Grand vision for St Helens’ Cannington Shaw bottle shop

CANNINGTON Shaw No: 7 Bottle Shop has witnessed many events in the 135 years since it made world history itself.

The death of Queen Victoria, two world wars, the birth of the NHS and the Moon landings.

Through much of this, for the past 100 or so years, it has stood as a silent witness, having ceased operations in 1918.

However, there are ambitious plans to invest in the St Helens structure, repurposing the Grade II Listed heritage asset and scheduled ancient monument – to create a visitor centre that blends the past with the future.

Leaders of the proposals have appointed a local hero as its champion.

Andy Reid MBE has agreed to become the Cannington Shaw Preservation Trust’s Patron.

The Afghanistan veteran and triple amputee, famed for his charitable work and more recently setting up his own Standing Tall Foundation, was injured in 2009 when he stepped on an IED.

Commenting on his appointment Andy said: “I couldn’t be more delighted to get involved with this project, one of the things I’m most proud of, is to come from St Helens and naturally my pride for the borough extends to the heritage and incredible world firsts it achieved, like the No: 7 Bottle Shop.

“I will be lending all the support I can in the fight to see this fantastic building regenerated and repurposed for the community and when it’s ready I intend to base my foundation there.”

John Tabern, chairman of the Cannington Shaw Preservation Trust CIC said: “We couldn’t be more delighted to have Andy on board, he is passionate about all things St Helens and will be an asset to us as move this project forward.”

Reflecting on the timing, he added: “It’s a fantastic time for Cannington Shaw and its supporters, we have a newly appointed board directing the line of travel, a place in the recent Town Investment Plan which will see us align on a Glass Past meets Glass Futures theme with the research facility across the car park from us and the prospect of actually starting on-site work later this year.”

Glass Futures is the £54 million plant to be built on the ex-United Glass site adjacent to Saints, which will revolutionise the future of glass production by seeking greener alternatives to fossil fuels for the melting of raw material.

John continued: “It’s incredible to consider that the furnace which will operate at Glass Futures to advance the industry towards net zero carbon emissions and look at new methods of production, will operate on exactly the same principle as that which Cannington Shaw started in 1886 as one of the first examples of the Siemens regenerative tank furnace technology to be used for the continuous production of glass bottles.”

Activity on behalf of the Scheduled Monument and Grade II listed structure just off the Tesco car park, has been ongoing in the last few years.

Started by a Friends group and then progressed into The Cannington Shaw Preservation Trust CIC, it recently appointed a board of directors tasked with the regeneration and repurposing of this important structure.

John added: “The demands of the heritage sector are the same as any business field, if you are to be successful with your project, it must be approached with a sound business plan. Funders will rigorously assess your proposition when deciding if they will support you.

“This is why we made the decision to assemble a professional board to develop a structured plan.”

The new board consists of Caroline Platt (vice chair) a professional bid writer, Grace Tabern (heritage director) a professional Genealogist and local historian, Matthew Ashton (architectural director) of MgMa Studios, Liverpool, John Hodkinson (facilities director) a local businessman and Martin Newton (energy director) a consultant.

Article originally published in the St Helens Star

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