HELEN'S, ST., a market-town, in the parish and union of Prescot, hundred of West Derby, S. division of the county of Lancaster, 11 miles (E. N. E.) from Liverpool, 20 (W.) from Manchester, 48 (S.) from Lancaster, and 198 (N. W.) from London; comprising part of the township of Eccleston, and the entire townships of Parr, Sutton, and Windle; and containing 17,849 inhabitants. This town, originally a small village, is now a thriving place, situated on an extensive coal-field, to which it principally owes its prosperity. The buildings are irregular, and cover a large extent of ground; water is supplied under an act passed in 1843, and in 1845 an act was obtained for paving, lighting, and otherwise improving the town, and for establishing a market. There are some very important glass-works, particularly for plate glass. In 1763, an incorporated company, styled the British Plate-Glass Company, erected a manufactory at Ravenhead, in the township of Sutton, and this concern having failed, was succeeded by another company, formed in 1794, whose manufactory covers an area of nearly 30 acres, and is surrounded by a lofty stone wall, on the out?ide of which are the habitations of the workmen: the erection of the building cost nearly £160,000. The first artisans were brought from France, and the glass now produced is equal, and in many respects superior, to the French and Venetian plates: the works, having been much increased within the last few years, are now the largest in the world, and are capable of producing 300,000 feet of glass annually. Two other plateglass manufactories have since been erected, on an extensive scale: in the township of Eccleston are three manufactories for crown and flint glass, and bottles; and there are potteries, breweries, and a cotton-mill, in the neighbourhood, many of which are worked by steam. In 1830, works for smelting copper were established by the Bolivar Mining Association; the ore is brought from Columbia, and from 30 to 40 tons of copper are produced weekly. Similar works have been erected by the British and Foreign Copper Company; and Messrs. John Bibby and Sons of Liverpool, and Messrs. Sims, Willyams, Nevill, and Company, of London, have works here in which they employ between 60 and 80 men in smelting copper-ore: the ore used by them is brought from Cornwall, Chili, South Australia, &c., and is sent hence in square cakes and round bolls to their works at Seacombe, near Birkenhead, to be there rolled and manufactured for the market. There are also several chymical-works. St. Helen's is connected with the Liverpool and Manchester railway by a branch line; and an act was passed in 1846 for a railway to Prescot and Huyton, five miles and a half in length, forming a second branch of the Manchester and Liverpool railway. The St. Helen's and Runcorn-Gap line, chiefly for the conveyance of coal, is twelve miles in length: the original capital was £120,000; it was afterwards increased to £150,000, and the line was completed at a cost of £220,000. There is also a canal, one of the first cut in England, down which great quantities of coal are conveyed to Liverpool, &c. In the centre of the town is a large market-place, forming a fine square, on one side of which a commodious town-hall has been erected. A market is held on Saturday; and there are fairs on the Monday and Tuesday after Easter-week, and the first Friday and Saturday after September 8th. At the courts leet and baron of the lord of the manor of Windle, held in November, peace officers are appointed for the district. The powers of the county debt-court of St. Helen's, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Prescot.
The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £240; patrons, certain Trustees; impropriators, the Provost and Fellows of King's College, Cambridge. The church, originally dedicated to St. Helen, on being enlarged in 1816, was dedicated anew to St. Mary; it is a plain brick building, but the interior arrangements are exceedingly convenient, and it will accommodate 2500 persons: the organ was primarily constructed for the commemoration of Handel in Westminster Abbey. The parsonage-house, which has been rebuilt, is pleasantly situated one mile and three-quarters out of the town, and is a large and handsome building. At Parr is a church in the gift of the Incumbent of St. Helen's. St. Thomas's church was erected at a cost of £3300, and endowed with £150 per annum, by Peter Greenall, Esq., and is a cruciform structure in the early English style, capable of containing nearly 900 persons: the same gentleman built a very convenient parsonage-house and a schoolroom. The living is in the gift of the family of Greenall. There are places of worship for the Society of Friends, Independents, and Wesleyans, and a Roman Catholic chapel. A school, subject to the control of the incumbent, is endowed with property producing £26 per annum. Another was founded in 1714, by a bequest from Sarah Cowley, who gave an estate at Hardshaw; it is situated at Moss Bank, in Windle, and is in connexion with the Established Church: more than 1000 children are educated, and divine service is regularly performed here every Sunday. The Sunday school connected with the old church was erected by subscription, and the proceeds of a bazaar, in 1819, at an expense of nearly £1000. There is also a Roman Catholic free school.