Review of Heritage Talks at St Marie’s: The History of the Early Chemical Industry in Widnes

greg-crowdThe St Marie’s Heritage Group were delighted to welcome 51 visitors on Friday evening (09.09.16) to hear an enjoyable and informative talk from Bob Roach entitled “The History of the Early Chemical Industry in Widnes”. Bob explained how Widnes became the Silicon Valley of its day, but how the brutal industrial manufacturing processes transformed the place into ‘the dirtiest, ugliest and most depressing town in England’ in the 1880s.

We also had the great pleasure of hearing from Widnes legend, Greg Oldfield, who sang several songs from the Smoking Dragons album (which were inspired by the same subject).

A big thank you to Jane, Christine, Maeve, Roger and Peter (from the St Marie’s Heritage Group) for helping out on the night. Special thanks also to Jane & Alison from Halton & St Helens VCA for all their help too.

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Bob Roach talks to the audience

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Greg Oldfield performs tracks from Smoking Dragons

Here’s the feedback we collected on the night:

Was there anything you particularly liked?

– Excellent talk, learnt more about Widnes in this than ever through books or visiting Catalyst. Brilliant.
– Well presented
– Thought it was brilliant.
– Excellent presentations & atmosphere.
– Very enjoyable. I have never been to one of these events before. I shall look forward to further talks.
– All very good. Thank you.
Very informative & interesting. Enjoyed Bob’s talks & Greg’s music.
– Combination of history & song (Greg) – brilliant
– Nothing to dislike. Kept you interested all evening. Very informative.
– Pleased to have the opportunity to visit this Pugin masterpiece. Heritage talk and music excellent. Thank you.
– Loved it all. Being new to Widnes feel very passionate about the town and its history and really loved Greg’s moving songs.
– Good mix of music & knowledge. Well put across and kept my interest throughout.
– Good mix of talking & song.
– What a wonderful venue. Loved the mix of music & history – really well thought out and presented. Great that it kept to time & there was no rambling!!
– Good slides. Very good speaker. Music was top class.
– Lovely atmosphere & environment. Very suitable for heritage event. Loved having relevant music. Also – very atmospheric.
– Lets have more! Combination of word, image and sound.
– Really enjoyed it. Brought back many memories.
– Loved it! As usual!
– The idea of mixing heritage talks and music is a really good idea – very inspiring. Thank you, it was brilliant.
– I really enjoyed Bob’s talks & Greg’s singing. Most enjoyable.
– Really interesting talks & fantastic music.
– The presentation was very interesting and music performance.
– Music spaced out a good talk.
– Most enjoyable.
– Like both presentation & music. No dislikes.

Was there anything you particularly disliked?

– Needed a Q & A session. Singer would have sounded better without reverb on the mic. Might have sounded better without the mic – often couldn’t distinguish the lyrics. A pity!

Any ideas for future Heritage Events at St Marie’s?

– More mixes with music worked brilliantly. Show other heritage places this excellent idea. Should be done more often.
– Hope for future talks.
– No.
– N/A
– Can’t think at the moment but will give this some thought.
– Bring back Greg Oldfield!!
– Not at moment
– Had not realised event were held here. There is a need to advertise more. I am from Runcorn, please put notice in Old Town library or Brindley.
– Anything that tells the Widnes story but also perhaps the new regeneration of the town with the new shops etc.
– Look forward to the next event.
– Talk about Norton Priory & new museum?
– Smoking Dragons II – The Decline of Leblanc!
– Consideration of “Widnes” pre Industrial Revolution. 1066 – 1750.
– The space would be a fantastic venue to be used as a concert area for local singer/songwriters.
– Perhaps classical evening, poetry readings, cultural events.

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