Wigan is a town in Greater
Manchester, England. It stands on the River Douglas, south of Preston,
west-northwest of Manchester, and east-northeast of Liverpool. Wigan is the largest settlement in the
Borough of Wigan and is its administrative centre.
of Wigan had a total population of 81,203 in 2001, whilst the wider
borough has a population of 305,600.
Historically a part of Lancashire, Wigan during classical antiquity was in the territory
of the Brigantes, an ancient Celtic tribe that ruled much of northern England.
The Brigantes were
subjugated in the Roman
conquest of Britain
during the 1st century, and it is asserted
that the Roman settlement of Coccium
was established where
Wigan lies. Wigan is believed to have been incorporated as a
1246 following the issue of a Charter
King Henry III of England
At the end
of the Middle Ages it was one of four
boroughs in Lancashire possessing Royal
charters, the others being Lancaster, Liverpool, and Preston.
During the Industrial
Wigan experienced dramatic economic expansion and a
rapid rise in the population. Although porcelain manufacture and
clock making had been major industries in the town, Wigan has since
become known as a major mill town
district. The first coal
mine was established at Wigan in 1450 and at its peak there were
1,000 pit shafts within of the town centre. Mining was so extensive
that one of its town councillors once remarked that "a coal mine in
the backyard was not uncommon in Wigan". Coal mining ceased during
the latter part of the 20th century. In 1974, Wigan became a part
of Greater Manchester.
Wigan Pier, a wharf on the Leeds and
Liverpool Canal, was made famous by the writer George Orwell.
In his book,
The Road to Wigan
, Orwell highlighted the poor working and living
conditions of the local inhabitants during the 1930s. Following the
decline of industrial activities in the region, Wigan Pier's
collection of warehouses and wharfs became a local heritage centre
and cultural quarter. The DW Stadium is home to both Wigan
Warriors Rugby League Football Club and Wigan Athletic Football Club,
teams both in the top-flight national leagues of their
The 25,000-seat DW Stadium is rated as one of the
best rugby league
stadiums in the
The name Wigan has been dated to at least the 7th century and
probably originally meant a "village" or "settlement". It has also
been suggested that the name is Celtic
, named after a person called Wigan.
This may have been linked with Tref
) to give an original name of
TrefWigan. The name of the town has been recorded variously as
Wigan in 1199, Wygayn in 1240, and Wygan in numerous historical
very little evidence of prehistoric activity in the area,
especially pre-Iron Age, however Celtic names in the area around
Wigan – such as Bryn, Makerfield, and Ince – indicate that the Celtic people of Britain
were active in the area in the Iron
The first people believed to have settled in the
Wigan area were the Brigantes
, a Celtic
tribe who controlled most of northern Britain. In the 1st century,
the area was conquered by the
. The late 2nd century Antonine Itinerary mentions a Roman
settlement called Coccium from the Roman
fort at Manchester (Mamucium) and from the fort at Ribchester (Bremetennacum).
Although the distances are slightly out,
it has been assumed that Coccium is Roman Wigan. Possible
derivations of Coccium include from the Latin coccum
meaning "scarlet in colour, scarlet cloth", cocus
"cook". Roman finds from Wigan include coins, a Mithratic temple
beneath the Parish church, possible evidence for the remains of a
Roman fort at Ship Yard, and what is most likely a mansio
– effectively a Roman hotel –
with its own hypocaust and bath house. Despite evidence of
Roman activity in the area, there is no conclusive evidence of
Wigan being the same site as Coccium and it has been suggested that
it could be located at Standish to the north of Wigan.
Anglo-Saxon period, the area was
probably under the control of the Northumbrians and later the Mercians.
In the early 10th century there was an
influx of Scandinavians expelled from Ireland. This can be seen in
place names such as Scholes – now a part of Wigan – which derives
from the Scandinavian skali meaning "hut".
evidence comes from some street names in Wigan which have
Wigan is not mentioned in the Domesday
Book, possibly because it was included in the Neweton barony
(now Newton-le-Willows), it is thought that the mention of a church in the
manor of Neweton is Wigan parish
Although Wigan parish church was
mentioned in the Domesday Book, the current building dates to the
The rectors of the parish church were lords of the manor
of Wigan, a sub-manor
of Neweton, until the 19th century.
The incorporation of Wigan as a borough happened in 1246 following
the issue of a Charter
by King Henry III
to John Maunsel, the
local church rector and lord of the manor. The borough was later
granted another Charter in 1257–1258, allowing the lord of the
manor to hold a market on every Monday and two annual fairs.
visited Wigan in 1323
in an effort to stabilise the region which had been the source of
the Banastre Rebellion in 1315. Edward stayed in nearby Upholland Priory and held court in the town over a period of
several days. During the medieval period Wigan expanded
and prospered and in 1536, antiquarian
John Leland described the
town, saying "Wigan paved; as big as Warrington and better builded.
There is one parish
church amid the town. Some merchants, some artificers, some
In the English Civil War
people of the town were Royalists
. James Stanley, 7th Earl of
, who was a prominent and influential Royalist made Wigan
his headquarters. Despite fortifications build around the town,
Wigan was captured by Parliamentarian
forces on 1 April 1643. The take over was complete in two
hours and the town was pillaged before the defences were broken
down and the Parliamentarians retreated. The Earl of Derby was
absent when the town fell. In 1648, Royalist forces under James Hamilton, 1st Duke of
Hamilton, occupied Wigan after they had been defeated by
Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of
The soldiers looted the town as they
retreated to Warrington, and afterwards it experienced pestilence.
Cromwell himself described Wigan as "a great and poor town, and
Wigan Lane was fought on 25 August 1651 during the
Third English Civil War,
between Royalists under the command of the James Stanley, Earl of
Derby, and elements of the New Model
Army under the command of Colonel Robert Lilburne.
The Royalists were
defeated, and although Stanley was injured he managed to escape.
Lord of Mann, he had enlisted ten men
from each parish in the Isle of Man, 170 in total.
David Craine states, "those
who did not fall in the fighting [were] hunted to their death
through the countryside". A monument on Wigan Lane stands in memory
of Sir Thomas Tyldesley
Royalist, who was killed at the Battle of Wigan Lane.
Trencherfield Mill is an example of
one of Wigan's mills being converted for modern use.
Wigan was described by Celia Fiennes
a traveller, in 1698 as "a pretty market town built of stone and
brick". In 1720, the moot hall
rebuilt, funded by the member of the borough. It was used as the
town hall and the earliest reference to it dates from the 15th
century. Prior to its final destruction in 1869, the hall was
rebuilt in 1829. Wigan's status as a centre for coal
production, engineering and textiles in the 18th century led to the
Navigation in the 1740s, the canalisation of part of the River
Douglas, and later the diversion of the Leeds and
Liverpool Canal in the 1790s at the request of the mill owners, to
transport coal from the Lancashire coal pits to Wigan's mills and
was also used extensively to transport local produce.
, Wigan was an important centre
manufacture during the Industrial Revolution
; however it wasn't
until the 1800s that cotton factories began to spread into the
town. This was due to a dearth of fast-flowing streams and rivers
in the area, but by 1818 there were eight cotton mills in the
Wallgate part of Wigan. In 1818 William Woods introduced the first
to the Wigan cotton mills. These
mills swiftly became infamous for their dangerous and unbearable
conditions, low pay and use of child
. As well as being a mill town, Wigan was also an
important centre for coal production. It was recorded that in 1854
there were 54 collieries in and around the town, about a sixth
of all collieries in Lancashire.
1830s Wigan became one of the first towns in Britain to be served
by a railway; the line had connections to Preston and the
Wigan began to dominate as a cotton
town in the late 19th century, and this lasted until the mid-20th
century. In 1911 the town was described as an "industrial
town ... occupying the greater part of the township, whilst
its collieries, factories ... fill the atmosphere with smoke".
After the Second World War
there was a
boom followed by a slump from which Wigan's textile industry did
not recover. While the town's cotton and coal industries declined
in the 20th century, the engineering industry did not go into
recession. The last working cotton mill, May Mill, closed in
In 1937, Wigan was prominently featured in George Orwell
's The Road to Wigan Pier
dealt, in large part, with the living conditions of England's
working poor. Some have embraced the Orwellian link, as it has
provided the area with a modest tourist base over the years. Others
regard this connection as disappointing, considering it an
insinuation that Wigan is no better now than it was at the time of
Since 2004, the town of Wigan has been divided between five of the
metropolitan borough, each returning 3 councillors to the 75-member
borough council. The five wards are: Douglas, Pemberton,
Wigan Central, Wigan West and Worsley Mesnes.
The metropolitan council provides the local
The seal of Wigan depicted the moot
hall and was used instead of a coat of arms.
It was in use from the 17th century until 1922.
At the Norman Conquest, the settlement of Wigan was part of the
larger parish of Wigan which, the majority of which was within the
hundred of Newton
26 August 1246, Wigan was granted a Royal Charter, making the
town a free borough. This happened after Salford was granted its Charter in 1230 and before
Manchester in 1301.
As a borough, Wigan was represented in
the Model Parliament
by two burgesses
of the borough. The Charter
allowed taxes to be made on transactions made in the borough by
tradesmen and permitted the local burgesses to establish a guild
that would regulate trade in the borough.
Non-members of the guild were not allowed to do business in the
borough without permission from the burgesses. It is thought that
when the Charter was reconfirmation in 1350 it was changed,
allowing the election of a mayor of Wigan for the first time. Three
burgesses were elected to be presented to the lord of the manor who
would choose one man to be mayor for a year.
There was rivalry between the lords of the manor and borough. The
lord of the manor complained in 1328 that the burgesses were
holding private markets, from which he gained no revenue. The
rivalry continued in the 16th century, with Bishop Stanley
unsuccessfully challenging the right of the burgesses to hold
markets, believing it should be the right of the lord of the manor.
In 1583 the corporation
of the borough
attempted to usurp the lord of the manor by laying claim to the
lordship. They did so because they felt they were fulfilling the
duties of the lord: to improve waste and common land
and allowing construction on this
land, running courts, and mining coal. A compromise was reached,
dividing some power between the two parties.
Under the Municipal
Corporations Act 1835
, the town was reformed and was given a
commission of the peace
borough was divided into five wards
with a town council of
forty members: two aldermen
representing each ward.
Rectors from the local parish church were the lords of the manor
since records began until 2 September 1861. On this date, the
borough corporation bought the rights associated with the lordship.
The Local Government Act
constituted all municipal
with a population of 50,000 or more as "county boroughs
", exercising both borough and
county powers. Wigan accordingly became a county borough on 1 April
1889, giving it independence from Lancashire County Council. Ward
boundaries were altered, and the county borough was divided into
ten wards, each electing one alderman and three councillors.
former area of Pemberton Urban District was annexed to the County
Borough of Wigan in 1904, adding four extra wards to the
borough. In 1974 the County Borough of Wigan was
abolished and its former area transferred to form part of the
Borough of Wigan.
in the Wigan Parliamentary
constituency, which was recreated in 1547 after having covered
the borough in the late 13th century.
From 1640 until the
Redistribution of Seats
, the constituency returned two Members of Parliament
(MPs), from then
on it had only one. Since 1918, the constituency has been
represented by the Labour Party
is the incumbent Member of Parliament
for Wigan and has
represented the constituency since 1999.
(53.5448, −2.6318), Wigan lies respectively to the west and north
of Hindley and Ashton-in-Makerfield, and is about west of Manchester
city centre and north-east of St Helens, Merseyside.
historic town of Wigan forms a tightly-integrated conurbation along
with the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan districts of Orrell and Ince-in-Makerfield, this is connected by ribbon development to
Standish and Abram. These areas, together with the West
Lancashire town of
Skelmersdale, are defined by the Office for National
Statistics as the Wigan Urban Area, with a total population of
|2001 UK census
According to the Office
for National Statistics
, at the time of the United Kingdom Census 2001
had a population of 81,203. The 2001 population density was , with
a 100 to 95.7 female-to-male ratio. Of those over 16 years old,
28.9% were single (never married) and 45.0% married. Wigan's 34,069
households included 29.7% one-person, 38.9% married couples living
together, 8.5% were co-habiting
couples, and 10.8% single parents with their children. Of those
aged 16–74, 38.5% had no academic qualifications
this was significantly higher than the average for the borough as a
whole and England.
In 1931, 9.4% of Wigan's population was middle class
compared with 14% in England and
Wales, and by 1971, this had increased to 12.4% compared with 24%
nationally. Parallel to this slight increase in the middle classes
of Wigan was the decline of the working
population. In 1931, 38.7% were working class compared
with 36% in England and Wales; by 1971, this had decreased to 33.5%
in Wigan and 26% nationwide. The rest of the population was made up
of clerical workers and skilled manual workers or other
miscellaneous. The slow decrease in the working class goes against
the trend for a steeper national decline, reinforcing the
perception of Wigan as a working class town.
As of the 2001 UK census, 87.7% of Wigan's residents reported
themselves as being Christian, 0.3% Muslim, 0.2% Hindu, and 0.1%
Buddhist. The census recorded 6.2% as having no religion, 0.1% had
an alternative religion and 5.4% did not state their religion.
is part of the Anglican Diocese of
Liverpool and the Roman
Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool.
|Population growth in Wigan since 1901
County Borough 1901–1971 Urban Subdivision
|Population of working age
|Full time employment
|Part time employment
The Grand Arcade shopping centre was opened on 22 March 2007.
Construction, which cost £120M, started in 2005 on the site of
Wigan Casino and The Ritz. The area around the pier is being
developed, undergoing a 10-year project rebranding the area as the
"Wigan Pier Quarter". Trencherfield Mill, at the centre of the pier
development, will be refurbished and used to house a hotel, a
restaurant, a cafe, shops, and 200 apartments. Other
developments in the pipeline include a new swimming baths, central
library, children's library and local government services "Hub" to
be built on the same site as the current baths. Plans for an
18-storey tower block called the "Tower Grand" were suspended in
2008 due to a slump in the residential homes market. The Galleries
Shopping Centre houses a shops as well as a indoor market.
Market Place and the Grand
The former Westwood power station site which was transformed
recently into the Westwood Park business park and features a large
amount of Wigan MBC office space will be further transformed by the
creation of a textiles centre in co-operation with the Chinese
state owned trading company Chinamex at a cost of £125M. Up to of
manufacturing and research space will be created along with an
estimated 1,000 jobs. Chinamex which represents 70% of the
Chinese textiles industry and has 6,300 member companies will in
addition offer space in the development to member companies for up
to two years at a time to allow the establishment of a British
subsidiary before moving on to dedicated premises.
chain of bookmakers
has its headquarters in Wigan,
providing about 300 jobs in the town. H. J.
are amongst the largest
food manufacturers in Europe. Their site in Wigan is the largest
food processing facility in Europe. JJB
, a nationwide sports clothing retailer, was founded in
Wigan as a sports shop by John Jarvis Broughton (later JJ Bradburn)
and was bought and expanded by businessman Dave Whelan
also based in the town. William Santus & Co. Ltd, confectioner
and producer of Uncle Joe's Mint
, is based in Wigan.
According to the 2001 UK census, the industry of employment of
residents aged 16–74 was 22.4% retail and wholesale, 18.8%
manufacturing, 10.2% health and social work, 8.6% construction,
8.0% property and business services, 7.4% transport and
communications, 6.5% education, 5.2% public administration, 4.1%
hotels and restaurants, 2.7% finance, 0.7% energy and water supply,
0.4% agriculture, 0.1% mining, and 4.8% other. Compared to national
figures, Wigan had high rates of employment in retail and wholesale
(16.9% in England) and manufacturing (14.8% in England), and
relatively low levels of employment in agriculture (1.5%). The
census recorded the economic activity of residents aged 16–74, 1.9%
students were with jobs, 2.9% students without jobs, 5.9% looking
after home or family, 10.2% permanently sick or disabled, and 3.2%
economically inactive for other reasons.
Wigan's long history is reflected in its 216 listed buildings
, of which are
20 Grade II*
as being a Grade II* listed structure, Mab's Cross is the only Scheduled Monument
in the town out of 12 in the borough.
It is a medieval stone
cross that probably dates from the 13th century. There is a lenged
surrounding the cross that Lady Mabel Bradhaw, wife of Sir William
Bradshaw, did penance by walking from her home, Haigh Hall
, to the cross once a week barefoot for
. There is no evidence the
legend is true as there is no record that Lady Mabel was married to
anyone other than Sir William Bradshaw, and several facets of the
story are incorrect. Haigh Hall was built in 1827–1840 on the site
of a medieval manor house
of the same
name, which was demolished in 1820. The hall is surrounded by a
country park, featuring areas of woodland and parkland.
The pavilion in Mesnes Park in
Designed by John McClean, Mesnes Park was opened in 1878; McClean
was chosen to design the park through a competition. There is a
pavilion in the centre and a lake. The Heritage Lottery Fund
£1.8M to regenerate the park and Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council
added £1.6M to that figure. The pavilion and grandstand will be
restored. The Mesnes Park is north-west of Wigan town centre. It
receives 2 million visitors a year and hosts the Wigan One
Wigan's war memorial was unveiled in 1925. Designed by Giles Gilbert Scott
and funded through
public donations, the monument is now a Grade II* listed building
and commemorates the fallen soldiers from the town in the First
World War and other conflicts. In 2006, the plaques bearing the
names of the dead were stolen; a year later they were replaced
through council funding. There is also a memorial on Wigan Lane
which marks the site where Sir Thomas Tyldesley died in 1651 at the
Battle of Wigan Lane.
The Face of Wigan, located in the town centre since 2008 is a
stainless steel sculpture of a face. Creater by sculptor Rick Kirby
, The Face stands and cost
Stadium is owned by Wigan
Athletic F.C., the club shares the stadium with Wigan Warriors Rugby League Football
It is situated in the Robin Park area of the town.
The 25,000-seat stadium is rated as one of the best rugby league
stadiums in the country. It was
opened in August 1999, cost £30 million to build, and was
called the JJB Stadium until 1 August 2009 when it was renamed
the DW Stadium. Wigan Warriors and Wigan Athletic moved into
the ground on its completion from their old homes, Central
Park and Springfield Park respectively.
Wigan Warriors compete in the
Athletic play in the Premier League
The area has a strong tradition of rugby
, and the main rugby union
team in the town is the amateur Orrell
; before turning amateur in in 2007, the team was
professional and played in the Guinness Premiership
The first professional football club in the town, Wigan Borough,
was formed in 1920 and was one of the founder members of the
Football League Third
in the 1921/22 season. The team was withdrawn
from the league in the 1931/1932 season. Wigan Athletic Football
Club was formed in 1932 and were elected to the Football League
in 1978. The club was
promoted to the Premier League
they have remained there ever since, reaching the Football League Cup
final in their first
season. The football club has ground-shared with rugby club Wigan
Warriors at the DW Stadium since it opened in 1999, after 67 years
playing at the Springfield Park stadium which had been Wigan
Borough's home. The old football stadium was redeveloped as a
housing estate after Wigan Athletic relocated. The town is also home
to non-league side Wigan Robin Park Football
Wigan's international-standard swimming pool in the town centre, is
currently closed for redevelopment and is expected to re-open in
2011. It was built In 1966 at a cost of £692,000 (£ as of ), Wigan
BEST, called Wigan Wasps until 2004, is the town's resident
swimming club. It has produced Olympic
standard swimmers, including medal winner June Croft
Wigan has staged motorcycle speedway racing at two different
venues. Poolstock Stadium was the home of Wigan Warriors in 1947.
The team moved to Fleetwood in 1948, although they raced at
Poolstock again in 1960. Woodhouse Lane Stadium was used briefly in
the early 1950s when the team was known as the Panthers.
Wigan Warlords are an Inline Hockey
team that are the current Under 16 national champions and European
Bronze medalists. The club features players from all across Wigan
and surrounding areas.
home to a number of colleges of Further Education including
College, St John Rigby, Runshaw and Wigan and Leigh College which offers
a wide range of courses in vocational and academic subjects.
Community High School, St Peter's Catholic High School,
School and St. John Fisher Catholic High
School, Abraham Guest High School (Which is to be rebuilt
in 2009), PEMBEC High School,
Shevington High School, Rose Bridge High School, Hindley Community
High School, Byrchall High School, Our Lady Queen of Peace RC High
School, St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School and Hawkley Hall High School (With many
specialist facilities and is a Specialist Engineering College
Wigan has been well known for its popular
since the days of George Formby Snr
and George Formby Jnr
. It was the birthplace of
The Eight Lancashire Lads
a dancing troupe who gave the young Charlie Chaplin
his professional debut. One
member of the troupe was a John Willie Jackson, The "John Willie"
to whom George Formby would often refer in his songs. Local bands
that gained wider repute include The
, The Railway
, The Tansads
are one of the most important British rock groups of the
1990s, finding success in the UK and abroad (even touring on the
USA's famous Lollapalooza
rock festival). The band was formed when the members met at
College in 1989.
Casino was the location for Wigan's weekly Northern Soul all-nighters.
began as a dance hall called Empress Ballroom. Wigan Casino rose to
prominence in the 1970s, and in 1978 was named "best disco in the
world" by Billboard
an American music magazine. The building was gutted by fire in 1982
and demolished the next year. This was the inspiration for the 1989
dance record Wigan
Wigan remains a centre of popular music for young people, with a
number of alternative pubs/clubs in the town centre. The town also
has a music collective which exists to promote the scene and help
out local musicians and bands. They host bi-weekly gigs at The Tudor and
also host various other activities such as the annual Haigh
Hall Music Festival, which attracted around 7,000 guests
The Collective also offers recording sessions and
gig advice for young musicians. Throughout the early 1990s The Den
was a popular venue for bands with acts such as Green Day
heading over to play. The Lux Club was a
popular venue during the mid 2000's before it went the same way as
the Den and the Casino before it, demolished. The town currently
has a host of venues putting on gigs for upcoming local bands
including The Tudor, Club Nirvana, Kings Electric, The Boulevard,
The Waiting Room and The Swinley. NXNW have hosted the annual Wigan
Festival of Art, Music and Literature known as North By North Western
. The collective is a voluntary non-profit making
organisation and the festival takes place at various venues across
Wigan is home to the annual World Pie Eating Championship
usually held at Harry's Bar on Wallgate, Wigan. The competition has
been held since 1992 and in 2007 a vegetarian option was added.
Wiganers are sometimes referred to as "pie-eaters". The name dates
from the 1926 General Strike when Wigan miners were starved back to
work before their counterparts in surrounding towns and were forced
to metaphorically eat "humble pie
Wigan lies on the meeting point of two primary A
, the A49
which link to the M6
, M61 motorway
. Increased traffic in
recent years, encouraged by retail development, has resulted in
very congested main roads for most of the day. This situation is
linked to the town's geography, with river valleys and railway
lines impeding road improvement.
There are two railway stations in Wigan town centre. Wigan North
Western is on the electrified north–south
Main Line. Virgin Trains
provides express trains to London Euston, Birmingham, Lancaster, Carlisle, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Northern Rail
has trains to Preston and Blackpool and a regular local service along the line to
Helens and Liverpool
Lime Street. Wigan Wallgate serves lines running east and west from
Wigan. Northern Rail
provides trains to Southport and Kirkby (with
connections to Liverpool Central and the Merseyrail
system). A frequent local service also operates to
Manchester (Victoria and Piccadilly), with most trains from Wigan continuing through to
other destinations such as Manchester Airport, Stockport, Rochdale and (until a line closure in October 2009) Oldham.
railway station serves the Pemberton area of the town.
A network of local buses, coordinated by Greater
Manchester Passenger Transport Executive
(GMPTE) and departing
from the bus station in the town centre, serves Wigan and district.
Wigan bus station is also served by National Express
long distance services.
Other bus companies operating in the area include First Manchester
, South Lancs Travel
, and Stagecoach North West
on the Leeds and
Liverpool Canal and is epitomised by Wigan Pier. There is also a branch of the canal from
Wigan to Leigh, with a connection to the Bridgewater Canal which links Wigan to
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