6 Fun Historical Outings Around Widnes

For a real taste of local history on your next adventure in Widnes with an elderly family member or friend, our team recommends that you stop by one of these great locations.

Getting out and about in your local area is a great way to stay engaged, active and happy in our later years. Don’t confine your days out to the present, why not take a trip to the past and discover some of the fun to be had reminiscing and learning together with curious elderly relatives.

For a real taste of local history on your next adventure in Widnes with an elderly family member or friend, our team recommends that you stop by one of these great locations.

Catalyst Museum, Widnes

The Catalyst Museum is an interactive science and technology centre in Widnes housing an array of historical material relating to Runcorn and Widnes’ connection to the chemical industry through its original ICI plant. The ICI chemical plant was built in 1938 and by 1960 the company was the biggest industrial employer in Runcorn and Widnes. Many older people in the area will have strong ties and memories relating to this time. The museum is host to reconstructed historical scenes, interactive exhibits and an observatory. Its mission is to inform, educate and excite the widest audience about the origins of the chemical industry in Widnes and the relevance of chemistry in today’s world. It offers fascinating hands-on experience together with archives, film footage and historical objects relating to Widnes’ rich industrial heritage and its strong links to the local area.

Spike Island

Spike Island is an unspoilt artificial island between the Sankey Canal and the estuary of the River Mersey containing parkland, woodland, wetlands and footpaths. It is conveniently situated next to the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre. It was created in 1833 when the Sankey Canal was extended from Fiddler’s Ferry to the River Mersey at Widnes. The extension separated a section of Widnes previously called Woodend from the remainder of the town. The remains of its industrial heritage are still there including the wrecks of some “flats” (flat bottomed boats designed to carry cargo on the shallow river).

Norton Priory Museum & Gardens, Runcorn

Located on the edge of Runcorn, Norton Priory Museum & Gardens is one of Cheshire’s hidden gems. Originally a medieval church, it is now a museum and is the most excavated monastic site in Europe. Together with the priory ruins which show the original layout of the abbey, there is an undercroft with a beautiful vaulted ceiling from the 12th century to explore. Founded in 1115 as an Augustinian Foundation, Norton Priory became a ‘mitred’ abbey in 1391, run by an abbot papally privileged to wear a mitre meaning he was entitled to sit and vote in the House of Lords. Norton Priory’s ruins are considered to be the most important monastic remains in Cheshire.

In the museum, thousands of items reveal the site’s 900-year old history, from the priory to the mansion house and the lives of the people who lived there. The most impressive object in the museum is the twice life-size St. Christopher statue. It is likely that this statue was commissioned to commemorate the site’s abbey status in 1391.

Surrounded by woodland walks the museum has many opportunities to discover secret summer houses, sculptures, and a stream glade. During the summer season, the tranquil 2.5-acre Georgian Walled Garden is also open, with orchards, a rose walk and a herb garden. Norton Priory has a free car park, a gift shop, and the Brooke Café, which serves a selection of hot and cold meals and refreshments. The museum is open every day from 10am until 5pm except Wednesdays and Thursdays when it is closed. Entry cost for concessions is £8.50 and their carer can enter for free.

Walton Hall and Gardens, Warrington

Situated amid 32 acres of picturesque parkland, there’s lots to discover at Walton Hall and Gardens and its free to visit. There is a small charge for parking.

Walton Hall and Gardens estate, set within acres of tranquil and idyllic parkland, has a rich cultural heritage and is steeped in local history. Thanks to the family fortune of Lord Daresbury who took on the Walton Hall estate in 1910, the house and gardens were transformed and opened to the public in 1930. He was a widely respected breeder of horses, pigs and cattle. His wife Frances was a passionate horticulturist and with the help of her 26 gardeners shaped Walton’s spectacular landscape.

Warrington Borough Council bought Walton Hall and Gardens in 1941 during World War II. It now boasts a host of activities ideal for all ages. There are spacious lawns, ideal for a picnic or a kickabout, a Heritage Centre café, various picnic areas and a large play area with bouncy slide and trampolines. The pitch ‘n’ putt course is great fun for all and there are various other outdoor activities including crazy golf and the opportunity to ride around the grounds on the land train. One of the park’s most popular attractions is the children’s zoo which includes a wonderful array of animals including Shetland ponies, pigmy goats, guinea pigs and rabbits.

Facilities are excellent and disabled facilities include a hoist and plinth and disabled access pathways which intersect the grounds. This is a day out not to be missed and is suitable for all ages and abilities!

Widnes War Memorial

Situated in the beautiful Victoria park, the Widnes War Memorial is a stunning landmark commissioned by Widnes Borough Council in 1920 to commemorate the citizens of Widnes who fell in the First World War.  The memorial consists of an obelisk in Portland stone on a York stone plinth, standing nearly fifty feet high. Surrounding this are 30 bronze tablets inscribed with the names of the 818 men who died. It has been perfectly preserved and is a fitting monument to remember the local heroes.

The park is a stunning haven for a day out and consists of beautifully paved walking routes, grassy open spaces and formal gardens surrounding  a lake. There is a café with ice cream parlour, along with a bandstand and a butterfly house. All areas are accessible with disabled toilets provided too.

Sutton Manor Colliery Main Gates, St. Helens

Sutton Manor Colliery operated from 1906 to 1991 and in its heyday was the most productive coal mine in the Lancashire. At the beginning of the 1960s, Sutton Manor Colliery employed 1600 men and coal output levels were rising. Controlled by the National Coal Board (NCB) since the industry’s nationalisation in 1947, the colliery was producing over 300,000 tons of coal per year and it seemed to have a prosperous future. The colliery finally closed its gates in 1991 and was the last remaining coal mine operating in the St. Helens area.

All that now remains are the stunning preserved wrought iron gates which now lead into the Forestry Commission’s Sutton Manor Woodland, a stunning country park planted with over 50,000 trees of differing species and home to a piece of public sculpture resembling the head of a young girl with her eyes closed called ‘The Dream’.  It is 66 feet (20m) tall and clad in very white stone. It sits at the summit of the old spoil tip of Sutton Manor Colliery. In between the trees are masses of wild flowers which seem to thrive on the old coal heaps This place is well worth a visit.

As you can see, there’s plenty of history to be experienced in and around Widnes and no shortage of easy to reach attractions that are as unusual as they are interesting. Don’t fall into the rut of going to the same old modern places on every outing – a little learning alongside a day out can be what really makes it shine for everyone! There really are lots of perfect locations for a day out for all members of the family, young or old.

Find out more about supported living in this area and see if home care in Widnes could be right for your loved ones.