow the links below for more information about the exhibition and an interview with Pete Regan on FACT’s website.

Group Therapy exhibition

FACT Q&A with Pete Regan

Explore a virtual exhibition in our new app

A new app has been released which features a virtual tour of Warrington Museum & Art Gallery. The app is called HAPPI and it is available for both iOS and Android. It is the result of a collaboration between Warrington and its twin town in Germany, Hilden, and it is available in both English and German.

Lewis Carroll introduces the English language version, while Wilhelm Fabry introduces the German version. The app features a virtual exhibition loosely inspired by the real life Cabinet of Curiousites gallery in Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, as well as the historic Haus auf der Bech in Hilden. Inside you’ll find films and music produced by students from Warrington, Halton and Hilden exploring their town’s histories… including a truly terrifying film about the haunting of the Museum!

To download the free HAPPI app, follow these links:

Download for iOS

Download for Android

HAPPI was produced as part of the Warrington-Hilden Comenius-Regio Project 2013-5 and programme partners include Warrington Borough Council, Culture Warrington, Stadtverwaltung Hilden, Warrington Youth Service, Accent Music Education Hub, Score Creative Education, Warrington Collegiate, The Heath School Runcorn, Draw & Code, Joe Grainger and Priestley College.

Bewsey takes its place in history

Bewsey Local History Group

With the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund’s All Our Stories Grant and the support of Culture Warrington’s Museum staff, Bewsey Local History Group have been researching Bewsey’s unique story.

Members of the group have lived in the area for most of their lives and are very proud of their community. They have seen great changes in Bewsey as its industries disappeared, along with familiar landmarks. They have been saddened to see Bewsey described as a problem neighbourhood compared to other more desirable areas of the town. For all its faults they feel that Bewsey is still a good place and they were determined to see Bewsey take its rightful place in the town’s history.

The project culminated in the publication of the group’s book last year, Bewsey Takes its Place in History.

However that certainly wasn’t the end of the group’s activities! You can find out more about what they have been working on here and on Historypin.


Harold Thomas… the truth revealed

In 1873 – well before the ‘scramble to Africa’ began in 1881 – Harold Thomas, an unknown British Anthropologist set off on a voyage to the Congo. His mission was to study its people, plants and animal life. In 1875 he mysteriously disappeared. A small selection of his drawings and specimens of previously undiscovered parasitic plant species were salvaged by locals. This collection was brought back to England as property of the state.

In 2013 the Harold Thomas Collection was presented as a genuine Victorian Natural History Collection in the Botany Gallery at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery. However, not everything is as it first appears! Harold Thomas never existed and the exhibition was the work of contemporary artist Pamela Schilderman. It was all about perception, essentially an experiment in seeing. The artist’s identity was not revealed until a seminar during which the benefits of empowering the viewer to question the nature of authenticity, museums, art and the role of the artist were questioned.

“Every good story has an element of deception” – Pamela Schilderman

To find out more about the Harold Thomas Collection, watch the films below.


Local artist launches mental health exhibition

A brand new exhibition exploring mental health issues is launching at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery in February.

The display is called De Profundis: From the Depths and will explore how the arts can help people who are suffering with depression.

The exhibition will be open between 7 Febuary – 2 May 2015 and will comprise of a range of arts including photography, video art and light installations. It will become a space for people to slow down and reflect.

Pete Regan, who organised the exhibition, is a local artist who has worked in the arts for health field for the past 5 years. The display has stemmed from his passion for photography and filmmaking combined with his personal interest in mental health. Pete also works for Creative Remedies based in Warrington.

Creative Remedies is a programme of arts activities, supported by Warrington Borough Council, that aim to improve the health and wellbeing of Warrington residents over the age of 18 with mental health needs. Activities in the Creative Remedies programme include performing arts, music groups and digital photography. They are all free of charge with equipment and tutors provided.

Included in the exhibition will be practical information on how to access help in the community from information on counselling services, mental health organisations and art based projects.

Pete said: “I can’t wait for the opening of this unique exhibition. I see every day how the arts can improve people’s lives and this exhibition can help provide a distraction from day-to-day problems.

“Thankfully, from the depths of depression I was given a camera, and this piece of equipment has, over the years, transformed my life. Beauty can be found in the unlikeliest of places and the camera has helped me to see beauty and purpose in life again.

“My hope is that this project will raise awareness of mental health issues and go some way to tackling the associated stigma.”

Executive board member for health, wellbeing and adult services, Cllr Pat Wright, said: “We can all experience unhappiness now and again, but people experiencing depression often have intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness and negativity.

“It’s great to see such a unique take on providing support and raising awareness on such an important issue and I would like to thank Pete for his fantastic efforts.

“As a council, we’re committed to providing support on mental health to our residents and we’re proud to be backing Pete.”

Derek Dick, exhibitions and services manager at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, said: “Pete’s enthusiasm and positivity about how the arts can help those living with depression has been an inspiration to many.

“This exhibition, through the use of photography, film and music, takes you on a sensory journey from the chaos of depression through to acceptance and eventually hope. This is a very positive exhibition that highlights that even through the darkest days there is always hope.”

The exhibition officially launches on Saturday 7 February 2015, 2pm-4pm – all are welcome to attend. The exhibition continues until 2 May 2015.