THE University of Chester has revealed more details of its plan to move its Warrington Campus into the town centre.
Over the next 18 months its teaching provision will be relocated from the existing campus at Fearnhead – popularly known as the “Padgate Campus” – to two town-centre sites.
The university has now completed the purchase of a property on Barbauld Street and has agreed terms for a lease of a new unit in Time Square.
The Time Square space will be refurbished and equipped to be operational from mid-September and is to be the “shop front” for the University in Warrington.
It will host an information point for members of the public to engage and understand the learning opportunities available from the University. It will also include bookable learning space for students with laptops and digital resources, breakout spaces for seminars and a small lecture space for talks and events.
This town centre location will also work with partners to showcase the opportunities available for both learners and businesses and will include offers from Further Education partners and key business support programmes, such as the Accelerate skills programme, working with Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership.
It is proposed that the former office building on Barbauld Street currently called ‘Mersey Bank House’ will house the majority of the teaching provision, namely Education and Nursing, and will be renamed the “Sarah Parker Remond Building.”
Significantly, this announcement is being made today to coincide with International Women’s Day.
The University has decided to name its new building after Sarah Parker Remond (1826-1894), a prominent black anti-abolitionist and women’s rights campaigner from America, who after arriving in Liverpool, was hosted in Warrington and gave a series of lectures at Warrington Music Hall and the Red Lion Hotel.
Her first lecture, free to enter, was described by contemporary accounts as the best-attended public event in the town’s history and following the lecture series she spoke of the reception and sympathy she had found in Warrington. Remond’s speeches and writings also speak of her wider commitments to education, human rights and women’s suffrage and her later career as a doctor enabled her to put these into action.
By naming the building after Remond the university signals a continuing link with Warrington and the local community.
Professor Eunice Simmons, vice-chancellor, said: “The university’s desire to grow its Warrington presence in the heart of the town is aligned to its Citizen Student strategy to provide a ‘premium, personalised and purposeful’ experience to its learners. The town centre location helps to realise the ambition to broaden the reach and accessibility of the University in Warrington whilst supporting Warrington Borough Council to focus on areas of growth, providing strategic support for the post-COVID economic and cultural recovery.”
The borough council’s cabinet member for Economic Development and Innovation, Cllr Tom Jennings, said: “This is great news for the ongoing growth of the heart of our town. The purchase of the Mersey Bank House building by the University of Chester will serve as another excellent addition to a bustling town centre and will bring footfall and further business to Time Square and other businesses in the area.
“This move complements the university’s recent announcement that it will be establishing a new information and learning hub at Time Square.
“Their decision to establish key academic locations in Warrington is testament to the tremendous progress being made here and is another really important step forward, as we continue the development of our town centre.”