St. Helens is a large town in Merseyside, England. It is the largest settlement and administrative centre of the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens.The town was officially incorporated as a municipal borough in 1868 responsible for the administration of the 4 townships consisting of Eccleston, Parr, Sutton and Windle, with the larger responsibility as a county borough established in 1887 (superseded in 1974 by the larger still metropolitan borough).
The local area rapidly developed during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries into a significant centre for coal mining, 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, lime and alkali pits,copper smelting,and brewing.
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 The main industries have since left, become outdated, or have been outsourced leaving the float and patterned rolled glass producer Pilkington's, a world leader in their industry, as the town's one remaining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), the Gamble family of the Alkali Works, Ravenhead glass (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
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.
Tourist Information :
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.
The North West Museum of Road Transport is another museum located in the town centre. The Smithy Heritage Centre is a small museum in Kiln Lane, Eccleston about the works of a local blacksmith.
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 is a modern park in Sutton which features a petting zoo and annually holds a funfair 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.There are several restaurants in the town centre with an increasingly mixed cuisine on offer.The theatre is today a very popular venue with touring acts and annual Pantomime. In addition there are performances by local amateur operatic and dramatic societies, schools and dancing academies.