Glum. Often the word people use to sum up the North West. Grey, dark, miserable, dark, erm, grey. The antithesis of Jamaica. I have been to the North West. It’s like watching an episode of the brilliant Scandinavian crime drama, The Bridge. Very muted palettes. But come on, surely that’s a one-dimensional stereotype. Surely there’s more to it than that. Surely the colour is the character of the area. I mean, it’s a very important region. The town of Keswick, for example, is the home of the Cumberland Pencil Museum. Hmm? Very important range of pencils on display. Seriously. That actually exists. I’ve been there. That’s the type of place I go to. Honestly, if you go on a date with me, that is probably the type of place we’d end up. You could say that it’s not the best start to a relationship, but trust me, if she agreed to go on a date to the Pencil Museum, you’ve already won. She’ll never leave you after that. And that’s a top tip, fellas.
If you’re wondering why I’m talking about pencils, it’s because when I researched into fun facts about the North West, pencils are all I got. But what about ‘un-fun’ facts? The Bridgewater Canal in Runcorn, Manchester and Leigh, was the first recognized canal of the modern era. It’s not on this list, though. The University of Manchester built the world’s first programmable computer. In Barrow-in-Furness, all the Royal Navy ships are built. And it’s the home of the world’s first nuclear power station, Calder Hall, built in 1956. Currently being decommissioned. But I think we’ll all agree, the Pencil Museum trumps them all.
Out goes Manchester Ship Canal. There’s one canal and one canal alone that holds a record in the North West, and it should’ve been on this list. Manchester Ship Canal can go to hell. Chester. A WHOLE BLOODY TOWN! No! Why? Why does nobody understand this? Whole places can’t be wonders! They must adhere to the original wonders list. Chester is a beautiful medieval town, couldn’t recommend it more. But it’s not a wonder! Furness Abbey is a ruin and religious. I don’t pick religious places and a ruin isn’t a wonder, it’s a ruin of a wonder. Ergo, no wonder. Anderton Boat Lift isn’t unique, there’s another one in Scotland, so I think that takes something away from it. Blackpool Tower. If you haven’t seen it, it’s identical to The Eiffel Tower. This is because it was created to be a carbon copy. It’s not quite, but I don’t know about it. It’s ripping off another wonder. It’s like me building a copy of the Pyramids of Giza in my back garden and labelling them a wonder. It’s not one in its own right, really. I’ve been to the top of Blackpool Tower. It’s spectacular. But if you need to go to the French for an idea, then you’ve clearly ran out of ideas. The final two, well, there’s no competition. I prefer my final choice, but that’s not a good enough reason, is it? So I’ll rule out St. George’s Hall in Liverpool because… erm, because I can. So there. Take that, logic.
Laxey Wheel. Now that is what you call a wonder. It is a spectacular collection of bits. Just one thing here, and one thing there, and something completely different over there. It’s incredibly majestic. The Laxey Wheel is also known as Lady Isabella, a large waterwheel built in the village of Laxey on The Isle of Man, just off the North West coast. 72 feet in diameter. And six inches. Six feet wide. Three revolutions a minute. It still operates, but no longer pumps water. Once capable of delivering 250 gallons of water to a mine 200 yards away, 1,500 feet below ground. It’s a beautiful monument to times gone by. A truly great wonder.
The Laxey Wheel. My favourite wonder of (just off the) North West (of) England.
Photos: Laxey Wheel (aka Lady Isabella)
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