Cannington Shaw awarded Lottery Funding for new Heritage Skills Academy

*Image courtesy of MGMA Architects.

Cannington Shaw has been awarded a £244,661 grant by The National Lottery Heritage Fund towards the creation of a new Heritage Skills Academy.

The Cannington Shaw Preservation Trust CIC is a community business working in the heart of St Helens – a global glass making town in the North-West of England whose work focuses on the historic site of the former #7 Bottle Shop at Sherdley Works. Made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project will deliver a training academy in traditional construction skills over the next 2 years, as restoration works on the building get underway.

The Cannington Shaw Preservation Trust CIC will operate the construction site as a live centre of excellence for heritage conservation skills.  The Heritage Skills Academy will deliver a programme of training, skills development and work experience that will run alongside the main construction works project funded by St Helens Town Deal.

History and heritage

St Helens suffers from structural decline associated with progressive loss of industry from glassmaking, coal mining, copper smelting and chemical works. Many of the physical remains of this industry have been lost, placing an increased importance on those structures which survive.

At its height, Cannington Shaw was the largest glass bottle maker in the world.  All that now remains is the No: 7 Bottle Shopa fine example of what was once one of the first regenerative tank furnaces in the world.  Derelict since closure of the works in the 1980s, it is now badly overgrown, with considerable structural deterioration.

The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Grade II Listed, and has been on the Heritage at Risk Register since 2002. In 2017 it was recognised by the Victorian Society as one of the top 10 Endangered Buildings in the UK.

Creating a new legacy

The first step in the project is to preserve the building, as a record of the Town’s manufacturing past and to create a new legacy as a sign of the Town’s future.

In October 2022 Cannington Shaw was awarded £1.3m as one of six strategic projects across St. Helens under its £25m Town Deal. This money will be used to undertake the urgent and immediate work needed to prevent the further deterioration of the #7 Bottle Shop and to create the framework for a functioning building. This first phase, which is due to start in Autumn 2023, will deliver emergency and essential works to stabilise the building, enabling access so that sensitive repair and restoration works can begin.

John Tabern, Chair and Project Director said:

We’re delighted to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players. Combined with the allocation received via Towns Fund, this award enables the Trust to move forward with confidence in its plans for a Heritage Skills Academy as part of the stabilisation and repair works to the No: 7 Bottle Shop. In the spiritual home of glassmaking, it truly is a case of Glass Past meets Glass Futures.

Thanks to National Lottery players

Thanks to National Lottery players, the project will also develop a live classroom and learning programmes that will run alongside the construction process. This will involve working with people from across St. Helens, the Liverpool City Region and beyond to share restoration skills and the importance of the area’s rich glassmaking heritage. Groundwork Cheshire Lancashire & Merseyside (CLM) is the Trust’s delivery partner who will develop and deliver the vision for the Heritage Skills Academy.

Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: It is fantastic news that we are able to support the Cannington Shaw Preservation Trust CIC to train people and develop knowledge and heritage skills that will be utilised to restore an important heritage building. Thanks to National Lottery players, this project will ensure this local landmark and St Helens’ rich glassmaking heritage is safeguarded for future generations.”

The Heritage Skills Academy will offer a mix of learning interventions including: apprenticeships; heritage construction experience for local construction students; a professional development programme for students of architecture; a schools programme; an artisan skills taster programme for the wider public; themed open days; and a volunteer conservation programme.

Andrew Darron, Executive Director of Groundwork Cheshire Lancashire and Merseyside added: “We fully support the aspiration to deliver a Heritage Skills Academy in order to ensure that as many people as possible can learn about Cannington Shaw and benefit from the capital phases of the work”.

*Image courtesy of MGMA Architects.