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Two Centuries of Stink: Smell Mapping Widnes, Past and Present


“Widnes was famous for its smell. The town was basically a load of chemical factories and manufacturing plants with some houses squished between them. On bad days, the air punched you in the nose”, writes Stuart Turton about his home town in January 2019.

In collaboration with Catalyst Chemical Heritage Museum. This Arts Council funded project explores Widnes’ on-going relationships with its smelly history from the processes and emissions of the chemical industry and its community to the contemporary smellscape. Drawing on the museum’s archive and local oral histories the work addresses how the range of “smellmarks” within a community change through time.

As part of Catalyst’s growing community programme, Community Engagement Coordinator Jade French said, “Widnes is a town famous for its smell. This project will not only explore how smell links to the town’s rich heritage as a place of chemical manufacturing as reflected in our museum, but also work with local people to map how the area smells today. I hope lots of local people will get involved in helping us map out what Widnes really smells like.”

Phase 1 (October 2019 – February 2020): Historical Smell Battleships

Community engagement to pinpoint historical smells on the double layered map of the town.

Monday 25th November 2019: Halton U3A, 1pm – 2.30pm.

Friday 29th November 2019: Widnes Library, 10am – 12pm, The Studio, 1pm – 3pm

Saturday 30th November 2019: Widnes Library, 10 – 12pm, Catalyst Staff, 12am – 2pm