‘A town of best kept secrets’ – groups respond to damning heritage report

GROUPS and officials are remaining defiant of what Warrington has to offer – despite the town coming under fire following a study by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA).

The charity combined more than 100 datasets to help residents across the country understand the strengths and weaknesses of their areas better by turning the findings into league table rankings.

The study, which put the town at the back of the standings at number 325, found Warrington to have no listed parks, areas of natural beauty, battlefields, historical ships or listed pubs.

Despite having a museum and art gallery featuring more than 200,000 objects it claimed bottom spot but officials have hit back at the ‘provocative’ survey, which will boost the case for funding.

The council and Culture Warrington have joined together in challenging some of the ‘assumptions’ made – the first being the report that Warrington has no canals.

Cllr Kate Hannon, executive board member for leisure, community and culture, said: “We have some fantastic cultural and historical assets in Warrington, which we are rightly proud of, and this ranking is not an accurate reflection of how successful the council and Culture Warrington are at engaging the community with its rich heritage and the activities we undertake to achieve this.”

Jan Souness, managing director at Culture Warrington, added: “Culture Warrington has strived from its formation in May 2012 to showcase the heritage and cultural offers already in existence within Warrington.”

Warrington and District Arts Council secretary Dr Michael Murphy has also weighed in on the debate and believes the report gives a ‘very inaccurate picture of our town’.

“There are two parts of culture – the first is contemporary culture, which has its roots in the present, and the second is often called heritage and is how the present preserves and uses its past,” he added.

“The report seems to be unaware of contemporary cultural societies and events in the town which few others towns and cities can boast – the Contemporary Arts Festival, the Stockton Heath and Lymm festivals, for instance, or the award-winning Male Voice Choir.

“Nationally-known entertainers appear regularly at the Parr Hall – there are constant art exhibitions at the Pyramid, the Museum and Art Gallery and Bank Quay House.

“In the nineteenth century many cities and towns had a literary and philosophical society but today Warrington’s is one of the few left in England, 145 years old and still attracting large audiences to its lectures.

“The Town Hall and gardens is the envy of many other towns and few places have a public park as beautiful as Walton Gardens, with its free zoo and its musical concerts in the hall.

“I spent more than 40 years working in south London and never saw anything to match the cultural activities which go on at St Elphin’s Park alone.

“The main problem with Warrington is that it is a town of best kept secrets.”

Leave a Reply