9 places to soak up St Helens' rich history as part of national heritage week

SOAK up a host of nostalgic gems – including classic cars, historical church tours and talks on some of the oldest buildings in the borough.

On Saturday September 9, motoring fans are expected to turn out in force once again for the annual town centre classic car show which will see more than 60 memorable motors from years gone by line up in Church Square.

Organised by St Helens Council and the Phoenix Clock Face Car Club, attractions include vehicles from the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s – as well as a range of classic American cars, bikes and scooters.

Meanwhile, from September 6 to 10 there are various events to explore the architecture, history and culture on our doorsteps through a wide range of tours, events and activities as part of the National Heritage Open Days.

Taking place in iconic buildings across the borough including a number of churches, Smithy Heritage Centre, the Mansion House, St Helens Masonic Hall, and Newton Library – these open days offer residents a chance to discover hidden gems right here in St Helens.

St Helens Council’s Town Centre Manager Gary Maddock said: “Over the course of several days, residents can take a trip down memory lane and even step back hundreds of years ago by attending the classic car show and Heritage Open Days.

“Whether it’s by remembering fond memories of a car you may have once owned –or by finding out the history of a building you’ve always wanted to know the story behind – there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy throughout the week.”

Among the events on offer are:

– Talks by local historian Geoff Simm at Newton-le-Willows Library on the heritage of Newton High Street, Common Road, Crow Lane and Earlestown from September 6 to 8 from 2pm to 3pm.

There will also heritage walk starting at the library on Saturday September 9 from 10am.

– A guided tour of the Grade II listed Mansion House in Victoria Park, including some of the main period rooms within the house from September 7 to 9.

This will include a short presentation explaining the history of the house and a change to look at the house’s new orangery where pictures of restorations carried out by Age UK Merseyside are on display.

Tours are limited so booking is essential via 01744 752644 or enquiries@aukmm.org.uk

Opening times are 1pm to 3pm with a tour at 1.30pm on September 7, 1pm to 4pm with a tour at 3pm on September 8 and 11am to 5pm on September 9 for the Food, Drink and Craft Festival, with tours 1.30pm and 2.30pm.

– A classic film showing (yet to be announced) will be on offer at Lucem House Community Cinema Plus+ from September 8 from 11am to 4pm.

The small cinema on Corporation Street will allow visitors to experience the cinema in action as well as learning how to become a member, volunteer and hire the venue.

Light refreshments will be served, and the venue will be included as a stop off point as part of the transport museum bus tour.

-A tour and brief history of the Masonic Hall on Hall Street on September 9, including the heritage of the Victorian building that make it one of the best examples of a Masonic Hall and Temple in the North West of England.

The tours will be offered from 10am to 5pm and guests will be shown the practice rooms, function areas and temples in the building.

Wheelchair users cannot access every part of the building but the main features are accessible and help will be at hand.

Refreshments will be available for a donation.

– Weird and wonderful ancient items from all over the world will be on display at Smithy Heritage Centre on September 9 and 10 on Kiln Lane, open from noon to 5pm.

This will include objects that have been excavated, including a wonderful rocking horse toy that has been chosen to help tell ‘A History of Lancashire in 70 Objects’ as well as a chance to make your own replica to play with.

On September 9, guests can also take a look at how books and documents were made in the past, with some extra family fun craft activities such as printing artwork to take home.

September 10 will also see the fifth annual Great Eccleston Bake-off on Sunday September 10.

Entries will be judged by St Helens W.I. For details of how to enter, visit smithyheritagecentre.org.uk/whats-on.

-Guided tours of the grade II listed Holy Cross and St Helen RC Church on September 9 and 10 September.

The Corporation Street church opened in opened 1862 and tours on its history will explain the statues, the stained-glass windows and other features.

The Church was designated as one of the Jubilee Shrine of Mercy with its own Holy Door in the 2016 extraordinary year of Mercy.

Opening Times are 11am to 4pm on September 9, with tours at 12.30pm and 2.30pm.

And 1pm to 3.30pm on September 10 with a tour at 2.15pm.

-A chance to see historic bibles, furniture and memorabilia, some dating back to 1670 at St Helens Parish Church on September 9.

There will also be a selection of historical photographs on display from 10am to 3pm in the town centre church.

One of the earliest references to “St Elyn’s Chapel” dates from 1552. The current building is listed Grade II, was designed by W.D.Caroe and completed in 1926.

– Go on a visit of St Thomas Church which was built by brewer Peter Greenall and is one of the oldest in the town.

Started before there was any real population, Greenall recognised the potential for growth in the new industrial area and the church grew and flourished with the town, and Greenall with it – becoming MP for Wigan.

Learn about its history in the First World War and again following a fire in 1960 as well as the changes through pictures, aspects of the building and furnishings.

Track down the Thompson mice and – weather permitting and stamina – see the town and its surroundings from the tower.

(Children need to be accompanied with an adult.)

Tours are on September 8 from 1pm to 7pm, September 9 from 11am to 4pm and September 10 from noon to 4pm.

– Finally, the North West Museum of Road Transport will be offering free admission to explore old, and not so old, buses from St Helens and beyond.

Cars, motorbikes and other vehicles will also be on display on September 9 and 10 from 11am to 4pm

For more information visit heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/printable-area-lists/town/St.%20Helens

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