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Oldest open rugby club in the world tells its story through libraries exhibition

Article date - 12 February 2018

With the Six Nations in full flow, why not brush up on your local rugby union knowledge by visiting an exhibition on the oldest open rugby union club in the world – Liverpool St Helens FC.
LSH exhibition

Made possible by a £75,700 grant, awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), ‘The Birth of Club Rugby’ project focuses on telling the story of the formation, development, trials, tribulations and triumphs of Liverpool St Helens FC during its history which traces back over 160 years when Liverpool Football Club was formed.

Working in partnership with St Helens and Liverpool Libraries, St Helens College, Edge Hill University, the Liverpool Record Office and Cowley International College, the club has established a comprehensive archive, cataloguing and preserving documents and photographs, and has created a touring exhibition which will be displayed in several of the borough’s libraries from now until May.

In addition to this, a learning resource pack has also been created for primary school pupils.

The Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens Councillor Joe Pearson and wife Sylvia Pearson joined club representatives, including current Liverpool St Helens Club President, Ray French MBE, for the official launch at Parr Library where the exhibition will remain on display until Friday 23 February before moving onto Rainford Library.

Commenting on the exhibition, former England rugby union and league international, Ray – who after his playing days enjoyed a successful career as a rugby league commentator for the BBC - said: "The history of the Liverpool and St Helens clubs is full of rich stories, all now saved for posterity in our archive. The exhibition brings to life this history and we are now pleased to make it available for the people of St Helens and Liverpool. "
Showing her support, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure Services and Libraries, Councillor Sue Murphy, said: “Rugby is a massive part of the borough’s heritage so I’m delighted that such an interesting exhibition like this will be on display in a number of our libraries for the public to view.
“The Birth of Club Rugby exhibition promises to be an intriguing experience for any rugby enthusiast and I would encourage anyone who may be interested to pay it a visit while it’s around.”

The Birth of Club Rugby exhibition will be on display in the following St Helens libraries on the dates listed below:

Parr Library: now until 23 February

Rainford Library: 26 February – 16 March

Chester Lane Library: 19 March – 6 April

Newton-le-Willows Library: 9 April – 27 April

Eccleston Library: 30 April – 25 May



Photo caption: The Mayor of St Helens, Councillor Joe Pearson (centre) pictured with - from left to right - LSH elder statesmen Ron Hall, John Tandy and John Robertson. St Helens Council's Arts Development Manager, Cath Shea (end right) helped write the funding bid.