Writer of ‘Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps’ revisits where it all began

Feb 21, 2024

On Tuesday 13th February Reconnecting Runcorn welcomed Susan Nickson, the creator of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, to revisit some of the locations that inspired the award-winning show and get a behind the scenes look at some of the new Reconnecting Runcorn projects.

Funded through the Towns Fund which forms part of UK Government’s Levelling up agenda, the purpose is to drive sustainable long-term economic and productivity growth, through the regeneration of the town.

One of the main locations in the series was the Archers Pub, which was previously known as ‘The Waterloo Pub’ in Runcorn. It has now been transformed into a Buddhist Temple. While exploring the temple, Susan was amazed by the space and compared it to what it used to be. She said, “It used to be a place where I would come with my friends to drink, maybe play darts or snooker, and now it has been converted into this incredible spiritual building.”

Outside the Wat Phra Singh UK temple of Susan Nickson, Tony Collacott, Ajahn Thirasak and Phra Hannarong.

Work has commenced on the development of a community Peace Garden as part of the Reconnecting Runcorn High Street Connectivity plans. The construction of the garden started on 12th February 2024, and it is located adjacent to the temple.

The garden will feature a gold-coloured Spire as its centrepiece that has been both designed and constructed in Thailand. It will be shipped to the UK later this year. In addition to the spire, the garden will also include seating, landscaping and pathways with access suitable for wheelchairs. All of which are designed to provide visitors with a unique “space to rest and contemplate the beauty of a single flower.” says Tony Collacott, Trustee of Wat Phra Singh.  After hearing the full plans of the temple Susan said, “It was astonishing, it’s such a wonderful place to visit” and that “change is right for this.”

Outside the Community Peace Garden of Susan Nickson, Tony Collacott, and Phra Hannarong.

Following on from the temple, Susan was given a tour of various project strands that focus on the creative and digital skills centre project. The centre provides a dedicated space for the Runcorn community to pursue their creative passions while connecting with like-minded people.

One of these project strands is the expansion of Hazlehurst Studio at 71 High Street in Runcorn Old Town. During her visit, Susan had the chance to meet some of the resident artists who use the space. Susan said, “back then you had your bedroom to do creative pursuits to paint in, to write in, to do whatever creative things you enjoyed.”

During the tour of Hazlehurst Studio, some resident artists discussed the importance of having a dedicated space for collaboration and sharing ideas. Gail Louise stated, “that being able to collaborate and get other people’s opinions on ideas is really valuable.” This sentiment was echoed by all the artists, who emphasised that there should be no barriers between talents. Susan pointed out “that the availability of resources due to wealth often creates a barrier in the industry.” Susan went on to say, “This deal with the town means that people will now have those resources which hopefully means for those in the working class they have a space to pursue their creativity…it won’t be such a barrier anymore.” Susan hopes “more talent will be encouraged from these projects and utilised getting more people into the arts and industry.”

Inside Hazlehurst Studios of Susan Nickson and Gail Louise.

Going into the current space Power in Partnership (PIP) have in Runcorn Old Town, Susan met with some of the staff and young people that have been helped by their youth programme to hear about their exciting plans for the new building on 57-59 High Street and what it means for Runcorn’s youth.

“To have this for young people is incredibly important for their mental health” Susan spoke passionately, “with a safe place for them to be able to find other like-minded people that have the same interests, same hobbies. Being able to share ideas and build on their own talents and find new talents.”

Whilst here, Susan was asked about what she thought made the show a success while it was set in a part of the UK that no one would have thought to base a sitcom in.  “I think the reason it worked was because it reflected a genuine experience for a lot of people, people didn’t see themselves on TV. To have themselves represented and be able to watch themselves and to show that it isn’t all grim up north and you can have a laugh no matter what your economic circumstances are.”

Outside the current Power In Partnership centre, with Susan Nickson and representatives from Power in Partnership.

At the end of the tour, Susan said she “truly believes this could be so transformative for the town and its residents. The town seems like a place that is growing and has got a lot of investment being put into it. Hopefully, it will attract more businesses and means people will be moving into the area for positive reasons.”

Summing up her thoughts and feelings from the day Susan shared, “These are projects that have been years in the making behind the scenes. The ongoing hard work securing funding, the colossal levels of preparation and the intrinsic enthusiasm and motivation that I witnessed has been a real labour of love by those involved – with this in mind I can’t see a way that this can be any less than a tremendous benefit to the town.”

Susan expressed her optimism for the future of the Reconnecting Runcorn project. She is “looking forward to seeing the project take shape and what it will do for the town.” She shared, “My wish is that my hometown continues to become a hub of community wellness. That people, businesses and further projects are attracted to a place that is beginning to thrive through the graft and passion of its residents.”



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