Warrington: worst town for culture in Britain?

The Cheshire town has lots to offer: it’s the birthplace of Pete Postlethwaite and one of the Coral, boasts listed buildings, classical music concerts and, um, Rebekah Brooks

Name: Warrington

Age: At least 1,600 (there was a Roman settlement called Wilderspool on the site of modern Warrington).

Appearance: Radiant, especially when the sun is out and illuminates the chimneys of the Unilever soap-powder factory.

Fabulous. Can’t wait to go to that jewel of Cheshire for my next minibreak. Steady on. According to the Royal Society of Arts, it’s the worst town for culture in Britain. It came 325th in the list, compiled by adding up cultural assets such as listed buildings, museums, archaeological finds and concerts.

Cheek! Don’t they realise that Warrington is the final resting place of ukulele-toting cultural icon George Formby, who wrote and sang When I’m Cleaning Windows, I’m Leaning on a Lampost and the – to my mind –criminally neglected Grandad’s Flanelette Nightshirt?

Possibly not.

Or that it had a superb art-deco nightclub called Mr Smith’s until it burned down in April? Or that Warrington is renowned for having Britain’s first Ikea?

Again, unlikely. The RSA probably wasn’t aware that the Odeon cinema has just vowed to stay in town even after 2019 when the new 2,500-seater Cineworld complex, with Imax cinema, is due to open.

There are lots of terrific listed buildings in Warrington, too, aren’t there?

Well, yes. There’s the Grade II*-listed Bank Quay Transporter Bridge over the river Mersey, the last railway transporter bridge in the world. Not to mention St Wilfrid’s and St Oswald’s, both Grade I-listed medieval churches.

And these RSA people seem to have neglected Warrington’s vibrant cultural heritage, too.

Perhaps. Warrington’s Museum and Art Gallery has 200,000 objects under its roof. Famous Warringtonians include not just actors Pete Postlethwaite (who had a studio theatre at the Pyramid Arts Centre named after him) and Sue Johnston, but DJ Chris Evans, fashion designer Ossie Clark and former Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones. Murdoch lackey Rebekah Brooks is also from Warrington, but let’s not spoil the story.

What’s more, there’s a thrilling roster of upcoming live cultural events, isn’t there?

Oh, yes. The Zelkova Quartet perform at Walton Hall next Wednesday. Pixie Lott just headlined the Warrington festival, and Jimmy Carr has a gig on Saturday at Parr Hall. Leo Sayer’s playing the Pyramid next month, too!

I’m so there.

Do say: “Warrington – it’s like Paris, only less up itself.”

Don’t say: “Warrington – isn’t that junction 21 of the M6?”

• This article was amended on 28 September 2015. An earlier version said the Bank Quay Transporter Bridge was the “last of its kind” in the world, without making clear that this meant” the last railway transporter bridge”.

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The worst hotel in Britain: Blackpool's New Kimberley

Owner Peter Metcalf, who has in the past been compared with Basil Fawlty, is in prison for breaching 15 fire-safety regulations at the 90-room building

15, Jun, 2014 @5:00 PM

Article image
Eastbourne: the sunniest town in Britain – or the smoggiest?
The East Sussex seaside resort is one of the UK’s most sunkissed spots – but it’s up there with London in terms of pollution

15, May, 2016 @4:00 PM

Article image
Is Joanna Lumley the worst Baftas host of all time?
Not only were the jokes bad, but the audience responded with total silence. Bring back Billy Connolly!

11, Feb, 2019 @2:50 PM

Article image
Box tree caterpillars: why we might have to get used to the ‘worst pest in Britain’
This east-Asian bug can devour an entire hedge by itself and has become the blight that British gardeners complain about most – but there’s not much we can do about it

Leo Benedictus

20, Mar, 2016 @2:00 PM

Article image
Why British offices are the worst in the world
A study of 17 countries has found British office workers suffer the most for their salaries – and it’s all to do with cold and ugly open-plan design

08, Jun, 2016 @12:28 PM

Article image
Wanted: somebody to do the worst job ever advertised
An unknown social media influencer has advertised for an assistant who must be on duty ‘almost 24/7’; waking them up, taking them to parties and planning everything in between. Oh, and they must never discuss their own emotions

03, Aug, 2020 @11:47 AM

Article image
Stop the bombs! How Slough became Britain’s most dynamic town
John Betjeman thought the place should be razed to the ground. But a new survey says it’s now the UK’s best place to work

24, Sep, 2017 @2:00 PM

Article image
Gay Hell: the Michigan town renamed to troll Donald Trump
The YouTuber Elijah Daniel has bought – and rebranded – a midwestern community to protest against the president’s ban on LGBT flags at US embassies

18, Jun, 2019 @3:38 PM

Article image
Is 16 December really the worst day to be born?
Born nine days before Christmas? A survey says your birthday – shared with other losers such as Jane Austen and Noël Coward – is basically a write-off

15, Dec, 2015 @6:02 PM

Article image
Don’t feed the ducks! Welcome to Dawlish, Britain’s bossiest town
The Devon coastal resort has a lovely sandy beach – and an annoyingly large number of signs telling visitors what they can’t do

01, Dec, 2017 @3:27 PM