Discover all the astounding inventions linked to Warrington

The legacy and ingenuity of Warrington’s inventors through the years will be explored when the Heritage Open Days festival returns next month.

Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture where stories and traditions from the past are brought to life.

This year’s theme is ‘Astounding Inventions’ with a fun-filled and family friendly programme of events all over the Warrington area between 9 and 18 September. Many of the free activities will explore the impact of the Industrial Revolution and the major innovations and inventions that power our everyday life.

But you can also learn things like how is the Captain of the Titanic connected to Winwick? And what was a member of the Rolling Stones doing in Padgate?

Last year, many of Warrington’s heritage organisations were unable to open their doors to the public due to the government’s social distancing regulations, so this will be the first year that the festival has been run without any restrictions since the pandemic.

Warrington Museum and Art Gallery – run by the charity Culture Warrington – is leading on many of the events.

Hannah White, from the museum, said: “The annual Heritage Open Days festival is always a highlight in the Culture Warrington calendar, allowing us to collaborate with many of the wonderful heritage groups and sites across Warrington. 

“In 2021, we delivered a smaller programme while operating under restrictions due to the pandemic. However, this year’s programme is jam packed and we hope that it will bring people back together.

“The festival’s theme of Astounding Inventions will allow visitors to discover the significant role that some of Warrington’s greatest minds have played in inventing and making discoveries that are essential to our daily lives.

“From exhibitions and Mad Scientist workshops at Warrington Museum, tours of Warrington Museum of Freemasonry and the Rail Transporter Bridge, to a local history day commemorating Old Billy, the oldest horse on record, who was Warrington born and worked on the canals, there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy.”

Warrington’s inventors – or ‘mad scientists’ – in the spotlight will include Dr Joseph Priestley, a tutor at Warrington Academy, who invented carbonated water – the basis of today’s fizzy drinks – and Warrington Guardian’s Alexander Mackie who developed the composing machine which was used for early type setting.

Other highlights include a talk by Culture Warrington’s Philip Jeffs about how Parr’s Bank came to be and a family-friendly celebration of Old Billy’s life at Victoria Park.

The Grade II-listed building Parr’s Bank in Winwick Street dates back to 1877 and has recently been transformed into a boutique hotel and coffee bar. It was originally home to Parr’s Banking Co and is renowned for its stunning Victorian architecture.

Warrington’s Old Billy is the longest living horse on record. He lived between 1760 and 1822 and reached the age of 62. Marking 200 years since his death, the working horse’s life will be explored through theatre and storytelling alongside family attractions.


Storytime at Warrington Library, Museum Street

A librarian from the LiveWire team will read a story to children which has been selected to link into the theme of ‘Astounding Inventions’.

Saturday, 10 September: 11am-11.30am
Sunday, 18 September: 11am-11.30am

No booking required


A Short Look at the Origins of Parr’s Bank

Parr’s Bank Hotel, 7 Winwick Street

This talk looks at how Parr’s Bank came to be in Warrington and how it was very much a product of its time and place. Philip Jeffs, Archive and Heritage Officer at Culture Warrington, will present his research alongside historic photographs kindly supplied by the NatWest Archive Group.

Saturday, 17 September: 11am

To book email [email protected] or call 01925 552424


Astounding Inventions at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, Bold Street

This display will use items from the collections at Warrington Museum and Archives to tell the stories of some of the inventors and inventions that have connections to Warrington. Learn about the significance of Joseph Priestley’s discovery of oxygen and Thomas Percival, creator of the first Code of Medical Ethics, not forgetting Joseph Bramah and his various locking mechanisms.

Friday, 9 September: 10am-4.30pm
Saturday, 10 September: 10am-4pm
Sunday, 11 September: 11am-3pm
Wednesday, 14 September: 10am-4.30pm
Thursday, 15 September: 10am-4.30pm
Friday, 16 September: 10am-4.30pm
Saturday, 17 September: 10am-4pm
Sunday, 18 September: 11am-3pm

No booking required


Cairo Street Chapel

4 Cairo Street

Visitors can sit and relax in the gardens which are a quiet oasis in the town centre. Inside, the chapel will be decorated with a display of traditional corn dollies in preparation for the forthcoming harvest festival.Tea and coffee available.

Saturday, 17 September: 10am-4pm
Sunday, 18 September: 12pm-4pm

No booking required but wheelchair access limited


Make Your Own Teleporting Time Travel Transponder

Warrington Museum and Art Gallery’s regular Saturday Crafternoon club is joining in with Heritage Open Days to make more ‘Astounding Inventions’ with young visitors. Suitable for children aged three and above.

Saturday, 10 September: 1pm-3pm
Saturday, 17 September: 1pm-3pm

No booking required


From the Parr’s Bank Vaults

Parrs Bank Hotel, 7 Winwick Street

Have you ever wondered what heritage lies behind the magnificent façade of Parr’s Bank? Come and join us this Heritage Open Days festival to find out more about the history of this significant Warrington bank. The exhibition will feature a small selection of images taken from Warrington Archives and Natwest Group Archive.

Tuesday, 13 September: 9am-5pm
Wednesday 14 September: 9am-5pm
Thursday 15 September: 9am-5pm
Friday 16 September: 9am-5pm
Saturday 17 September: 9am-5pm
Sunday 18 September: 10am-5pm

Booking required. Go to or call 01925 552424


Life with the Lionesses Exhibition

Golden Square

Warrington Borough Council and Warrington Wolves Foundation are working in partnership with Common Sense Initiative (CSI) and Rugby League Cares to bring a touring exhibition to celebrate the history of women in rugby league.

Saturday, 17 September: 9.30am-4.30pm
Sunday, 18 September: 9.30am-4.30pm

No booking required – the exhibition can be found next to Starbucks and customer services.


Meet our Mad Scientists

Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, Bold Street

Come and meet some Mad Scientists from Community Objectives to step back in time and earn your ‘Astounding Inventor’ badge. The event will explore Warrington’s rich historical links to inventions and the big brains behind them.

Saturday, 17 September: 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 3pm

No booking required.


Museum of Policing in Cheshire Open Day

101 Arpley Street

A family day with opportunities to see objects relating to policing in the county as well as the infamous Victorian cells.

Saturday, 17 September: 10am-4pm

No booking required.


Rail Transporter Bridge Exhibit and Guided Walks

Warrington Masonic Hall, 15 Winmarleigh Street

Warrington’s Rail Transporter Bridge is unique and one of the only eight remaining transporters worldwide. Weather and numbers permitting, you will be able to join a guided walk to the bridge. Stout shoes and reasonable mobility required. Find out what a transporter bridge is and how it works.

Saturday, 10 September: 10am-4pm.

No booking required – max 10 people per tour/session. Walks last around an hour and are on an ad hoc basis dependent on demand.


Warrington Museum of Freemasonry

Warrington Masonic Hall, 15 Winmarleigh Street

The compact museum is housed in Warrington Masonic Hall, built in 1933. Among the many interesting and rare items is the only masonic apron known to have been at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.The meeting rooms also contain three Masonic chairs designed by George Hepplewhite and made in the late 19th century.

Saturday, 10 September: 10am-2pm

No booking required – max 10 people per tour/session.