Following on from Kingston-upon-Hull in 2017, which generated millions in investment; Warrington has the fantastic opportunity to bid to become the UK Capital of Culture in 2021. This would put the town up against other bidders including Coventry, Sunderland, Paisley and Stoke on Trent, but I think we have a good chance of being successful.
Warrington has a long history going back to being founded by the Romans as a Mersey crossing point. The town became a centre of manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution with steel (particularly wire), textiles, brewing, tanning and chemical industries. Warrington has also greatly expanded since becoming a “new town” in 1968, and more developments are on the way including a new market/Time Square, and the Omega site by the M62.
(Warrington Town Hall)
Located in the Cultural Quater; Warrington has a concert hall (the Parr Hall), an arts centre (the Pyramid), Warrington Museum, and Warrington Central Library (the first rate-supported library in the UK). A heritage centre for Lymm has also been given planning permission. A number of well attended festivals, carnivals and walking days are held annually in the borough including the Warrington Music Festival, Stockton Heath Arts Festival and Lymm Transport Day.
Historic buildings of interest in Warrington include:
- Warrington Town Hall (and its golden gates), formerly Bank Hall (built 1750)
- The 14th century Parish Church of St Elphin, largely a Victorian rebuild with a 281-foot (86 m) spire, the sixth tallest in the UK.
- Parr Hall, home to one of the few remaining Cavaillé-Coll organs.
- Warrington Transporter Bridge, a Grade II listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument
- The Barley Mow, established in 1561, the oldest pub in Warrington
- Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Grade II listed building and one of the oldest municipal museums in the UK.
There are also several conservation areas in Warrington; including Bridge Street, Bewsey Street and Church Street.
Warrington also has Culture Warrington, a charitable trust created in 2012 delivering arts, heritage and events across the borough. Several parks are around the town , along with nature reserves (Risley Moss, Woolston eyes), and canals (Manchester Ship Canal, Sankey, Bridgewater).
(Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden)
The 2015 study by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA); where Warrington scored lowest of all authorities in the UK in terms of heritage assets has been greatly criticised. I believe now is the time to increase the promotion of the cultural capital the town has, and create a shift in how people view Warrington; both locally and nationally. Even though I have only lived in Warrington since 2009; I have grown to call the town home, and believe it has a lot to offer visitors if promoted in the right way. As a member of the Friends of Warrington Transporter Bridge, and the Warrington Civic Society I have also enjoyed getting involved locally in promoting the historical aspects of the town.
(Warrington Transporter Bridge)
The next step is a board of six will be created; that will carry out their research over the summer, with the aim of making a bid next Spring. In my view a website and a social media campaign would be needed to promote the bid, and cultural aspects/events that exist. This is something other bidders like Paisley have already started working on. Let’s start a hashtag of #Warrington2021