Golden Gates - Atlas Obscura

Golden Gates

This very ornate Victorian gateway seems completely out of place in the modern industrial city of Warrington. 

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Warrington is a relatively average, unspectacular industrial town in northwest England. While most of the buildings and sights within Warrington are relatively modest, the Golden Gates in front of Warrington Town Hall seem like a glittering anomaly in comparison to their surroundings. The ironwork structure, which is about 16.5 meters wide and 7.6 meters tall, consists of four pillars with a gate between the central two pillars and elaborate screens connecting the central and outer pillars. Each column is topped by a statue of Nike, while an arch with the Warrington coat of arms spans the central gate. However, these gates were not originally intended for Warrington, and the story behind how the Golden Gates ended up within the city is rather complicated.

The Golden Gates were originally manufactured by the Coalbrookdale Company in Ironbridge for the International Exhibition of 1862. The exhibition was one of many staged in London during the Victorian era; this specific one focused on industry, technology, and the arts. At the time, the Coalbrookdale Company was one of the best-known ironworks within the United Kingdom, and to demonstrate their industrial craftsmanship at the exhibition, they created a set of elaborate ironwork gates. The company had intended to gift the gates to Queen Victoria, but she refused the offer. Supposedly, the queen saw a statue of Oliver Cromwell behind the gates, and, recalling how he had treated her ancestor King Charles I, she was disgusted by the overall display. In any case, after the exhibition, the gates returned to Ironbridge Gorge, where they stayed there for more than 30 years.

In 1893, Frederick Monks, who was both an industrialist based in Warrington and a member of the town council, saw the gates while visiting Ironbridge on a business trip and decided to buy the gates and gift them to the city. The gates were placed in front of the Warrington Town Hall, replacing a taller brick wall that had blocked people’s views of the building, and the gates were formally opened on June 28, 1895. Originally the gates featured the coat of arms of the Prince of Wales, but this was soon replaced with the Warrington coat of arms.

The Golden Gates have stood in front of the Warrington Town Hall ever since, even surviving longer than several other nearby Victorian structures (including an ornamental fountain) that were salvaged for iron during World War II. The gates are now a notable landmark within the city of Warrington as well as a major source of civic pride.

Know Before You Go

The Golden Gates stand in front of Warrington Town Hall on Sankey Street, which runs through the city center, and the gates are visible at all times of day. Warrington itself is easily reached by car and public transport.

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