I suspect I’m not going to be getting the honorarium as Widnes Tourism Officer after this post.  But I can do better than those quoted in Wikipedia;

In 1888 the town was described as “the dirtiest, ugliest and most depressing town in England”[22] and in 1905 as a “poisonous hell-town“.

It really isn’t that bad.


Despite being a relatively modern town built on 19th century chemical industry, there’s pockets of real beauty, particularly on the West Bank (not that one) and Spike Island.

From here you can walk the Trans Pennine Trail, be deafened by schoolchildren in the excellent Catalyst Science Centre, or try to spot Pub Curmudgeon’s childhood home over the Mersey…

For real drama, head to the Select Security Stadium, where I saw a particularly bruising (and bloody) encounter between Liverpool Ladies and Manchester City Women for a fiver recently. Proper football.

The views from the Silver Jubilee Bridge were gorgeous in the sun, but sadly Mrs RM wasn’t able to capture it’s beauty to my satisfaction as we sped across (at 30mph).

Image result for runcorn bridge
Photo :Chester Chronicle

I note the new bridge hinted at on the OS map will cause both a prolonged closure of the old bridge for maintenance, and then a £2 each way toll, so visit now.

We were a bit distracted by the stretch limos carrying Runcorn’s high society to Aintree.  We’re always impressed by the elegance and poise of folk in Cheshire.

No problems snapping the other beauties in town though,


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder at The Eight Towers, Widnes Pub of the Year and it’s sole GBG entry. Made even more beautiful with an 11am opening.


As I admired the purple, an old chap with the Daily Mail beat me to the head of the queue (of two).

At 11.02 I bounded in, smiled at the lady cleaning the pub to within an inch of it’s life, and tripped over the hoover lead.

You little bugger”  she said, with a tiny trace of menace.

I was hoping Old Chap would order the cask but, no, Strongbow the only accompaniment to the Grand National selections. So I settled for a very decent Sunbeam, cool and with a touch of straw (NBSS 3).  Quite why Marston’s pubs don’t sell Pedigree I’ve no idea.


It says a lot that the only Guide entry is a modern(ish) Marston’s dining pub that wouldn’t touch the Guide in many branches.  That would be unfair, as the beer here was GBG standard. Beer quality first, always.

All the talk was of the National, but Nigella was (again) on the TV, and there were some pictures of Merseyside sporting legends to admire.  I recognise Rob Jones (Crewe and Liverpool) in the middle, but the others elude me.


Just as I was going, an urgent young chap on his way to the horse racing burst in.

Can I have some food ?”


Can I have a burger then ?”


I ask you, what’s wrong with crisps ?

A true community pub.  They even said “Thank you darling” on the way out.

My first Guide pub of the year with a soft toy machine, too.



  1. I have a personal connection with the Eight Towers, as the road it stands on – Weates Close – is named after the family of my mother’s brother-in-law, who originally owned the land.

    Both of my parents were born in Widnes, so it could be regarded as my spiritual home 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, in the late 80s they made a big push into the North-West. They bought a number of pubs in and around Manchester, including two new-builds that have subsequently been demolished 😦

        They once treated the local CAMRA branch to a bus tour round some of their pubs. Virtually all of those visited have now closed.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Eight Towers is hardly a destination either, though not a lot of competition in east Widnes.

        NB the WhatPub description of the Castle on Warrington Road is pleasingly cryptic !


      1. Martin, I understand that the reason you only pay to go one way on the Severn Bridge (I think you pay to escape from Wales rather than break in but I could be wrong) is that the distance to go round by road is sufficient that there would be no financial saving for motorists to go the long way in the paid direction as opposed to paying the effective double toll. I understand a similar system was once considered for the Humber Bridge but it would work out cheaper to driver a motor car all the way round via Goole and Thorne in the paid direction than to pay the toll. I suspect the same will be true of this bridge over the Mersey in Runcorn, so they will charge in both directions. It is far simpler and cheaper to just walk.

        Has the woman who has just toppled over realised that she can’t use her ‘Spoons vouchers on Prosecco. I’m also intrigued by the one sat down in the white dress.

        Surely the “the dirtiest, ugliest and most depressing town in England” is Scunthorpe. Poisonous hell hole describes a number of places but I’d go with Mablethorpe as the winner. Honourary mentions to Skegness, Scunthorpe, Colwyn Bay and Havant. Too many places to list are mentioned in dispatches.

        Thank you for the tip on the Select Security Stadium ground tick. I shall bear that in mind in the eventual unlikely event that we get a progressive chairman who promotes a female team. We want Allam out say we want Allam out. He said he’d sell up so why can’t he go?


      2. When we do play Warrington, I look forward to my Cantilever Park ground tick. I still want the Security Stadium as well. All grounds count. Just as long as the wall doesn’t collapse like at Runcorn. Drink! Girls!


      3. And that, folks, is how you tell retiredmartin he’s clueless and doesn’t know where the local football team plays. But in a classy way.
        Ten points to Tom.


  2. I think i did most of the Banks’s pubs that opened in Manchester in the late 80s,they took over some grotty old pubs like the Osboune House in Cheetham Hill and estate pubs like the Robert Tinker, in Collyhurst i think,i also did do a couple of their new build pubs,The Milestone in Burnage was a new build and the Longsight also one in Longsight,another dire pub they took over was the Star in Brunswick or Beswick it fronted those notorious 60s flats that i love to see,there were others i did in Manchester 11 in total all but one in the late 80s and early 90s.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That is really easy Martin,
        The Crumpsall Hotel in Cheetham Hill a Joseph Holts tied house situated in the main shopping area at the end of a precinct,it looked rough from the outside and when in the bar which was quite busy i had a quick look round before ordering my drink and noted that the pub was full of nut cases of the worst kind,i am easily intimidated but felt that it could kick off at any time with me probably being the target,i always carried an empty glass bottle of Lucozade in my Kwik Save bag in case i ran in to trouble while walking round the rough areas of Manchester and salford.
        I did not take a seat i just took my time at the bar looking into the mirror at the bar back,so i could see behind me,i always take my time in really rough pubs so they know you are not that intimidated by being in there.
        The Holts Bitter was nice though.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I really should have asked last night Martin, but which toy did you get out of the machine? I can only confidently identify the two bald eagles, the carrot and the weird blue bear so you may have to be patient explaining to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With my typical bad luck, Tom, I got the I-Pod. Threw it away, obviously.

      In the late 80s I spent 5 months touring Australia; brought back a suitcase of 50+ soft toys acquired from vending machines, and a bit of wood from Alice Springs . Have a pic somewhere.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s