Widnes is a town with a long industrial heritage. In 1847 the first chemical factory was established and the town rapidly became a major centre of the chemical industry. The town grew quickly as housing and social provisions were made for the factory workers. Soon the villages of Farnworth, Appleton, Ditton and Upton were absorbed within the developing town of Widnes. Other industries developed too, including iron and copper works. In the 1920s and 1930s there was further diversification of the chemical industry and the products it manufactured. Slums were replaced by better homes, and the process of slum clearance continued after the Second World War. In 1961 the Silver Jubilee Bridge replaced the outdated Transporter Bridge, and in recent years many of the old heavy chemical factories have closed to be replaced by more modern factories.
In a fascinating series of contemporary photographs and illustrations, Widnes at Work explores the life of this town and its people, from rapid growth during the Industrial Revolution, through two world wars, post-war decline and into the technologically advanced world of today.
Having been born in North Manchester, Jean has managed the local history collection in Widnes library for many years. She has also created the image website for Halton (www.picturehalton.gov.uk) and has published a number of heritage walk leaflets for Halton Library Service. She is now an adult tutor, offering courses in family history. John has numerous production credits in theatre, TV & film (BBC & Granada). He has worked mainly for the last decade in portrait, film and artscape photography.