History Of Spike Island - 1757 To 1990 - Widnes, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member dtrebilc
N 53° 21.166 W 002° 43.877
30U E 517886 N 5911546
This information board in a public park on renovated industrial land has a timeline of significant events from the opening of the Sankey Canal to an outdoor pop concert by the Stone Roses.
Waymark Code: WMT783
Location: North West England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 10/07/2016
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
Views: 0

The information board has the following information.
"In the 1750s the Sankey Canal was constructed. Also known as the St. Helens Canal, it linked St. Helens with the River Mersey at Sankey Bridges, near Warrington and was in operation by 1757. It was extended to Fiddler's Ferry in 1762 and then in 1833 a further extension to Woodend was opened.

In the same year, the St. helens and Runcorn Gap Railway was opened. The railway connected St. Helens with an area in Woodend which was to become known as Spike Island. The termini of the canal and railway were adjacent and here the world's first railway dock was established.

After entering the island, coal wagons were tipped from the sidings into waiting boats moored at the wet dock. Beyond the dock was a reservoir, twice the size of the dock, to maintain a working depth at low tide. The Sankey Canal and the Wet Dock were always busy with boats carrying cargo to the Mersey and the ports of The World beyond. Spike Island was the birthplace of the British chemical industry. In the late 19th century the area was dominated by Hutchinson's and Gossage's huge factories, and a maze of railway lines criss-crossed the island.

By the early 20th century, the development of more efficient processes, and the introduction of new legislation on pollution, made the old factories obsolete and sent the chemical industry on Spike Island into terminal decline.

Only one of the original Gossage's buildings remains today and now houses Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, which has pride of place overlooking Spike Island and the Mersey Estuary.

In 1850 William Gossage moved to Widnes. Here he established an alkili works on the opposite side of the Sankey Canal from Hutchinson's No 1 factory near to Widnes Dock. Through various experiments he discovered he could produce soap at a much lower cost than by the methods existing at the time and in 1855 he gave up making alkali to set up his soap works. Two years later he started to add pigments to his soap, producing mottled soap. This became extremely successful commercially under the brand name of Gossage. The soap was exhibited at the International Exhibition of 1862 in London where it won a prize medal for "excellence in quality". Gossage continued to experiment throughout the rest of his career and his patents totalled over 50.

Gossage's Soap Works closed in 1932."

The timeline at the bottom of the information board has the following events and dates.
1757 Sankey Canal opened

1833 St. Helens to Runcorn Gap Railway line and Station opened
       Widnes Dock opened
       Sankey Canal extended

1844 St. Helens Canal and Railway Company is founded

1847 Hutchinsons Works Opened

1850s Gossages Works Opened

1852 New Runcorn Gap Railway Station opened following the Garston rail extension

1932 Gossages Works Closed

1975 Reclamation of Spike Island began

1990 Stone Roses outdoor concert
The Catalyst Discovery museum free car park is also the car park for the public land along the canal and on Spike Island. The time line is on the other side of the canal and there is a footpath that crosses the canal on top of a canal lock that joins the canal to the River Mersey.

The address of the museum car park is Mersey Road, Widnes, Cheshire, England, WA8 0DF at N 53 21 10.89 W 2 44 2.21
Admission fee? (Include URL/link in Long Description to website that gives the current fee): no

Visit Instructions:

At least one good photo you have personally obtained and a brief story of your visit. Any additions or corrections to the information about the Waymark (for instance, have the hours open to the public changed) will be greatly appreciated.

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