Help us explore the life and times of ‘West Bank’

The Migrant – an exhibition on the life and times of West Bank and surrounding areas, takes place at St Marie’s from this weekend.

It is part of the Celebrating Halton’s Heritage project and the first of three at the venue, to tell the rich story of the area.

And it needs your help, your memories and tales of the past to make it a success.

The project by artists Musson + Retallick (M+R) at Heritage HQ, St Marie’s, Lugsdale Road will be open from Saturday 19 March – Saturday 2 April 2022 10am-4pm.

They have titled the first of their exhibitions in St Marie’s ‘The Migrant’ in reference to the people who were drawn to the area by the foundries and chemical industry.

Despite poor working conditions, the offer of employment brought different communities together from other parts of England, Ireland and Eastern Europe.

St Marie’s exists because of the Catholic settlers who came to Widnes and therefore it is a highly significant venue for the artwork.

Halton Borough Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Cllr Paul Nolan, said: “This is a great opportunity to help people of today link into the heritage of where they live and their ancestors.”

West Bank in Widnes became a major centre for chemical factories and foundries in the mid-1800s, resulting in extreme air pollution and contaminated ground.

The artists have referenced this by using core samples to represent chemical colours in the earth.

A core sample is a circular plug of earth which archaeologists and scientists use to explore the history of a location. It is a timeline displaying the secrets of the past.

Cllr Nolan, said: “For the exhibition, local families have produced ‘core samples’ which represent and celebrate their family history; the generations who worked and toiled in heavy industry to provide a future for their children in, what is now, a far cleaner and more hospitable place.”

There is an opportunity to make a core sample on Saturday 19 March at St Marie’s And have a cuppa and chat about the history of the area.

The Celebrating Halton’s Heritage project is based at Heritage HQ – a central hub for heritage activity at St Marie’s on Lugsdale Road.

Partners are hosting exhibitions, workshops and talks throughout the year until September, all on the theme of Halton’s trades through the centuries.

The project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of Halton’s Borough of Culture celebrations.

To find out more and keep up to date with exhibitions, events and volunteering opportunities go to our website: and follow us on social media:

Twitter: @HHeritageHQ
Instagram: heritagehqhalton
Facebook: Heritage HQ

Young people in Halton have been re-imagining ‘Bleach Packers’ – iconic workers from the borough’s past, creating holographic video and augmented reality images.

Halton Borough Council used funds granted by The National Lottery Heritage fund to create workshops with local creative artists and young people to produce a themed selection of arts and digital imaging in January.

Bleach Packers were hard working heroes of Widnes and Runcorn, champions of chemical works who created vital alkali for the UK and beyond.





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