Hello again people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here. Just over a month ago me and my human dad wrote a blog about a walk we did around Runcorn’s Blue Plaques. The plaques commemorate people, industries and buildings that have significance in our town. A new leaflet has just been printed by Stuart Allen, updating the total to thirty. Stuart kindly delivered a copy to me and my human one evening this week. So, we were keen to get outside to walk around some of the ones that we have not visited for our previous blog. We will still have a few to visit but, we will save them for another day.
We drove the short distance to the Millbank Linnets Stadium car park where we would start the first of our two short walks. We crossed the road into Barnfield Avenue where our first destination and site of the first plaque was. On the wall of Halton Haven Hospice is a plaque commemorating Dominic Fernandez ‘Dom’ Valdez. The Halton Haven is a palliative care centre for people suffering with cancer and other terminal illnesses. The hospice is the brainchild of Dom Valdez who was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1992 for his charitable work. He lived in the same house in The Uplands from 1973, when he moved from Liverpool, until his death in 1999 at the age of 59. The hospice was previously known as the Dom Valdez Centre for Cancer Care and has always been run as a charitable organisation.
From the hospice we walked the short distance along Barnfield Avenue to Ormiston Bolinbroke Acadamy, formerly known as Brookvale Comprehensive School. John Joseph Bishop, the comedian, attended the school when he moved from Liverpool, via Winsford, in 1977. John left his career as a Pharmaceutical Sales Director in 2006 to follow a full-time job in comedy. Along with his solo stand-up shows he has appeared on TV many times including several of his own shows. His charitable work includes Comic Relief and Sport Relief. Local charities such as Halton Haven and The Top Locks Restoration society have also benefitted from his fundraising. This led to an Honorary Fellowship from John Moores University in 2014 for his arts and charity work.
On our way to our next destination we took a bit of a detour along Stockham Lane and onto the Town Park. We did this so that I could stretch my legs off-lead. I had a blast, chasing gulls across the fields. I think that they were teasing me by taking off and landing a short distance away. One day I will wipe the smile off their beaks!
Our next destination in Palace Fields, the Tricorn Pub. The building is now derelict but, was originally a wing of Hallwood House, a grand mansion house. Sir John Chesshyre was born in the house in 1662 and also lived there. It is a Grade II* Listed building and originally was surrounded by a moat. Sir John had a very successful and lucrative career in the law, which culminated in his role as King’s Serjeant to King George I. He was responsible for building and providing one of the country’s first free libraries next to his house in Castle Road, Halton.
Our journey took us through the new town houses to Halton village where we first visited Halton Trinity Methodist Church in Main Street. Martin Kenneth Roscoe was christened in the church and was born in 1952 at 144 Main Street. Martin Roscoe is one of the country’s greatest and best loved pianists. He is a Fellow of the Guildhall School of Music in London, where he is a professor. He has performed with the BBC Philharmonic, The Halle and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
We walked up the hill across the road onto Castle Road to St. Mary’s Church Hall. The blue plaque on the wall commemorates the life and work of Edith Smith. Edith was Britain’s first Female Police Officer with the full power of arrest in 1915. She was born in 1876 in Oxton on the Wirral and later moved to Grantham, Lincolnshire to take up her role as WPC. She moved to Halton village when she returned to her original career as a nurse. She lived in the almshouses in the village. The houses were demolished in the 1960’s. Edith was buried in an unmarked grave in Halton in 1923 but, a gravestone was erected by Merseyside Police in 2018 to commemorate her groundbreaking life.
Our final destination for the walk was a place that I am not allowed to enter because I am a pooch. Just down the hill from the village is Runcorn Shopping City. The blue plaque can be found inside the sprawling building. It commemorates the work of three architects. Designed by Fred Roche and completed in 1972 the Shopping City was influenced by the large shopping malls that were opening in USA. Along with shops the building contained a cinema, post office, pubs and a library. The structure is linked by bridges to the law courts, police station and by a footpath, to the hospital. The town’s revolutionary busway served the shopping complex. The complex was opened in 1972 by HRH Queen Elizabeth II and, at the time, was the largest shopping mall in Europe. The nearby Southgate housing estate was built by Sir James Stirling and Michael Wilford CBE and the plaque recognises this. The controversial housing estate has since been demolished.
We still have a few more of the blue plaques to visit and we are looking forward to seeing them. I think that everyone who can should search them out. Runcorn has a fascinating past and hopefully, a great future. Till next time!