So if you read my blog, you will know I live in Newton-le-Willows, which is part of the borough of St Helens and I also lived in Haydock for 40 years, which is also in the borough of St Helens.
Growing up, I used to go into St Helens at least once a week as it was my local town and seemed to be full of all the regular high street shops that you might expect. I was a child of the 70s and 80s and was definitely that kid following their mum around the shops, stopping what seemed like every 5 minutes so my mum or gran could stop and have a chat with someone they knew. I loved the pick ‘n’ mix in Woolworths, although I was NEVER allowed any and I did indeed buy my first single from the Woolies record counter.
I loved wandering around St Mary’s and Tontine market and spent many an hour waiting for the 320 bus outside the Co-op on Claughton Street. But of late, St Helens has lost some of it’s sparkle…. well actually, I think it’s lost it all. It started when Woolworth’s went bust and closed in 2008 and then seemingly, one by one, lots of other high street shops followed, What happened next was that some really big high street shop units sat empty and then were filled by pound shops and bakeries, which are fine when they are balanced with more diverse shops, but unfortunately no other retailers came knocking.
Also, in the meantime the surrounding towns of Wigan, Warrington & Widnes all had massive amounts of investment and redevelopment in their town centres and gained impressive shopping malls with the all important parking. So St Helens has sat for a few years now looking neglected and generally not very appealing as a shopping hub. 🙁
But, it seems that things maybe looking up, as according to the St Helens Star, Fat Face and H&M are both opening stores in the Town centre and this can only be a good thing. (http://www.sthelensstar.co.uk/news/13778980.Fat_Face_to_open_store_in_St_Helens_town_centre/ ) . Don’t get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with a pound shop, but it’s when there is no other choice that things start to get a bit unappealing. I am so pleased that things might be eventually starting to turn around… it’s my home town, I would like to be proud, not ashamed….
Welcome back St Helens… like a phoenix from the flames….