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Historic glass industry site the future of sustainable energy?

An historic glass industry landmark could be revived to provide cheap and sustainable energy for the future, a new study will explore.

Cannington Shaw

Article date: 15 February 2024

Cannington Shaw No.7 Bottle Shop was once the site of one of the world's first fully operational regenerative furnaces for continuous glass bottle production and is one of the few surviving examples of St Helens Borough's early industrial heritage.

A new study will explore the potential for the site to house a large Combined Heat and Power unit (CHP), powered by hydrogen gas from Hynet, which would supply cheap and sustainable energy to the surrounding area through a heat district network.

Cannington Shaw Preservation Trust, a Community Interest Company (CIC), has sought since its establishment in 2018 to bring the bottle shop back into use as a sustainable heritage asset, and to stabilise and preserve the historic building in the interim.

As part of these ongoing plans for the Bottle Shop, a bid was submitted to the Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU) part of the Government's Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities last year, supported by St Helens Borough Council and the Town Deal Board.

The bid has been successful in securing £68,250 from the HNDU for the feasibility study, with match funding of £24,750 from the Town Deal Fund.

Councillor Andy Bowden, St Helens Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Climate Change, said: "Heat networks are one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing carbon emissions from heating, and are widely considered to be an essential part of our future clean energy infrastructure.

"They can take sources of low-carbon heat like hydrogen and waste heat from industry to provide cheap and sustainable energy for heating in the local area, via a network of underground pipes carrying hot water.

"Their efficiency and carbon-saving potential increases as they grow and connect to each other, with the potential for a CHP at the No.7 Bottle Shop connecting to parallel proposals to capture waste heat from the Greengate glass works.

"I'm hopeful that a piece of our industrial past can live again as a significant part of our net-zero future."

Chairman and Project Director for Cannington Shaw, John Tabern said: "I couldn't be more delighted at the news that we have been successful with the bid to fund a feasibility study at the site of such an historic building. The advent of a potential supply of low carbon blue hydrogen from the Hynet Stanlow plant in the next few years makes the project an exciting opportunity to place the No.7 Bottle Shop at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, as it was when it first opened in 1886."

Councillor Richard McCauley, St Helens Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning and Town Deal Board Member, said: "This is another fine example of the great partnership work from the Town Deal Board, with members coming together to get this project off the ground to benefit local residents and businesses."