Two historic stone seats designed for migrant workers listed

Installed around 1860 in Cheshire, the stone seats have been listed at Grade II

Two stone seats in Cheshire, which were installed as a resting spot for migrant workers 160 years ago, have been listed.

Known as Travellers’ Rest stones, the pair of seats in Warrington are spaced around two miles apart, aside a once busy walking route from Liverpool to Manchester.

The pair of stone seats have been listed at Grade II by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.

Historic England says only around 12 of the stones are known to have survived, many others have since been moved and damaged.

Four other example of the Traveller’ Rest stones, which were previously thought to be blocks for mounting horses, have been relisted and their entries on the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) updated to correctly outline their use.

Historic England said the stones were thought to be the resting place of Irish migrant workers and young female migrants “hoping to fill domestic roles left vacant by their urban counterparts who left for factory work.”

Travellers' Rest stone at Swan Green, Winwick, Warrington © Historic England Contributed to the Missing Pieces Project by Crispin Edwards

They were designed by Warrington resident, Dr James Kendrick, who was inspired by the donation of drinking fountains in Liverpool in 1859 by philanthropist Charles Melly.

The lower steps of the stones were intended for children and as a footrest for mothers so they could breastfeed. Most of these stones are inscribed with ‘Travellers’ Rest’ and the date.

“These Travellers’ Rest stones were a thoughtful, well-designed and welcome place to rest for migrant workers and their families, many from Ireland, who walked miles to find work harvesting crops,” explained Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England.

“It’s right that these journeys should be remembered by the listing of two new Travellers’ Rest stones in Cheshire. They illustrate the incredible diversity of our heritage and its capacity to shed light on different aspects of past lives.”