Welcome to Tour One of
mywarrington town centre.
This is the first of two
walking tours of the town centre. I suggest you allow
two hours for this first tour, or slightly longer if you wish to look round the
Parish Church. And even if it isn't physically possible for you to take the
tour, you can still follow it onscreen and discover some of the rich heritage of
this historic industrial market town. Incidentally, Warrington Borough Council published a "Warrington Town Trail" fold-out map and guided tour,
which you could pick up at the Tourist Information centre at Warrington Market. It
features a lion hunt - don't worry, you won't be going on safari! There
also a walk on the Howley district of the town, and one on Latchford. Not sure
if you can get copies of them now.
If you take my tour,
or just read through it as a virtual tour, let
me know what you think of it.
I am grateful to the following for permission to use extracts from
their works in these two tours:
H. Wells, Warrington: Local History Publishing,
Railway Junction, 187 Orford Lane, Warrington WA2 7BA - (Walking Into
Warrington's Past: Church Street, 1996; Walking Into Warrington's
Past: Parish Church, 1997; Walking Into Warrington's Past: Bridge
Street, 1998; Walking Into Warrington's Past: Sankey Street, 2000).
of the old town centre on Mr wells' website www.hwells.co.uk.
Some of his books are still available to buy.
Material from A History of Warrington by Alan Crosby (2002)
reproduced by kind permission of the publisher, Phillimore & Co.
Ltd, Shopwyke Manor Barn, Chichester, West Sussex, PO20 2BG, www.phillimore.co.uk.
Material from Warrington at Work by Janice Hayes & Alan
Crosby (2003) reproduced by kind permission of the publisher, Breedon
Books Publishing Ltd, 3 The Parker Centre, Mansfield Road, Derby, DE21
Information on Anna
Laetitia (Aikin) Barbauld reproduced by kind permission of Encyclopaedia
Britannica (UK) Ltd (2004 DVD
Edition) 2nd Floor, Unity Wharf, Mill Street, London SE1 2BH www.britannica.co.uk.
Information on Warrington Borough
Transport 1902-2002: 100 Years of Serving the Community by Ron
Phillips (2002) reproduced with consent from N. Featham, WBT Managing
Director at the time, on behalf of Mr Phillips www.warringtonboroughtransport.co.uk.
Not forgetting, of course, my dad.
There are footnotes at the bottom
of this page indicating where to find more details about the extracts.
Click the numbered links within the text to be taken to the footnotes.
Clicking the relevant footnote will bring you back to the
begins at the Hop Pole pub, by the bus station, and takes us down
Horsemarket Street, Buttermarket Street, into Church Street, back up
Mersey Street, Academy Street and through Time Square to Market Gate.
From there we begin Tour 2.
begin our tour at Warrington Interchange (as the bus station is now
called). This was opened on 21 August 2006 and cost £7million to build
and stands on the former 1970s ring road that was Golborne Street, known
as the Inner Circulatory Road.
the Golden Square shopping centre and close to Warrington Central
railway station, Golden Square forms the hub of the retail area of the
retail, hotel and leisure complex with a town centre cinema was planned
along Winwick Street to the north of Midland Way and was due to be
completed by around 2010 or 2011. However, the scheme was eventually
Pole pub on Horsemarket Street is right outside Warrington Interchange.
It was established in 1762 and known as Coops at the beginning of the
market was once held in Warrington, hence the name, but was actually
held near Central Station where the street was wider.(1)
The Hop Pole
opposite the Hop Pole is the Prince of Wales pub on the corner of
Scotland Road. It has also been known as The Theatre Tavern and The
Road itself is so named because it was where Oliver Cromwell rounded up
Scottish prisoners in the Civil War in 1648.(2)
Prince of Wales
(The Theatre Tavern)
Scotland Road is Cockhedge Shopping Park, originally the site of
Cockhedge Mills. It appears in one of the photos on the Memory
Lane page. The town's first theatre was the Regent, on Scotland
Road, built around 1805 but closed in 1838 when entertainment was
moved to another location.(3)
The building had a new lease of life as a bingo hall until its
demolition in the 1980s. The site is now occupied by Cockhedge car
park, on the left of the image shown.
dad tells the story of The Regent building which included an iron
veranda with glass to keep customers dry in the rain. A bus driver
drove onto the pavement to avoid a delivery truck and crashed straight
into it, causing damage to the bus but not to the veranda.
The final building of note is
occupied by NatWest bank on Winwick Street - Parr's Bank. A plaque on
the side dates the current building to 1877. The yard at the side is
known as Westminster Place. The owner of
the bank donated the funds to build the Parr Hall, to be seen in Tour Two.
you look above the doorway you will still see a sign for Old Bank. The
bank was founded in 1788 as Parr & Co and named after Joseph Parr, a
sugar refiner. The picture, left, was taken in 2003, before the Golden
Square redevelopment began.
|START WALKING FROM HERE
From the stone
pillars outside the Hop Pole, with the bus station behind you to the
right, walk south down the pedestrianised Horsemarket Street towards the
fountain. The buildings on the left form part of Cockhedge Shopping Park
with a footbridge linking the two sections. Cockhedge Shopping Park was
built on the site of the former Armitage & Rigby cotton mill in
1984, with Asda being the main occupant of the centre. The main
walkway includes sections of the cotton mill structure as part of the
roof supports. The centre has grown to include many more well-known
building on the right next to the Hop Pole pub is Hatter's Row, a
small shopping arcade. It is named after the Lewis Carroll character,
Hatta the Hatter, from the 1865 novel Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland. Lewis Carroll, the pen name of Charles Lutwidge
Dodgson (27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898) in Daresbury, a village
just outside Warrington in Halton district. We will see something else
associated with Lewis Carroll towards the end of Tour 2. In May 2012,
Warrington Borough Council transforming Hatters Row into a specialist
wedding and lifestyle centre to breathe new life into it.
along until you reach the first street
on the left. This is Town Hill, once known as Pig Hill because a pig
market used to be held there.(4) In
1907 a pub called The Boar's Head stood on Town Hill. The
Royal Bank of Scotland building was previously Williams & Glynn's
Bank and stands on the site of The Griffin
Hotel. See a photo of the bank in a street scene from the 1970s in Memory
Lane (Walking Through Time Part 4). The white building on the left
is the former Lloyds TSB bank, which merged with its Time Square branch
and moved to Golden Square in March 2009. In the 1970s it was Burgess's toy
where I bought my first set of Top
Trumps cards while still at school, a series which is still a popular pastime
for youngsters of today. Waysiders was on the opposite corner until 2014
when the owner retired. The shop was the former
location of Timothy Whites. See Shop! page for
more. It is now the location of Caffé Caruso, who
moved from unit 13 Time Square at 24 Bank Street.
Opposite is the Blue Bell Inn,
pictured. This image is from 1995 and features a blue bell. It was
removed soon after because the pub didn't have planning permission to
You will also notice the street was not pedestrianised at
For a short period in the mid-1990s it operated under the
name of TJ Appleton's Food and Drink Emporium, but this was changed back
to the Blue Bell later.
Lyme Street leads into Golden Square shopping
centre and the Old Fish Market to be seen in Tour 2.
The Blue Bell
The fountain near the Blue Bell
was built in conjunction with the structure further up the street which
we will see shortly. It is very effective when operating and captures
the imagination of many a child and adult alike. Walk up towards the
Thomas Cook travel agent on the right. As you approach it, you will
notice a plaque dedicated to Eyre's Press, a printing company where the earliest
newspaper in Lancashire was published in 1756, Eyres
Weekly Journal, "The Warrington Advertiser".
Continue walking up Horsemarket
Street until you arrive at the large circular green structure with a
fountain in the centre.
You are now at the very centre of Warrington,
Market Gate is the meeting point of Warrington's four main
streets - Horsemarket Street, Buttermarket Street, Bridge Street
and Sankey Street. More on these later.
The structure is known locally as
the Skittles, or as I now call them, the Ten Green Bottles, and is an award-winning design by American artist
Howard Ben Tre.
It represents the Ten Guardians and the Well of Light;
the Ten Guardians symbolising the people who have protected or worked
for Warrington over the past couple of thousand years, those who do now
and those who will in the future. So now you know as much as me!
The street design cost a reputed £5m to
build and the townsfolk are still split on whether our money was wisely
The 'Ten Green Bottles'
Take your pick.
We now venture
east (left) onto Buttermarket Street, so named because it was once the
location of a butter market.(5)
first block to the right, now the Halifax bank, used to have four pubs
side by side - The Currier, The Wheatsheaf, the Fox and the Crown and
On the opposite side was the Pelican hotel, now housing the
Cheltenham & Gloucester building society. Look up to the roof for a
sculpture of a pelican.
The next building on the left,
Heron Foods (the location of the former Cooltrader and Ethel Austin
clothing store) replaced the impressive Empire picture house. In between was a
billiard and snooker hall with 18 snooker and 2 billiards tables. You
entered the hall down some steps. Click here
to view it on the Warrington museum website.
We now approach Bank Street (on
the right). A redevelopment of Time Square was planned which would have transformed
the existing site into the leisure and residential complex shown left, containing a cinema, retail, leisure and living accommodation.
artist's impression is courtesy of The Big Apple Warrington, the
consortium behind the new scheme. Sadly, the Government refused
to grant planning permission in July 2007.
A new 30-year vision
announced by Warrington Borough Council in 2009 sees an alternative idea
which would stretch down to the River Mersey. We will walk back through
Time Square later.
old and new
Next to the British Heart
Foundation shop is one of the oldest surviving business in Buttermarket Street
- Edwin Allen arts and crafts shop, which opened in 1894. It closed down
on Saturday, 17 May 2014 after 120 years of service. Only Readon's Fish
Stall in the market is older (I believe). Look for a
date of 1914 on one of the drainpipes. Nothing to do with the shop - so
does that mean we add dates to drainpipe installations now? The Edwin
Allen shop is now Corker's pharmacy.
Heart Foundation building used to house a branch of Lloyds Bank. On the
opposite side is The Lower Angel pub at No 27, pictured.
architecture of the buildings in this part of the town centre,
especially the ones on the right. They just don't build them like this
the street was still a bus route. When my dad drove the buses in the
1950s the bus stops were Orford, Kingsway (outside Greenwoods furniture
shop by the entry - now the Britannia building society) and the
Manchester number 10 was on Scotland Road, close to the access road to
modern-day Cockhedge Shopping Park. The Lower Angel pub served its last pint on
Saturday 7 July 2007 - unless of course you fancied reopening it
yourself. Well, somebody did because it re-opened again on 26 November 2007.
In 2011, it set up a 'micro brewery' to encourage drinkers to taste cask
ales, the type once offered by Walkers brewery before it shut down. It
was also one of the favourite pubs of Oscar-nominated actor,
Warrington-born Pete Postlethwaite, who died on 2 January, 2011, aged
64. Further along was Syd Ellison's cycle shop.
The Lower Angel
opposite side of the road there were the gas and electric showrooms
Remember them? All call centres and internet now! And a branch of a small
supermarket called Tesco... It was previously a Fads decorating shop and
Irwin's Grocers. Nowadays an employment agency, bank and a
discount goods store occupy those buildings, seen here on the
Along this section in 1905 was John Gandy's boot and shoe dealer
& clogger, and yes, there is a family connection, but I haven't
researched my family tree yet so I don't know how we are related, but I
believe he was my grandad's cousin.
the corner is The Looking Glass pub, opened on 26 February 2010 as part
of the J D Wetherspoons chain. The building was previously Yates's Wine Lodge.
This stands on the site
of one of Warrington's premier cinemas - The Odeon.
I was emailed by
Carl who went to The Odeon in Buttermarket Street. He
remembers eating the best sausage, egg and chips in a cafe that was up
the side alley of the Odeon. It was actually in the same building
entered from the alley, but he can't remember its name. Maybe somebody
can enlighten us.
You can see a photo of the Odeon in Peter's
If you wish to see a film in Warrington nowadays you have to
travel about 3 miles west to Westbrook. Incidentally, that cinema has
now been renamed The Odeon!
Wine Lodge is now
The Looking Glass
We now come to the junction at
Scotland Road. In 1802 Peter Stubs' toolmaking factory occupied the site
of the current TK Maxx building. Stubs was born in Warrington in 1756 and ran a file-making
business behind his pub in Bridge Street before moving to the Scotland
His files were exported to Europe
and America. He died in 1806. The business itself moved to Wilderspool
in 1973 when the Scotland Road site closed. TK Maxx moved to Golden
Square in September 2011.
The large council office block, New Town House,
opened in 1976, is on the site of the Britannia Hotel, which was
incorporated into the block before becoming the Toledo restaurant.
2007, New Town House was voted the ugliest building in Warrington by
readers of the Warrington Guardian (it isn't that good!).
Walk to the
right past the building selling school uniforms (which used to be Russell's Furnishings) and
go round into Academy Street until you come across a large stone on the
New Town House
It is believed this is a relic of
the ice age, having been brought down from the Lake District between 2
million and 10,000 years ago at a time when woolly mammoths still roamed
It reminds me of the 'Carry On Cabby' film where Sid James'
character tries to convince his wife the new coat he bought her for her
anniversary was genuine mammoth - it says Mammoth Fur Sale on the shop
window, he quips!
It is known to geologists as a
The first story I ever heard about this
stone was that it was a meteorite that had landed on the town from outer space!
Do you think somebody was having me on?
Find the plaque on the wall
Also in this area is the hidden gem that is Friends Meeting
House, often locked up, but you might be lucky enough to walk up the
The first building was erected in 1720, with a second in
You might have spotted one entrance to it as you turned the
corner. Another entrance is further on past the beauty salon.
Friends Meeting House
Make your way back to Buttermarket
Street and continue walking east past the former Kwik Save supermarket until you reach Porter's
This used to be known as the Cross Keys.
Note the crossed
keys in the window arches. Immediately past the
pub up the driveway there used to be St Mary's R.C. School where Priory Court is
now. The school was demolished in 1990.
Porter's Ale House
Opposite Porter's Ale House is Orford Street, which leads to
Cockhedge Shopping Park. This is built on the site of Cockhedge Mill, a
major employment site for Armitage & Rigby's cotton mill, whose old
roof beams have been incorporated into the shopping centre. Read the
story of the 1872 fire in Memory Lane. In
the Cockhedge area in 1844 was the Crown Glass Works (on Crown Street,
which Orford Street originally ran to). By 1905 the site was occupied by
Warrington Wire Works.
Continue along Buttermarket Street
until you reach the magnificent building that is St Mary's Roman
was built in the 1870s on the site of a former cotton factory. The
designer was Edward Welby Pugin (1834-1875), whose father, Augustus
Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852), designed the Palace of Westminster
(more popularly known as the Houses
The tower of
St Mary's was completed in 1906 and the church is now a Grade II listed
It is built in pale Pierpoint stone and red Runcorn sandstone.
Notice Ave Maria carved into the stone in Albert Hickson's close-up
church was renovated a
few years back, they found a extremely deep hole at one end which went
on forever. Engineers quickly backed away from it.
Somebody joked that
if you don't say your prayers this week you get thrown in as a short cut
to the unmentionable place!
St Mary's RC Church
Ave Maria stonework
Photo © Albert Hickson
the road the white building has served as a nunnery and Warrington Savings
Bank, established in 1918, which had a branch at Green Street, Bank Quay
(where the roundabout is now on Liverpool Road).
recently it served as the offices of Warrington Housing Association, until they moved into the Gateway building on Sankey Street, which we will pass in
The former nunnery
this point, cross the road onto Dial Street and walk a little further
down until you reach Warrington Conservative Club. Notice the plaque
dedicated to Anna Laetitia (Aikin) Barbauld, who was born in 1743, in
Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire, and died in 1825, at Stoke Newington
in London. She stayed in Warrington from age 15 until she was 30. She
was a writer, poet, and editor who wrote on political and social themes.
wrote the hymn "Life! I Know Not What Thou Art", whilst her
most important poems included "Corsica" (1768) and "The
Invitation" (1773). She edited William Collins' Poetical Works
(1794) and The British Novelists, 50 vol. (1810).(6)
Read more about her in Warrington
Library has a book of her poems]
Apartments are built on the site of St Mary's Catholic Social Club, shown
was taken on 12 May 2005.
St Mary's Social Club is seen on 24 May 2003.
Cross back over to Buttermarket
Street and head towards the roundabout with the Borough Arms pub on the
In this section of Buttermarket Street at the beginning of the
20th century, you could benefit from the services of John Himsworth
(cutler and tool dealer), William Clegg (draper), James Johnson (tripe
dealer) and Peter Lawless, beerhouse keeper at the Borough Arms itself,
St Mary's Social Club
On the way notice the newly
landscaped area of Buttermarket Street and Dial Street, which was added in February 2006, creating a
much-needed attraction to a run-down area of town.
This area was known
as Howard's Place in 1905, and when I was a youngster in the 1960s and
1970s it was a car park with the Raven Hotel at 10 Fennel Street at the
junction with Dial Street.
I see this area as a
desirable place to live with the three brand new apartment blocks - if
you can afford them!
and Dial St
In the 19th
Century a site close to the roundabout housed the town's prison, the
Bridewell in Irlam Street. It was replaced in 1820 by a larger building
and remained on this site until a new building, the current police
station, was erected on Arpley
Street in 1900.
Church Street itself used to be the focus of the town's
fairs and markets up to the 13th century.(7)
Take care crossing Mersey Street and walk past the
roundabout until you reach historic Church Street.
Site of the Bridewell
as it looked on
3 May 2004
As we walk up the
street we pass the Bulls Head, parts of which are said to date back to
the 17th century. Next to it in the 18th century was
Warrington's Workhouse. The occupants of the building were orphans and old
people, the poor, the sick, and the mentally ill, or lunatics, as they
were unfortunately described in those days. Even children worked there,
manufacturing pin heads. The workhouse building no longer exists.(8)
The site now features an apartment block, which replaced the Thomas
Locker factory, a long-standing wire company, in 2004. You can see the
factory in the photo above, "Site of the Bridewell" (the white
building), and also in Peter's Gallery (section on Buses 1990 Part 1, white Goldline
The Bulls Head
past Pinders Farm Drive, is the section of the apartment block which
incorporates the front of the old National School building.
founded the National School, with funding coming from the state.(9)
The school opened in 1834 and closed in the 1960s.(10)
Notice the memorial stone and plaque at the far end of the front path.
The next building
is the Tudor-style Marquis of Granby public house, which was built
This was originally the house where James Stanley, 7th Earl
of Derby, held his headquarters during the Warrington Siege in 1642-3.(11)
Notice the plaque on the wall.
See also a biographical account of his life in Warrington
Marquis of Granby
we approach the traffic lights, cross the road to view the black and
white building that is The Cottage Restaurant. Oliver Cromwell stayed
near here on 20 August 1648. According to tradition, he stayed at The Spotted
The site of the Spotted Leopard was more recently
occupied by the General Wolfe pub, which has now been converted into
private accommodation, seen here on the left of this photo from 12 Apr
2009. It is a listed building in the middle of a conservation area and
dates from the middle of the 19th century. The white building in the
middle is said to date from the 18th century, but I don't know who or
what occupied it.
The Star Kinema, one of Warrington's
earliest cinemas, stood to the left of the General Wolfe between 1914
and 1956, where Apple Court nursing home is now.(12)
more about Cromwell in Warrington People.
pub, white house
and Cottage restaurant
you come to Sainsbury's supermarket. This is built on the site of one
of Warrington's most famous wire manufacturers, Rylands. The factory
was closed in the 1980s and the buildings made way for the supermarket.
the road again and walk down to our final historical feature in this
section of Church Street, the Parish Church of St Elphin. Founded in 642
AD, it has stood the test of time.
The early church was made of wood,
and later rebuilt in stone around 1156. The
281 ft spire was completed in September 1867 and is the third tallest
parish church spire in England.(13) There
are still some cannonball holes in the outside brickwork of the church
from the English Civil War of the 17th century.
The church is now a Grade II* listed building. You can venture inside the building on Wednesdays and Saturdays
between May and September (check
for opening times).
The route we have just
covered from Buttermarket Street to Church Street formed part of the No 6 tramway which continued along Manchester Road to the Cemetery. Trams ran in the town between 1902 and 1935.
Now walk back towards the roundabout and
turn left into Mersey Street.
Mersey Street, as you might
imagine, leads down to the River Mersey, but we will see the river in
Tour 2. Cross over the road at the first pelican crossing and walk along
the right side of the street.
As you approach 'Club Wired' (the Casi
nightclub until 2008), pause
to take another look at St Mary's Church down the side street.
Ordnance Survey map of 1905 (now reprinted and in the shops) shows Smith
Street at this point.
Next along, the map describes a large
building as Running Pump between Mersey Street and the back of St Mary's
Church. One of three tanneries on Mersey Street was roughly where the
Adelphi Vaults pub is now.
Opposite is the now-closed Mersey pub. The other two tanneries were further down
Mersey Street, out of the range of this tour.
Continue walking and turn right
into Academy Street, passing Warrington Spiritualist Church on the
corner. You can read their 7 principles on the noticeboard outside.
St Mary's Church
Next on the right is the Salvation
Army Citadel. Look for a blue circular plaque on the front of the
building, dedicated to the famous scientist Joseph Priestley, who lived in a house which
occupied this site. Read his profile in Warrington
Also, in 1905, Richmond's Gas Stove and Meter
Works stood on the site of the citadel. The school mentioned after
Porter's Ale House earlier stood back to back with Richmond's.
Salvation Army citadel
over the road and walk along Academy Way with JJB Sports on your left,
B & M store on your right and the market car park and footbridge
in front of you, until you reach the pub (called Tamarind Table in
2009). On the site of JJB
between 1902 and 1935 was the old Corporation tram depot, leading off
Mersey Street at the corner of Lower Bank Street. The gas works stood
where the JJB car park and Academy Way is now, with Gas Street between
Academy Street and Lower Bank Street. There was a missionary chapel on
Lower Bank Street, and also some houses (my dad lived in one of them).
Bank Street was an S-shaped street with Holt Street running into the
bend, further north than where Academy Way is now (roughly where B
& M is located).
JJB Leisure Centre
Turn right after the pub. You now
enter Time Square, the retail and leisure part of town which
incorporates the market on the left. Warrington received its royal
charter to hold a market in 1255. 2005 saw the 750th anniversary
celebrations on the town centre streets. See the Warrington
Market page for more.
The current market was built on this site in 1972. It
used to stand where Golden Square shopping centre is now. Around 100
years ago, however, Warrington Farm occupied the current market site.
Milk was one of the main products.
The animals were kept in sheds as
there wasn't actually a field or any grass. The milk section closed in
The market and
Time Square site is set for a multi-million pound makeover in 2015,
which will include a new town centre cinema, cafes, restaurants and
public open areas as well as council offices.
Don't forget to pay a visit
to the Market if you reach this point before 5pm. It is closed on
Sundays and Bank Holidays. See Warrington Market.
Market 750th anniversary
your walk through Time Square (Bank Street) until you reach the junction of
Buttermarket Street by the British Heart Foundation charity shop. Say
hello to Tony on his spud wagon on the way past - he used to work with
Turn left and walk 50 metres to
Market Gate and the Ten Guardians of the town, the green skittles.
Look around the area of Market Gate and you will see some plaques on
the walls describing more of that area's history.
Ten Green Bottles
standing at the Gate
Ten Green Bottles standing at the Gate
And if I had the power to redesign
There'd be no Green Bottles standing at the Gate!
This brings the first tour
to an end.
here for Tour 2
photos of what some of this looked like
in the 1990s, click here
for Nineteen Nineties.
|Footnotes for Tour 1: Clicking these links will take
you back to the text
- Warrington Town Trail
- Warrington Town Trail
- Alan Crosby, A History of
Warrington, 2002 p 137
- Warrington Town Trail
- Alan Crosby, A History of
Warrington, 2002 p 62
Britannica 2004 DVD edition
- Alan Crosby, A History of
Warrington, 2002 p 16
Wells, Walking Into Warrington's Past: Church St, 1996, pp 11-12,
Wells, Walking Into Warrington's Past; Church St, 1996, p 25
Wells, Walking Into Warrington's Past: Church St, 1996, pp 25, 27
- Alan Crosby, A History
of Warrington, 2002 p 36, picture caption
Wells, Walking Into Warrington's Past: Church St, 1996, p 32
Wells, Walking Into Warrington's Past: Parish Church, 1997, p 53
- Alan Crosby, A History
of Warrington, 2002 p 159