Scrap Heap Challenge


Looking at today’s photograph you may think I’ve gone mad. It is, as it appears to be, a scrap heap.



So, why am I posting pictures of rusty spare parts? Well, all we know about this picture is that it was taken at Burtonwood and appears to date from sometime around the 1960s.

With Burtonwood being home to more than its fair share of unusual vehicles over the years, thanks to the American Base, it struck me that there might just be something interesting amongst the scrap parts piled up in this picture. It’s tempting to think that somebody would have had a good reason for photographing a scrap heap, so is there a treasure hiding in this picture?

I know there must be transport enthusiasts out there reading our blog, so my challenge to you is this: can you convincingly identify any of the parts shown in this scrap heap?

Whether we are talking old farm machinery or American plane parts it would be great to know.

As “scrap heap spotting” is not a hobby I am aware of I’m thinking there must be something unusual in there. Still, the picture does have a certain artistic, angular quality to it, so perhaps I am wrong and it was just a still life picture taken by a budding artistic photographer.

You can contact me at or you can leave a message on our facebook page where a link to this article will be found





Sankey Land Boat Race, August 1981


Today’s blog entry is short and sweet. Usually I would tell you a little bit about an image or document in our collections and then ask you to tell us anything you know about it.

This time I know nothing about the event mentioned other than what is written on the poster. So I am completely reliant upon you out there to tell me about the event. What was a ‘Dry Land Boat Race’? Who took part? What was the event in aid of? And why is there an Australian theme?



I also have to ask if any of you know what “GB4 SVP” stands for? It seems like it should be obvious, but I can’t bring to mind anything that fits (if it’s something rude then best to leave me in the dark).

The poster forms part of our extensive ephemera collection, some of which goes back hundreds of years and some of which, like this poster, is very recent. We are still collecting all the time and always on the look-out for an item which will tell future generations something about daily life in Warrington.

The key thing with any item of ephemera is to know its context, which is where I’m struggling with this one. But, being so comparatively recent an event, hopefully lots of you out there went along and can tell me about it.

Does anybody have a photograph of the event? I would love to see what the competitors looked like. Help us to fill another gap in the Museum’s knowledge by getting in touch and sharing what you know.

You can contact me at or you can leave a message on our facebook page where a link to this article will be found

Classic Hollywood movie genre ‘film noir’ begins touring Warrington’s libraries


The classic Hollywood movie genre ‘film noir’ has begun touring Warrington’s libraries with a stunning photographic exhibition, special film screenings and a display on the history of cinema in the town.

Paint it Black, a joint project between Warrington photographer Paul Jackson and partners Culture Warrington, LiveWire and Warrington Borough Council, explores the dark and mysterious world of film noir, a genre of American crime thrillers such as The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity and The Killers.

An exhibition of photographs inspired by these highly stylised black and white films, which are so evocative of mystery and intrigue with their dimly-lit nightscapes and smoky silhouettes, recently enjoyed a hugely successful launch night to coincide with an official celebration of Warrington’s City of Culture bid.

Speaking after the event, Paul said: “It went excellently.  The feedback was all brilliant, from the volunteers who took part and the dignitaries who came along.

“The volunteer models hadn’t seen their own photos yet so it was lovely to see the looks on their faces when they saw them for the first time.”

The Paint it Black collection, all captured by talented photographer Paul Jackson, is now on tour, spending a week at five of the town’s libraries – Warrington Central, Penketh, Culcheth, Stockton Heath and Padgate.

The retro images are accompanied by special screenings of classic film noir movies and promotion of the “hardboiled” American crime fiction novels which inspired them.

Warrington Noir, an exhibition exploring the history of cinema in Warrington during the 1940s and 1950s, is also now running at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery to coincide with the film noir celebration, featuring images and memorabilia from the period.

Paul, of Unit 8 Photography, said he was excited about the opportunity to promote the town’s library offer.

“I love our libraries and want to help promote what a great range of services and activities they have on offer,” he explained.  “The whole point of this project is to show people how special our libraries are and to encourage them to come and have a look.

“This is a really exciting project and a fantastic advert for the town and its people.”

The models, make-up artists, hair stylists, set and costume designers, and production assistants who took part in the project were all volunteers from the Warrington area who were keen to help recreate the mood of this truly unique period in filmmaking.

Paul added: “There’s a wealth of talent in our town which deserves to be recognised.

“Community cohesion was key and I can’t thank those who took part enough for their time and support.”

Some of Warrington’s best known and most iconic buildings, including Central Library, Pyramid arts centre, Parr Hall, and Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, provided stunning backdrops to some of the images, with portrait shots being taken in Paul’s studio at Pyramid.

Derek Dick, outreach and engagement manager at Culture Warrington, hoped the project would help raise the profile of the town’s libraries.

He said: “Paint it Black is a brilliant project in its own right, but the fact that it’s designed to encourage people into Warrington’s libraries, to showcase their unique offer and highlight their importance as community hubs, makes it all the more worthwhile.

“This is a really unique multi-media project which explores an important and influential period in film history; it was all made possible thanks to the people of Warrington kindly donating their time and enthusiasm, making this a truly original community project.

“We hope as many Warrington residents as possible come along to see the touring exhibition and enjoy the film screenings, while reminding themselves how important our libraries are.”

The project was also made possible thanks to generous donations from Warrington businesses such as Watsons Solicitors, and St Rocco’s Hospice which loaned Paul some of the stunning costumes featured in the images.

Tickets for the film screenings can be bought at any of Warrington’s libraries or at

Listings information

Exhibition title: Paint it Black touring photographic exhibition

Dates & locations:

29 April-4 May – Central Library

5-11 May – Penketh Library

12-18 May – Culcheth Library

19-25 May – Stockton Heath Library

26 May-2 June – Padgate Library

Times: see library’s opening times

Admission: Free


Exhibition title: Paint it Black film screenings

Dates & locations:

4 May – Central Library – The Maltese Falcon (1941)

11 May – Penketh Library – Double Indemnity (1944)

18 May – Culcheth Library – The Killers (1946)

25 May – Stockton Heath Library – The Big Heat (1953)

1 June – Padgate Library – Touch of Evil (1958)

Times: films start at 7.30pm

Admission: £3


Exhibition title: Warrington Noir

Dates: 29 April – 1 July

Times: All day

Admission: Free

Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB

Sankey Brook alias Stinking Brook



Our first picture today reproduces a document rather than a photograph. It shows the front page of a talk given to the Warrington Literary and Philosophical Society in 1887. For many years the Society published a volume of printed transcripts of the talks they had received that year. A large collection of these reports can be read in the Searchroom at Warrington Museum and cover a staggering range of subjects.

This particular report was on the subject of “Noxious Vapours that Pollute the Air”, and was written by J. Carter Bell a public analyst (a sort of Health Inspector of his day). As one of his examples during the talk, Bell discussed the attributes of the Sankey Brook, still known today by many residents as the Stinking Brook (though it thankfully no longer warrants the name).



In his broader description of the Warrington area, Bell states that the joyous scenes of gardens, heaths, meadows and orchards have now been:

“watered with the dews of hell” and that “we have trees stretching their gaunt and withered arms, and pointing to the authors of this scene of destruction, who have made the treeless pastures with the Stygian streams meandering through, upon whose banks are unctuous slime and stony weariness, a very picture of desolation. And the cause of all this weary waste is due to certain noxious vapours, which carry death in their hideous folds, and as they kiss consume. These are belched forth from chimneys far and wide, till the landscape is one veritable Gehenna.”

Bell goes on to describe several differing causes and results of pollution in the area, one of which is the pollution of the Sankey Brook by Sulphuretted Hydrogen. He describes how this is largely caused by vast heaps of alkali waste being dumped along the banks of the brook at St Helens, this waste is then washed into the brook by rain water where it mixes with other pollutants and causes sulphuretted hydrogen. This particular pollutant was so objected to because of its smell of rotten eggs.

Bell states that the Sankey Brook has become “pestiferous and pestilential” and that in his opinion it is now “deleterious and prejudicial to the health of those who live in the vicinity”.

Whilst at this time in history the relationship between pollution and ill health may not have been well explored, we do have a combination of the traditional medical belief in the ‘miasma theory’ of illness being spread by bad smell, and the growth of new ideas showing how microscopic organisms could be spreading disease in drinking water.


Images of polluted Thames water courtesy of the Wellcome Library, London.

Bell sets out a number of simple solutions to the pollution of the Sankey Brook, but also points out that whilst vast sums of money are being made from the industry causing the pollution little change is likely to happen.

Certainly ‘Stinking Brook’ kept its name for many years to come, and with the industrial pollution and the emptying of sewers into the waterway the entire length of its progress, it’s no great wonder. But nature is a survivor and there has always been some wildlife along the brook. In recent years this has been magnified massively and now all manner of both plant and animal life, both in the water and along the banks, can be found.

Interpret – review

Art blogger Eli Regan reviews the Interpret exhibition, which showcases the work of young artists training at Warrington Collegiate.

The Birth of Georgia by Georgia Fairbrother is an intriguing work comprising a bin with a plaster of Paris leg emerging out of it. This work continues the tradition of Marcel Duchamp and the found object and also seems to relate to the Arte Povera movement, where radical Italian artists in the 1960s and 70s used rags, dirt and oil to make their uncompromising art.

Georgia’s piece could be interpreted as a comment on consumerism as the leg appears covered by Burger King, Subway, Coca-Cola, McDonalds and other famous brands, in a nod to Warhol and Pop Art.

Art courses are a time for experimentation in young students’ lives and Bobby-Jo Hodgkinson’s piece Dillusion Pollution certainly conveys this. Her piece involves manipulated photographs and digital graphics. The central piece comprises a young girl with melancholic brown eyes. Bobby-Jo overlays an image of cracked earth which in turn makes her face appear brittle and broken while a factory billows pollution in the background.

Caitlin Tang’s embroidered Self-Reflection sees a girl brutally pick out the wool out of her eyes. The contrast of a seemingly gentle pursuit such as stitching with the violence of the girl pulling the wool out of her eyes, or even the eye itself, is powerful.

The breadth of work on show is fantastic as well as the many mediums the artists have chosen to present the work in. Visit the Museum to see many more of the pieces (video, paper carvings, etc).

Interpret is on show at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery until 17 June 2017.

Words and photography by Eli Regan

Young carers tell their story through photographs

One of the young carers who took part in the photography project.

A group of young carers from Warrington have taken part in a new photography project at Pyramid to help give people an insight into their caring roles.

The project taught them how to take high quality pictures on their mobile phones to show what life is like for a young carer.

Young carer, Rebecca, who’s 15, said: “My photos show what I do for myself, and what distractions are important to me to take my mind of being a young carer.”

12-year-old, Keely, added: “It’s hard being a young carer and these photos show what it’s like being a young carer.”

The budding photographers – from Wired Young Carers – worked with professional photographer, Nina Agnew.

She taught the group how to use the features in a phone to take more considered photographs, and how to visually tell a story through a series of captured images.

The project has taken the young carers on an intimate journey with their mobile phones, from basic settings like focusing and contrast, through to using filters and effects to enhance and modify images to achieve a specific style.

This project followed on from Wired Young Carers’ involvement in the Hidden portrait exhibition, which showed at Pyramid and toured the country last year, conveying the hidden lives and hardships – as well as hopes and resilience – faced by hundreds of thousands of young carers as young as seven, up and down the country.

Clare Mead, support worker at Wired Young Carers, said: “The photography project was fun and engaging in a way that gave young carers respite from their extensive duties at home, and also allowed them to take a creative look at their role and their lives.

“They were able to gain new skills in creating interesting photos with thought and value.”

The photos will now go on show on an online blog, which focuses on the lives of young carers in Warrington.

James Goodison, outreach development officer at Culture Warrington, said: “It was great to be involved in such a rewarding project. Aside from being a distraction, this project has enabled the young carers to learn new skills and to look at life differently through a lens.

“We hope people will visit the webpage to see what the young carers have produced, but also to give an insight into the world of being a young carer and how it is seen from a very personal point of view.”

To view the photos and see what life is like for a young carer visit


One of the young carers who took part in the photography project.

St. Michael’s Burtonwood


Today’s blog entry is looking at Burtonwood, specifically a little bit of  recent history of St. Michael’s Parish Church.

We have two images to look at, the first showing the church hall shortly before demolition, and the second showing the church itself being jacked up following mining subsidence.



This first newspaper clipping is taken from the 7th February 1969 edition of the Warrington Guardian. It shows the Parish Hall shortly before demolition and reports that a new hall is to be built closer to the village centre at a cost of £6000. Benches and trestle tables are stacked up in front of the two double doors and the building is looking sadly neglected by this point. Even so, you can see what a beautiful building it had been. With its wide front gable, a stout tower to the side, and the broad flat archways the hall has an Arts and Crafts feel to me. In case the picture here is too grainy, the band across the front of the gable reads “S. Michael’s Church Hall” (so we can at least be sure of where today’s picture shows).

If anyone out there has a better quality picture of the church hall that we could scan in, please let us know, it would be great to add a better picture to the museum collections. Perhaps somebody even has that rarest of things in the archive world, an interior picture?


The second picture today is an article extracted from “Livewire”, no not Warrington’s own Livewire, but the Liverpool Diocesan magazine which bares the same name. The article dates to September 1984 and shows the Reverend Russ Naylor examining hydraulic equipment installed to jack up the church after damage had been caused due to mining subsidence.



If anyone can tell me who the other man in the picture is I would be grateful, so that we can add it to our records.




Sankey Marsh


Today’s picture shows Albert Pollitt’s drawing of Sankey Marsh in 1887. A Victorian print of the original artwork is held in the Archives here at Warrington.



Even though this image dates to the 1880s it gives us a fascinating idea of how Sankey might have looked before the major changes of the Victorian era took place. It shows an untouched corner of Sankey made up of boggy, low lying marshland and scrub, edged by the river and interwoven by brooks and streams. It shows an untamed environment.

I have to admit that I’m not entirely clear of where ‘Sankey Marsh’ refers to. There is Richmond Marsh, Norton Marsh, and Cuerdley Marsh marked clearly enough on the maps, but not a Sankey Marsh. There was however plenty of marsh around Sankey and plenty of common or ‘waste’ land, any of which could conceivably be referred to by a passing artist as Sankey Marsh.

The only clue I can garner from the picture is a slightly shaky one. In the background, if you look carefully, you can spot what may be a windmill poking out above the clump of trees and bushes. Could this be the windmill at Penketh, so well-known to local historians?

Even if we can never pin down exactly where it depicts, the picture does show a side of Sankey not often recorded in the history books.

Albert Pollitt, 1856 – 1926, was born in Worsley and received his initial artistic training at the Mechanics’ Institute on Princes Street in Manchester. He lived at Lymm from around 1905 – 1910, later moving to America. Pollitt largely produced watercolour landscapes of scenes across Northern England and North Wales, with a spell spent painting scenes in the Trossachs in Scotland.

This picture of Sankey predates his time at Lymm, but perhaps the villages around Warrington were already known to him before he moved here. Our records show that the Museum held an exhibition of Pollitt’s work in 1888, showing between 80 and 90 of his paintings. The exhibition was visited by 5000 people during the month it was on show, so certainly Pollitt would have been well known in Warrington around the time he created this view of Sankey.

Warrington Museum has several of Pollitt’s watercolours here in the collections, including a good set of North-Wales landscapes and a few views of Cumberland and Yorkshire.


Great Sankey Silver Jubilee


Any of you following my blogs on the West Warrington Memories Project might remember that earlier on I showed you a picture of the Silver Jubilee party in Fox Street, not far from the Sankey Brook.

Today I have included two more Silver Jubilee photos from the area. The first shows Christine Meadow, Gemma Hayes, Salma Alhadad, and Karen Grant attending Great Sankey Primary School’s Jubilee Party. The girls all seem to be wearing some sort of special silver party hats. Can anybody remember the party? Or can anybody tell me what the hats were?

The second picture shows Yvonne Jackson, Great Sankey Parish Council Gala Queen with her two attendants, Jackie Parnham and Wendy Murphy.


You can also see in this picture events being held at Croft and Hatton. The pictures shown here were all part of a commemorative brochure produced by the Town Council to record the Silver Jubilee events that had taken place all over Warrington that year. Copies can be seen in Warrington Archives. Whilst the picture quality is not great, it does provide a real snapshot of the town’s jubilee celebrations.

Whilst not a West Warrington picture, I have to say that the bicycle decked out as Concorde is a very impressive costume. Concorde had only begun its public flights the year before, in January of 1976, so a good choice to celebrate the achievements of 1970s Britain.

If you have photographs or ephemera relating to any event held in the area the museum would love to make of a copy of them for our collections. Every picture you share helps us to record a bit more of Warrington’s history for future generations.

To contact us e-mail Philip Jeffs at


The Salvation Army Eventide Home, Penketh

Today’s blog entry for the West Warrington memories Project shows another long gone Penketh building, the Eventide Rest Home, opened by the Salvation Army in 1935. The site is now occupied by Southlands Avenue.



The home was created at ‘Southlands’ in Hall Nook, the property having been left to the Salvation Army by the late Mr. James Aitken in his will. Aitken left his widow the right to live in the house rent free for one year following his death, at which point it was to be handed over to the Salvation Army for use as an old folks’ home.

He had already given £3500 before his death, the interest on which was to pay for the future upkeep of the property.

The home was set up to take 23 residents who did not have to be members of the Salvation Army. It was to operate as a residential home rather than a nursing home, and was aimed at women “who would ordinarily be living lonely lives”.

A report of the opening of the home states that it stood in roughly 5 acres of grounds and had over 60’000 spring bulbs planted in its gardens.

The picture below, taken from the Warrington Guardian, shows the official opening of the home by Mrs Bramwell Booth of the Salvation Army (centre), to her left is Mrs Aitken, the widow of the donor, and to her right are Mr and Mrs Charles Parker of Penketh Tannery.



Interestingly Catherine Bramwell Booth, shown in our picture in 1935, lived until 1987 when she died at the age of 104. Catherine was one of the granddaughters of William Booth, the original founder of the Salvation Army. In the picture below she is shown in 1977 at the age of 94 not looking all that different to her picture taken in Warrington in 1935.