Glass maker jumps through hoops to please Saints fans

Towering over St Helens, the Pilkington chimney at the company's Cowley Hill factory has been a familiar but inoffensive sight to local residents for years.

It was accepted as just another part of the landscape - that is, until the world-famous glass maker committed a cardinal sin.For in an attempt to brighten up the skyline, Pilkington gave the 80ft tower a full paint job in red and white hoops - similar to the traditional colours of the Rugby League-mad town's bitter rivals Wigan.Dismayed locals argued that the distinctive new look could not be confused with St Helens RLFC's own colours of white with a red flash.It quickly became a bone of contention as the rival colours appeared to mock sensitive fans at every turn.Pilkington argued that the decision to paint the chimney was made for safety reasons and it needed to be of high visibility so that aircraft could easily distinguish it.The company consulted the Civil Aviation Authority before making a decision on the colour.Red and white is considered a standard colour when making a tall structure visible and Pilkington paint their chimneys that way worldwide.But it was not going to last in St Helens.Complaints grew and local councillors quickly got involved as the high-visibility chimney was considered by those living near it to be just too conspicuous.In the end, a meeting between residents, councillors and Pilkington reached a compromise.

The chimney received a new makeover three weeks ago, the controversial red and white replaced by a more neutral tone - papyrus white.

A Pilkington spokesman said: "We have a very good relationship with our neighbours and we would never plan to cause them any upset.

"When we heard there was a problem, we met and came to a solution."

Coun Richard Ferry, who took up the issue, said: "The fact that it was the colours for Wigan was a problem for a few people but this was also a serious issue.

"People living next to it were angry that it was so noticeable for them to live next to, day-in day-out.

"It took some time but eventually we got it repainted to a better colour."

The traditional Rugby League rivalry between St Helens and Wigan enjoyed its latest instalment on Friday night, with Wigan coming out on top in a thriller, 38-34.

600450 Glass maker jumps through hoops to please Saints fans
Date: 10 June 2003

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