Liverpool St Helens Launch Heritage Project

From 1857 to the present day – 160 years of rugby and history

This Saturday ( 11 February) sees the launch of the Liverpool St Helens Heritage Project, funded by the Heritage Lottery fund, which will fully record, archive and preserve the history of the World’s oldest open rugby union club.

The club has an illustrious history since the formation of the Liverpool Club in 1857, the founding of the St Helens Rugby Union Club in 1919 and the merger of the two clubs in 1986. The £75,000 grant funds the project, lasting 18 months, which will reflect the activities and achievements from a number of different eras spanning 160 years.

An archivist based at the Liverpool Records Office in the Liverpool Central Library will work with students from Edge Hill University and Cowley International College documenting and ordering the huge amount of papers, pictures and documents accumulated over the years. Working closely with St Helens Arts College and the Saints Heritage Society (Langtree Park) the project will produce historical, educational and sporting information to be made available through displays and exhibitions to schools and community groups throughout Liverpool and St Helens.

The Launch on Saturday at Moss Lane will take place before the South Lancashire/North Cheshire encounter between Liverpool St Helens and the Manchester Club, formed in 1860, the two oldest Rugby Union Clubs in the North of England.    

On display on Saturday will be a glimpse into the archives including letters and papers relating to the December’s day in 1857 when Richard Sykes, from Manchester and captain of Rugby School, and Frank Albert Mather, from Liverpool, arranged to play a game of Rugby Union with their friends, on Liverpool Cricket Ground, then sited at Edge Hill. Sykes brought the ball from Rugby School, 50 players took part, 5 “goals” were scored, no-one knows who won and subsequent letters document that “the game was a pleasant one” and that “there and then the club was formed”. Pictures, programmes and memorabilia through to the present day will also be on display.

LSH President Ray French is delighted with the grant and the work that is to be done. “Sport reflects the times that we live in” he said. “This is an exciting project about the Club, Rugby and Social History. It will enable young people in particular, to be actively involved in the heritage of the rugby club as well as the city of Liverpool and the town of St Helens”.      


John Williams LSH Press Officer 07767441978                                                        from whom further information is available.

Picture 1:  Rugby School ‘Bigside’ team 1856/57 with Richard Sykes, in the middle, holding the ball as Captain.

Picture 2. Frank Albert Mather who went to Rugby School with Richard Sykes and was the third son of John Philip Mather of Bootle Hall. F. A. Mather was later ordained in the Church of England.

Liverpool St Helens FC

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players' money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about.

John Williams