Jaume Plensa's 'The Dream'. Built on the site of the former Sutton Manor Colliery, which closed in 1991, the sculpture takes the form of the head and neck of a 20 metre high girl coming out of the ground in a dream-like state. A group of ex-miners helped comprise the steering group, as the concept is based on the town's coal mining history, shown in the town's Latin motto 'Ex Terra Lucem' "Out of the Earth, Light". It is constructed in concrete and Spanish dolomite marble and opened in 2009 at a total cost of £1.8 million. In Jaume Plensa's words: "in our dreams, anything is possible." (1/2)
The colliery site dates back to 1906. In its heyday it employed 1,500 people. Still highly-productive, It closed in June 1991, with the loss of 450 jobs and an estimated 40 years of coal left in the ground. According to one ex-miner Gary Conley, "It was hotter than the flames of hell in some sections and cold as the Antarctic in others."
The site is now managed as public parkland by the Forestry Commission. Soil excavated as part of the construction of Trafford Centre were used to cap the spoil heap and enable tree-planting.
'Ex Terra Lucem' was used by Danny Boyle in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics as a testament to the north's industrial heritage. (2/2)
The colliery gates remain.
Former Bold Heath coal colliery. The colliery dates back to the 1870s and was a major pit in the South Lancashire coalfield. As a result of nationalisation of coal pits in the 1940s, tests showed that the coal here was the best quality in the town, creating high-demand and leading many to think the pit had a guaranteed long-term future. This is one of the pit-head wheels. (1/2)
Like many other pits, the 1984/5 national miners strike badly affected the workforce at Bold colliery. It became the first Lancashire pit to join the strike with workers first downing tools on March 13th 1984 after pickets arrived from Yorkshire. It closed in 1985 with the loss of 800 jobs and 500 supply jobs after the National Coal Board claimed it was loss-making. During its lifetime 70 lives were lost. It is now a nature reserve with a business centre adjacent. (2/2).
Reflection Court, former Pilkington Glass HQ, built 1937-41, designed by Herbert J Rowse and Kenneth Cheeseman in Dudokian-influenced Modernist styling. Attached is a neo-Georgian 1924 block by Sir Arnold Thornely.
It remained in use as Pilkington's headquarters until 1965 when they moved to a new complex at Alexandra Park (next image). Since converted into housing association flats and business units. Grade II listed.
Seen across McDonald’s, one of three in the town.
Former Pilkington's Glass headquarters. Designed by Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew and built between 1959-63. Grade II listed in 1995 for its greenfield landscaping and Modernist design. The site comprises the former Museum block (L) the Tower (C) and the Lakeside block (R). A concrete walkway crossed the lake. This part of the site is still in use. (1/2)
Pilkington's Glass former headquarters, to the right of the Lakeside block is the former Canteen block overlooking the lake. Built to serve 1600 employees, it contained murals by Victor Pasmore. Also part of the Grade II listing, this building is now derelict. (2/2).
Former Ravenhead Glass plant, established 1850 and later incorporated into the United Glass Bottles group, it specialised in making pint glasses at this site, which is 53,000 square metres in size. Having employed 5,000 people at its peak, it closed in 2001 with the loss of 200 jobs and a £5 million black hole in the pension fund.
Factory Row was built in the 1850s to house workers at Ravenhead British Plate Glassworks, latterly Pilkingtons Fibreglass. The site behind is now home to Knauf Insulation.
No. 9 Tank House. Built in 1883 by Pilkingtons glassmarkers, it is a brick-built former glassmaking factory with a conical flue, containing the remains of a Siemen's regenerative tank furnace. It is the best surviving example of a late 19th century glass furnace in England. Listed Grade II* The walls are buttressed on the canalside. The canal adjacent is 'The Hotties', the nickname for this part of the Sankey Canal, so-called because the water pumped out of the glassworks was so warm it now houses several types of tropical fish. The canal, which flows to the Mersey, was built in 1757 to transport coal, copper and iron ore to the chemical industries of Widnes and Liverpool.
The Sutton Oak Welsh Chapel. Built in 1845 by Wesleyan Methodists, it was later sold to the Welsh community, who moved to St Helens to work in the copper smelting industry, led by the Parys Mining company, who would transport copper ore from North Wales to St Helens along the Sankey canal. The local coal mines were fundamental to this process. It was built using industrial waste, with stone dressings, a brick entrance front, and a slate roof. The entrance front has a round-headed doorway with an inset Tuscan doorcase, flanked by round-headed windows. The windows on the sides are flat-headed. Grade II listed.
Lea Green Colliery extracted high-quality coal for over 90 years until it closed in 1964. Its adjacency to the Liverpool-Manchester railway and Sutton Heath colliery was of great financial and logistical benefit. The colliery also encompassed Elton Head colliery. Like many pits, dozens of men and boys were killed working here in its lifetime, and it was not uncommon for fathers and sons to work together. The Manchester United 'Busby Babe' goalkeeper Bill Foukes was a miner here in the late 1940s while playing part-time for the club. During its final year of production, Lea Green produced 200,000 tons of coal and employed 600 men. It was reported at the time of closure that the colliery still had a million tons of coal beneath it.The site is now undergoing landscaping for housing. In the background is a Co-op food distribution centre. (1/2).
The first shafts at Lea Green colliery were sunk by James Radley in the 1870s. Radley owned other collieries in the town and became the 4th mayor of St Helens in 1869 and was re-elected three times. His name lives on in this new housing estate, Radley Park, on the site of the colliery. 161 houses are being built here. According to the developers, "each property has real kerb appeal." (2/2)
Former Triplex Safety Glassworks. The Triplex company was formed by Reginald Delpech in 1912, who pioneered the concept of 'safety glass', celluloid encased by two panes of glass designed not to splinter on impact, from which the factory name was derived. The Pilkington Brothers joined forces with Triplex in 1929 to form the Triplex Safety Glass Company and built a factory on this site in the same year. Triplex later became a subsidary of Pilkingtons Glass. It supplied the car and aerospace industry with safety glass. As the fortunes of its parent company suffered so did this factory and it eventually closed and was demolished in 2008. The factory social club remained on the site, however this too was later knocked down. The site is being redeveloped into housing and a Sainsbury's Local.
As membership dwindled, the nearby North and South Eccleston Labour club, locally known as the NALGO after the union of that name, was demolished to make way for an extension to a car showroom.
Cannington Shaw No.7 bottle making shop. c.1886. Brick with slate roof, with an oval cone protruding through the roof. The basement is said to have cast iron columns and beams, with air and gas flues. It is one of only two remaining examples of a glass furnace dedicated to making glass bottles using the Siemens patented tank furnace. It was used as an air-raid shelter in World War II. Grade II listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the structure is located in a corner of Tesco car park (1/2).
...in 1918, Cannington Shaw merged with other bottle makers to form United Glass Bottles Ltd on this site. The factory closed in 2001 with the loss of 374 jobs. The site is 140,000 square metres in size. It was redeveloped into the UK's 4th largest Tesco in 2012.
As of 2018, weekly and hourly pay for males and females is lower in St Helens than the north-west average. (2/2)