The Catalyst Museum
The Catalyst Museum at Widnes is the only science centre and museum devoted to chemistry and how the products of chemistry are used in every day life. Its key aim is to make science exciting and accessible to people of all ages and to inform them about science based industries and their role in our lives, past present and future.
The Catalyst is a great action-packed family attraction with an excellent educational focus. The museum features 3D hands-on exhibits, a unique interactive theatre and state-of-the-art Catalytic chemistry laboratory.
Schools visit during term time to take advantage of the curriculum based education programme.
The fourth floor observatory overlooks the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship canal, with a thirty metre glass lift.
The Spike Island Nature Reserve, an important haven for wildlife, is situated adjacent to the Catalyst Museum. Once the birthplace of the chemical industry in Britain, the reserve was created on a former toxic chemical waste site which was reclaimed as woodland, wetlands and green space between 1975 and 1982.
The Sankey Canal, which was opened in 1757, joins the River Mersey at Widnes lock at Spike Island. There were originally two locks here, side by side, to enable more boats to lock through with each tide. The wet dock on the reserve dates to 1833, it was built as a railway dock, serving the St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway.
A network of footpaths has replaced the railway lines on the Island and there are expansive views across the River Mersey. The Mersey Way footpath and the Trans Pennine Trail run through Spike Island.
Many different kinds of birds and other animals can be seen at Spike Island and on the marshes towards Fiddler's Ferry. In winter, birds such as shelduck, redshank and teal can be seen on the mudflats in the Mersey, while birds of prey including sparrowhawk, kestrel and short-eared owl hunt over the marshes. The Spike Island Visitor Centre has exhibitions explaining the history of Spike Island and the wildlife interest of the site.
Follow road signs to Widnes (South) and then look out for the brown/white tourism signs.