The Waterloo Walk: By Barry Miller
Waterloo district of Widnes in 1891
Starting off in the Waterloo pub, managed by Irishman Walter Lenehan and it is from there that we continue going left off Barn Street where we find three ‘missing' streets: North Street, Hope Street and High Street.
A total of approximately 220 people lived in these three relatively small streets in a community where, unusually for the period, the majority were NOT Irish. The remainder came from Poland, Wales, Scotland, Cumberland, Northumberland, and various parts of Lancashire and Staffordshire.
We assume the streets were demolished circa 1900 to make way for the ICI acid-filling plant and loading bay on one side of Barn Street. Adjacent to Barn Street was Water Street, encircled by Sankey Street and further up, Albion Street. All of these streets where off Waterloo Road.
A total of 340 people lived in these streets. In this area were two pubs, the Hutchinson Arms in Sankey Street, and the Stonemasons in Water Street. There was also a 'beerhouse' in Barn Street, while further up, opposite the National School, was... another pub, the Albion!
This area was the core of the Polish / Lithuanian community. Attached is a list of some of the people who lived in the area at the time which were difficult to pronounce, I would have dreaded being a postman in those days! The list, all from Barn Street or Water Street reads:
Stash Sveroski, Joseph Dermic, Ernest Maroffski, Adolph Kenovitch, Ludwig Nesski, 0 Bormistavitch, Stanislaus Sonetz, John Britritka, Anthony Dunbavitch, Martin Jacouski, Stanelous Bassick, Anthony Yermonlovski, Dominick Dovitshi, John Ganz, John
Mercewye, Jacob Brazowsi, Tony Pellousiy, Charles Prenowski.
Coming out of the pub, up to the old marsh pier head, we carry on up the towpath, passing the lime works and the chemical works on the left and across the cut on the right we find Gossages soap works. At the end of the towpath we come across three cottages and the locks from the cut to the Mersey. This small block of land, between Widnes and the cut, was called Spike Island and, in the early 1950s and before, was a notorious venue for `pitch and toss'.
In the third cottage lived Joshua and Ann Large and their four children.
Joshua was a file maker, his son a commercial clerk, and daughter Emily was
also a dressmaker. They were all from Widnes and also employed a domestic
servant, a girl named Mary Dale, aged 14, from Sutton.
Our next stop is the Swan Hotel , but to get there we have to temporarily step into West Bank territory across the locks from Spike Island, up the steps, along the pathway and exit at Short Street, off Mersey Road.
To our right is Gossages shop and offices (now the Catalyst Museum) from where we cross the road and (reluctantly) pass The Vaults pub at the top of Church Street ('not in Waterloo' ), on the right of it is Gossages Soap Works and on the left, just before the Swan Inn, is the then St Mary's Church and graveyard.
We continue then down Lower Church Street to The Swan and back into Waterloo territory. The landlord here is Joe Dixon who hails from Embleton in Cumberland. After a brief sojourn there we go down to Lower Church Street to Dock Road On the right, though, building work is in progress on St Patrick's Church and, across the road, St Patrick's school. Also on the left is waste ground and the back of houses in Bridge Street and further down, 'you've guessed', the Arch Hotel, affectionately known as 'The Slutch 'Ole'. You could be forgiven for asking for a pint of cider here as Dick Luxton, the landlord, came from Exeter in Devon.
Out of the Arch we turn down Dock Road and first right is Dock Street, both aptly named as most of the occupants are workers from West Bank Dock and Widnes Dock. On our left is Hutchinson Trustees' estate a railway line is behind the fence. On our right is Pear Street. Venturing down Pear Street - houses on both sides and densely populated - we come across the penultimate pub, the White Star Hotel.'
Turning back up Pear Street to Waterloo Road on our left is The Globe chemical works while on the right is waste ground. At the top of Pear Street, where 244 people live, are five houses on the right hand side.
Continuing the journey, we turn back down Waterloo Road towards Milton Street with Gossages on his right, waste ground on the left and the back of the Globe factory. we then turn, past the grocer's shop on the corner, down Milton Street where 188 people live although houses are on both sides for only half its length. Carrying on, towards West Bank Street, we now have the Globe works on our left while on the right is a boiler works. Now we're in West Bank for the final leg (and pint) of this nostalgic journey back in time.
We cross the railway crossing, between Milton Street and Pitt Street and first right is Pitt Street, the final street to complete the tour of Waterloo. There was only one side to Pitt Street and it was probably the most densely populated, 260 people in all, once again, 90% of them of Irish descent. I pause as I pass No.33 (where I was born) Shall I knock? No! My time has yet to come. A John and Ann Moon and five kids live here at the moment.
'I must have dozed off then. When I woke up I was back in 2001. The George was gone The houses all gone. The church they were building, four pints ago, gone - after christening, marrying and burying thousands of people.
'The whole Waterloo community, vanished, replaced by factory units. Only (most of) the street names remain intact, thanks for taking time to read this virtual tour of 1891.