A fascinating insight into the area’s 1970’s heritage is being offered at a new photographic exhibition “Days of the New Town” which has opened at Padgate Library.
The new photography exhibition tells the story of Warrington’s New Town expansion in the Padgate area in the 1970s.
The exhibition uses photographs from the Warrington New Town Development Corporation archive and residents’ own photos.
The photographs recall the years Padgate and surroundings changed forever as they became New Town expansion areas in the early to mid-1970s
These show how the architects and planners imagined Padgate’s expansion, and how residents from both ‘old’ and ‘new’ Padgate experienced this significant and lasting change to the area.
The photos are accompanied by an exhibition guide that features a foreword and specially commissioned poem from acclaimed poet Ian McMillan, whose first poet-in residence gig was at Padgate Library when it first opened in 1982.
It is the first time the public has seen images from the Warrington New Town Development Corporation archive and builds on material from the Days of the New Town: Birchwood at 50 exhibition of 2018/19 hosted by Warrington Museum and Art Gallery.
The exhibition is curated by university lecturer Su Fitzpatrick, who grew up in Birchwood, one of Warrington’s New Town Development areas. Su became interested in telling Warrington’s New Town story after designing a module for her students looking at the New Town building programme in the UK.
Su explains: “When I realised how few references existed to Warrington’s New Town story, I began looking at ways to bring about a more public acknowledgement of this key stage in the town’s history. Working with Howard Cockcroft from the group Friends of Padgate Library and LiveWire, I hope the Padgate exhibition will allow people to explore the period when Warrington expanded into a New Town.”
Su is currently looking to secure research funding to develop educational resources which will help Year 9 students around the country find out more about the later New Towns that were built in the UK, and the material shown in this exhibition will form an important part of those resources.
Days of the New Town is delivered by Friends of Padgate Library with funding from Poulton-with-Fearnhead Parish Council and York St John’s University, and in partnership with LiveWire, which manages Padgate Library on behalf of Warrington Borough Council.
Emma Hutchinson, Managing Director of LiveWire, said: “I know how much hard work has gone into the staging of this exhibition by Su, the Friends of Padgate Library and LiveWire library staff. I very much hope the local community takes the opportunity to come along and learn more about a unique period in the area’s history.”
Howard Cockcroft from the Friends said: “The Friends of Padgate Library, who are all volunteers, give their time to constantly promote the library to the local community and attract people to the building. We are especially grateful to Poulton with Fearnhead Parish Council, and York St. John’s University, without whose financial support this exhibition would not have been possible.”
Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for leisure and community, Cllr Tony Higgins, said: “The Days of the New Town exhibition will provide a fascinating insight into Padgate’s past, giving a people a rare opportunity to see photos from Warrington New Town Development Corporation archive. It’s a great example of the work we are doing to make our libraries rich, vibrant community resources which offer history, heritage, culture and much more.”
Council Chief Executive, Prof Steven Broomhead MBE added: “This is a fantastic exhibition, which I’m sure will be of great interest to local people. It’s the result of some really positive work between a range of partners – not least the Friends of Padgate Library, who are working really hard to develop the library’s cultural offer and attract new audiences.”
Days of the New Town is now open and will run until November.