St Helens (England)
St Helens is a growing town, which takes most of its influences from the nearby city of Liverpool.
The town was established from the unity of local townships Sutton, Parr, Windle, and Eccleston. A town hall was only constructed in 1839, and St Helens became a parish of its own right in 1852. Originally an industrial district providing success in coal mining and glass manufacturing, St Helens is now a young and populous town. St Helens is one of the most ethnically and culturally homogeneous places in Britain with over 98.8% of the population identifying themselves as White. As a former industrial town, St Helens has a serious male unemployment problem with 9% of men being unemployed, rising to 19.6% in the Parr and Hardshaw area.
St Helens is situated at the heart of the region's motorway network (M6, M62, M57, M58) and midway between the urban and cultural hubs of Liverpool (13 miles) & Manchester (22 miles) plus their respective airports - Liverpool John Lennon (14 miles), and Manchester Airport (28 miles).
Rail is the easiest public transport to use when visiting St Helens. St Helens Central rail station is situated directly in the town centre, and all the towns attractions are no more than a short walk away. This station lies on the Wigan to Liverpool line making it easily accessible from both. Other stations on this line that station in St Helens include Thatto Heath and Eccleston Park.
The Liverpool to Manchester line serves St Helens at Rainhill, St Helens Junction railway station, Earlestown, Newton-le-Willows and Lea Green. St Helens town centre is easily accessed from Lea Green station via the A569 and by frequent bus services.
National Express, the UK's largest scheduled coach company has just one route serving St Helens, the London service, taking over 4 hours. However many more coach services call at Liverpool which is a short train ride away.
St Helens bus station is situated just a few minutes walk from St Helens Central train station. Links to Warrington, Liverpool, Wigan and Leigh.
Most of St Helens attractions are a short walk away, but bus travel is still a handy and quick way of navigating the town. The best place to start is by visiting the main bus station, which isn't easily missed, and is 200 yards from St Helens Central rail station, and next to the town hall, public library, theatre and shopping arcade. The main bus station has a tourist travel information centre which are open during typical office working hours, and can help with information on getting anywhere within Merseyside. Bus stops are frequent and plentiful throughout the town.
For safety, the buses are best not used after 7pm. They are not necessarily dangerous, but can often make a person feel hostile and not a pleasant way to travel late at night. To be safe, get a taxi. There are plenty of taxi ranks and cab services throughout the town, all of which are easy to find, and usually situated near popular night time venues. Everyone knows at least one taxi number, so it might be worth asking a local for a contact.
St Helens is not necessarily renowned for its architecture, but does provide varied places to see for different people.
- Carr Mill Dam, Old Garswood Road. provides picturesque lakeside trails and walks as well as national competitive powerboating and angling events.
- Colliers Moss Common. was created on the waste from a power station and is a diverse landscape with water features (including lagoons, streams, wetland areas and a fishery), focal points, artworks, seating areas and an amphitheatre all serve to make the whole site a beautiful and peaceful place to explore as well as important habitat for wildlife. Great for walkers, cyclists and horseriders.
- Sankey Valley Country Park Visitor Centre. a 7 mile linear park, runs from Carr Mill Dam to Newton-Le-Willows. Has many footpaths and cycleways. Identified as a site of special scientific interest.
- Sherdley Park, Marshalls Cross Road. holds a 18 hole golf course and driving range, formal garden areas, open woodland, ponds, children's play areas, pets corner, and hosts some of the most popular summer events in the North West.
- The Dream Sculpture. was opened costing £2m and made national and international news for a few weeks, visitors travel hundreds of miles to see the sculpture!
- The Spire. Although not a popular tourist attraction like the dream, The Spire is a metal sculpture located near the George Street Quarter in St.Helens Town Centre.
- Citadel Arts Centre, Waterloo St, WA10 1PX. Is a performing and visual arts centre. The centre also presents a wide ranging programme of music, theatre, dance, poetry, comedy, storytelling, visual art and film events. Commonly known as "The Citadel", the centre provides fantastic opportunities for local unsupported bands and acts. Recently refurbished with glass elevator, a new café/bar and balcony, plus dance studio.
- Haydock Park Racecourse, Newton-le-Willows, WA12 0HQ. The most visited racecourse in the country, especially for the William Hill Sprint Cup in September, the Red Square Vodka Cup in February and the North West Masters in November. It is also an excellent venue for other events, exhibitions, conferences, dinner dances, Christmas Parties and weddings. The racecourse has a certain high standard to the clientèle it receives, which can often make it too exclusive for a fun day out.
- Knowsley Safari Park, Prescot Rd, Prescot, L34 4AN. Is a world of its own, awarded Merseyside Tourist Attraction of the Year 1994, and is consistently a popular day out for the family. Visitors can enjoy a 5 mile safari through 450 acres of historic parkland, home to hundreds of animals from around the world including Lions, Tigers, Zebras, Rhinos, Baboons, Ostrich, Camels and more. The food and drink is fantastic, and the whole park is set on breathtaking scenery.
- St Helens Rugby League FC, Knowsley Road Stadium, Dunriding La, WA10 4AD. The world-famous rugby league club and one of the most successful teams in the Super League. A visit to St Helens without experiencing its rugby ties would be a missed opportunity. The "Saints" are a cult hero team of the town, and have become the leading advertising item used by the council due to it's deep popularity running through all who live in St Helens.
- The World of Glass, Chalon Way East, WA10 1BX, WorldOfGlass.com. The town's own personal record of its success in the glass manufacturing field. The architecture alone is fantastic, and the museum is informative as well as impressive to anyone who visits. The museum features live glass blowing demonstrations, multi-media shows, underground tunnels, galleries, special exhibitions, cafe, and a gift shop selling hand-crafted glassworks. Worth visiting to see the fantastic display alone. Also homes the St Helens Tourist Information Centre. Visit St Helens
- Theatre Royal, Corporation St, WA10 1LQ. A 700-seat theatre with a varied year-round programme of drama, dance, opera and musicals. The theatre has been plagued with financial stress, and has suffered chance of being shut down many times, only to be saved by the support of the public community. The theatre is often visited by travelling events and shows, as well as some of the biggest national celebrities and performances, often being the only venues in the north west for seeing certain shows. The theatre also supports local events and ceremonies, and St Helens' very own celebrity comedian Johnny Vegas. Located next to town hall and St Helens main bus station, and a short walk from St Helens Central rail station.
- Cineworld Multiplex Cinema. A multi-screen cinema, with selected screens with deluxe quality visual display, comfortable furnishings, and superior sound quality. The cinema has enough screens to provide a great choice of movies for any time of the week.
- Houghwood Golf Course. recognised as a fantastic place for golf, one of the best in the North West region.
- St Helens College is the town's leading education centre. Provides plenty of part-time or full-time courses for all ages and all levels of study. All courses vary from the very popular Performing Arts all the way down to Business Administration. So as you can see there is a lot to choose from! Website
- Carmel College provides a range of academic and vocational courses for sixth-form students. Identified as being in the 'Top 10' college's throughout Britain. Seen as one of the 'big three' colleges in the local area, it is a popular destination for school leavers on their way to University. Website
- Church Square Shopping Centre consists of two arcades that are built around the local parish church. This centre provides the most popular high-street chains and an open-space coffee shop providing take-away food and drink.
- St Mary's Market is within Church Square Shopping Centre and provides a variety of small private market shops, with friendly shop owners and constantly changing stock. Each stall adds something to the retail standard of the town which common high-street shops don't. Great value for money. Located at St Mary's Arcade, Church Street, WA10 1AR. The centre of Church Square is 3 minutes walk from St Helens Central station.
- Hardshaw Centre is the other main shopping centre to the town. Located on Bickerstaffe Street, WA10 1EB.
- Hardware retailers and warehouses are found on retail parks located outside town centre. A small electric bus makes a frequent trip on a route around town providing a free trip to and from each of these parks.
- As well as providing one of the best nights out, Chicago Rock provides great quality food during the day. Open from lunch until around 7pm each day, this bar provides a great daytime atmosphere for a good meal and drink. A great start to a night out, as after your meal, the bar suddenly becomes vibrant, with the best music from the latest decades. See Drink for more details.
- Chloe's Cafe Bar, 8 Ormskirk Street, WA10 1BJ. This cafe is right in the middle of town centre and is difficult to miss. Chloe's provides a more stylish place to eat, and the food is fantastically presented. The shame is the place is not as comfortable as it appears to be, and does not provide much of an opportunity to relax, but rather somewhere people stop for a drink and then move on. Chloe's is also a popular addition to St Helens nightlife - see Drink.
- Colours Restaurant, Water Street, WA10 1PZ. Colours is an elegant, sophisticated haute cuisine restaurant located on the college campus of the town. This restaurant is a training restaurant but still provides fantastic cuisine from varied cultures. Not a place where you can kick off your shoes and put your elbows on the table, but a place you'd most likely meet with your boss.
- Le Frog Bistro, 2 Haydock Street, WA10 1DA. Great continental food in a stylish atmosphere. This restaurant provides a great opportunity to try something new.
- Pizza Hut, The College Leisure Scheme, Linkway West, WA10 1BL. The traditional international pizza dining restaurant with eat-in or take-out. Value for money, and can be great place to take the kids. Not a good example of local dining, however.
- Red Cat, 8 Red Cat Lane, Crank, WA11 8RU. Award-winning and legendary, this pub has a great history. The food has a very northern and home-cooked flavour, and the only downside is the place can be a little difficult to reach, but worth mentioning here.
- The Royal Oak, East Lancashire Road, Eccleston, WA10 5QN. A great, family pub with entertainment for the kids. The food service is fantastic, and the atmosphere is very comfortable. To the side of the pub is a large complex with climbing frame, ball pool and adventure playhouse all indoors for the kids. A great evening meal.
- The Glass House (JD Wetherspoon), Market Street, WA10 1NE. The Glass House provides a place for a cheap drink or a cheap meal making it popular with students and youths alike. Families are welcomed, but kids will get bored. The restaurant is pushed to the back of the bar, and is down some stairs, so you feel a bit hidden away and squashed in. No music is played in any Wetherspoons bars, so the atmosphere can get dull.
- Palace Tandoori Restaurant, 59 Duke St St Helens WA10 2JF, ☎ +44 17-442-5000. Indian Restaurant. Excellent food, with the banquets being very good value.
St Helens has an exciting and extensive list of bars and pubs, catering for all tastes. Monday and Tuesday nights don't provide much excitement, while Friday and Saturday are the busiest nights out. There are enough bars and pubs in town centre to stop you getting bored, so it's often good to try the different spots and see what suits your taste most for your night out. There's a good mix of age, so don't feel like you'll be surrounded by students. There are few youth-only bars so people don't typically feel out of place. There is no dress code for a night out but don't expect to be refused entry if you haven't at least made the effort. Jeans are ok for most places, but trainers/sneakers aren't usually allowed for popular nights when the bar is already populated. Jogging pants, shorts, tracksuits will never get you accepted into any of the bars no matter what night. 'Casual smart' is the typical unspoken dress code. Be warned, like most towns and cities, certain bars and pubs may make you feel hostile because of the way you are dressed or the way you act. Make sure to check the Be safe section when in town at nighttime. With Bar Diva and Flex 2 and an increased police presence, there appears to be a slowly improving acceptance of gays and lesbians in many of the pubs around the town, including The Counting House.
- The Counting House, 16 Hardshaw Street, WA10 1RE. A popular club for all ages. Weekend Nights host a DJ which plays music from 1980,90 and 00s. Large big screen good for sports events. Pool tables and food served during the day. Family-friendly.
- Blessed Sports Bar, 46 Bridge Street, WA10 1NW. Previously - BarX and Work! Re-opened 2011.
- Flex 2, 2 Tolver Street, St Helens, WA10 1EL. Gay run Gay/Lesbian Bar with Karaoke, Drag Karaoke and more.
- Running Horses - Linkway West, Chalon Way, WA10 1BT. A Lloyds No1 bar, formerly Chicago Rock. Re-opened 6th November 2009
- The Dali Bar, 64 Westfield Street, WA10 1QJ. A good little bar, which is very popular, and a friendly place to go.
- The Glass House (JD Wetherspoon) - Market Street, WA10 1NE. Quiet and clean, a good place to go for a drink and a chat, but doesn't play any music. Suits some people, but not those who are out for a dance.
- Ice Bar, 58 Ormskirk Street, WA10 2TF. A small bar, with good drinks, nice atmosphere, karaoke friday, saturday and sunday nights and live acts on sunday afternoons.
- Maloney's Cocktail Bar - Waterloo Street. Fantastic bar, but don't expect something different than a cocktail when ordering. The bar staff are trained to flair and put on a show spraying alcohol everywhere. It's a novelty, but it comes at a price. The drinks are very expensive, but the nights out are sometimes worth the money.
- Venue Cafe Bar, 5 Westfield Street, WA10 1QA. re-opened Sep 2009 - formerly Nexus Cafe Bar.
- Hour Glass - Chalon Way West, WA10 1BL. Previously - Yates, RE-OPENED 2010
- Zoo Cafe Bar, 52 Westfield Street, WA10 1QJ. Mixes entertainment and a night out on the tiles, "The Zoo" has a regular programme of great bands, comedy and acts. It's worth checking out the website for what's on. Those who are dressed up smart or trendy won't really fit in.
- Westfields Cafe Bar, 37 Westfield Street, WA10 1QJ. An up and coming bar recently transformed into a funky lounge with fresh beats, the staff are excellent and the clientele modern.
- La Casa Vieja, 6-12 Bickerstaffe St, WA10 1DH. Relaxed tapas bar serving Spanish cuisine within the George Street Cultural Quarter. This friendly, laid-back Spanish restaurant offers tapas and an excellent a la carte menu.
- Club Rouge, 5 Westfield Street, WA10 1QA. re-opened 18 Dec 2009 - formerly Nexus Night Club.
The main hotel in St Helens is the Hilton Hotel, Linkway West, WA10 1NG (Tel 00441744 453444). This can be a bit expensive though, with the average room cost being £160 per night. There are cheaper, though they are a little bit out of town, but never more than a short taxi ride away.
- Travelodge, 580 Piele Road, A Haydock, WA11 0JZ. around £45 per night.
- Haydock Thistle Inn, Penny Lane, Haydock, WA11 9SG. around £68 per night.
- Travel Inn, Eurolink, Lea Green, WA9 4TT. around £48 per night.
- Waterside Premier Lodge, Garswood Old Road, East Lancs Road, WA11 9AB. around £48 per night.
St Helens is a reasonably safe place, but like most parts of Britain has problems with violent crime, particularly unprovoked violence and harassment by bored teenagers. The town centre is usually reasonably safe but avoid groups of young people, particularly if you are gay, non-white or if you dress unconventionally. Particular caution should be taken in the deprived Parr and Hardshaw areas to the northeast of the town centre, but St Helens is demographically very mixed and there are housing estates and areas across the borough that it would be wise to avoid unless escorted by a local. Areas which are experiencing rising crime rates in the town and borough include Clock Face, Rainhill, Sutton and Thatto Heath and therefore non-locals should exercise caution in these districts.
In the winter, when the sun sets earlier, the centre of town can be less friendly. There is a small gap between shops closing and bars becoming populated where the town is overrun with disrespectful youths or beggars. Nighttime is fairly safe as long as you take care of yourself and those you're out with. Police are often patrolling or monitoring the streets but are enormously overstretched and often very slow to respond to calls for help. Fights are usually alcohol-fuelled and around pub closing time but can be avoided with a little tact or swift feet. Taxi ranks, take-aways, bus stops and Bridge Street are best avoided after the pubs close. It is very difficult to get a taxi home at the end of a night, so it is a good idea to book a minicab in advance or start making your way home ahead of the crowd.
While you're in the North West, why not travel locally outside St Helens and see a few places.
- Liverpool - via train, go to St Helens Central station, and catch the train to Liverpool Lime Street. 12 miles.
- Formby - fantastic beach, sand dunes and pine woods. See the National Trust website for more info.
- Catch the train to Liverpool, and take the Formby train from Liverpool Central station. 19 miles from St Helens.
- Blackpool - home to Pleasure Beach theme park, Blackpool tower, and a fantastic light display for half the year, Blackpool is a great beside-the-sea city.
- Catch the train from St Helens Central to Blackpool North. 45 miles.