Hello people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here. We are in lockdown again. That means that we are confined to local walks. Also, the human half of this partnership is waiting for an MRI scan on his injured knee. I think that he should ‘man-up’ and stop malingering. Anyway, he did a bit of research and came up with an idea for a walk, inspired by the Runcorn Historic Society. A page on their website shows a list of Historic, but Unlisted Buildings in the town. It is not a complete list of the town’s historic buildings but, it is a good starting point and would make an interesting walk, for him, anyway.
We started our bimble from home and headed up Heath Road, toward Weston Village. After a short detour into the Town Hall gardens, it was an on-lead walk up to The Heath playing fields, where I had another manic runaround. There was plenty of puddles for me to zoom through before I was back on the lead again as we passed the Covid testing centre. The big feller said that he was amazed that nobody was being tested as we passed and what a sad sight that it was. We soon reached our first stopping point at the Roundhouse pub.
The Roundhouse, named because of its curved exterior, was formally known as the Quarry Hotel. Sandstone quarries were once dotted around Runcorn Hills, just across the fields opposite, and the pub was a popular haunt of the quarry workers. There is a Blue Plaque on the outside wall that tells about the history of the quarrying industry in the area.
A few hundred yards further along Heath Road South is another of the town’s historic pubs, The Royal Oak. Built in 1865, the Royal Oak is currently closed awaiting a new tenant. We turned right at the junction which took us along Weston Road to our next short stop, outside of the Prospect Inn. This very popular pub stands high above the Mersey estuary and commands extensive views from the rear of the building.
We turned back toward Weston village and headed down Cheshyre’s Lane and into Weston Point. At the northern end of South Parade, we came to the Weaver Hotel. The pub was rebuilt in 1908 for Greenall Whitley and refurbished in 2005 with an exterior clean up, giving it a stunning appearance. Sadly, the pub exterior has been neglected since the refurbishment.
From this point it was a slow trudge up Sandy Lane to Weston Road until we turned right up to the Traveller’s Rest. ‘The Tup’, as it was known locally, dates from the 1920’s. It has been converted from a pub to a private residence a few years ago. My dad took me into Runcorn Hills for a quick blast around the footpaths. After a few minutes of burning off some energy, we headed back down Highlands Road to Holloway.
Directly in front of us was the old ‘Cottage Hospital’ or The Victoria Memorial Hospital. It was once the town’s main hospital until the current Halton Hospital was built and later became NHS offices. It has since been converted to an apartment complex.
Further down Holloway, we came to the Almshouses, that once lined a track from Runcorn town to Higher Runcorn. We shortly turned right along Queen’s Road until we reached Greenway Road. This brought us to St. Michael’s and All Angels church. Building of the church commenced in 1884 with the first service taking place three years later. It is a stunning sandstone structure and looks particularly impressive under its night illumination.
Across the road, just into Victoria Road, stands Victoria Road School. The school was built in 1886 and has survived a few attempts to close it in its recent past. Further along Victoria Road is the converted St. John’s Church. Beautifully converted into private accommodation, this church stood proudly on this spot since 1904.
We made our way down Victoria Road by passing through the Spur Road underpass and into the old section of Victoria Road. On our left we came to the old Ragged School at Mill Brow. The building has had a few uses over the years including a church, a temporary junior school and a private residence. From there we walked over Delph Bridge and down Bridge Street.
On the right stands the Victorian Wilson’s Hotel just before the Old Market Hall. The market hall is currently a swimming baths. The pool used to have a removable cover when the venue was used as a boxing arena.
From the baths we walked along Church Street where we passed the Barley Mow pub. At the end of Church Street, we came to the old South Bank pub which was originally built for Dennis Brundrit, a local shipbuilder and merchant. It later became a large public house until its closure and conversion into flats. Next door to this building is Grove House, the former home of another local shipbuilder and merchant, Philip Whiteway. It was used as a doctor’s surgery until the construction of St. Paul’s Health Centre. It has since been converted into flats.
A few short streets away is the Spiritualist Church, tucked under the railway bridge arches in Ashridge Street. Built in 1888 the church was used as a hospital for wounded World War I soldiers.
Further along Waterloo Road is the derelict building known as Waterloo House. It was built in the 1830’s for Charles Hazlehurst, the soap and alkali manufacturer. It became the town hall in 1874 until 1933. It was later used as offices and as a community centre. Sadly, it is due for demolition.
We headed toward Devonshire Square where we came to the Masonic Arms. This once three story building currently houses a restaurant but, for many years it was a popular local pub. From here we headed along High Street where we passed the site of the Scala, an entertainment venue twice used by The Beatles. Next door is Bank House, currently a night club but, originally the home of John Johnson the soap and alkali manufacturer. It was later used as offices and for a long time, the town’s Post Office.
From High Street we had a relatively short walk to home via Rock Park where I had another run around through the fallen autumn leaves. Then my human remembered another local building that we could visit on our way home. Stonehills House at the top of Stonehills Lane used to be the meeting place for local catholics before Roman Catholic churches were built in Runcorn. My dad seems to like walking around the streets of Runcorn and looking at the buildings. I prefer to run around the open spaces of the town so, we both enjoy our local walks. Till next time!