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Midge Walkers

Walk  No. 86

New Years Day Walk - 2016

After the excesses of the Christmas break, what may have been a record number of enthusiastic walkers congregated at the Broadgate side of the old Penwortham Bridge, on a distinctly cold but clear morning which brought a true understanding of the term “Wind Chill Factor”.

27 adults, 6 children and Tilley the dog, set off on a route which many years ago had been the track of a railway line running at the rear of Wolseley Rd and emerging on to South Meadow Lane where we turned left, passing the old St Stephens School which has now converted to a Hindu Temple and learning centre, and onwards to join Fishergate Hill.

Turning right towards the town, we were made aware of a railway line which came from the dock area and enters a tunnel under the main road to eventually emerge at the railway station. Passing the end of West Cliff and continuing up the hill, we were told of some of the more interesting former buildings such as the Round Cliff Boys Prep School, and the distinctive façade of Christ Church which now forms part of the County Hall building on the Bow Lane site.

Leaving the main road and turning down Waltons Parade ultimately brought us back to West Cliff with its large houses which in former times would have been the homes of some of the most influential people of the town. The site of the old GPO sorting office, long since demolished and replaced with modern town house accommodation, had in its day been the forerunner of evaluating the present day post code sorting system

Continuing under the railway bridge brought us to the splendour of Miller Park, where we learnt that only a week or so earlier, the scene looked more like a lake than a park totally submerging benches and the central fountain area. Keeping to the top path we again passed under a railway bridge, emerging into Avenham Park where we climbed towards an exit on East Cliff which brought us to the entrance of the former Park Hotel, and now a further extension to the County Office complex.

Following a route into Winkley Square, we were advised of the presence of both the former Grammar School for boys and separately for girls, as well as the same for the Catholic Colleges dating back to 1865 and still in use up to 1978. Plaques on some of the buildings traced the history of such like as Edith Rigby a suffragette and Thomas Miller a cotton manufacturer who bequeathed the park bearing his name to the town.

Following round the square we travelled along Regent St to emerge adjacent to the now empty Harris Institute and crossed to Avenham Collonade, again an area of what would in its day have been the scene of opulent splendour overlooking the park.

Avenham Towers, a cream building overlooking the tram bridge, now split into flats was the home of Edwin Booth the founder of Booths supermarkets. Here we turned down towards the river bank and took the path through the parks back towards our starting point. The more affluent amongst us stopped off for refreshments at the café whilst those still full of Christmas pud etc, returned along the path, rejoicing that it hadn’t been compulsory to pack in even more food at a time of the year not noted for abstinence.