Halton 6 – Spike Island

Wikipedia summarises Spike Island as follows:

Spike Island is a park in Widnes, Halton, North-West England. It is an artificial island between the Sankey Canal and the estuary of the River Mersey containing parkland, woodland, wetlands and footpaths. It is next to the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, an interactive science and technology museum.”

The photo below is of the Catalyst Centre, whose car park I use whenever I visit Spike Island.

From the car park, I walk across to the lock. There’s a narrow bridge there for crossing to the Island.

Spike Island was created by extending the Sankey Canal to The River Mersey in the 19th century. The extension linked St Helens to the Woodend area of Widnes, but cut that area off from Widnes, artificially creating the Island. Two major companies were located here, where the British chemical industry was born.

More recently, the canal has been a place where leisure boats are moored; where swans, geese and ducks have thronged, and where anglers have fished.

In the past few months however, the canal has lost much of its water which had previously been pumped into it by the now defunct Fidlers ferry power station.

Boats, fish and swans are slowly being moved elsewhere while a solution is being sought.

Almost adjacent to the lock is the former Widnes dock, seen in the photograph above, now not much bigger than a duck pond – which it has effectively become. When it was built in 1833 it was the first rail-to-ship dock in the world. There, goods were unloaded directly from railway wagons into boats to be carried along the Mersey to end-users. The dock ceased to be used commercially in 1931.

The remains of the former dock outlet can be seen where they pass beneath the canal path into the Mersey.

The canal path between the lock and the Warrington forms part of the Trans-Pennine Trail and is popular with walkers.

I took the photo above at a point shortly before the canal path reaches the Mersey Gateway. There used to be a wooden bridge across the canal to the other bank, along which walkers were able to return to the Catalyst Centre.

Perhaps Spike Island is most famous these days because a famous concert by The Stone Roses, subsequently the subject of a film, took place on the island in May 1990.

Author: writingandphotography0531

My name is Gerald Murphy. I am a retired local government officer. At the time of my retirement I was an IT manager and had associated responsibilities for training. I had previously been involved, in various organisations, with aspects of industrial training and management development. My main hobby is photography and, until 2016, hillwalking in Snowdonia. Sciatica has put an end to mountain walks and, as a carer for my wife, opportunities for photography excursions are now more limited. Since July 2022, I have started using this site as a photobook.

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