Mersey Gateway visitor centre numbers hit 10,000
The Mersey Gateway Project is celebrating welcoming its 10,000th visitor to the project’s Widnes-based visitor centre this month.
The free-to-attend visitor centre located at the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre first opened to the public in February 2015 to tell the story of Halton’s iconic bridge and road project.
Since then it has proved extremely popular with locals and visitors alike, attracting more than 10,000 people through its doors.
Jill Doyle, Communications Manager at Merseylink, said: “The project has generated a huge amount of interest from local people and those living further afield; some from as far away as the USA and Australia. Achieving our 10,000th visitor is a very exciting occasion so we decided to celebrate by offering people the chance to win a special tour of the project site.”
The Merseylink team held meet and greet sessions with the public at the Mersey Gateway visitor centre in Widnes encouraging visitors to enter the competition by taking part in a social media campaign to share their visitor centre experiences.
Competition winner Rebecca Jones from Halebank in Widnes was picked at random and will receive a personal tour of the construction site to see Trinity, the project’s movable scaffold system (MSS), and the huge form traveller machines operating in the estuary.
She said: “I was over the moon to find out I had won the competition. I am really looking forward to the tour to see the progress being made on the new bridge as it is history in the making.”
The visitor centre offers incredible views over the River Mersey estuary and the construction of the new bridge from the Catalyst Centre’s rooftop observatory.
Special samples of the materials being used to build the bridge are also on display. These include a giant steel anchorage box weighing an enormous 620 kilograms, which shows a cross section of one of steel stay cables.
Meanwhile local history enthusiasts can view a range of ancient bottles, thought to be up to 150 years old, which were unearthed at Ditton roundabout in Widnes by construction workers.
Visitors can also use a number of interactive display screens to access a wide range of project information, including videos, photographs, a live site webcam and a special children’s zone.
Visitor John McClure from Widnes said: “It’s well worth a visit with excellent information and friendly staff. If you want to find out about the new bridge this is the place to come.”
Another visitor, Helen Hodson, originally from Runcorn and now living in Buckinghamshire, agreed: “Growing up in the Runcorn area I was keen to see the huge changes with the addition of the new bridge. The viewing platform at the Catalyst Museum is a great place to see this happening.”
The Widnes-based centre is one of two Mersey Gateway visitor centres. A second smaller information centre is based at Runcorn Shopping Centre, where people can ask questions about the project.
Both visitor centres are free to attend and are staffed by Mersey Gateway volunteers who act as a key point of contact for the public. The volunteers, who are all fully trained by Merseylink, are on hand to answer questions on everything from local history and heritage, environment and ecology to the bridge construction itself.
Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council, said: “It’s great to see the local community getting involved with the project. As we have always said, it’s more than just a bridge, and it’s fantastic that the visitors centres in Widnes and Runcorn are available for people to find out more”
The Widnes visitor centre is based at the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre and is open from 10am-4pm, Tuesday through to Sunday (the Catalyst centre is closed on Mondays apart from during the school holidays and bank holidays).
The Runcorn visitor centre is based at the main square in Runcorn Shopping Centre and is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.