This busy industrial town
played a pivotal role in British history when
England’s first true canal, the Sankey Brook
Navigation, was built here in the mid-18th century
to take coal to Liverpool. A key point in the
Industrial Revolution, it led to a craze for
In 1829 St Helen’s achieved another triumph when the world’s first locomotive, Stephenson's ‘Rocket’, was put through a series of trials at nearby Rainhill and gave birth to the railway age.
Despite these historic
records, St Helens is best known for the
manufacture of glass. Its fascinating ‘World of
Glass’ museum has in recent years become a top
visitor attraction, tracing the history of glass
and offering glass-blowing demonstrations,
multi-media shows and exhibitions.
The town’s name was derived from the dedication of a local church to St Helena, the mother of Constantine. During the Middle Ages it was believed she found the cross on which Christ had been crucified. Local people are known variously as "Sintelleners" and "Woollybacks".