TWO Red Wheel heritage plaques were unveiled side by side on the Neuf Arches viaduct.
The plaques celebrate the significance of the Sankey Canal, which ran beneath the structure, and the landmark’s historic location as the world’s first major railway viaduct still in use.
What is the Red Wheel Program?
The red wheels are similar to English Heritage’s blue plaque scheme and commemorate Britain’s greatest transport heritage sites.
The focus is on key sites of engineering and transportation significance.
“A key element of our railway heritage”
Lady Judith McAlpine, chair of the National Transport Trust, visited the Newton-le-Willows site to unveil the plaques.
She was joined by heritage campaigners, MP Conor McGinn, Mayor of St Helens, Cllr Sue Murphy and councillors.
Newton councilor Seve Gomez-Aspron, the deputy leader of St Helens Borough Council, was among the party that gathered for the official event.
He said: “It was an absolute pleasure to meet Judith, Lady McAlpine, who unveiled the plaque.
“The McAlpine name is synonymous with railway heritage and it was an honor to show off our Grade I listed viaduct.
“We have Barrie Pennington to thank for all his hard work in moving this project forward to recognize key elements of our railway heritage.
“It coincides perfectly with the launch of our campaign for Newton-le-Willows to become the headquarters of Great British Railways.”
The Nine Arches at Newton-le-Willows
How to see the plates
The plaques are attached to the viaduct under the arch known as number three as this arch has an existing pedestrian/cycle path directly below.
The trail is on flat ground and is wheelchair friendly. The public can view the plaques from the path.
The plates are 500mm in diameter, weigh four kilograms each and are made of cast aluminium.
The Nine Arches and a place in history
The Sankey Canal was England’s first industrial canal completed about four years before the Bridgewater Canal and contributed no little to Liverpool’s growth as a major port by quickly supplying the quantities of coal needed.
Activists believe the plaques and associated public relations opportunities “will draw attention to the very significant confluence of these two major engineering feats and contribute to the city’s heritage strategy and local awareness of their place in the world.” ‘story”.