Click here to skip to main content.
 

St.Helens Local History and Archives Library

Welcome to our online catalogue.

You can use this site to search our archives, collections and local history books. Please click on 'About the Catalogue' for further information on content, or 'Advanced Search' to explore the catalogue.

By clicking on 'Showcase' you will find information about some of our most interesting collections. The 'Image Gallery' displays photographs relating to many aspects of the history of the Borough of St.Helens.

A Brief History of St.Helens

St.Helens remained a small settlement until the Industrial Revolution altered its nature radically. During the seventeenth century supplies of coal were transported by packhorse to provide fuel for the refining processes of the Cheshire rock salt industry and also other trades in Liverpool. The success of the local coal industry was ensured by the extension of the Liverpool to Prescot turnpike road to St.Helens in 1746 and the opening of Britain’s first true canal, the Sankey Navigation in 1762. From that date the town became an ideal location for heavy industry. Thus St.Helens became associated with the famous names of Pilkington Brothers, the Patent Alkali Company; Daglish’s Foundry; Cannington Shaw and Company and many others.

The nineteenth century saw the arrival of “railway mania”. In 1829, Stephenson’s “Rocket” steam locomotive won the Rainhill Trials in the south of the modern borough.The nineteenth century also witnessed a vast growth in industry and population, but unfortunately brought associated housing and social problems. A solution to these issues proved elusive until the establishment of the St. Helens Improvement Commission in 1845. This was an early form of local government established to combat some of the social ills affecting local people such as bad housing, drainage and provision of water. In 1868 the town became a municipal borough. By 1885 St.Helens had achieved such a size that it was able to return H. Seton-Karr as its first Member of Parliament.

The twentieth century brought many changes especially with the loss of most of the town’s heavy industry and the closure of all the coal mines. Local government boundaries were also radically changed in 1974 when the old borough was enlarged and became St.Helens Metropolitan Borough in Merseyside. It now included the following urban districts: Newton-le-Willows, Haydock, Rainford, Billinge and Rainhill. Some of these urban districts are of greater antiquity than St.Helens. Today the modern borough of St.Helens has a population of about 177,363 people.

What's New

World War One poster issued by G.B. Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, containing the slogan

World War One poster issued by G.B. Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, containing the slogan "Follow me! Your country needs you", c.1914

Artist: E. Keely
Colour photographic transparency showing cars outside Marks and Spencers and F.W. Woolworth, Church Street, St.Helens, c.1960s

Colour photographic transparency showing cars outside Marks and Spencers and F.W. Woolworth, Church Street, St.Helens, c.1960s

Black and white photograph showing individuals from Windle Sunday School and Day School, St.Helens, taking part in V. E. Day celebrations in Queen Street, St.Helens, c.1945

Black and white photograph showing individuals from Windle Sunday School and Day School, St.Helens, taking part in V. E. Day celebrations in Queen Street, St.Helens, c.1945

Photograph of New Market Place, St.Helens, c.1970

Photograph of New Market Place, St.Helens, c.1970

Black and white photograph showing machinists and sorters inside the factory of Walton Barron Limited, Shirt and collar makers, Windle Street, St.Helens, c.1950

Black and white photograph showing machinists and sorters inside the factory of Walton Barron Limited, Shirt and collar makers, Windle Street, St.Helens, c.1950

Powered by CalmView© 2008-2014