Winner of competition to find 25,000th visitor announced
Following a week-long contest, the winner of the competition to find the Mersey Gateway visitor centre’s 25,000th guest has been announced.
Arthur Darlington from Runcorn was among hundreds of entries into the contest, and won a full site tour of the new Mersey Gateway bridge for him and one guest.
Arthur, aged 84, has been a regular face at the visitor centre, and says he was delighted to have been named as the 25,000th visitor.
“I have been coming to the site since day one,” he said.
“I come from Runcorn to Spike Island every Tuesday to look at the progress. I also watched the Silver Jubilee being built and opened in 1961. I think the new structure is amazing.”
The access-all-areas tour, which took place on Arthur’s 84th birthday, took Arthur and his son Stephen, from Widnes Loops Viaduct across the trestle to see the three pylons at close proximity then under the South Approach Viaduct.
It gave them a chance to see first hand the huge amount of work that is ongoing both above and around the River Mersey and the Halton road network to finish the iconic structure.
Once they finished the tour they were treated to a birthday lunch at Merseylink’s offices, and had the chance to meet project engineers and managers to learn more about the bridge.
Arthur said: “I’ve had some great birthdays but this has topped them. I’ll remember this for the rest of my days.”
Jill Doyle, Communications Manager at Merseylink, said: “Congratulations to Mr Darlington, there has been a huge amount of interest in the project locally and much further afield, with visitors from Australia and the United States, and a host of other countries dropping in to learn more about the Mersey Gateway project.
“Reaching our 25,000th visitor is a huge occasion, but it doesn’t stop there. The visitor centres will continue to act as a hub of information on the project, its history and heritage for the months and years ahead, providing everyone with an insight into the scale and importance of this project.”
The free-to-attend centre, located at the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, first opened to the public in February 2015 to tell the story of the Mersey Gateway project.
A second smaller centre is based at Runcorn Shopping Centre, where people can ask questions about the project.
The Catalyst Centre offers impressive views across the River Mersey, and construction of the Mersey Gateway bridge from its rooftop observatory.
Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council, said: “Congratulations to Mr Darlington on winning this competition.
“He and a lucky guest got to see first hand the excellent job construction teams and workers have done in bringing the Mersey Gateway Bridge to life, and to its current impressive scale.
“If you haven’t been, I would encourage you to drop in at one of the centres. They are staffed by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable team of volunteers, eager to share their local knowledge with visitors.”
There is a wealth of materials on display at the visitor centre in Widnes, including a giant steel anchorage box weighing an enormous 620 kilograms which shows a cross section of one of the steel stay cables.
Visitors can use a number of interactive display screens to access a massive amount of project information, including videos, photographs, a live site webcam and a special children’s zone.
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.
The Widnes visitor centre 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 Town Square in Runcorn Shopping Centre and is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.