ONCE upon a time Warrington Transporter Bridge used to hoist 18-ton rail vehicles over the River Mersey to keep the town’s famous soap works bubbling.
But will it take another Herculean feat to persuade our borough’s guardians to preserve this century-old landmark?
Huge credit to Appleton’s Margaret Ingham for getting the ball rolling over the grade II listed Bank Quay structure.
Her efforts in bringing the 61-metre span to the public’s attention is a timely reminder of how, in always seeking advances for the town, we should keep half an eye on our illustrious past.
Without the engineering knowhow of William Arrol and the design skills of William Henry Hunter, the bosses at Joseph Crosfields and Sons would have faced tremendous logistical problems in the early 20th century.
Mrs Ingham has noted that the borough council could do more to safeguard the long-term future of the bridge – while she’s right it need not be to the detriment of the public purse.
If the council’s coffers are banging on empty, and we’re always assured that they are, surely it’s not unreasonable to co-opt the expertise of our planning and conservation officers to seek a solution elsewhere.
And I’m sure the industrial monolith which subsumed the Crosfield name, formerly Ineos Silicas but now known as the PQ Corporation, could dip the old hand into the corporate pocket and at least match-fund any preservation venture.
One of the few benefits of the National Lottery/tax on the gullible is the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has lent its largesse to the protection of dozens of examples of worthwhile architecture or monuments.
For the unimpressed there are a number of case studies locally, where a studied effort has paid dividends and bolstered our storied past.
Just last year Network Rail announced proposals to overhaul Sankey Viaduct, running from Collins Green into Newton-le-Willows, built by George Stephenson in 1828 and the oldest such working structure in the world.
Not only will the project ensure the line is fit for electrification but it is hoped the unsightly graffiti, will be removed.
No-one should under-estimate the elbow grease employed by Urban Splash to finally rescue Bewsey Old Hall from being in the doldrums.
The 16th century manor house was built for Lord Boteler, whose family legacy provides a timely reminder of how not to approach the tricky matter of municipal conservation.
I’ll make no apology for raising the ghost of the old Boteler School once more, which Warrington Borough Council shamefully allowed to be demolished just so another non-descript housing estate next door could eventually be a couple of houses larger.
As Warrington Civic Society attested to before the bulldozers moved in, back in 2003, the building had stood at School Brow since 1863.
Yet our principal planners at the time, and their political masters, would only refer to the historic site as ‘94 School Brow’, as they signed it off into oblivion.
If our town hall overseers wanted to redress the balance maybe they should give Mrs Ingham a bell, send a nice letter to the suits at the PQ Corporation and get cracking on their application to those nice lottery folk.
- Indulge me for a minute, but did you feel a frisson, perhaps, of things to come at the HJ last Friday night?
Kevin Penny ghosting along the Leeds backline, then slicing through the Rhinos at will.
The unholy trinity of Hill, Westwood and Simms ruling the roost.
Like the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett once wrote, may we live in interesting times.