VILLAGERS have expressed alarm after their local library was among those earmarked for closure later this year.

The Star reported that six libraries in the borough, including Rainhill, are in line to be closed at the end of October, unless prospective partners come forward to help them become "community managed" facilities.


Villagers and councillors turned out to a recent public meeting at Rainhill Village Hall to discuss the matter.

As well as concerned the potential loss of the “vital community asset” on View Road, residents say it is “absolutely vital” that the exhibition to the Rainhill Trials, situated at the library, remains in the area.


Rainhill resident Brian Renshall, who attended the meeting, said: “There has been a library since 1852 in one form or another, and the current library has been operating since 1966, it’s been here a long time. It is a vital community asset for the village.

“Rainhill library is the third most used in the borough yet is still scheduled for closure.”

It was added the end of October deadline would not long enough for a ‘community-run’ library to get organised and that this ‘deadline’ has to be at least extended.

“If we can get enough people involved, but we would have to buy the building and then get lumbered with running costs, heating and lighting etc.”

Meanwhile, the Rainhill Railway & Heritage Society said there had been no contact from the council about this before the consultation on the library services was announced.

The society says it is “vital” that the exhibition to the Rainhill Trials remains in the village due to the historical significance of the Trials and Stephenson’s Rocket.


Chris Trigwell, chairman of the Rainhill Railway and Heritage Society, said: “That exhibition is the only one relating entirely to the Rainhill Trials, there is nothing else anywhere in the country.

“We think it’s absolutely vital that some significant memorial to the Trials remains in Rainhill.

“It’s an important educational facility, whether it’s a seven-year-old from St Ann’s School across the road or a school party from the rest of England.

“One of the objectives is the education of the public on the significance of the Rainhill Trials and what it led to worldwide.”

The success of Stephenson's Rocket at the Rainhill Trials in 1829 set the pattern for the development of the steam locomotive and the worldwide railway network for the next 150 years.

A St Helens Council spokesperson said the authority is looking at relocation options for the Rainhill Trials exhibition should the library close.

They said: “Our new library strategy is based on a localities model which tackles inequalities by focusing resources on areas of greatest need, whilst empowering and enabling residents to design and deliver services where the capacity and community support to do so. 

“In this case, Thatto Heath – less than two miles away - would be the closest library to Rainhill, with those without access to a vehicle being able to get the 10A bus which stops close by to Thatto Heath Library.

“It's not an easy decision to make but by reducing the number of libraries and making a better offer, particularly through outreach work to target those with the most to gain who don't otherwise use the service, will mean that more people will benefit from our library services in the long run.

“We are open to speak with any local organisation about how they can support the delivery of a community-managed library in areas like Rainhill, with discussions having taken place with ward members, and planned with parish councillors and heritage groups.”

The spokesperson added: “Should there be no interest to take over the current building, we will look at options for a pop-up library offer from another venue in the area and are also actively looking at options for the relocation of the Rainhill Trials exhibition, should the current building have to close.

“All older and vulnerable members of St Helens Library Service who use Rainhill Library will be contacted directly and offered the opportunity to access our Home Delivery Service, with local schools that buy into the school’s library service still able to enjoy that offer.

“We have a range of support available to interested community groups, with everything from advice on grant funding and more, so if you are interested in having services in your community, please do get in touch.”