A newly opened road in Widnes has been named by Halton Borough Council in honour of one of the town’s highly regarded politicians, the late Honorary Freeman, John Collins.
John Collins Way, opened at the weekend, is the new road at Widnes Loops linking West Bank to the Mersey Gateway.
The four-way junction, controlled by traffic lights, is now a permanent link providing improved access from West Bank to the Mersey Gateway and the Widnes Eastern Bypass. It has replaced the old Waterloo Road / Victoria Road / Hutchinson Street roundabout.
Mr Collins’ wife Rona, daughter Jean, and Cllr Stan Hill, ward councillor for Riverside and portfolio holder for Transportation, cut the ribbon to declare the road open.
Cllr Hill, along with Council Leader Cllr Rob Polhill, requested that the road be named after Mr Collins who was the last leader of Widnes Council and the first Leader of Halton Council following local government reorganisation.
Described by Rona as ‘a modest, compassionate man with a sharp wit’, John Collins was an industrial chemist and politician who helped transform the physical, educational landscape of Widnes, his home for 70 years.
He helped limit factory emissions, remove much of the town’s chemical waste, and establish the sixth-form college – one of the UK’s first.
During a long career in local politics, Mr Collins fulfilled many roles. A former Deputy Lieutenant for Cheshire, he was a district, borough and county councillor, serving as Mayor of Widnes, 1961-62, and Chairman of Cheshire County Council. He became an Honorary Freeman in 1973 in recognition of his many achievements. He was also a magistrate for over 40 years.
He spent his entire career at ICI, on the purification of uranium for the nuclear weapons industry and latterly in chlorine production, until his retirement in 1981. He died in 2013 aged 90.
Rona said she was delighted that the road had been named after John, and the location was very fitting given the many years he worked at ICI.