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I went to St Helens for the first time ever and this is what happened; "Before working at the ECHO, all I knew about St Helens was that its glass has the class".

Byline: Rebecca Koncienzcy

Before working at the ECHO, all I knew about St Helens was that its glass has the class, but when you work in a newsroom you can get a skewed view of places that you have never visited before.

So I decided it was about time I packed up and spent some time in the old industrial heartland and be a tourist for the day.

I know from the ECHO's stories that the town has a very strong community spirit, which is always a hard thing to pin down and describe.

But you can see it in the friendliness of the people as you walk around the town, everyone I spoke to was so welcoming and easy to talk to.

I thought that my first stop should be the World of Glass museum because it is top ofTripAdvisor for things to do in St Helensand because it offered some back ground into the town.

The museum is wonderful and I can see why it has so many excellent reviews. It charts St Helens' proud industrial heritage and how the factories, particularly glass making, helped to shape the town, even down to the Sankey Canal which runs alongside the museum.

Why you need to visit St Helens' World of Glass Museum

There were 30,000 glass workers in St Helens in the mid-20th century, with local firm Pilkington Glass becoming a world leader by revolutionising the way glass was made.

Pilkington Glass's struggles in the 1980s coincided with the miners strike, increased unemployment rates and deprivation rates; the town is the 51st most deprived authority out of 326 authorities in England as it still bares the scars of those economic troubles.

You can see the huge Pilkington Glass factory towering above the huge green spaces as you head towards the centre a reminder of the town's heritage and motto, Ex Terra Lucem (earth to light); from the earthy tones of the industrial age came the bright shining light of glass.

After a fascinating two and a half hours at the museum, it was onto the main shopping centre.

These are the 10 best things to do in St Helens - according to TripAdvisor

I was surprised by how big the main shopping area was, with a number of centres housing local and chain stores.

St Mary's Indoor market is the quintessential mix of stalls and sellers you would expect to find, and though it look dated and tired in places, there was a vibrancy about it that only us Northerners can exude.

This is how St Helens' town centre could look after [pounds sterling]300m makeover

There were quite a few empty shops, but this has become a common sight in our struggling high streets for the last ten years .

Although some of the facades look like they need a revamp, there is a shop for everyone and everything here in St Helens.

The council have decided to look again at their 2012 Local Plan for St Helens (the outline plan for the town over the next 15 years) and there have been schemes looked at toredevelop the town centre.

Sitting alongside all the names you're familiar with, Marks and Spencer, New Look, Costa Coffee, Boots etc.. (although, I have seen ECHO readers comment on the fact there is no Primark) are a huge number of small bakery-style takeout cafes.

What do you want to see in St Helens? A Starbucks? A Primark? Let us know in the comment section below

We chose Nan's Kitchen for lunch and we were treated to traditional pastries and four deep-fried potato waffles for [pounds sterling]1.

But it was a hard choice and we took a while deciding where to eat as there are a lot of restaurants and cafes to choose from for all budgets and tastes.

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All the shops are sat around the main parish church and it makes for a lovely little place to stop and eat lunch.

I genuinely loved it, it was familiar, welcoming and safe. I thought it was a lovely place to visit with so much history I never I knew about.

There are more places on my list to explore, and I found myself wondering why I hadn't been there sooner.

I will be heading back to St Helens soon to visit the Carr Mill Dam, Sherdley Park and the Road Transport Museum.


The bridge over the Sankey Canal at the World of Glass museum in St Helens

World of Glass museum in St Helens

St Helens town centre

St Helens shopping centre

St Helens shopping centre

Nan's Kitchen where you can get 4 deep-fired potato waffles for [pounds sterling]1
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Title Annotation:What's On
Publication:Crosby Herald (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 20, 2018
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