St Helens, Merseyside
Overview
 
St Helens is a large town in Merseyside
Merseyside
Merseyside is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1,365,900. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary, and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. It is the largest settlement and administrative centre of the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens
Metropolitan Borough of St Helens
The Metropolitan Borough of St Helens is a metropolitan borough of Merseyside, in North West England. It is named after its largest town St Helens, and covers an area which includes the settlements of Newton-le-Willows, Earlestown, Haydock, Rainhill, Eccleston, Clock Face, Billinge and...

 with a population of just over 100,000, part of an urban area
Urban area
An urban area is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, but the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets.Urban areas are created and further...

 with a total population of 176,843 at the time of the 2001 Census
United Kingdom Census 2001
A nationwide census, known as Census 2001, was conducted in the United Kingdom on Sunday, 29 April 2001. This was the 20th UK Census and recorded a resident population of 58,789,194....

. The town was officially incorporated as a municipal borough
Municipal borough
Municipal boroughs were a type of local government district which existed in England and Wales between 1835 and 1974, in Northern Ireland from 1840 to 1973 and in the Republic of Ireland from 1840 to 2002...

 in 1868 responsible for the administration of the 4 townships consisting of Eccleston, Parr
Parr, St Helens
Parr is a former village, now situated within St. Helens, England and is located towards the eastern side of the town. However the area dates back to the West Derby hundred district from the 12th century. The area is located within walking distance of St...

, Sutton and Windle, with the larger responsibility as a county borough
County borough
County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland , to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control. They were abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales, but continue in use for lieutenancy and shrievalty in...

 established in 1887 (superseded in 1974 by the larger still metropolitan borough
Metropolitan borough
A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district in England, and is a subdivision of a metropolitan county. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, metropolitan boroughs are defined in English law as metropolitan districts, however all of them have been granted or regranted...

).

St Helens is situated in the far south west of the historic county
Historic counties of England
The historic counties of England are subdivisions of England established for administration by the Normans and in most cases based on earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and shires...

 of Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

, in North West England
North West England
North West England, informally known as The North West, is one of the nine official regions of England.North West England had a 2006 estimated population of 6,853,201 the third most populated region after London and the South East...

, 6 miles (9.7 km) north of the River Mersey
River Mersey
The River Mersey is a river in North West England. It is around long, stretching from Stockport, Greater Manchester, and ending at Liverpool Bay, Merseyside. For centuries, it formed part of the ancient county divide between Lancashire and Cheshire....

.
Encyclopedia
St Helens is a large town in Merseyside
Merseyside
Merseyside is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1,365,900. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary, and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. It is the largest settlement and administrative centre of the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens
Metropolitan Borough of St Helens
The Metropolitan Borough of St Helens is a metropolitan borough of Merseyside, in North West England. It is named after its largest town St Helens, and covers an area which includes the settlements of Newton-le-Willows, Earlestown, Haydock, Rainhill, Eccleston, Clock Face, Billinge and...

 with a population of just over 100,000, part of an urban area
Urban area
An urban area is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, but the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets.Urban areas are created and further...

 with a total population of 176,843 at the time of the 2001 Census
United Kingdom Census 2001
A nationwide census, known as Census 2001, was conducted in the United Kingdom on Sunday, 29 April 2001. This was the 20th UK Census and recorded a resident population of 58,789,194....

. The town was officially incorporated as a municipal borough
Municipal borough
Municipal boroughs were a type of local government district which existed in England and Wales between 1835 and 1974, in Northern Ireland from 1840 to 1973 and in the Republic of Ireland from 1840 to 2002...

 in 1868 responsible for the administration of the 4 townships consisting of Eccleston, Parr
Parr, St Helens
Parr is a former village, now situated within St. Helens, England and is located towards the eastern side of the town. However the area dates back to the West Derby hundred district from the 12th century. The area is located within walking distance of St...

, Sutton and Windle, with the larger responsibility as a county borough
County borough
County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland , to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control. They were abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales, but continue in use for lieutenancy and shrievalty in...

 established in 1887 (superseded in 1974 by the larger still metropolitan borough
Metropolitan borough
A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district in England, and is a subdivision of a metropolitan county. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, metropolitan boroughs are defined in English law as metropolitan districts, however all of them have been granted or regranted...

).

St Helens is situated in the far south west of the historic county
Historic counties of England
The historic counties of England are subdivisions of England established for administration by the Normans and in most cases based on earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and shires...

 of Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

, in North West England
North West England
North West England, informally known as The North West, is one of the nine official regions of England.North West England had a 2006 estimated population of 6,853,201 the third most populated region after London and the South East...

, 6 miles (9.7 km) north of the River Mersey
River Mersey
The River Mersey is a river in North West England. It is around long, stretching from Stockport, Greater Manchester, and ending at Liverpool Bay, Merseyside. For centuries, it formed part of the ancient county divide between Lancashire and Cheshire....

. The town historically lay within the ancient Lancashire division of West Derby
West Derby (hundred)
The hundred of West Derby was an ancient division of the historic county of Lancashire, in northern England. It was sometimes known as West Derbyshire, the name alluding to its judicial centre being the township of West Derby .It covered the southwest of Lancashire, containing the ancient...

 known as a "hundred".

The local area developed rapidly during the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 of the 18th and 19th centuries into a significant centre for coal mining
Coal mining
The goal of coal mining is to obtain coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United States,...

, and glassmaking. Both prior and during this time it was also home to a cotton and linen industry (notably sail making) that lasted until the mid-19th century as well as salt
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

, lime
Lime (mineral)
Lime is a general term for calcium-containing inorganic materials, in which carbonates, oxides and hydroxides predominate. Strictly speaking, lime is calcium oxide or calcium hydroxide. It is also the name for a single mineral of the CaO composition, occurring very rarely...

 and alkali
Alkali
In chemistry, an alkali is a basic, ionic salt of an alkali metal or alkaline earth metal element. Some authors also define an alkali as a base that dissolves in water. A solution of a soluble base has a pH greater than 7. The adjective alkaline is commonly used in English as a synonym for base,...

 pits, copper smelting, and brewing
Brewing
Brewing is the production of beer through steeping a starch source in water and then fermenting with yeast. Brewing has taken place since around the 6th millennium BCE, and archeological evidence suggests that this technique was used in ancient Egypt...

.

Today, St Helens is very much a commercial town. The main industries have since left, become outdated, or have been outsourced leaving the float and patterned rolled glass producer Pilkington
Pilkington
Pilkington Group Limited is a multinational glass manufacturing company headquartered in St Helens, United Kingdom. It is a subsidiary of the Japan-based NSG Group...

's, a world leader in their industry, as the town's one remaining large industrial employer. Previously the town had been home to Beechams (now part of GlaxoSmithKline
GlaxoSmithKline
GlaxoSmithKline plc is a global pharmaceutical, biologics, vaccines and consumer healthcare company headquartered in London, United Kingdom...

), the Gamble family of the Alkali Works, Ravenhead glass
Ravenhead glass
Ravenhead Glass was a glassworks near Ravenhead Colliery, Lancashire, North West England. It was founded in 1850 by Frances Dixon and John Merson after a move from their earlier factory at Thatto Heath near St Helens...

 (bought out by the Belgian nationalised Durobor), United Glass Bottles (U.G.B.), Triplex (owned by Pilkington, farmed out to India), Daglish Foundry (closed and demolished 1939), and Greenall's (now located in nearby Warrington
Warrington
Warrington is a town, borough and unitary authority area of Cheshire, England. It stands on the banks of the River Mersey, which is tidal to the west of the weir at Howley. It lies 16 miles east of Liverpool, 19 miles west of Manchester and 8 miles south of St Helens...

).

Pre-history

The southern regions of the ancient Lancashire county was at least partially settled by the Celtic Brigantes
Brigantes
The Brigantes were a Celtic tribe who in pre-Roman times controlled the largest section of what would become Northern England, and a significant part of the Midlands. Their kingdom is sometimes called Brigantia, and it was centred in what was later known as Yorkshire...

 who were subsequently subjugated by the Romans during their 1st Century conquest
Roman conquest of Britain
The Roman conquest of Britain was a gradual process, beginning effectively in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius, whose general Aulus Plautius served as first governor of Britannia. Great Britain had already frequently been the target of invasions, planned and actual, by forces of the Roman Republic and...

, with nearby Wigan
Wigan
Wigan is a town in Greater Manchester, England. It stands on the River Douglas, south-west of Bolton, north of Warrington and west-northwest of Manchester. Wigan is the largest settlement in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan and is its administrative centre. The town of Wigan had a total...

 suggested as a location for the Roman settlement of Coccium. No archaeological evidence has yet been uncovered to tie either group specifically to the St Helens area, however Eccleston derives its name from either the Latin Ecclesia or Welsh Eglwys suggesting a common link to a church (though none are known in that township until the 19th century).

The first recorded settlements are Manors, Parishes and Titled Lands listed in the Domesday book
Domesday Book
Domesday Book , now held at The National Archives, Kew, Richmond upon Thames in South West London, is the record of the great survey of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086...

 in the 11th century. The titled lands would have encompassed the modern townships as part of their fiefdoms, though it may be inferred from listed tithes that the land was populated before then.

Formation of the town

St Helens did not exist as a town
Town
A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while...

 in its own rights until as late as the middle of the 19th Century. The town has a complex evolution spurred on by rapid population growth in the region during the period of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

. Between 1629 and 1839 St Helens grew from a small collection of houses surrounding an old chapel, to a village, before finally becoming the significant urban centre of the four primary Manors and surrounding townships that make up the modern Town.

The origin of the name "St Helens" stretches back at least to a "chapel of ease" dedicated to St Elyn, the earliest documented reference to which is in 1552. The first time the Chapel is formally referred to appears to be 1558 when Thomas Parr of Parr bequeathed a sum of money "to a stock towards finding a priest at St. Helen's Chapel in Hardshaw, and to the maintenance of God's divine service there for ever, if the stock go forward and that the priest do service as is aforesaid". Early maps show that it originally existed on Chapel Lane, around the approximate site of the modern pedestrianised Church Street. Historically this would have fallen within the berewick of Hardshaw, within greater Township of Windle (making up the southern border) abutting onto the open farmland of Parr to the East, and Sutton and Eccleston to the South and West respectively.

The completion of the Domesday Book
Domesday Book
Domesday Book , now held at The National Archives, Kew, Richmond upon Thames in South West London, is the record of the great survey of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086...

 in 1086 reveals several Manors existed at that time although there are no specific references to "St Elyn", or mentions of the particular "vill" or villages. Windle is first recorded on some maps as "Windhull" (or variations thereof) in 1201, Bold in 1212 (as Bolde) and Parr (or Parre) in 1246, whilst Sutton and Ecclestone
Eccleston, Merseyside
Eccleston is a civil parish within the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, Merseyside, England. According to the 2001 Census it had a population of 10,528....

 are expected to have composed part of the Widnes "fee" (a hereditary entitlement of ownership) under a Knight or Earl. It is known that The Hospitallers
Knights Hospitaller
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta , also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta , Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's...

 held lands in the area of Hardshaw as early as 1292, known as Crossgate (which may be referred to by the long built over Cross Street in the town centre located beneath the modern College campus) and many of the original Parishes, Townships and local areas are named after the families that owned the land between the 11th and 18th century.

The Ecclestone family owned the Eccleston township. Their ancestral home dates to 1100, built by Hugh Ecclestone and are referred to throughout the period until the 18th century when they departed for nearby Southport
Southport
Southport is a seaside town in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton in Merseyside, England. During the 2001 census Southport was recorded as having a population of 90,336, making it the eleventh most populous settlement in North West England...



The manor of Parr remained in control of the Parr family and their descendants throughout the 13th to the early 15th Century when a distant relative of the original family line William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton
William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton
William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton, 1st Earl of Essex and 1st Baron Parr, KG was the son of Sir Thomas Parr and his wife, Maud Green, daughter of Sir Thomas Green, of Broughton and Greens Norton...

 (brother of Henry VIII's wife Catherine Parr) sold the manor to the Byroms of Lowton
Lowton
Lowton is a village, part of the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, in Greater Manchester, England. It is around from Leigh and south of Wigan. The settlement lies across the A580 East Lancashire Road....

. A family that later supported the Royalists during the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 and resulted in the death of Henry Byrom (son of the Lord of the Manor) dying at the Battle of Edgehill
Battle of Edgehill
The Battle of Edgehill was the first pitched battle of the First English Civil War. It was fought near Edge Hill and Kineton in southern Warwickshire on Sunday, 23 October 1642....

.

The extensive lands of Sutton Manor stretched across the open and flat land leading towards the Mersey. The Manors name itself is of unknown origin, but the land within the enlarged estate refer to several leading families including the Elton Head, Ravenhead, and Sherdley. In 1212 William de Daresbury was the title holder of the Manors. The Sherdley family trace back to the Northales who had been settled in the area since at least 1276 when they are referred to as plaintiffs in a boundary dispute with the Lords of Rainhill.

Windle contained the smaller Hardshaw, described as a Berewick in the Domesday book. It was in Hardshaw that Chapel Lane (containing the aforementioned Chapel of St Elyn) was constructed. The Windle Family were Lords of the Manor and Township from the Norman period onward, before ceding control to the Gerards of Bryn
Bryn
Bryn is a component ward of the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, in Greater Manchester, England. It is part of the larger town of Ashton-in-Makerfield and is geographically indistinguishable from it. It forms a separate local council ward...

.
In 1139 the Peerage
Peerage of England
The Peerage of England comprises all peerages created in the Kingdom of England before the Act of Union in 1707. In that year, the Peerages of England and Scotland were replaced by one Peerage of Great Britain....

 "Earl of Derby
Earl of Derby
Earl of Derby is a title in the Peerage of England. The title was first adopted by Robert de Ferrers, 1st Earl of Derby under a creation of 1139. It continued with the Ferrers family until the 6th Earl forfeited his property toward the end of the reign of Henry III and died in 1279...

" was created with Norman descendent Robert De Ferrers
Robert de Ferrers, 1st Earl of Derby
Robert I de Ferrers, 1st Earl of Derby was born in Derbyshire, England, a younger son of Henry de Ferrières and his wife Bertha Roberts . His father, born in Ferrières, Normandy, France accompanied William the Conqueror during his invasion of England...

 installed. Subsequently the region passed on to John of Gaunt, and eventually the Stanley
Audley-Stanley family
The Audley-Stanley family is a family with many notable members including the Earls of Derby who are descended from the early holders of Audley, Staffordshire. The first mention of Audley is in the Domesday book of 1086, when it was called Aldidelege , when the lands were held by an English thegn...

 family. Their ancestral home was eventually established in the nearby Knowsley
Knowsley
-Places:in England*Knowsley, Merseyside, a village.**Knowsley Safari Park*Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley, a local government district of Merseyside.*Knowsley Safari Park, a zoological tourist attraction....

 area (to the west of the modern St. Helens borough), with the foundation of a hunting lodge in the 15th century and subsequently Knowsley Hall
Knowsley Hall
Knowsley Hall is a stately home near Liverpool within the Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley, in Merseyside, England. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building, and is the ancestral home of the Stanley family, the Earls of Derby. The hall is surrounded by of...

 in the 18th century. The Earl of Derby's lands encompassed a region from Liverpool to Manchester, and to the north beyond Lancaster
Lancaster, Lancashire
Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire, England. It is situated on the River Lune and has a population of 45,952. Lancaster is a constituent settlement of the wider City of Lancaster, local government district which has a population of 133,914 and encompasses several outlying towns, including...

 and were primarily turned to meeting the pastoral needs of the people.

Throughout this period of time the area was predominantly arable land and was noted for its large swathes of moss, heath and bog land while elsewhere in parts it was covered by the greater Mersey Forest (the larger "Community Forest"
Mersey Forest
This article is about a community forest in the United Kingdom. See also Mersey Forest, Tasmania.The Mersey Forest is a network of woodlands and green spaces being created across Merseyside and North Cheshire by a wide-ranging partnership of different organisations including local authorities,...

 was not established until much later).

In 1552 the Chapel of St Elyn was noted as "consisting only of a 'challis and a lytle bell". The chapel was described as being at the crux of the four townships of Eccleston, Parr, Sutton and Windle, and lay on the intersecting roads that criss-crossed the area and that also served as a major thoroughfare for traffic between Lancashire towns such as Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, Ormskirk
Ormskirk
Ormskirk is a market town in West Lancashire, England. It is situated north of Liverpool city centre, northwest of St Helens, southeast of Southport and southwest of Preston.-Geography and administration:...

, Lathom
Lathom
Lathom is a village and civil parish in Lancashire, England, about 5 km northeast of Ormskirk. It is in the district of West Lancashire, and with the parish of Newburgh forms part of Newburgh ward...

 and the Cheshire
Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

 region south of the River Mersey
River Mersey
The River Mersey is a river in North West England. It is around long, stretching from Stockport, Greater Manchester, and ending at Liverpool Bay, Merseyside. For centuries, it formed part of the ancient county divide between Lancashire and Cheshire....

. The transport link is attested to by the existence of Chester Lane (the modern B5419 is much foreshortened) that originally wound through the west of the town heading South to the Mersey crossing point of Warrington
Warrington
Warrington is a town, borough and unitary authority area of Cheshire, England. It stands on the banks of the River Mersey, which is tidal to the west of the weir at Howley. It lies 16 miles east of Liverpool, 19 miles west of Manchester and 8 miles south of St Helens...

 and beyond to the ancient Chester Road (that now makes up part of the modern A56) that stretched between the historic town of its name
Chester
Chester is a city in Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is home to 77,040 inhabitants, and is the largest and most populous settlement of the wider unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester, which had a population of 328,100 according to the...

 and the Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 townships. The Chapel also sat directly between the port town of Liverpool, and the landlocked Manchester townships that would become important in the development of the greater area of both St Helens and Wigan
Wigan
Wigan is a town in Greater Manchester, England. It stands on the River Douglas, south-west of Bolton, north of Warrington and west-northwest of Manchester. Wigan is the largest settlement in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan and is its administrative centre. The town of Wigan had a total...

.

As a busy thoroughfare it is suggested by Historian and genealogist William Farrer that a village existed in the vicinity for centuries, later sharing the name of the Chapel. It is known from the Diaries of a local Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 by the name of Adam Martindale
Adam Martindale
Adam Martindale was a British presbyterian minister, closely involved in the evolution of presbyterianism in Lancashire in the seventeenth century.-Biography:...

, that by the time the King's Head Inn was constructed in 1629 on "the great road" (taken to refer to all or part of Chester Lane) between Warrington and Ormskirk, a number of houses, farms and manors counted amongst the properties in the local vicinity and general area. Martindale notes that by 1618 that the original Chapel had been demolished and rebuilt in the same vicinity. In 1678 a building was converted for use as a meeting place for the Society of Friends
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

 by George Shaw of Bickerstaffe. Local historians believe the building had been used for another purpose long before 1678. The Quaker Friends' Meeting House, as it is now known, is a Grade II listed building.

The strong link to Roman Catholicism in the area was maintained throughout this period by the eventual Lords of Sutton Manor, the De Holland family starting in 1321, and it is proposed that Thomas Holland, a local Jesuit Priest tried for arrested and tried for high treason in October 1642 as "taking orders by authority of the see of Rome and returning to England" the first step in the process of beatification was allowed by Pope Leo XIII in 1886. Conversely Roger Holland was burnt at the stake for "heresy" when he continued to his professed belief in the Reformed churches
Reformed churches
The Reformed churches are a group of Protestant denominations characterized by Calvinist doctrines. They are descended from the Swiss Reformation inaugurated by Huldrych Zwingli but developed more coherently by Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger and especially John Calvin...

 some 100 years earlier in 1558 during the Persecution of the Mary I
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

. It is suggested that Ravenhead Hall was the site of a Catholic Chapel during the most severe of Catholic Persecutions during the 17th and 18th century. Whilst the Lathom family maintained Rainfords close connections, as did the Ecclestons.

Less well known is the Windle connection to witches. In 1602 two women were sent to Lancaster for trial, while a decade later Isobel Roby was submitted to Sir Thomas Gerard, accused of upsetting the ship upon which Princess Anne of Denmark
Anne of Great Britain
Anne ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.Anne's Catholic father, James II and VII, was deposed during the...

 was arriving . She was finally executed at Lancaster, along with the Pendle and Salmesburg witches, 20 August 1612

By 1746 St Helens, composed of the greater area of the 4 Townships (and their collieries) beyond Prescot
Prescot
Prescot is a town and civil parish, within the Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley in Merseyside, England. It is 8 miles to the east of Liverpool city centre and lies within the historic boundaries of Lancashire. At the 2001 Census, the population was 11,184 .Prescot marks the beginning of the...

, was referred to in a Statement in Parliament related to the extension of the Liverpool to Prescot Turnpike.

The rapid growth of St Helens at the epicentre of the townships is attested to by several authors. The Penny Cyclopaedia
Penny Cyclopaedia
The Penny Cyclopædia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was a multi-volume encyclopedia edited by George Long and published by Charles Knight alongside the Penny Magazine. The volumes were published from 1833 to 1843.-External links:...

 states in 1839 that "Saint Helen’s, Lancashire, is in the township of Windle, in the chapelry of St Helen’s, Prescott parish. The township contains 3,540 acres, and had in 1831 a population of 5,825. The town has risen into importance of late years" In contrast by 1854 (20 years prior to the establishment of St Helens the borough) George Routledge states a reversal of the roles "St Helens, originally an inconsiderable village, is now a very thriving town" and later describes the town as a "...may be said to contain the four townships of Sutton, Parr, Windle and Eccleston". The composition of the town described by Routledge largely mirrors those observations made by Samuel Lewis in 1848 and later still in 1874 by John Marius Wilson and John Bartholemew in 1887.

Census figures from 1801 suggest the population of the District Area of St Helens to be 12,500 which by 1861 had reached between 37,631 and 55,523 (John Marius Wilson placing populace at the lower number, with total households at the specific figure of 6,539) in the wider area with St Helens itself comprising a population of 20,176 in 3,577 households. The Ordnance Survey of 1843 shows St Helens as the significant urban centre

The original Town Hall was constructed in 1839 and described by Wilson in 1874 as "in the Italian style, with a Corinthian portico; and contains a lock-up, a news room, and a large hall for courts, concerts, balls, and public meetings". It wasn't until 1852 that the Civil Parish of St Helens was instituted (noted in 1874 by Wilson as "more extensive than the town").

On 2 February 1868 Queen Victoria granted a Charter of Incorporation, defining St Helens officially as a Municipal Borough. The first election of Councillors took place on 9 May the same year, followed by the first Town Council meeting on 18 May. Twenty years later in 1887 St Helens became a County Borough
Parliamentary borough
Parliamentary boroughs are a type of administrative division, usually covering urban areas, that are entitled to representation in a Parliament...

 granting them two representatives in Parliament.

in 1894 the Parish of St Helens was officially incorporated by the 1893 St Helens Corporation Act. This was achieved by the abolition of the Civil Parishes of Parr
Parr, St Helens
Parr is a former village, now situated within St. Helens, England and is located towards the eastern side of the town. However the area dates back to the West Derby hundred district from the 12th century. The area is located within walking distance of St...

, Sutton and amalgamation of their townships. The Civil Parishes of Eccleston and Windle
Windle, Merseyside
Windle is a suburb of St. Helens, and Ward of the metropolitan borough of the same name. The 2001 census gives Windle a population of 8,621 in 3,607 households. It borders the villages of Eccleston and Rainford. It was one of the original four townships alongside Eccleston, Parr and Sutton formed...

 both ceded a portions of their areas over to St Helens.

St Helens, in the sense of the modern Borough, covers areas traditionally not associated with the town. The 1974 creation of the Ceremonial County of Merseyside
Merseyside
Merseyside is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1,365,900. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary, and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool...

 appended the former urban district
Urban district
In the England, Wales and Ireland, an urban district was a type of local government district that covered an urbanised area. Urban districts had an elected Urban District Council , which shared local government responsibilities with a county council....

s of Haydock
Haydock
Haydock is a village within the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, in Merseyside, England. It contains all of the Haydock electoral ward and a section of the Blackbrook electoral ward. The village is located roughly mid-way between Liverpool and Manchester, close to the junction of the M6 motorway...

, Newton-le-Willows
Newton-le-Willows
Newton-le-Willows is a small market town within the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, in Merseyside, England. Historically a part of Lancashire, it is situated about midway between the cities of Manchester and Liverpool, to the east of St Helens, to the north of Warrington and to the south of...

 and Rainford
Rainford
Rainford is a village and civil parish within Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, in Merseyside, England. It is around north of St Helens. At the 2001 Census the population of the civil parish was 8,344....

, and parts of Billinge-and-Winstanley
Billinge and Winstanley Urban District
Billinge was, from 1894 to 1974, a local government district in the administrative county of Lancashire, England....

 and Ashton-in-Makerfield
Ashton-in-Makerfield
Ashton-in-Makerfield is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, Greater Manchester. It is situated south of Wigan, north-northwest of Warrington and west of the city of Manchester. In 2001 it had a population of 28,505....

 urban districts, along with part of Whiston Rural District
Whiston Rural District
Whiston Rural District was a rural district of the administrative county of Lancashire, England. It was created in 1895 by renaming the Prescot Rural District when the parish of Prescot was removed from that rural district and created a separate urban district. Later the parish of Speke was...

, all from the administrative county
Administrative counties of England
Administrative counties were a level of subnational division of England used for the purposes of local government from 1889 to 1974. They were created by the Local Government Act 1888 as the areas for which county councils were elected. Some large counties were divided into several administrative...

 of Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

. The urban sprawl of St Helens was already extended up to the boundary lines of places such as Haydock and Rainhill, where inhabitants may consider themselves either part of either both St Helens the 'Town' or 'Borough', or just the Borough.

Industrial Development

Until the mid-18th century the local industry was almost entirely based on small scale home based initiatives such as linen weaving. The landscape was dotted with similarly small scale excavation and mining operations, primarily for clay and peat, but also notably for coal and it's the coal to which the town owes its initial growth and development and (subsequently) the symbiotic relationship shared with the coal dependent copper smelting and glass industries.

Sitting bare on the Lancashire Coalfield the town was built both physically and metaphorically on coal
Coal mining
The goal of coal mining is to obtain coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United States,...

; the original motto on the borough council's coat of arms was "Ex Terra Lucem" (roughly translated from Latin to "From the Ground, Light") and local collieries employed up to 5,000 men as late as the 1970s. During the boom years of the British coal industry (with 1913 the peak year of production with 1 million being employed in UK mining industry) the St.Helens division of the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Federation
Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Federation
The Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Federation was a trade union which operated on the Lancashire Coalfield in North West England.-Background:...

 (the local miners' union) had the largest membership (10%) of that federation.

The discovery of winnable coal seams is mentioned in 1556, referred to as "Beds of cinders or coke...have been discovered three feet thick" during the digging of a clay pit and commonly is attributed to the Eltonhead family (Elton Head Road, modern B5204, shares the name of the family) whilst reference to the significant distribution of "potsherds"
Sherd
In archaeology, a sherd is commonly a historic or prehistoric fragment of pottery, although the term is occasionally used to refer to fragments of stone and glass vessels as well....

 during excavation suggest that some light industry had been under way for some time prior (suggested to date back to the 13th Century) and the clay and pottery industries lasted in the area through to the early 20th Century. A dispute arose between the Landlord Bolds and the Tennant Eltonheads, eventually resulting in an agreement to compensate the Bold family.

The majority of the land prior to 1700 had been turned over to arable farming since at least the 12th century according to the historical family records of William De Daresbury. The township of Sutton was recorded as "by itself being assessed at four plough-lands". Plow or ploughlands are assessed at 120 acre (0.4856232 km²) apiece. The pastoral nature of the land in the local area was common even in 1901 with William Farrer noting of Eccleston that the "country is of an undulating nature and principally dedicated to agriculture, fields of rich and fertile soil being predominant" and describing the produce as "chiefly potatoes, oats, and wheat on a clayey soil which alternates with peat". Even so, Farrer also notes that several old quarries and shafts still existed within the area while also making reference to a "brewery at Portico, and a pottery near Prescot, while glass, watchmakers' tools, and mineral waters are also manufactured".

Two hundred years earlier and Farrer may well have seen a different sight as St Helens was scarred and pitted by shallow mining operations, often quickly abandoned, left to flood and exceedingly prone to collapse. The primitive mining techniques, and limited ability to bail out gathering water left many pits with short lifespans. Complaints are recorded in Sutton Heath in particular to the plans to expand out the mining across the town, but the lure of a stable income ultimately won out against whatever reservations were held. 100 years later, Farrer might be equally surprised to find the town knocking back offers of mining excavation, when in 2009 the Council rejected a planning application for an open cast mine effectively underlining the finality of the decline of coal mining in the area.

In the 18th century however coal was an enabling force for the town that opened up opportunities for further commercial and industrial developments, which in turn drove demand for the expeditious movement of raw goods not simply out of the town (coal to Liverpool to fuel its shipping and steel works for instance, but also its salt works) but also in promoting an influx of raw products for processing. The symbiotic relationship of St Helens to its transport links is made evident through claims made to Parliament in 1746 for maintenance, and extension of the Turnpike road after localised flooding had damaged it.
It is clear that St Helens development owes as much to its location on the south Lancashire Coalfield as it does the fact that Liverpool, Manchester, Chester and other centres of industry were not and yearned for the fossil fuel of choice.

It was essential therefore for the town to maintain, and invest further, in transport links and promote itself as a hub for the growth of Liverpool, ably providing raw materials chiefly due to its location and promising transport links. Liverpool, recognising the need for a ready supply of coal for their forges, responded with a petition for the extension of the Liverpool to Prescot Turnpike. This soon developed into a far more forward thinking development to be at the heart of the Industrial Revolution; canals.

Originally mooted was the concept to make the Sankey Brook navigable, but its eventual result was a full man made canal linking St. Helens to the River Mersey and the city of Liverpool. The Sankey Canal
Sankey Canal
The Sankey Canal, which is also known as the Sankey Brook Navigation and the St Helens Canal, is a canal in Cheshire, extending into Merseyside, in the northwest of England, connecting St Helens with the River Mersey...

 was opened in 1757, and extended in 1775, to transport coal from the pits in Ravenhead
Ravenhead
Ravenhead is an area of St Helens in the North West of England. It is bordered by Thatto Heath, Sutton Heath, Eccleston and the Town Centre. The area is thought to take its name from a farm once located nearby , while the 'head' portion of the name represents its location at one of the higher...

, Haydock
Haydock
Haydock is a village within the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, in Merseyside, England. It contains all of the Haydock electoral ward and a section of the Blackbrook electoral ward. The village is located roughly mid-way between Liverpool and Manchester, close to the junction of the M6 motorway...

 and Parr to Liverpool, and for raw materials to be shipped to St Helens.

The transport revolution centred on the region encouraged an influx of industry to the sparsely populated area. With industry came job opportunities and population growth. Between 1700 St Helens grew from a sparsely populated array of manor houses and their tenants into a sprawling span of mining operations.

Owing primarily to the abundance of coal reserves, the quality of local sand, the near availability of Cheshire salt glass making is known to have been an ongoing industry in Sutton area since at least 1688 when the French John Leaf Snr is recorded paying the Eltonhead family £50 for a lease of 2½ acres of Sutton's Lower Hey. The glass industry got a significant lift with the Crown authorised "British Cast Plate Glass Company" established in Ravenhead in 1786 that latched onto the success of similar enterprises to set the region as the market leader for glass.

The foundation of the companies owed as much to Industrial leaders (and their money) from outside the town, as much to its natural resources. The synchronous development of the steam engine was however the significant development, with James Watts
James Watts
James Watts may refer to:* James Watts , Wales international rugby union player* James Watts , Conservative Member of Parliament for Manchester Moss Side 1959–1961* James W...

 stationary steam engine design leading the way. Now able to pump water from deeper than ever before, mines could be driven to find even more dense seams. At the same time, the growth in using such machinery (for mills, forges, ships both domestic and foreign) increased the demand exponentially for coal - and the town responded in due course.

Land exchanged hands in St Helens rapidly, as established families moved out of the growing towns filled with the working classes, to more gentrified areas in less industrially developed regions. In their place came men of money, self made wealthy Industrialists such as John Mackay (who first leased land in St Helens in the 1760s from King George III before buying the land constituting Ravenhead Farm from the Archbishop of York), Michael Hughes, the Gambles, and later Thomas Beecham, Thomas Greenall and the Pilkingtons willing and able to take advantage of the situation. A few remained such as the Gerards of Windle Hall. They took it upon themselves to avail their land to professionals, and were successful enough to expand out their control to Bryn and Garswood.
One of the first major industries to grow out of the transport innovations in the region was Copper Smelting. The Parys Mining company, led by Michael Hughes, arranged to lease land from John Mackay on land close to the newly constructed Sankey Canal at Ravenhead (where Ravenhead Colliery had since been established). This allowed copper ore carried from Amlech in North Wales to arrive in the St Helens region via the Mersey directly at the point where coal was being excavated to fire the forges of industry. Some 10,000 tons of copper ore yielding over 1,300 tons of copper passed along this route. At the same time the Gerards were renting out land in Blackbrook to the Patten & Co company from nearby Warrington. The company smelted using the Gerards own coal, then moved the coal downstream from a private wharf on the navigable brook.

The boom was not to last however, and by 1783 the coal industry leaders such as Mackay, Sarah Clayton and Thomas Case were all dead, penniless or both as a global constriction on coal shipments. An over reliance on shipping to the USA during the period of the War of Independence 1775-1783 brought ruin to many and was to lead to the permanent loss of several smaller industries. It took partnership and coordination with other industries for the Mining industry to recover, and with the embargo lifted with the US the towns troubles were soon overcome if not forgotten, and nor would this be the last troubling incident.

The demand for chemicals such as alkali brought meant it wasn't long before the Gamble family started their lime and alkali pits, fulfilling the final need of the glass industry and saving on import costs. The growing demand for chemical processing also contributed heavily to the growth of Widnes
Widnes
Widnes is an industrial town within the borough of Halton, in Cheshire, England, with an urban area population of 57,663 in 2004. It is located on the northern bank of the River Mersey where the estuary narrows to form the Runcorn Gap. Directly to the south across the Mersey is the town of Runcorn...

.

The Liverpool and Manchester Railway
Liverpool and Manchester Railway
The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the world's first inter-city passenger railway in which all the trains were timetabled and were hauled for most of the distance solely by steam locomotives. The line opened on 15 September 1830 and ran between the cities of Liverpool and Manchester in North...

 was finished in 1830 passing through the southern edge of the town at Rainhill and St Helens Junction, and furthering its economic development as a centre of industry.

The decline of the mining industry

The last coal mine located close to the town centre (Ravenhead Colliery) and those that were located in the outlying districts of St Helens, including Clock Face (Clock Face Colliery), Sutton, (Bold Colliery), Sutton Heath (Lea Green Colliery), Haydock (Lyme Pit, Wood Pit, Old Boston), were closed during a period that lasted from the nationalisation of the deep coal mining industry in 1947 until the early 1990s. By 1992 all the mines had been shut, with Sutton Manor Colliery, the last to go in St Helens proper, finally closing its gates on 24 May 1991. The collapse of the coal mining industry in St. Helens was the consequence of the implementation of government energy policy, which policy was opposed by the National Union of Mineworkers during the year-long Miners' Strike
UK miners' strike (1984–1985)
The UK miners' strike was a major industrial action affecting the British coal industry. It was a defining moment in British industrial relations, and its defeat significantly weakened the British trades union movement...

 of 1984-1985. After the collapse of the miners' strike in March 1985, St. Helens was but one of dozens of towns in the UK that was immediately set to lose a long standing employer owing to the government maintaining that the deep mining of coal was no longer an economically viable proposition in most British coalfields. In the case of both Sutton Manor and Bold Collieries, it was estimated that when they were closed they each still had up to 40 years of winnable coal reserves. The last colliery in the modern metropolitan borough
Metropolitan borough
A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district in England, and is a subdivision of a metropolitan county. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, metropolitan boroughs are defined in English law as metropolitan districts, however all of them have been granted or regranted...

 and in the St Helens area of the South Lancashire Coalfield, was Parkside, in Newton-le-Willows
Newton-le-Willows
Newton-le-Willows is a small market town within the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, in Merseyside, England. Historically a part of Lancashire, it is situated about midway between the cities of Manchester and Liverpool, to the east of St Helens, to the north of Warrington and to the south of...

, which was closed in 1992.

Employment

The glass industry is no longer the major employer it once was, however it still employs over a thousand people in the town. 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.

In 1994 planning permission was sought out for a link road connecting the M62 directly with the town centre. The development included a £5m retail and commercial property project in the Ravenhead area that had seen successive business closures with the folding of UGB and Ravenhead Glass.

Housing

St Helens is still predominately divided into the quarters of the original four townships, inside which exist period developments and housing estates. The Town centre is predominately Terraced Housing dating to the late 19th century onwards through to the 1930s. Development from that point focused out on the wider areas of Parr and Sutton that were largely undeveloped until that point.

Between 1930 and 2000 there were several phased developments giving the town an artificial landscape dominated by large expanses of housing estates in their own unique building styles dependent upon the era in which they were designed and constructed. For instance Parr's Councourse Way is a semicircular web structure of concrete fabricated buildings built for the miners. The pebble dashed exterior is distinctive enough to give the estate the name "Cement City". Elsewhere the "New Street Estate" known locally as "Beth Ave", after the primary access on New Street, was stigmatised from the beginning as its modern angular construction (with distinctive angled roof) and vivid red brick led to it being called "Lego Land".

Helena Partnerships are the largest housing association
Housing association
Housing associations in the United Kingdom are independent not-for-profit bodies that provide low-cost "social housing" for people in housing need. Any trading surplus is used to maintain existing homes and to help finance new ones...

 in St Helens, responsible for the administration of over 13,000 social housing properties. The Liverpool based Riverside group are the largest organisation in Merseyside, and hold a significant share in St Helens including Residential Care (such as Holley Court). Independent organisations such as Extracare Charitable Trust operate the Reeve Court development on the border of Rainhill/Sutton on Eltonhead Road.

Retail

The town's shopping area is centred on the parish church of St Helens, the original site of St Mary's open market. The open market was later replaced by an awned covered market that populated Chapel Lane and the locale.

The current Church Square shopping centre was built in the early 1970s and surrounds St Helens on 3 sides. Church Street, the main high street, runs parallel to Church Square and is sandwiched by the towns second shopping centre known as The Hardshaw Centre. These primary centres contain many of the most popular British retail chains such as Boots, BHS, Topshop and Marks & Spencer. The other main shopping streets in the town centre include the more traditional small store based Bridge Street, Duke Street and Westfield Street populated by independent specialists.

The town centre has several supermarkets including mainstream stores such as Asda
Asda
Asda Stores Ltd is a British supermarket chain which retails food, clothing, general merchandise, toys and financial services. It also has a mobile telephone network, , Asda Mobile...

 and Tesco
Tesco
Tesco plc is a global grocery and general merchandise retailer headquartered in Cheshunt, United Kingdom. It is the third-largest retailer in the world measured by revenues and the second-largest measured by profits...

, as well as smaller stores such as Lidl
Lidl
Lidl is a discount supermarket chain based in Germany that operates over 7,200 stores across Europe. The company's full name is Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG...

 and the Co-Op
The Co-operative Group
The Co-operative Group Ltd. is a United Kingdom consumer cooperative with a diverse range of business interests. It is co-operatively run and owned by its members. It is the largest organisation of this type in the world, with over 5.5 million members, who all have a say in how the business is...

. Morrisons
Morrisons
Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc is the fourth largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom, headquartered in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. The company is usually referred to and is branded as Morrisons formerly Morrison's, and it is part of the FTSE 100 Index of companies...

 retain three stores located in the Eccleston, Sutton and Earlestown areas of the town, whilst Tesco opened a second superstore in Haydock in 2006. There is also a Tesco superstore in Earlestown, which is on a former Safeway site and many smaller Tesco Express and Tesco Metro stores. A new Tesco Extra store is set to open in October 2011 on the outskirts of the town centre to replace the existing superstore, which is expected to be replaced by a new retail outlet or a new bus terminal for the town.

Outside of the town centre, traditional shopping streets still exist in several areas including Fingerpost, Chain Lane, Ashtons Green Drive, The Concourse (Parr), Sutton (Peckers Hill Road) and the High Street and Park Road South areas of Newton-le-Willows. These share a mix of small chain stores and independent companies.

St Helens has two major retail parks, one on either side of the St Helens Linkway. The older of these, St Helens Retail Park, is home to several discount stores and wholesale retailers such as TK Maxx, Aldi, Iceland
Iceland (supermarket)
Iceland is a supermarket chain in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Iceland's primary product lines include frozen foods, such as frozen prepared meals and frozen vegetables - hence the name of the company...

, Topps Tiles
Topps Tiles
Topps Tiles plc is a British national retailer based in Enderby. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE SmallCap Index.-History:...

 and Dunelm Mill
Dunelm Mill
Dunelm Mill, also known as 'Dunelm Soft Furnishings Ltd', is a major British-based home furnishings retailer with over 100 stores and over 40 implant Pausa coffee shops throughout the United Kingdom. One of the largest homewares retailers in United Kingdom Dunelm Mill's headquarters are based in...

.

The larger Ravenhead Retail Park houses more large scale mainstream retail stores, such as PC World
PC World (retailer)
PC World is OWNED BY THE GOVERNMENT one of the WHER MA MEMORY STICK ?!?!??! United Kingdom's largest chains of mass-market computer superstores. It is part of Dixons Retail plc. PC World operates under the brand name PC City in Spain, Italy and Sweden....

, Currys
Currys
Currys is an electrical retailer in the United Kingdom and Ireland and is owned by Dixons Retail plc. It specialises in selling home electronics and household appliances, with 295 superstores and 73 high street stores...

, Next
Next (retailer)
Next plc is a British retailer marketing clothing, footwear, accessories and home products with its headquarters in Enderby, Leicestershire, England. The company has over 550 stores throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and 50 franchise branches in Europe, Asia and the Middle East...

, B&Q
B&Q
B&Q plc is a multinational DIY and home improvement retailer headquartered in Eastleigh, United Kingdom. It was founded in 1969 and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kingfisher plc, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange....

 and Boots. Ravenhead Retail Park is among the top 10 largest retail parks in the UK and continues to attract further investment and phased construction, developing on brownfield land
Brownfield land
Brownfield sites are abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities available for re-use. Expansion or redevelopment of such a facility may be complicated by real or perceived environmental contaminations. Cf. Waste...

. The same area (in particular the old United Glass Bottles site) is currently undergoing landscaping for the development of the new St. Helens RLFC stadium and the construction of a Tesco Extra supermarket, to replace the smaller Tesco supermarket in the town centre.

Major investment is currently transforming former industrial land for use as hotels, shopping areas and housing after an initial landscape grading and character assessment project was concluded in late 2005 by Land Use Consultants on behalf of St Helens Council.

Urban Regeneration Projects

Since the millennium St Helens has become a focus for a whole borough scheme of Urban Regeneration initiatives in coordination with local Housing Authorities, Business and Art Projects in addition to European, Regional and Central Government funding such as the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, the North West Regional Development Agency and The Mersey Partnership as part of the European Regional Development Fund

The whole project is coordinated by St Helens Council under their umbrella corporate branding "St Helens; The Heart of the North West" with an emphasis on promoting the location of the town as a vital hub of the region, to encourage investment and the development of business links.

In 2007 the Brand New St Helens project was launched and published their Development Review Document. The report set out the achievements in the years since the millennium and set out the future development projects for the town including the wholly rebuilt College Campus, and Cowley Language College (formerly Cowley High). The document also lays out retail, leisure and tourism developments for the Town.

Local Projects such as "Re:new St Helens" operated in conjunction with Helena Housing was originally set up in 2006 in an effort to initially "make the Parr area of St Helens a better place to live, work and be part of". The schemes success led to it being expanded to other identified areas in need of redevelopment including Four Acre (in Clock Face), Thatto Heath and the North of the Town Centre.

The Re:new projects coordinate a Partnership Board to meet the needs of local residents in conjunction with local service providers such as the Council, Local Education Authority, Local Healthcare, Housing Associations and the Police to help improve services, identify local priorities and make changes with an aim to tackle "the quality of life issues which matter most to local people". The scheme has been responsible for the redevelopment of The Duckeries and Gaskell Park in Parr that both achieved Green Flag status in 2008

The George Street Quarter regeneration
Urban renewal
Urban renewal is a program of land redevelopment in areas of moderate to high density urban land use. Renewal has had both successes and failures. Its modern incarnation began in the late 19th century in developed nations and experienced an intense phase in the late 1940s – under the rubric of...

 programme left an impressive stamp on the town. The George Street area receives foot traffic from the railway station so the area was enhanced to leave a positive impression on tourists. Major improvements were made to building exteriors, parking, security, street furniture and paving. This has attracted several new businesses to the quarter including award-winning restaurants. The surrounding areas are now receiving attention, with the Hardshaw Centre receiving a new car park exit stairway into the George Street quarter. The stairway spirals around a tall pointed metal structure and is named 'The Needle'. However this new and modern looking stairway is in stark contrast to the brown, square and brick built 'Hardshaw' Centre.

The main shopping areas, Church Street and Church Square, are currently undergoing extensive regeneration and there is a proposal for Duke Street, which extends into the town centre, to also receive funding.

Historic and notable buildings

The modern Town Hall built in 1876 to replace the original (damaged by a fire in 1871); 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 the 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, Church Street. This attractive stone-built Grade II listed hall has been used for Quaker worship for over 300 years since its establishment, in 1678, by George Shaw of Bickerstaffe. A sign at the front of the building reads "so used" since 1678, partly leading local historians to believe the building had been used for another purpose for quite a number of years before 1678. The building & garden have been recently restored and are an important element of the George Street Conservation Area. The sundial over the door of the meeting house is dated 1753, while a curiosity in the garden is a huge glacial boulder, said to have been deposited from the Lake District following the last ice age.

The Beecham Clock Tower, Westfield Street - which is now part of St Helens College. This was the original headquarters of the Beecham Pharmaceutical Empire.

St Mary's Lowe House Catholic Church, North Road is a grade II listed building, opened in 1929, the second on this site (the land having been donated by Winifred Gorsuch Lowe - hence the name 'Lowe House'). The church is an unusual and striking landmark with a 130 ft tower and a dome of a Romanesque crossed with Gothic style. The major feature is the historic Carillon (bells playable in musical notation by a keyboard, rather than in sequences by ropes). It is the largest in the North West of England housing 47 bells. Other features include the clock, which is set in gold mosaic.

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Anne and Blessed Dominic, Monastery Road, Sutton, is a site of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics. The Victorian missionary Blessed Dominic Barberi
Dominic Barberi
Blessed Dominic of the Mother of God, born Dominic Barberi was an Italian theologian and a member of the Passionist Congregation...

 is buried in the church. It was he who received Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman into the Roman Catholic Church. Alongside Blessed Dominic, Father Ignatius Spencer
Ignatius Spencer
Father Ignatius of St Paul , born as Hon. George Spencer, was a son of the 2nd Earl Spencer. He converted from Anglicanism to the Roman Catholic Church and entered the Passionist Order in 1841 and spent his life working for the conversion of England to the Catholic faith.-Birth and Education:George...

 is buried. The son of the 2nd Earl Spencer he was a famed convert to the Roman Catholic faith. Elizabeth Prout
Elizabeth Prout
Servant of God Sister Elizabeth Prout, known as Mother Mary Joseph of Jesus, . Founder of the Roman Catholic religious order the ‘Institute of the Holy Family’, later known as the Passionists - the Sisters of the Cross and Passion.-Early life:Elizabeth Prout was born in Coleham, Shrewsbury on...

, foundress of the religious order, the Sisters of the Cross and Passion
Sisters of the Cross and Passion
Sisters of the Cross and Passion is a Roman Catholic religious order founded in nineteenth-century Manchester, England, by Elizabeth Prout, later called Mother Mary Joseph. It is part of the larger Passionist movement.-External links:**...

 is also buried with them.

Geography

The St Helens Borough
Metropolitan Borough of St Helens
The Metropolitan Borough of St Helens is a metropolitan borough of Merseyside, in North West England. It is named after its largest town St Helens, and covers an area which includes the settlements of Newton-le-Willows, Earlestown, Haydock, Rainhill, Eccleston, Clock Face, Billinge and...

 covers roughly 30 km² over an area of soft rolling hills used primarily for agricultural purposes, mainly arable
Arable land
In geography and agriculture, arable land is land that can be used for growing crops. It includes all land under temporary crops , temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow...

. The highest point in the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, and the whole of Merseyside is Billinge Hill
Billinge Hill
Billinge Hill, also known as Billinge Lump, is the highest point in the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens in North West England. It is also the highest point of Merseyside It lies in Billinge, within the historic county boundaries of Lancashire....

, 4.5 miles (7.2 km) 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
Sankey Canal
The Sankey Canal, which is also known as the Sankey Brook Navigation and the St Helens Canal, is a canal in Cheshire, extending into Merseyside, in the northwest of England, connecting St Helens with the River Mersey...

 in the town centre. St Helens is around 160 feet (50 m) above sea level. From the top of Billinge Hill the cities of Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 and Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 are visible on a clear day as well as the towns of Wigan
Wigan
Wigan is a town in Greater Manchester, England. It stands on the River Douglas, south-west of Bolton, north of Warrington and west-northwest of Manchester. Wigan is the largest settlement in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan and is its administrative centre. The town of Wigan had a total...

, Bolton
Bolton
Bolton is a town in Greater Manchester, in the North West of England. Close to the West Pennine Moors, it is north west of the city of Manchester. Bolton is surrounded by several smaller towns and villages which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, of which Bolton is the...

 and Warrington
Warrington
Warrington is a town, borough and unitary authority area of Cheshire, England. It stands on the banks of the River Mersey, which is tidal to the west of the weir at Howley. It lies 16 miles east of Liverpool, 19 miles west of Manchester and 8 miles south of St Helens...

.

Carr Mill Dam
Carr Mill Dam
Carr Mill Dam is situated north of St Helens town centre, on the A571 , in Merseyside. It is the county's largest body of inland water, and offers picturesque lakeside trails and walks, as well as national competitive powerboating and angling events.Once simply a mill pond built to power Carr’s...

 is Merseyside's largest body of inland water, offering picturesque lakeside trails and walks as well as national competitive powerboating and angling events.

The Burgies
The Burgies
The Burgies are a set of two slag heaps located in the Islands Brow area of St Helens. The two are divided by Islands Brow road and are bordered on the west side by the rail line connecting Liverpool Lime Street with Wigan North Western...

 are two tailings
Tailings
Tailings, also called mine dumps, slimes, tails, leach residue, or slickens, are the materials left over after the process of separating the valuable fraction from the uneconomic fraction of an ore...

 on the site of the old Rushy Park coal mine. They were created by the dumping of toxic chemical waste from the manufacture of glass, they have since been covered with tall grass and woodland.

Location

St Helens is 11 miles (17.7 km) to the East of Liverpool and 23 miles (37 km) from the centre of Manchester. The town shares borders with the towns or boroughs of Prescot
Prescot
Prescot is a town and civil parish, within the Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley in Merseyside, England. It is 8 miles to the east of Liverpool city centre and lies within the historic boundaries of Lancashire. At the 2001 Census, the population was 11,184 .Prescot marks the beginning of the...

 in Knowsley
Knowsley
-Places:in England*Knowsley, Merseyside, a village.**Knowsley Safari Park*Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley, a local government district of Merseyside.*Knowsley Safari Park, a zoological tourist attraction....

, Skelmersdale
Skelmersdale
Skelmersdale is a town in West Lancashire, England. It lies on high-ground on the River Tawd, to the west of Wigan, to the northeast of Liverpool, south-southwest of Preston. As of 2006, Skelmersdale had a population of 38,813, down from 41,000 in 2004. The town is known locally as Skem.The...

, Warrington
Warrington
Warrington is a town, borough and unitary authority area of Cheshire, England. It stands on the banks of the River Mersey, which is tidal to the west of the weir at Howley. It lies 16 miles east of Liverpool, 19 miles west of Manchester and 8 miles south of St Helens...

, Widnes
Widnes
Widnes is an industrial town within the borough of Halton, in Cheshire, England, with an urban area population of 57,663 in 2004. It is located on the northern bank of the River Mersey where the estuary narrows to form the Runcorn Gap. Directly to the south across the Mersey is the town of Runcorn...

, Wigan
Wigan
Wigan is a town in Greater Manchester, England. It stands on the River Douglas, south-west of Bolton, north of Warrington and west-northwest of Manchester. Wigan is the largest settlement in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan and is its administrative centre. The town of Wigan had a total...

, and has direct transport links by road and via two main railway lines. The idea of its centralised location has formed the basis behind promotional literature by the local authority.

Hospitality

The principal hotel is the four star Park Inn (formerly Hilton Hotel) in the town centre, built during a period of commercial augmentation in the town during the mid-1990s.

Other large hotels in the locality are the Holiday Inn, Travelodge, Ramada Encore and Thistle Hotel in Haydock, plus Premier Inns at Carr Mill and Micklehead Green, Sutton Manor.

There are numerous smaller hotels, inns and B&B
Bed and breakfast
A bed and breakfast is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and breakfast, but usually does not offer other meals. Since the 1980s, the meaning of the term has also extended to include accommodations that are also known as "self-catering" establishments...

s across the borough.

Road

St Helens is well served by motorway links with the East/West corridors of the M58 and M62
M62 motorway
The M62 motorway is a west–east trans-Pennine motorway in Northern England, connecting the cities of Liverpool and Hull via Manchester and Leeds. The road also forms part of the unsigned Euroroutes E20 and E22...

 to the North and South of the town respectively. The town is also served by the parallel running North/South routes of the M57
M57 motorway
The M57 motorway, also known as the Liverpool Outer Ring Road, is a road in England. Designed as a bypass road for Liverpool, it is long and links various towns east of the city, as well as the M62 and M58 motorways.-Route:...

 and M6
M6 motorway
The M6 motorway runs from junction 19 of the M1 at the Catthorpe Interchange, near Rugby via Birmingham then heads north, passing Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester, Preston, Carlisle and terminating at the Gretna junction . Here, just short of the Scottish border it becomes the A74 which continues to...

 to the East and West.

The M6 runs a few miles to the eastern side of the town centre, with Junction 23, at Haydock
Haydock
Haydock is a village within the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, in Merseyside, England. It contains all of the Haydock electoral ward and a section of the Blackbrook electoral ward. The village is located roughly mid-way between Liverpool and Manchester, close to the junction of the M6 motorway...

, serving both north and south bound traffic and Junction 24, at Ashton in Makerfield, serving south bound exit and north bound access.

The M62
M62 motorway
The M62 motorway is a west–east trans-Pennine motorway in Northern England, connecting the cities of Liverpool and Hull via Manchester and Leeds. The road also forms part of the unsigned Euroroutes E20 and E22...

 runs a couple of miles to the south of the town with Junction 7 at Rainhill
Rainhill
Rainhill is a large village and civil parish of the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, in Merseyside, England.Historically a part of Lancashire, Rainhill was formerly a township within the ecclesiastical parish of Prescot, and hundred of West Derby...

 Stoops. The M57
M57 motorway
The M57 motorway, also known as the Liverpool Outer Ring Road, is a road in England. Designed as a bypass road for Liverpool, it is long and links various towns east of the city, as well as the M62 and M58 motorways.-Route:...

's Junction 2 lies several miles south west of St.Helens, at Prescot. The M58
M58 motorway
The M58 is a motorway passing through Merseyside and Lancashire, terminating in Greater Manchester, England. It is 12 miles long and provides a link between the M6 motorway and the area north of Liverpool.-Route:...

 is several miles north, at the north-western end of the A570 Rainford By-Pass dual carriageway.

The A580
A580 road
The A580 is a primary A road in England that connects Walton, near Liverpool and Salford, near Manchester and known officially as Liverpool-East Lancashire Road. Locally, the road is shortened to the "East Lancs". The road was designed and built to provide better access to the Port of Liverpool for...

 East Lancashire Road runs north of the town centre alongside Eccleston, Moss Bank
Moss Bank
Moss Bank, a suburb of St Helens, Merseyside, England, is about two and a half miles north of the town centre. It has a community library and two churches - the Protestant St David's and the Catholic St Patrick's....

 and through Haydock
Haydock
Haydock is a village within the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, in Merseyside, England. It contains all of the Haydock electoral ward and a section of the Blackbrook electoral ward. The village is located roughly mid-way between Liverpool and Manchester, close to the junction of the M6 motorway...

. It is a former trunk road taking traffic from Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 to the Liverpool Docks. It was built between 1929 and 1934 and was opened by King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

. It was intended to take pressure away from the A58
A58 road
The A58 is a major road in northern England that runs between Prescot, Merseyside and Wetherby, West Yorkshire.It runs north east from Prescot on the outskirts of Liverpool via St Helens, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Hindley, Westhoughton, Bolton, Bury, Heywood, Rochdale and Littleborough then over the...

, a major road running from Prescot (M57) through St.Helens to the A1(M) at Wetherby
Wetherby
Wetherby is a market town and civil parish within the metropolitan borough of the City of Leeds, in West Yorkshire, England. It stands on the River Wharfe, and has been for centuries a crossing place and staging post on the Great North Road, being mid-way between London and Edinburgh...

, West Yorkshire
West Yorkshire
West Yorkshire is a metropolitan county within the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England with a population of 2.2 million. West Yorkshire came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972....

.

The Rainford By-Pass is a section of the A570
A570 road
The A570 is a primary route in northern England, that runs from St Helens to Southport. The road begins at junction 7 of the M62 motorway in Merseyside, and runs in a northerly direction as a dual carriageway through the centre of St Helens, meeting the A58 road, then the A580 road to the north of...

, between the East Lancashire Road and the M58 and is part of the transport route from Southport
Southport
Southport is a seaside town in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton in Merseyside, England. During the 2001 census Southport was recorded as having a population of 90,336, making it the eleventh most populous settlement in North West England...

, in Sefton
Sefton
The Metropolitan Borough of Sefton is a metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England. Its local authority is Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council...

, through West Lancashire, through St Helens to the M62 Junction 7 at Rainhill.

A major development in communication was the opening of the St Helens Linkway (classified as part of the A570) in 1994, which linked the town centre directly with the M62 (at Rainhill). The A572
A572 road
The A572 is a main road serving the Greater Manchester and Merseyside areas, running from Swinton to St Helens via Leigh and Newton-le-Willows.- Route:...

 takes traffic from the town centre through Parr to Earlestown
Earlestown
Earlestown forms the western part of Newton-le-Willows, a town in the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, in Merseyside, England. At the 2001 Census the population was recorded as 10,274.-History:...

 and Newton-le-Willows
Newton-le-Willows
Newton-le-Willows is a small market town within the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, in Merseyside, England. Historically a part of Lancashire, it is situated about midway between the cities of Manchester and Liverpool, to the east of St Helens, to the north of Warrington and to the south of...

.

In 2010 St Helens was proclaimed "UK's most car-friendly town" measured on variables such as "petrol prices, parking costs and the number of speed cameras in an assessment carried out by Virgin Money Car Insurance" in research conducted by

Bus Service

St Helens has a central bus station that sits between Bickerstaffe Street and Corporation Street. A Merseytravel office is located on Bickerstaffe Street, where passes and advice can be sought. The town currently has no Borough Corporation bus service of its own, having been privatised in the 80s.

From 1890 the town operated St Helens Corporation Transport providing Bus, Trolleybus and organising public network services throughout the area. Following local government re-organisation in 1974, the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive
Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive
The Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive is the Passenger Transport Executive responsible for the coordination of public transport in the metropolitan county of Merseyside, England...

 (Merseytravel) was expanded to cover St Helens . After privatisation in 1986 the town was served by several locally branded operations under the umbrella of the Merseyside Transport Limited (MTL) company in which Merseytravel retained shares until 1993.

Arriva
Arriva
Arriva plc is a multinational public transport company owned by Deutsche Bahn and headquartered in Sunderland, United Kingdom. It has bus, coach, train, tram and waterbus operations in 12 countries across Europe, employs more than 47,500 people and services over 1.5 billion passenger journeys each...

 purchased the MTL operating company in 2000 and has operated the majority of the routes since. Several smaller operators run specific routes within the town area such as Cumfybus, Hattons, HTL Buses
HTL Buses
HTL Buses is the trading name of Huyton Travel Ltd, a bus operating company based in Huyton in Merseyside, England. The company originated as Huyton Taxis Ltd, assuming its present title in 1990. Having previously operated minibuses, it has expanded into local bus service work since the mid 2000s...

, Red Kite, Strawberry
Strawberry (bus operator)
Strawberry is a bus operator based in St Helens, Merseyside, England. It was founded in 2009 and attracted attention by offering free rides for passengers with red hair for a period. By March 2010 it operated two routes, with a third planned...

, and local munipical bus companies such as Halton Transport
Halton Transport
Halton Transport is a bus operator running within the Borough of Halton and into the surrounding area, including Warrington, St Helens, Prescot, Liverpool and Chester...

 operate limited routes.
There are also three zero-fare services operated by battery-electric minibuses in and around the town centre, which are provided on behalf of Merseytravel by Selwyns Travel.

Private Hire

St Helens is well served by almost a dozen Private Hire minicab firms and the distinctive 'Black Cab' hackney-carriage service popular across the UK. AtoB&Delta, Cable Cars and Critchleys are the most prominent and offer minibus services also to local airports, cities and nightspots.

In addition to taxis the town is home to several licensed tour operators. For example David Ogdens offer tours and private hire coach facilities, as do Ashtons, Coachmaster, Ellisons, a company first established in St Helens in 1920, Red Kite and Hattons who in addition also supplies coach travel to St Helens RLFC and Warrington Wolves
Warrington Wolves
Warrington Wolves are a professional rugby league football club based in Warrington, England that competes in Super League. They play at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, having moved there from Wilderspool in 2003....

.

Rail

Rail
Rail transport
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

 is an important means of transport in the region as a whole. St Helens Central
St Helens Central railway station
St Helens Central railway station is a railway station serving the town of St Helens, Merseyside, England. It is on the Liverpool to Wigan Line from Liverpool Lime Street to Wigan North Western...

 (formerly known as St. Helens Shaw Street) serves the town centre. The St Helens stations of Thatto Heath
Thatto Heath railway station
Thatto Heath railway station is located in the Thatto Heath area of St Helens, Merseyside, England. It is situated on the Liverpool to Wigan Line. The station, and all trains serving it, are operated by Northern Rail.-Services:...

 and Eccleston Park
Eccleston Park railway station
Eccleston Park railway station serves the Eccleston Park area of Prescot, Merseyside, England. It is situated on the Liverpool to Wigan Line. The station, and all trains serving it, are operated by Northern Rail...

 and Garswood
Garswood
Garswood is a village in the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, Merseyside, England, within a civil parish called Seneley Green.-History:Historically within Lancashire, Garswood is from Old English wudu "wood" with an uncertain first element...

 are on the same Line
Liverpool to Wigan Line
The Liverpool to Wigan Line is a railway line in the north-west of England, running between Liverpool Lime Street and Wigan North Western via St Helens Central.-Description:...

 that runs from Liverpool Lime Street railway station
Liverpool Lime Street railway station
Liverpool Lime Street is a railway station serving the city centre of Liverpool, England. The station lies on a branch of the West Coast Main Line from London Euston, and on the Wirral Line of the Merseyrail network...

 to Wigan North Western
Wigan North Western railway station
Wigan North Western railway station is one of two railway stations serving the town centre of Wigan, Greater Manchester, UK.It is a moderately-sized station on the West Coast Main Line. It is operated by Virgin Trains, and is also served by Northern Rail...

 railway station.

The Liverpool to Manchester line (following the old Liverpool and Manchester Railway
Liverpool and Manchester Railway
The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the world's first inter-city passenger railway in which all the trains were timetabled and were hauled for most of the distance solely by steam locomotives. The line opened on 15 September 1830 and ran between the cities of Liverpool and Manchester in North...

 route) serves the St Helens area at Rainhill
Rainhill railway station
Rainhill railway station serves the district of Rainhill in Merseyside, England. It is situated on the northern route of the Liverpool to Manchester Line, forming part of the Liverpool City Line. The original Liverpool and Manchester Railway which opened in 1830...

, Lea Green
Lea Green railway station
Lea Green railway station is a railway station in St Helens, Merseyside, England, around three miles from the town centre near to the suburb of Clock Face. It is situated on the northern route of the Liverpool to Manchester Line . It is operated by Northern Rail...

 and St Helens Junction
St Helens Junction railway station
St Helens Junction railway station is a railway station serving the town of St Helens, Merseyside, England. It is situated in Sutton, south of St.Helens town centre. The station is on the northern route of the Liverpool to Manchester Line east of Liverpool Lime Street...

 before passing on to Earlestown
Earlestown railway station
Earlestown railway station is a railway station in Earlestown, Newton-le-Willows in Merseyside, England. Since recent restoration of a platform for Warrington Bank Quay to Liverpool trains, it is one of the few "triangular" stations in Britain ....

 and Newton-le-Willows railway station
Newton-le-Willows railway station
Newton-le-Willows railway station is a railway station in the town of Newton-le-Willows, in the borough of St Helens in the north-west of England, and at the edge of the Merseytravel region. It is situated on the northern route of the Liverpool to Manchester Line, the former Liverpool and...

. The St Helens Junction and Rainhill buildings are two of the original stations built when the line opened in 1830, and are both now Listed Buildings. Other local stations included Collins Green
Collins Green railway station
Collins Green railway station was a railway station in Lancashire, later Cheshire, which was in operation between 1830 and 1951.-Opening and location:The station was opened by the Liverpool & Manchester Railway on 15 September 1830...

 that closed in 1951 and the old Lea Green, closed in 1955.

A major redevelopment of St Helens Central has recently been completed at a cost of £6.2 million. which the Council hopes will encourage investment, create more jobs and improve the gateway into the town. The building has been constructed using Copper on the fins, in reference to the towns early industrial heritage.

Previously the new Lea Green station was opened in 2000 with a Park & Ride system to encourage use of the route and alleviate congestion

Air and sea

The nearest airport is Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Liverpool John Lennon Airport is an international airport serving the city of Liverpool and the North West of England. Formerly known as Speke Airport, RAF Speke, and Liverpool Airport the airport is located within the City of Liverpool adjacent to the estuary of the River Mersey some southeast...

, serving European destinations, located about 12 miles (19 km) south-west of the town and is connected by a frequent service from St. Helens bus station. By road it is accessed via the St. Helens Linkway to M62 westbound Junction 7 at Rainhill. There is no direct rail connection at present.

Manchester Airport is approximately 25 miles (40 km) away and has numerous direct flights to Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia. By road it is accessed via the St. Helens Linkway to M62 eastbound Junction 7 at Rainhill and by rail, the Manchester Airport train service serves St. Helens Junction station.

St Helens is a landlocked town, but with easy access to the ports of Liverpool, on the River Mersey and Mostyn, North Wales, on the River Dee. The Sankey Canal, including the St.Helens section, is no longer used for transporting goods, consisting of several short sections only, the remainder being drained and filled.

Past Links

An extensive tram
Tram
A tram is a passenger rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public urban streets and also sometimes on separate rights of way. It may also run between cities and/or towns , and/or partially grade separated even in the cities...

 and trolleybus
Trolleybus
A trolleybus is an electric bus that draws its electricity from overhead wires using spring-loaded trolley poles. Two wires and poles are required to complete the electrical circuit...

 system was operated between 1880 and 30 June 1958 when the last Prescot Circle tram was replaced by a bus service. From 1919 the service was operated by the St Helens Corporation, prior to this it had been operated by the St. Helens and District Tramways Company, and subsequently the New St. Helens and District Tramways Company. Originally horse drawn, they became steam powered by 1890, and then electric by 1899. The original lines still remain buried beneath the tarmac and pedestrianised town centre, and a few isolated poles that carried the power lines are spotted around the town.

A tram link also existed, in Windle and in Haydock, serving Liverpool via Knotty Ash
Knotty Ash
Knotty Ash is an area of Liverpool, Merseyside, England and a Liverpool City Council Ward. Historically within Lancashire, at the 2001 Census, the population was 13,200.-Description:...

.

Civic history

St Helens first became responsible for the administration of the wider area in 1836 when made a Registration sub-district of the Prescot Parish as part of the Municipal Corporations Act 1835
Municipal Corporations Act 1835
The Municipal Corporations Act 1835  – sometimes known as the Municipal Reform Act, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed local government in the incorporated boroughs of England and Wales...

 that devolved control down to the more localised Parish control (spurred on by the Reform Act 1832
Reform Act 1832
The Representation of the People Act 1832 was an Act of Parliament that introduced wide-ranging changes to the electoral system of England and Wales...

.

St Helens, in Hardshaw of Windle, constructed its original Town Hall in 1839 that served as a legal court, meeting house, and administrative centre. It also held Council meetings for Aldermen and Parishioners alike.

In 1868 St Helens was incorporated as a borough (covering the 4 Townships). In response to the old, smaller, hall burning suffering fire damage in 1872 a new hall was planned. This, current town hall, was built between 1872 and 1876. In 1889 St Helens was again reformed, this time as a county borough
County borough
County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland , to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control. They were abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales, but continue in use for lieutenancy and shrievalty in...

 with greater responsibility over an increased area of land. This was part of an ongoing process of local government restructure during the Victorian era, this time as part of the Municipal Corporations Act 1882
Municipal Corporations Act 1882
The Municipal Corporations Act 1882 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It replaced existing legislation governing municipal boroughs in England and Wales, and gave the corporations powers to make byelaws and to acquire land and buildings. Municipal boroughs continued to be...

.

As a county borough, St Helens was, from 1889 to 1974, inside the administrative county
Administrative counties of England
Administrative counties were a level of subnational division of England used for the purposes of local government from 1889 to 1974. They were created by the Local Government Act 1888 as the areas for which county councils were elected. Some large counties were divided into several administrative...

 of Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

. On 1 April 1974, under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972
The Local Government Act 1972 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales on 1 April 1974....

, St Helens became the administrative centre of the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens
Metropolitan Borough of St Helens
The Metropolitan Borough of St Helens is a metropolitan borough of Merseyside, in North West England. It is named after its largest town St Helens, and covers an area which includes the settlements of Newton-le-Willows, Earlestown, Haydock, Rainhill, Eccleston, Clock Face, Billinge and...

 in the newly created Merseyside
Merseyside
Merseyside is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1,365,900. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary, and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool...

 Metropolitan county
Metropolitan county
The metropolitan counties are a type of county-level administrative division of England. There are six metropolitan counties, which each cover large urban areas, typically with populations of 1.2 to 2.8 million...

. At this time St Helens Council replaced all the local Councils within the prescribed area.

Historic Coat of Arms

The old Town and Borough Council coat of arms were granted on 17 January 1876. The coat of arms is an Argent (white or silver) Field
Field (heraldry)
In heraldry, the background of the shield is called the field. The field is usually composed of one or more tinctures or furs. The field may be divided or may consist of a variegated pattern....

 common to earlier coat of arms in the area. The black cross is referenced from the family of the Ecclestons. The saltire
Saltire
A saltire, or Saint Andrew's Cross, is a heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross or letter ex . Saint Andrew is said to have been martyred on such a cross....

s in the first and fourth quarters are from the arms of the Gerards, in 1435, at Windleshaw, a chantry chapel was built and endowed by Sir Thomas Gerard. The "second and third a griffon
Griffon
Griffon is a type of dog, a collection of breeds of originally hunting dogs. There are three recognized lines of the griffon type Fédération Cynologique Internationale FCI, the griffon vendéens, the wirehaired pointers, and the smousje...

 segreant gules" meanwhile are taken from the Bold family. The blue bars are from the arms of the Parr family, Marquises of Northampton. The lion the is from the crest of the Walmsleys and the two fleurs-de-lys refer to Sir David Gamble, first Mayor and benefactor of the town, and the Haydock family.

Motto

The motto was the Latin "Ex Terra Lucem". A literal translation would be "From the Ground, Light" whilst more descriptive translations might be "Light out of the earth" or "Out of the earth comes light". The phrase refers to both the abundant and winnable coal resources (which can be burnt, to produce "light") in addition to their use in local industry such as Glass (through which light passes).
The motto was changed in 1974 to PROSPERITAS IN EXCELSIS, which is included on the arms of the Metropolitan borough Council.

Parliamentary representation

St. Helens is represented by the St. Helens South
St Helens South and Whiston (UK Parliament constituency)
St. Helens South and Whiston is a borough constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election.-Boundaries:...

 and St. Helens North
St Helens North (UK Parliament constituency)
St. Helens North is a borough constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election.-Boundaries:...

 constituencies. Both contain areas outside of the town boundary, but within the greater Borough. Each constituency sends 1 representative to Parliament.

At the last election in 2010 both Dave Watts and Shaun Woodward
Shaun Woodward
Shaun Anthony Woodward is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for St Helens South since 2001. He served in the Cabinet from 28 June 2007 to 11 May 2010 as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland...

 retained their seats for The Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

. David Watts MP has been incumbent since 1997, whilst Shaun Woodward MP has retained his role since 2001.

The town is considered a Labour Stronghold and to have a "safe seat".

Local Council Representation

St. Helens and its associated wards are represented by St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council.

The Council has historically been in Labour hands (since the existence of the Borough Council in 1974), however between 2006 and 2010 the Council Leadership was a Liberal / Conservative coalition. The 2010 Local Election returned Labour to control of the area.

Parish Councils

St Helens is still served by several Parish Councils. Their activity is much reduced in the modern town, but are still active in the communities and are recognised by the Borough Council as they may "undertake many duties such as street lighting, managing cemeteries, allotments, commons, village halls, war memorials and markets etc".

St Helens Council lists the Parish Councils as:
  • Billinge Parish Council
  • Bold Parish Council
 
  • Eccleston Parish Council
  • Rainford Parish Council
  •  
  • Rainhill Parish Council
  • Seneley Green Parish Council
  •  
  • Windle Parish Council

  • Demography

    Christianity is the main religion in St Helens Borough, being about 87% according to the 2001 census. This makes St Helens the "most Christian town in Britain". Nearby Wigan is also in the top 3. Conversely St Helens shows the second least number of people (out of 376 local authorities) that actively describe themselves as having no religion at all.

    There is very little ethnic minority representation in the St Helens population, amongst the lowest levels recorded in the country. 98.84% of the St Helens population described itself as White British in 2001 The largest ethnic minority in St Helens in 2001 was recorded as Indian with 409.

    By 2006 the otherwise transient gypsy and traveller community have overtaken that number and are now considered to "make up the largest identifiable ethnic minority group in St Helens".

    Crime statistics have shown a decline in 6/7 key indicators since 2008 The town also has lower than recorded national rates of criminal offences in 6/7 key indicators. Theft from a Motor Vehicle, and Interfering with a Motor Vehicle bucking the trend.

    In 2006 a controversial study by think tank Reform placed St Helens 2nd in the country for murders per 100,000 population with 4.87 (behind Nottingham with 5.21) and vaulted the town to 10th overall in the country (out of the 55 areas studied). The study drew criticism for its use of inaccurate population figures from both Nottingham and St Helens Police and officials, and was described as "too simplistic". The discrepancy was dealt with by a Liverpool Echo article that demonstrated the think tank had conflated the towns urban population (of 102,000) with that of the greater borough (of 175,000) causing the Boroughs recorded crime rate to soar to 10th from 44th.

    Primary schools

    The Borough of St Helens has one nursery school, one infant school, one junior school and fifty-two primary schools. Performance in the Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 SATs has been consistently above national averages over the past 5 years.

    Special schools

    There are three special schools in St Helens - Penkford, Mill Green and Lansbury Bridge.

    Secondary schools

    The Borough of St Helens has nine secondary schools:
    • Cowley International College
    • De La Salle School
    • Haydock Sports College
     
  • Rainhill High School Media Arts College
  • Rainford High Technology College
  • St Augustine of Canterbury Catholic High School
  •  
  • St Cuthbert's Catholic Community College for Business & Enterprise
  • The Hope Academy
  • The Sutton Academy

  • Further education

    The town has seven educational institutions offering post-16 education in Cowley International College, Rainford High Technology College
    Rainford High Technology College
    Rainford High Technology College is a community secondary school and sixth form college located in Rainford, Merseyside, England. The school has been awarded specialist Technology College status. It has a notable tradition of producing competitive sports teams, most notably in Rugby...

    , Rainhill High School
    Rainhill High School
    Rainhill High School Media Arts College is a purpose built 11-18 comprehensive secondary school in Rainhill, Merseyside, England. The school is the official Liverpool F.C...

    , The Sutton Academy, The Hope Academy - (all 11-18 secondary schools), Carmel College
    Carmel College (St Helens)
    Carmel College is a sixth form college located in the borough of St Helens, Merseyside.-History:The college is a Catholic mixed sixth form college located in St Helens, Merseyside, England and welcomes students of all faiths...

     (a sixth form college) and St Helens College
    St Helens College
    St Helens College is a general further education college serving the borough of St Helens in Merseyside with around 15,000 students enrolled on over 600 different courses of study...

     (a general FE college). Carmel College is a leading college in the country with a value added score of 328. The college is an associate of the University of Liverpool
    University of Liverpool
    The University of Liverpool is a teaching and research university in the city of Liverpool, England. It is a member of the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities and the N8 Group for research collaboration. Founded in 1881 , it is also one of the six original "red brick" civic...

    . St Helens College, which has recently rebuilt its Town Centre Campus, offers a wide variety of Higher and Further Education courses including degree courses, foundation degrees, BTECs and professional qualifications at the college's Business School. The college has a growing reputation for its standards and achievements. There is no university in St Helens; locals who stay in the area and go to university often take advantage of the surrounding universities such as Edge Hill
    Edge Hill University
    Edge Hill University is situated in Ormskirk, Lancashire, England. It has three faculties: Education, Health and Social Care, and Arts and Sciences.- History :...

     (Ormskirk
    Ormskirk
    Ormskirk is a market town in West Lancashire, England. It is situated north of Liverpool city centre, northwest of St Helens, southeast of Southport and southwest of Preston.-Geography and administration:...

    ), Liverpool
    University of Liverpool
    The University of Liverpool is a teaching and research university in the city of Liverpool, England. It is a member of the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities and the N8 Group for research collaboration. Founded in 1881 , it is also one of the six original "red brick" civic...

    , Manchester
    University of Manchester
    The University of Manchester is a public research university located in Manchester, United Kingdom. It is a "red brick" university and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive British universities and the N8 Group...

    , Salford
    University of Salford
    The University of Salford is a campus university based in Salford, Greater Manchester, England with approximately 20,000 registered students. The main campus is about west of Manchester city centre, on the A6, opposite the former home of the physicist, James Prescott Joule and the Working Class...

     and Chester
    Chester
    Chester is a city in Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is home to 77,040 inhabitants, and is the largest and most populous settlement of the wider unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester, which had a population of 328,100 according to the...

    .

    Media

    There are two local weekly newspapers which are freely distributed. These are the St Helens Star
    St Helens Star
    The St Helens Star is a local delivered free within the borough of St Helens, Merseyside in England. The Star has been in circulation since 1975. The Star has a tough competition with the other newspaper in the borough, The Reporter.-Distribution:...

    and the St Helens Reporter
    St Helens Reporter
    The St Helens Reporter is a weekly paid-for newspaper in St Helens, Merseyside, England. The Reporter is competing with the more traditional St Helens Star as the number one paper in the town....



    St Helens has no television or radio broadcasters. However, 102.4 Wish FM gives the second part of its name (sh) to St Helens while the first half goes to Wigan (Wi), representing the two reception areas. The radio station is based in Orrell, near Wigan, the transmitter site being at Billinge Hill, right on the border of the two metropolitan areas.

    St Helens College has previously broadcast temporary, limited service radio broadcasts from their Town Centre Campus, headed by the late Paul Dempsey, who previously worked as a presenter on BBC radio. In December 2010, the St Helens College radio station Solar 1287 AM started broadcasting again.

    Museums

    Located in the town centre, The World of Glass Museum, which opened in 2000 incorporating the Pilkington Glass Museum and the St. Helens Local Museum, has received many awards including North West Attraction of the Year. It also accommodates the St. Helens Tourist Office, however the local press recently carried news that this facility will end as of 31 March 2011.

    The North West Museum of Road Transport
    North West Museum of Road Transport
    The North West Museum of Road Transport is located at the old St. Helens Corporation Transport bus depot in Hall Street, St Helens, Merseyside, England....

     is another museum located in the town centre. The Smithy Heritage Centre is a small museum in Kiln Lane, Eccleston
    Eccleston, Merseyside
    Eccleston is a civil parish within the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, Merseyside, England. According to the 2001 Census it had a population of 10,528....

     about the works of a local blacksmith
    Blacksmith
    A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

    .

    Parks, open spaces and nature walks

    The borough of St Helens has several major parks and open spaces. These include the historic Taylor Park, a listed Grade II Historic Park and Garden, that opened in 1893 as well as Victoria Park located near the town centre.

    Sherdley Park
    Sherdley Park
    Sherdley Park in the district of Sutton is the largest park in St Helens, Merseyside. Its include an 18 hole golf course, a formal garden, open woodland, a lake, pets' corner and summer events...

     is a modern park in Sutton which features a petting zoo
    Petting zoo
    A petting zoo features a combination of domestic animals and some wild species that are docile enough to touch and feed. In addition to independent petting zoos, also called children's farms or petting farms, many general zoos contain a petting zoo...

     and annually holds a funfair
    Funfair
    A funfair or simply "fair" is a small to medium sized travelling show primarily composed of stalls and other amusements. Larger fairs such as the permanent fairs of cities and seaside resorts might be called a fairground, although technically this should refer to the land where a fair is...

     in the summer, usually in July, called the St Helens Festival (originally called the St Helens Show). Sherdley Park was purchased immediately after the Second World War from the Hughes Family.

    Parr has Gaskell Park in addition to the reclaimed open space known as The Duckeries (or Ashtons Green), and shares a boundary with boggy heathland known as "The Moss" or "Colliers Moss" (traditionally associated with Bold and its power station), and the area known as the "Flash" (remnants of the canal tributary system and fishing ponds) with nature walk along part of the 7 mile route that makes up the Sankey Valley Country Park ((part of the Trans Pennine trail).

    A 20m tall sculpture
    Sculpture
    Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

    , called Dream
    Dream (sculpture)
    Dream is a sculpture and a piece of public art by Jaume Plensa in Sutton, St Helens, Merseyside. Costing approximately £1.8m the funds were secured through The Big Art Project in coordination with the Arts Council England, The Art Fund and Channel 4....

    , is sited on a former colliery in Sutton Manor in St Helens and can be seen from the M62 motorway
    M62 motorway
    The M62 motorway is a west–east trans-Pennine motorway in Northern England, connecting the cities of Liverpool and Hull via Manchester and Leeds. The road also forms part of the unsigned Euroroutes E20 and E22...

    .

    St Helens Parks and open spaces:
    • Carr Mill Dam, Carr Mill
    • Denstons Green, Bishop Road
    • Eccleston Park
    • Eccleston Mere
    • Fosters Park, Standish Street (formerly Hardshaw Park)
    • Gaskell Park, Fry Street / Lansbury Avenue, Parr
    • Grange Park, Broadway
    • Haresfinch Park, Woodlands Road, Haresfinch
    • Haydock Forest, Haydock
    • King George V Park and Playing Fields, Haydock
    • Meynes Park, Newton Le Willows
     
  • Nanny Goat Park, Recreation Street, Pocket Nook
  • Queens Park, Lingholme Road
  • Recreation Park, Recreation Street
  • Sankey Valley Park, Blackbrook
  • Sherdley Park, Elton Head Road, Marshalls Cross
  • Sutton Park, Robins Lane, Sutton
  • Stanley Bank Wood, Blackbrook
  • Taylor Park, Grovesnor Road, West Park
  • Thatto Heath Park, Thatto Heath Road
  • The Duckeries, Derbyshire Hill Road, Parr
  • Victoria Park, Cowley Hill Lane,


  • Gaskell Park, Taylor Park and The Duckeries all received Green Flag Award
    Green Flag Award
    The Green Flag Award is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the United Kingdom. The scheme was set up in 1996 to recognise and reward green spaces in England and Wales that met the laid down high standards...

     status in 2009.

    Nightlife and social scene

    Traditionally, the town was known for its social clubs, mainly connected with the Labour Party and the Roman Catholic Church. In recent years, the boom in Britain's 'binge drinking
    Binge drinking
    Binge drinking or heavy episodic drinking is the modern epithet for drinking alcoholic beverages with the primary intention of becoming intoxicated by heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time. It is a kind of purposeful drinking style that is popular in several countries worldwide,...

    ' culture in the mid-1990s has fuelled the nightlife industry over the past 10 years. The town centre has exploded over this time with many new or relaunched drinking establishments. Many of the new bars including Dali Bar, Bar Java and Zoo are centred around Westfield Street and Bridge Street in the town centre. Several bars such as Panama Joes, Zoo Bar and Dali Bar have licences to serve alcohol until 3 am.

    The town has one main nightclub; Club Rouge which opened in late December 2009. Formerly known as Club Nexus, which ceased trading in February 2008, the new 1,700 capacity venue opened a with a £160,000 transformation and under new management eager for a 'clean break' from its predecessors bad reputation of alcohol-fuelled violence and underage drinking.

    A second nightclub was planned for Bridge Street, with building work being completed for the end of 2002, but it has remained closed since completion. The building was up for sale for many months and was bought for around the sum of £3 million. There are plans to transform it from a club/cafe bar to a shopping precinct.

    There are several restaurants in the town centre with an increasingly mixed cuisine on offer. The George Street Quarter alone offers Italian, Spanish, French/Modern British at Le Frog, Chinese and Thai cuisine. A local newspaper, The St Helens Reporter, awarded its 2005 'Restaurant of the Year' prize to The Griffin Inn, Eccleston.

    Theatre

    The Citadel Theatre

    The first Theatre Royal was built on Bridge Street and was a large wooden barn. This was open for several seasons until heavy snow caused the roof to collapse. It was then replaced by a new Theatre Royal on Milk Street. This building can still be seen today, in its newer guise as The Citadel arts centre. The Theatre Royal on Milk Street consisted of stalls, two balconies and an ornate interior. It became extremely popular with touring theatre and music hall, playing host to the likes of Vesta Tilley and George Formby and some of the best known theatre productions of the day.

    With growing audience figures, Revill built a new theatre on Corporation street and transferred the Theatre Royal name to this instead.

    The Milk Street theatre was then purchased by the Salvation Army where it was more or less completely re-built internally. It was re named SA Citadel. It remained in this use for nearly 90 years, until the Salvation Army moved to a newer site. It was then opened as The Citadel arts centre in 1988, and was completely refurbished again in 2000. Today it is an extremely popular venue for live music, dance, drama and art.

    The Theatre Royal

    The Theatre Royal opened by Revill on Corporation Street in 1889 was relatively short-lived as it was severely damaged by fire in 1901. It was then reconstructed by revered theatre architect Frank Matcham
    Frank Matcham
    Frank Matcham was a famous English theatrical architect. He is buried in Highgate Cemetery.-Early career:...

    . The theatre was designed in a baroque style with ornate balconies, chandeliers and boxes. In the 1960s the theatre was purchased by Pilkingtons and was gutted internally. The auditorium was completely refurbished removing all traces of the original interior design, whilst the ornate frontage was replaced with a plain glass facade. This was subsequently heavily refurbished in 2001.

    The theatre is today a very popular venue with top class touring acts and of course, the annual Pantomime. In addition there are performances by local amateur operatic and dramatic societies, schools and dancing academies.

    Each year many youngsters from the Scout and Guide Movement perform at the annual St. Helens Scout and Guide Gang Show
    Gang Show
    A Gang Show is a theatrical performance with a cast of youth members of Scouts and sometimes Guides too, by invitation. Adult leaders and parents help out behind the scenes. The aim of the shows is to give young people in Scouting and Guiding the opportunity to develop performance skills and...

    . The show has been nationally recognised as being of a high standard and is often used by other gang shows worldwide as a form of inspiration to get ideas or acts or dance etc. The show is usually held in mid April at the Theatre Royal on Corporation Street. The show has a lovely mixture of dance, song and act which proves a huge hit year after year and due to its nature it is deemed one of the most family friendly shows in St. Helens.

    Professional

    St Helens is home to St. Helens Rugby League Football Club founded in 1873, known otherwise simply as Saints. The club have played their home games at Knowsley Road
    Knowsley Road
    Knowsley Road was a stadium located in Eccleston, St Helens, Merseyside. It was the home of St Helens RLFC from 1890 until its closure in 2010. St Helens Town FC played their home fixtures at Knowsley Road from 2002 until 2010. For a period, the venue also hosted Liverpool FC Reserves...

     in Eccleston since 1910. In 2009 development started on the old United Glass Bottle (UGB) site in Ravenhead of Langtree Park.

    Since the formation of the all professional Super League
    Super League
    Super League is the top-level professional rugby league football club competition in Europe. As a result of sponsorship from engage Mutual Assurance the competition is currently officially known as the engage Super League. The League features fourteen teams: thirteen from England and one from...

     in 1996 St Helens have successfully won the title on 5 occasions, and been runners-up on 3 more occasions. The club have been awarded the League Leader's Shield
    League Leader's Shield
    The League Leader’s Shield, often called The Hubcap is a trophy awarded to the team finishing the season top of Super League in the sport of rugby league football. Currently the championship is decided on the basis of a play-off series, and the Shield is thus regarded as a lesser prize...

     4 times in the last 5 seasons. The club have been crowned World Club Champions on two occasions, winning the World Club Challenge
    World Club Challenge
    The World Club Challenge is an annual rugby league football match held between the champions of the Australasian National Rugby League and the European Super League competitions to determine the world's best rugby league club...

     in 2001 and most recently in 2007 defeating Australian side Brisbane Broncos
    Brisbane Broncos
    The Brisbane Broncos are an Australian professional rugby league football club based in the city of Brisbane, the capital of the state of Queensland. Founded in 1988, the Broncos play in Australasia's elite competition, the National Rugby League premiership. They have won six premierships and two...

     on both occasions.

    Historically the club have won the Rugby League Challenge Cup
    Challenge Cup
    The Challenge Cup is a knockout cup competition for rugby league clubs organised by the Rugby Football League. Originally it was contested only by British teams but in recent years has been expanded to allow teams from France and Russia to take part....

     on twelve occasions, seven wins have taken place since 1996. They most recently defeated Hull on 30 August 2008 to cap a hat-trick
    Hat-trick
    A hat-trick or hat trick in sport is the achievement of a positive feat three times during a game, or other achievements based on threes. The term was first used in 1858 in cricket to describe HH Stephenson's feat of taking three wickets in three balls. A collection was held for Stephenson, and he...

     of successive Titles.

    In 2006 season the club won all three major honours in the domestic game, the Challenge Cup, League Leaders Shield and the Super League Grand Final. The club were awarded in December 2006 the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Team Award
    BBC Sports Personality of the Year Team Award
    The BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year Award is an award given annually as part of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony each December. Currently, the award is given to the British team that "has achieved the most notable performance in British sport". The award's recipient is...

     at the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year
    BBC Sports Personality of the Year
    The BBC Sports Personality of the Year is an awards ceremony that takes place annually in December. Devised by Paul Fox in 1954, it originally consisted of one titular award. Several new awards have been introduced, and , eight awards are presented. The oldest of these are the Team of the Year and...

     Ceremony. Club Coach Daniel Anderson
    Daniel Anderson (rugby league)
    Daniel Anderson is an Australian rugby league football coach. Anderson previously coached in Australia, New Zealand and England and is particularly noted for his work with the development of younger players.-Early years:...

     won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award
    BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award
    The BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award is an award given annually as part of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony each December. The award is given to the coach who was considered to have made the most substantative contribution to British sport in that year. The award is...

     (a first for Rugby League).

    Saints players have won seven of the last 10 Man of Steel Awards and 5 Lance Todd Trophy
    Lance Todd Trophy
    The Lance Todd Trophy is awarded to the Man-of-the-Match in rugby league football's Challenge Cup Final.The trophy was introduced in 1946, in memory of Lance Todd, the New Zealand-born player and administrator, who was killed in a road accident during the Second World War...

    s since 2000. Paul Wellens
    Paul Wellens
    Paul Simon Wellens is an English multi-award–winning rugby league footballer. Wellens plays for St. Helens in the European Super League. Wellens is a Great Britain and England international...

     and Chris Joynt
    Chris Joynt
    Chris M. Joynt is an English former professional rugby league footballer of the 1990s and 2000s. A Great Britain international representative , and /, he played his club football with St...

     have each won the Harry Sunderland Trophy
    Harry Sunderland Trophy
    The Harry Sunderland Trophy is awarded to the Man-of-the-Match in the Super League Grand Final by the Rugby League Writers' Association. It is named after Harry Sunderland, who was an Australian rugby league football administrator in both Australia and the United Kingdom...

     in the Clubs two World Club Challenge
    World Club Challenge
    The World Club Challenge is an annual rugby league football match held between the champions of the Australasian National Rugby League and the European Super League competitions to determine the world's best rugby league club...

     victories.

    Amateur

    The town is also home to a large number of amateur rugby league teams comprising Senior and Youth teams. Most notable of these are Blackbrook ARLFC
    Blackbrook ARLFC
    Blackbrook Amateur and Junior Rugby League Football Club are an amateur rugby league club based at Blackbrook Sports and Recreational Club in Boardmans Lane, Blackbrook, St Helens, Merseyside...

    , Bold Miners, Clock Face Miners, Haresfinch Hawks, Haydock Warriors, Pilkington Recs
    Pilkington Recs
    The Recs Rugby Football Club is an amateur rugby league team based in St Helens, Merseyside.-History:The club was founded in 1878 as part of the sports and recreational section of Pilkington Glass. The side played rugby, and occasionally association football.However, on 14 June 1913, to discuss the...

     and Thatto Heath Crusaders
    Thatto Heath Crusaders
    Thatto Heath Crusaders is an amateur rugby league club situated in Thatto Heath, St Helens, Merseyside. The club currently competes in the National Conference League Premier division.-History:...

    . Most of these teams and others in the area compete in the BARLA North West Counties
    North West Counties
    The North West Counties A.R.L. are a series of rugby league regional leagues covering the following age groups in the North West of England:-* Age 8 to 12* Age 13 to 15* Age 16 to 18* Open Age...

     competition (Pilkingtons in the Premier League, Haydock and Blackbrook in Division 1, Thatto Heath and Clock Face in Division 2). Thatto Heath compete in the higher ranked National Conference League
    National Conference League
    The National Conference League is the top league in the pyramid of amateur rugby leagues run by the British Amateur Rugby League Association...

    .

    The continued success and achievement of these teams at the grass roots level is important to the town and have provided many players who have gone on to play for the 'Saints' and other professional and semi-professional clubs. Significantly in recent years Blackbrook Royals have contributed 26 Lancashire Cup winning sides across 8 age ranges from U12 to U18, with two in the Open Age category and 10 National Cups. Pilkington Recs with 17 wins (and 6 times runner up) and Thatto Heath with 10 have ensured St Helens teams have contested have been represented in a significant number of North West Counties competition finals since 1994.

    Thatto Heath alone have helped to contribute over 40 professionals to the game including current St Helens players James Graham
    James Graham
    -British noblemen:*James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose , Scottish nobleman and soldier*James Graham, 2nd Marquess of Montrose *James Graham, 3rd Marquess of Montrose...

    , Keiron Cunningham
    Keiron Cunningham
    Keiron Cunningham is a former British professional rugby league footballer. A Great Britain and Wales international representative hooker, he played his entire club rugby career at St...

     (who also played for Wigan St Judes), Paul Wellens
    Paul Wellens
    Paul Simon Wellens is an English multi-award–winning rugby league footballer. Wellens plays for St. Helens in the European Super League. Wellens is a Great Britain and England international...

     and Andy Yates
    Andy Yates
    Andrew "Andy" Yates is a professional rugby league player. Yates currently plays for St. Helens in the Super League. His position of preference is prop and he signed as a junior from local amateur side Thatto Heath Crusaders. Yates made his first team début last season but has not made any further...

    , and former players Lee Briers
    Lee Briers
    Lee Briers is a professional rugby league player who currently plays for Warrington Wolves in the Super League. He previously played for St Helens, and at international level he won 23 caps for Wales, many of those as captain...

     and Steve Prescott
    Steve Prescott
    Stephen Prescott MBE , is an English former rugby league footballer of the 1990s and 2000s.Son of Eric Prescott, a formidable forward with St Helens in the 1970s, Steve Prescott played for St. Helens in the Rugby League Premiership and the Super League, and for Hull and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats...

    . While Blackbrook have current St Helens representation in the form of first team regulars James Roby
    James Roby
    James Roby is an English professional rugby league footballer for St. Helens of Super League. A Great Britain and England international representative hooker, he has played his entire professional career to date at St Helens, winning the 2006 Super League XI Championship with them.-Career:Roby...

    , Scott Moore
    Scott Moore (rugby league)
    Scott Moore is a rugby league footballer who plays for Widnes Vikings in the European Super League.Scott Moore was the youngest ever Super League player when he made his debut at the JJB Stadium aged only 16....

    , Paul Clough
    Paul Clough
    Paul Clough is an English rugby league footballer who plays for St Helens. He is the brother of former Salford and Halifax hooker John Clough.In November 2006 Paul Clough was promoted to train full time with the Saints' first team squad...

    , Gary Wheeler
    Gary Wheeler
    Gary Wheeler born 30 September 1989 in England is a rugby league player for St. Helens in the engage Super League.Gary Wheeler's position of choice is as a stand-off, but has currently played most of his senior rugby at centre....

    , Jamie Foster
    Jamie Foster (rugby league)
    James "Jamie" Foster is a professional rugby league player who plays for St Helens in the European Super League. His position of preference is in the centre but he has been known to convert to the wings and fullback...

     and Andrew Dixon
    Andrew Dixon
    Andrew "Andy" Dixon is a fictional character on the CBS soap opera As the World Turns. The character has been commonly known by the nickname "Andy". He was born on-screen in 1976; his birth year was revised to 1970 when he was aged to 15 in 1985, at which time he was played by Scott DeFreitas...

    , with Jacob Emmitt
    Jacob Emmitt
    Jacob Emmitt , is a professional rugby league footballer for Castleford Tigers of Super League. A Wales international representative prop, he spent the 2010 season on loan at Leigh Centurions....

    , Sean Magenniss
    Sean Magenniss
    Shaun Magennis is a professional rugby league player playing for St. Helens. Magenniss is a second rower by trade and signed for Saints from local amateur club Blackbrook Royals. He has made one substitute appearance for Saints in 2009.-References:...

    , Lee Gaskell
    Lee Gaskell
    Lee Gaskell is a professional rugby league player currently playing for St. Helens in the Super League. Signing from local amateur club Blackbrook Royals, Gaskell is primarily a stand-off half but can convert to the centres when required...

     and Paul Johnson
    Paul Johnson
    -Sports:*Paul Johnson , head football coach at Georgia Tech*Paul Johnson [1896-1973], Major League outfielder*Paul Johnson , English cricketer*Paul Johnson , English footballer...

     on the fringes. Pilkington Recs meanwhile have recently contributed Gareth Frodsham
    Gareth Frodsham
    Gareth Frodsham born 18 December 1989 in England is a rugby league player for St. Helens in the engage Super League.Gareth Frodsham's position of choice is as a .-External links:*...

     and Tom Armstrong
    Tom Armstrong (rugby league)
    Thomas "Tom" Armstrong is a professional Rugby League footballer who currently plays for St. Helens. He wears the number 26 jersey and signed for the club from amateur side Pilkington Recs. Armstrong is primarily a centre but can comfortably deputise on the wings and the back row...

    .

    The St Helens RLFC Under 18's and 16's and St Helens RLFC Academy teams serve as official feeders to Saints.

    Rugby Union

    St Helens is home to several Amateur Rugby Union teams. Liverpool St Helens F.C.
    Liverpool St Helens F.C.
    Liverpool St Helens Football Club are a rugby union team formed from the merger of Liverpool Football Club and St. Helens RUFC. The club currently plays in North 1 West....

     are the most prominent Union
    Rugby union
    Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

     team in a town where the League
    Rugby league
    Rugby league football, usually called rugby league, is a full contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular grass field. One of the two codes of rugby football, it originated in England in 1895 by a split from Rugby Football Union over paying players...

     code takes precedence. The team claims to be "the oldest open rugby club in the World" based on its origins in the formation of Liverpool Football Club (not to be confused with the later Association Football team of the same name) in 1857.

    Liverpool St Helens operate, in addition to their First Team, both multiple Senior, Colts and Junior teams, and in addition have an U18 and U15 Girls rugby team as part of their "open" and inclusive Rugby approach. In 2008 the club announced an unveiling of its Centre of Excellence in coordination with Sportsmatch (a department of Sport England
    Sport England
    Sport England is the brand name for the English Sports Council and is a non-departmental public body under the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...

    ).

    Several local Social, Sports and Leisure clubs host their own teams, including the most successful club in the town of recent history West Park St Helens
    West Park St Helens
    West Park St Helens is a Rugby Union club based in St Helens, Merseyside. They currently play in the North 1 League.-Early years:West Park RFC was formerly established in August 1947 at a meeting held in the Black Bull Hotel, though occasional matches had been played the previous season under the...

     (commonly referred to simply as West Park), that currently play in National League 3 North, and Ruskin Park R.F.C.

    Association Football

    St Helens Town FC is an Amateur English football
    Football (soccer)
    Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball...

     club, currently playing in the first division of the North West Counties Football League
    North West Counties Football League
    The North West Counties Football League is a football league in North west of England. As of 2011, the league covers Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Southern Cumbria, Northern Staffordshire, the High Peak area of Derbyshire, and the far west of West Yorkshire. In the past, the...

    . The club, based in St. Helens, play their home games at Knowsley Road, the current home of St Helens RLFC, the town's rugby league club.

    The town also has its own amateur football league, the St Helens Combination
    St Helens Combination
    The St Helens Combination Association football league was formed on 4 August 1917 when Ernest Worrall distributed notices to several of his friends & colleagues calling a meeting in the old. LMS Club now known as The British Rail Club Penlake Lane Sutton. A league was formed but was initially known...

     which has been running since the 1917/18 season.

    Cricket

    St. Helens is home to several Amateur Cricket sides. St Helens Cricket Club
    St Helens Cricket Club
    St Helens Cricket Club is an English amateur cricket club based in St Helens, Merseyside. The club was formed in 1843, making it one of the oldest clubs in Lancashire, the club plays its home games on Windleshaw Road Cricket Ground, Dentons Green, St Helens....

    , formed in 1843, and St Helens Recreation Cricket Club
    St Helens Recreation Cricket Club
    St Helens Recreation Cricket Club aka St Helens Recs Cricket Club , is an English amateur cricket club based in St Helens, Merseyside....

     are the most prominent and both play in the Liverpool and District Cricket Competition
    Liverpool and District Cricket Competition
    The Liverpool and District Cricket Competition is the top level of competition for recreational club cricket in the Liverpool area and since 2000 has been a designated ECB Premier League, one of two in Lancashire, the other being the Northern League....

     at various levels.

    Sutton, Haydock, Rainhill and Newton le Willows also have their own local Cricket Clubs with representation from 11 to multiple senior teams.

    Other Sports

    The Town was formerly home to the Amateur American Football team St Helens Cardinals. The Cardinals were active between 1984 and 1998, successfully winning the UKAFL Championship in 1987 with a 28-26 win over the Ipswich Cardinals. The teams colours were red, white and black and used the crest of the Arizona Cardinals on their black helmets.

    Former player Mike Worthington was involved in the prospective take-over of Rotherham United F.C.
    Rotherham United F.C.
    Rotherham United Football Club are an English professional football club based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, who compete in League Two, the fourth tier of English football. The club's colours have traditionally been red and white, although these have evolved through history...

     in 2004 that did not come to fruition and is a Chairman with Earth Mortgages.

    Former manager Brian Coulson is still active in the league after 30 years, now based with the Merseyside Nighthawks. Several former players still ply their trade with local teams including the Chester Romans.

    The Town also had an Amateur Australian Rules Football team (2002–2004) St. Helens Miners who won the Country Cup in 2002 - In 2005 the team joined up with Manchester.

    Notable People, Families & Organisations

    Beechams

    The Beecham dynasty is one of the most notable families to be associated with St. Helens. Thomas Beecham
    Thomas Beecham (chemist)
    Thomas Beecham was the founder of Beechams, which became one of the United Kingdom's largest pharmaceutical businesses.-Career:...

     opened his first factory, what was to become the world's largest pharmaceutical producer, Beechams, in St. Helens, 16 years after launching, and producing, his products from a small premises in nearby Wigan.

    His son Joseph Beecham
    Sir Joseph Beecham, 1st Baronet
    Sir Joseph Beecham, 1st Baronet , was a British businessman.Beecham was the eldest son of Thomas Beecham and Jane Evans. He played a large part in the growth and expansion of his father's medicinal pill business which he joined in 1866. He was responsible for Beechams' factory and office in...

     built up the business and promoted classical music in the town. Conductor Sir Thomas Beecham
    Thomas Beecham
    Sir Thomas Beecham, 2nd Baronet CH was an English conductor and impresario best known for his association with the London Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic orchestras. He was also closely associated with the Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé orchestras...

    , son of Joseph, was born in St Helens.

    Pilkingtons

    The Pilkington dynasty is another notable family associated with St. Helens having founded the largest glass manufacturer in the United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     as well as inventing the revolutionary float glass process
    Float glass
    Float glass is a sheet of glass made by floating molten glass on a bed of molten metal, typically tin, although lead and various low melting point alloys were used in the past. This method gives the sheet uniform thickness and very flat surfaces. Modern windows are made from float glass...

     which was subsequently licensed for use by other glass manufacturers.

    Sir Alastair Pilkington
    Alastair Pilkington
    Lionel Alexander Bethune Pilkington, and his associate Kenneth Bickerstaff, both of Great Britain, developed the world's first commercially successful manufacture of high quality flat glass using their float glass process...

    , inventor with Kenneth Bickerstaff of the float glass process, was not however a member of that family.

    Entertainment

    George Groves is credited with being Hollywood's first "sound man", as he was the recording engineer on the seminal Al Jolson picture, The Jazz Singer
    The Jazz Singer (1927 film)
    The Jazz Singer is a 1927 American musical film. The first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences, its release heralded the commercial ascendance of the "talkies" and the decline of the silent film era. Produced by Warner Bros. with its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system,...

    (1927), as well as many other early talkies.

    Other

    Richard Seddon
    Richard Seddon
    Richard John Seddon , sometimes known as King Dick, is to date the longest serving Prime Minister of New Zealand. He is regarded by some, including historian Keith Sinclair, as one of New Zealand's greatest political leaders....

    , who went on to become Prime Minister of New Zealand
    Prime Minister of New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand is New Zealand's head of government consequent on being the leader of the party or coalition with majority support in the Parliament of New Zealand...

    , was from St. Helens. He is currently the country's longest-serving Prime Minister, holding the office from 1893 until 1906.

    John Rylands
    John Rylands
    John Rylands was an English entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He was the owner of the largest textile manufacturing concern in the United Kingdom, and Manchester's first multi-millionaire....

    , the Victorian philanthropist, was born and raised in St Helens, forming and building the Ryland & Son textile manufacturing empire in nearby Wigan.

    Harold D'acre Robinson Lowe was born in St Helens, the 1901 Census stating that Harold D.R. Lowe lived at 260 Boundary Road, St Helens. A dinosaur was named for him by CM Sternberg in 1940; Monoclonius lowei
    Monoclonius
    Monoclonius was a ceratopsian dinosaur from the Judith River Formation of Late Cretaceous Montana and Canada. It is often confused with Centrosaurus, a similar genus of ceratopsian . Monoclonius was described by Edward Drinker Cope in 1876...

    .

    John William Draper
    John William Draper
    John William Draper was an American scientist, philosopher, physician, chemist, historian, and photographer. He is credited with producing the first clear photograph of a female face and the first detailed photograph of the Moon...

     was born in St Helens in 1811. He went on to become a noted scientist in the field of photochemistry
    Photochemistry
    Photochemistry, a sub-discipline of chemistry, is the study of chemical reactions that proceed with the absorption of light by atoms or molecules.. Everyday examples include photosynthesis, the degradation of plastics and the formation of vitamin D with sunlight.-Principles:Light is a type of...

    , chemistry
    Chemistry
    Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

     and other sciences.

    Cultural references

    A famous Punch
    Punch (magazine)
    Punch, or the London Charivari was a British weekly magazine of humour and satire established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. Historically, it was most influential in the 1840s and 50s, when it helped to coin the term "cartoon" in its modern sense as a humorous illustration...

    cartoon had Napoleon
    Napoleon I of France
    Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

     lamenting, "Oh, no! I've been banished to St Helens!" This was a pun on St. Helena, the South Atlantic island to which Napoleon was exiled.

    International links

    St Helens has links with two twin towns: - Chalon-sur-Saône
    Chalon-sur-Saône
    Chalon-sur-Saône is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France.It is a sub-prefecture of the department. It is the largest city in the department; however, the department capital is the smaller city of Mâcon....

    , France - twin town to St. Helens - Stuttgart
    Stuttgart
    Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

    , Germany - partner town to St. Helens

    Authorities & Governance


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