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Widnes

Widnes is a town in the borough of Halton and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England. It was a municipal borough in the traditional county of Lancashire until 1974. It owes its existence to the chemical industry. In 1800 it was a mere collection of houses but by 1900 had a population of around 50,000.

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Made by 4737 carlin
The London Gazette notified the award of the Victoria Cross to Private “Todger” Jones as follows:- NUMBER 11000, PRIVATE THOMAS ALFRED JONES For most conspicuous bravery. He was with his company consolidating the defences in front of a village, and noticed an enemy sniper at 200 yards distance. He went out and though one bullet went through his helmet and another through his coat, he returned the sniper’s fire and killed him. He then saw two more of the enemy firing at him although displaying the white flag. Both of these he also shot. On reaching the enemy trench he found several occupied dug-outs, and single-handed he disarmed 102 of the enemy, including three or four officers, and marched them back to our lines through a heavy barrage. He had been warned of the misuse of the white flag by the enemy but insisted on going out after them. Thomas Alfred Jones VC DCM (25 December 1880 – 30 January 1956) Buried in Runcorn Cemetery. The Battle of Morval, which began on 25 September 1916, was an attack by the British Fourth Army on the German-held villages of Morval, Gueudecourt and Lesboeufs during the Battle of the Somme. Thomas Mottershead VC, DCM (17 January 1892 – 12 January 1917) For most conspicuous bravery, endurance and skill, when attacked at an altitude of 9,000 feet; the petrol tank was pierced and the machine set on fire. Enveloped in flames, which his Observer, Lt. Gower was unable to subdue, this very gallant soldier succeeded in bringing his aeroplane back to our lines, and though he made a successful landing, the machine collapsed on touching the ground, pinning him beneath wreckage from which he was subsequently rescued. Though suffering extreme torture from burns, Sgt. Mottershead showed the most conspicuous presence of mind in the careful selection of a landing place, and his wonderful endurance and fortitude undoubtedly saved the life of his Observer. He has since succumbed to his injuries. Thomas Mottershead VC is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, France Thomas Wilkinson VC (1 August, 1898 - 14 February 1942) The citation in the London Gazette of 13th December 1946 contains the following details : On 14th February, 1942, H.M.S. Li Wo, a patrol vessel of 1,000 tons, formerly a passenger steamer on the Yangtse River, was on passage from Singapore to Batavia. Her company consisted of eighty-four officers and men, mainly survivors from H.M. ships and Army and Air Force units. Her armament was one 4-inch gun (with 13 practice shells) and two machine-guns. Since leaving Singapore she had beaten off four air attacks and had suffered considerable damage. Late in the afternoon she sighted two enemy convoys, the larger being escorted by Japanese fleet units, including a heavy cruiser and some destroyers. Lieutenant Wilkinson, with the unanimous backing of his mixed company, decided to engage the convoy and to fight to the last, inflicting what damage he could. He knew that his ship faced certain destruction. In the action that followed the machine-guns were used effectively, and a volunteer gun-crew fought the 4-inch gun to such purpose that they hit and set on fire a Japanese transport. After a little more than an hour, H.M.S. Li Wo was critically damaged and was sinking. Lieutenant Wilkinson decided to ram the damaged transport. It is known that this ship burned throughout the night and was probably sunk. Having ordered his ship to be abandoned, Lieutenant Wilkinson himself went down with her. Lieutenant Wilkinson's valour was equalled only by the skill with which he fought his ship. The Victoria cross is bestowed upon him posthumously in recognition of the heroism and self-sacrifice displayed not only by himself but by all who fought and died with him.

scan0013 WBT209 on T9 at Widnes

scan0013 WBT209 on T9 at Widnes
Made by ɹnoɯɹɐdsıɹɔ
The rather squat profile of the Carlyle body on this Dennis Dart complements the building on the right, the Kingsway Health Centre seen in this view of Vicarage Road, Widnes, with the rather less imposing 1960s Municipal Building behind on the other side of Kingsway. In the hectic years after the 1986 bus deregulation, the municipal fleets of Warrington and Halton had expanded somewhat, taking advantage of the failure of the regional company operators to consolidate their existing operations. Warrington had adopted a pale blue livery for a fleet of midi buses smaller than the typical single decker but more welcoming than the breadvan conversions some operators were passing off as buses at the time. No 209, with an atypical Birmingham registration presumably applied for by the bodybuilder, is seen on service T9 to Warrington. This service number was a Crosville number which, since deregulation, had been used on a service which ran beyond the Runcorn busway system for the first time. Prior to deregulation the T-series were purely Runcorn locals but the opportunity was seized to continue the Warrington-Widnes section of service H1 over the bridge to Runcorn and then do a loop of the new town busway. This was only partially successful, because the circular part in Runcorn New Town meant that some point-to-point journey times were rather longer than they needed to be and there was only one hourly journey with no anticlockwise service. However, the T9 was operated by Warrington depot for many years. During the bus wars which erupted between Merseybus, North Western, Halton and Warrington in the early 1990s Warrington Borough matched most North Western departures from Warrington with one of their own, and the WBT T9 was timed a few minutes in front of the North Western working, though it only ran from Warrington to Widnes. Despite the worst efforts of North Western with their cranky fleet and demoralised staff, Warrington and Halton survive to this day unlike many municipals whose owners, the councils, were rather less staunch in their efforts to keep their bus services under local control.

IMG_9135 Halton 30, Simms Cross

IMG_9135 Halton 30, Simms Cross
Made by ɹnoɯɹɐdsıɹɔ
This part of Widnes town centre is dead on its feet: the formerly busy thoroughfare is now cut off at this point where a new supermarket has been built with its car park bisecting the highway. The bus pictured here, Marshall bodied Dennis Dart SLF no. 30 in the Halton fleet, is on a newly-installed zebra crossing where the road is narrowed to one lane and only buses and taxis can pass. Behind me the road deviates around the car park to serve the two modern supermarkets in the town [now they are mooting a third]. Behind the bus by the chavs on the right we can see a dead Kwik Save no-one wants to buy. Opposite, The Grapes pub, formerly a Higson's house which became a real ale lover's choice for some years during the 1980s and 90s only to become a sad keg boozer like all the others round here. Behind The Grapes is Manby's DIY emporium, struggling with an enlarged B&Q a few hundred yards away for competition but still the place where the trade and those in the know go. Facing us at the end of the street is Widnes Town Hall, erstwhile terminal point of Widnes Corporation services, now calling itself The Establishment and just another night spot in the town. Victoria Square in front of the Town Hall is now mostly paved over [there used to be a nice grassy island and a lawn but now they are replaced by block paving] and has polished metal benches and bollards as well as stylised lamp posts like the ones visible here. This part of town is a bit of an embarrassment now. Cut off from the main pedestrianised shopping centre and the market, few venture here and the buses now only serve it in one direction. A few shiny poles can't make up for the slow necrosis of our town centres as the supermarkets flourish.

IMG_9092 Halton 48, Waterloo Road, Widnes

IMG_9092 Halton 48, Waterloo Road, Widnes
Made by ɹnoɯɹɐdsıɹɔ
There was a long hiatus in the relationship between Widnes/Halton Transport and East Lancs which had begun in the 1960s and ended with the delivery of the last RELLs for the home market in 1975. There was a brief reunion in the 1980s when the two coach-bodied Leopards returned to their maker to be fitted with new bus bodies that were not far removed from the bodies fitted to their short Leopards in 1968, some fifteen years before. Throughout the late 70s, 80s and 90s Halton was a predominantly Leyland fleet taking Nationals and then Lynxes until they ceasd to be available. After a flirtation with Northern Counties-bodied Darts, Halton opted for a long series of Mashall bodies on low-floor Darts. With the introduction of the longer Dart SPD Halton returned to East Lancs once more for a series of buses like this. It is known as the Myllennium since apparently the first examples were built to serve the Millennium Dome (which was thankfully spelled correctly, though I understand it is now known as the Oxygen Tent). In rather less salubrious surroundings Halton no 48 heads for the Runcorn bridge along Waterloo Road, formerly a very busy thoroughfare and now little more than a bus lane unless you happen to live in West Bank, a place Spooner never visited, I'm relieved to say.

scan3186 Halton 22, Albert Hotel, Widnes

scan3186 Halton 22, Albert Hotel, Widnes
Made by ɹnoɯɹɐdsıɹɔ
Yes, I'm scanning again, at last. This photo relates to the commentary on some recent uploads of photos taken in the snow a week or two ago. The year is 1985 and deregulation is just over a year away. Crosville and Halton Transport were still operating joint services and this was one of them, the J62 from Bold Heath to Runcorn Shopping City. The bus was captured in between Halton View and Widnes, having crossed the former St Helens railway line and rounding the final bend towards Peel House Lane which marks the start of the town centre. No 22 was not the newest in the fleet at the time, a number of Mk2 Nationals having been delivered since the delivery of this bus. Fully automatic, no 22 like many others in the fleet had been modified by moving the registration number from its usual mounting so that a towing eye could be accessed. Apart from regulated bus services, back in those days we also had Greenall Whtlley pubs. Not necessarily a good thing, those being the days of tank beer delivered by tankers. Being advertised back then, Express Dairy, the Widnes Factory Shop and Asda's bottom-patting campaign. The main chimney of Fiddler's Ferry power station can just be made out over the rooftops: steam was being blown Widnesward by a Southeasterly it would seem.

Photograph of Bold Hall, near Widnes

Photograph of Bold Hall, near Widnes
Made by haltonscollections
Black and white photograph of Bold Hall, near Widnes, taken in the early 20th century. There is a man with a walking stick in the foreground. Bold Hall was built in 1730 by Peter Bold, to a design by the Italian architect Leoni; it was demolished in 1930 when the land around the house was found to contain coal. Object Number: HLC 1.18 This image is from the collections held by Halton Borough Council Library Service and forms part of the Exploring Halton’s Collections Project. Halton has four public collections which reflect the rich and diverse social and civic history of the area. These are held separately by Norton Priory Museum and Gardens, Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, the Halton Borough Council Civic Collection, and the Halton Borough Council Library Service. This Heritage Lottery Funded project has been created to explore and to engage with these fascinating collections. Throughout 2010 over 2,500 objects have been catalogued and will be made publicly accessible online from Spring 2011.

Ditton Junction No1

Ditton Junction No1
Made by Ingy The Wingy
Ditton Junction No1 signal box located by the Down Reception line east of Ditton Junction station. Wednesday 5th July 1989 Ditton Junction No1 signal box was a British Railways London Midland Region Type 15 design which opened fitted with a 100 lever London Midland Region Standard frame on 22nd July 1956, replacing a London and North Western Railway Type 4 design signal box on the opposite side of the line. Closure, along with Ditton Junction No2 signal box came on 10th December 2000 when signalling passed to Ditton signal box The box carries a British Railways London Midland Region maroon enamel nameplate In front of the signal box are 25 signal (set back down reception to down goods limit of shunt) with 23 signal (set back down reception to ?) below it are carried on a two arm London Midland and Scottish Railway 1941 type standard dwarf signal. The discs carry a white diamond which indicates to the driver that his train is occupying a track circuit that indicates his presence to the signalman

Ditton Junction No2

Ditton Junction No2
Made by Ingy The Wingy
Ditton Junction No2 signal box located by the Up Fast line to the west of Ditton Junction station. Wednesday 5th July 1989 Ditton Junction No2 signal box was a British Railways London Midland Region Type 15 design which opened on 6th November 1960. It was fitted with a 55 lever London Midland Region Standard frame to control the west end of Ditton Junction replacing Ditton Junction No2, a London and North Western Railway signal box located by the Down Slow line. And was fitted with a set of individual function switches to control connections at Halewood between the Up and Down Slow lines at Ford Motor Company's sidings replacing Woodside Siding signal box which was located by the Up Fast line. Closure, along with Ditton Junction No1 signal box came on 10th December 2000 when signalling passed to Ditton signal box The box carries two British Railways London Midland Region maroon enamel nameplates

Hough Green

Hough Green
Made by Ingy The Wingy
The illuminated track diagram mounted on the block shelf in Hough Green signal box. Saturday 13th February 1988 Hough Green signal box was located by the Up Main line east of Hough Green station, and was a British Railways London Midland Region Type 15 design fitted with a 30 lever London Midland Region Standard frame which opened in the early 1960s alongside the 1870s-built Cheshire Lines Committee signal box it replaced. The signal box closed on 18th December 1988 when signalling passed to Hunts Cross signal box and track circuit block working was extended to Warrington Central signal box. The wooden operating floor was destroyed by fire on 6th September 1989 Attached to the front of the block shelf are (left to right) a colour light signal repeater for 6R signal, for 6 signal and for 7 signal, and a train running away alarm cancel plunger for 7 signal (Ref no 07923)

Adieu Widnes

Adieu Widnes
Made by ɹnoɯɹɐdsıɹɔ
The UK local government redistribution of 1 April 1974 meant that Widnes Corporation Motor Omnibus Department ceased to exist. To mark the event and the passage to Halton Transport (Widnes merged with the town of Runcorn to become the borough of Halton) Widnes buses were free for the last two days of the operation, a weekend, the first of April being a Monday. Souvenir tickets were issued. My grandfather gave me a ticket he was given by the driver of the bus he caught home from the rugby match. I don't know what happened to that, but when a driver many years later offered me a whole book of tickets, I knew exactly what they were. Here I've scanned recto-verso the bundle which remains intact. The map reference for this item is the bus depot which still stands today, Halton Transport being one of the few remaining municipally owned bus companies in the UK.

Postcard of Harold Price in uniform

Postcard of Harold Price in uniform
Made by haltonscollections
Postcard with a sepia photograph of Harold Price in uniform for the First World War, taken in 1918. Harold grew up in Widnes. Object Number: HLC 2.11 This image is from the collections held by Halton Borough Council Library Service and forms part of the Exploring Halton’s Collections Project. Halton has four public collections which reflect the rich and diverse social and civic history of the area. These are held separately by Norton Priory Museum and Gardens, Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, the Halton Borough Council Civic Collection, and the Halton Borough Council Library Service. This Heritage Lottery Funded project has been created to explore and to engage with these fascinating collections. Throughout 2010 over 2,500 objects have been catalogued and will be made publicly accessible online from Spring 2011.

IMG_3820 Spitting Prohibited

IMG_3820 Spitting Prohibited
Made by ɹnoɯɹɐdsıɹɔ
Such was the class of person in Widnes in the 60s and 70s. No offence intended to the people visible in this view who deposited neither golly nor greeny on the floor of this period piece. Good Friday marked the centenary of the surviving municipal operator formerly known as Widnes Corporation, now cryptically called Halton Transport. The good people of the North West Museum of Transport, in co-operation with the management of Halton, laid on a bit of a show in what now passes for the town centre of Widnes. Here PD2 no 38 awaits departure at the Green Oaks bus lane on a free service over the bridge to Runcorn. The exhortation not to expectorate was never to be seen in those days on the company buses of Crosville which served the nose-breathing people of Runcorn on the other side of the Mersey.

IMG_14203 Springfield P354JND at Widnes

IMG_14203 Springfield P354JND at Widnes
Made by ɹnoɯɹɐdsıɹɔ
Continuing my series of Springfield's Poundrider service which is currently plying previously unplied streets of Widnes and Runcorn to bring the people of the twin towns together in ways they could only dream of previously. Well, I suppose there was a service 20 to St Helens for a while... Here one of the Manc Volvos is seen under an impressive sky in the new Cosmopolitan Quarter of Widnes passing the new Marks and Spencer store. You know a town has made it when it gets a Marks and Spencer. Well, only just. They must have regretted the day they signed to build this one, about a week before the recession kicked in, what with shops at Speke and Gemini already. Too late. I was being ironic about the Cosmopolitan Quarter, by the way. That's the next phase, where they are threatening to build a Dunelm Mill.

Hough Green

Hough Green
Made by Ingy The Wingy
Hough Green signal box located by the Up Main line east of Hough Green station. Saturday 13th February 1988 Hough Green signal box was a British Railways London Midland Region Type 15 design fitted with a 30 lever London Midland Region Standard frame which opened in the early 1960s alongside the 1870s-built Cheshire Lines Committee signal box it replaced. The signal box closed on 18th December 1988 when signalling passed to Hunts Cross signal box and track circuit block working was extended to Warrington Central signal box. The wooden operating floor was destroyed by fire on 6th September 1989 The signal box carries a pair of British Railways London Midland Region maroon enamel nameplates (Ref no 07921)

Widnes West Deviation

Widnes West Deviation
Made by Ingy The Wingy
Widnes West Deviation signal box located by the Up Goods line alongside Desoto Road overbridge. Saturday 13th February 1988 Widnes West Deviation signal box was a British Railways London Midland Region Type 15 design fitted with a 35 lever London Midland Region Standard frame which opened in the 1960s (possibly as late as 1967) replacing a London and North Western signal box located at the Warrington side of the new signal box. The signal box was closed on 19th December 1987 when the absolute block section was extended to bewteen Ditton Junction No1 and Carterhouse Junction signal boxes The signal box carries a pair of British Rail corporate identity printed design nameplates (Ref no 07924)

IMG_3840 - Widnes 38, Deacon Road, Widnes

IMG_3840 - Widnes 38, Deacon Road, Widnes
Made by ɹnoɯɹɐdsıɹɔ
Good Friday marked the centenary of the surviving municipal operator formerly known as Widnes Corporation, now cryptically called Halton Transport. The good people of the North West Museum of Transport, in co-operation with the management of Halton, laid on a bit of a show in what now passes for the town centre of Widnes. Here East Lancs-bodied Leyland PD2 is seen in Deacon Road on the free tour to Runcorn, sadly with a procession of contemporary vehicles tailing off into the distance. I do have a shot of the empty street, so perhaps I'll get round to cobbling up a view which sets the bus off a little better one day...

Memories

Memories
Made by John Houghton
This is a photo I took of my grandmother, Elizabeth nee Gibson, sometime around 1982 with my first proper camera, a Pentax ME Super with Ilford HP5. She was living in Widnes, Lancashire* and I was working not too far away in Liverpool. I used to visit as often as I could and enjoyed looking through the old photo albums and listening to the stories she told of her family and childhood experiences - it was these visits that sparked my interest in family history, something I still actively pursue. Scanned with a Nikon Coolscan V ED film scanner. * My grandmother never really accepted Widnes becoming a part of Cheshire!

scan1282 Halton 9, Widnes

scan1282 Halton 9, Widnes
Made by ɹnoɯɹɐdsıɹɔ
While ELCB is still a hot topic for discussion, here is Halton Transport no.9, new in 1974 with ELCB coach body (one of only three) and rebodied by East Lancs in the early 80s. Underneath the far more conservative body, not unlike the RESL in the previous photo in my collection and not very different from the 1968 batch bought by predecessor Widnes Corporation, lurks a Leyland Leopard. The driver is looking in his offside mirror with his indicator on as he sets off for Halebank in April 1985. This is Victoria Square, opposite Widnes Town Hall.

Halton Transport no. 55

Halton Transport no. 55
Made by ɹnoɯɹɐdsıɹɔ
A photo posted of this vehicle had me reminiscing over its magnificent full bore exhaust noise. This is my record shot taken a few years before the other. This was 1985 and the vehicle was waiting time at St Paul's church opposite Widnes Town Hall in its last year in service with Halton, looking a little tidier than when it later ran around the Midlands.

Hot tea, Fiddlers ferry. Explored Frontpage

Hot tea, Fiddlers ferry. Explored Frontpage
Made by Ianmoran1970
On the way home yesterday evening, grey on grey, not too much to recover in full colour. In shot pylons leading upto Fiddlers ferry coal powered power station, two of the eight huge cooling towers and the steam. Thanks for looking. Comments, faves and constructive crit., always very welcome, graphics not preferred Press L to view in Lightbox

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Nearest places of interest:

Imagine Mosaic
101 Central Park West
Moore Lane swing bridge, Manchester ship canal
Moore Nature Reserve
  IKEA Warrington
Saxon Park
The Langham
The Dakota

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