Emblematically Speaking - St Helens Town

Tue 16th January 2018 | St Helens Town
By Stewart Taylor

St Helens Town FC

This week, not for the first time in this series, we look at a full coat of arms which has been adopted by the local football club as their emblem.

This is a complex one, which refers back to our old friend the Local Government Reorganisation Act of 1972 – adopted in 1974 – and is the coat of arms of St Helens Metropolitan Borough.

The borough council brought together the former County Borough of St Helens with the urban districts of Haydock, Newton-le-Willows and Rainford, parts of Billinge and Ashton-in-Makerfield along with part of Whiston Rural District.

The coat of arms becomes complex as it was considered necessary to represent all of the constituent areas on the new coat of arms. The story goes something like this.

The silver shield contains a number of devices.

The black cross is of Haydock and Eccleston and the two blue bars of Parr.

In the top left hand corner is the red diagonal cross of the Gerard Family, representing Ashton–in-Makerfield and Seneley Green.

In the top right hand corner is the black griffin of Bold, representing Rainhill, Bold and also Whiston rural district council.

To the bottom left hand corner is the red cross of Pilkingtons, representing Windle.

In the bottom right hand corner is the red crosslet of Billinge.

The crest above the helm is that of Lord Newton, representing the urban district councils of Newton and Haydock.

There is also the addition of two red fleur de lys on the body of the Ram.

The supporters, a golden lion and a black griffin, are differenced by seven red fleur de lys on the lion and seven black bars on the wing of the griffin, to denote the seven authorities which make up the Borough.

The motto Prosperitas in Excelsis (Latin) is taken from the Rainford Council badge of office, and translates as "Flourishing Well".

Sharp eyed readers will have noted that the motto Prosperitas in Excelsis does not appear on the badge as represented today. Very true, and there is a great story behind the reasons for the change in motto which occurred as recently as 2013.

In recent times some local people had advocated that the motto on the St Helens coat of arms be changed from 'Prosperitas in Excelsis' (Flourishing Well), to 'Ex Terra Lucem' (Out of the Earth - Light).

The Ex Terra Lucem motto had been particularly prominent in 2012 due to the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.

The writer of the Opening Ceremony was Frank Cottrell Boyce, born locally in Rainhill, who attended local schools. Frank Cottrell Boyce had made it clear that Ex Terra Lucem was a significant influence on the development of the Opening Ceremony.

It appeared to be particularly relevant to the development of the cauldron idea from which the Olympic Flame was lit.

The Opening Ceremony not only captured the imagination of people worldwide, but also led many people locally to question whether Ex Terra Lucem should be adopted as the motto on the coat of arms in place of Prosperitas in Excelsis.

It was felt that it was more appropriate to the town's history and had more meaning for local people, representing hope for the future. A number of people had raised this and requested that the Council consider replacing the motto.

A public consultation commenced on 17 January 2013 and at its meeting held on 17 April 2013, Council resolved to revert back to the original motto of 'Ex Terra Lucem'.

As with a number of these articles, space precludes further comments on the specific detail, particularly where that detail refers to the different families which have contributed to the history of the town.

Further reading is highly recommended for those with an interest in the history of what we might now refer to as a district.

Thanks to Jeff Voller of St Helens Town for his help in putting this article together.

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