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Wigan - The Home of the Pie Eaters.

Statue at Wigan Pier. - Wigan

Statue at Wigan Pier. - Wigan

Wigan - Northern Town.

We had not intended to go to Wigan, but unforeseen circumstances resulted in us spending two nights there. I had passed through Wigan many times by train and even occasionally changed trains there. I did not feel any excitement about the prospect of visiting, but I was glad to be proved wrong. Wigan turned out to have a long history, interesting sights and friendly people. I liked it and would happily stay there again.

We arrived in Wigan in the evening and did not do a great deal other than have dinner in The Moon Under Water - the local Wetherspoons. This pub takes its name from a written description by George Orwell of what his perfect pub would be like. As with most Wetherspoons, there were lots of pictures on the wall relating to local history. This provided me with clues about what there was to see. Next day Peter went to the football and I went to the George Formby statue, Wigan Pier, the Church of All Saints, Wigan Library/Museum, Mab's Cross, the market, the Wigan head. It poured down all day and I had a bout of fever during our stay, but none of the above wrecked our stay. I still enjoyed it.

Wigan is a town in Greater Manchester situated on the River Douglas. Wigan has a population of around 97,000. Wigan was an industrial town specialising in porcelain, clock making and coal mining. A new fact I learned about Wigan during our visit was: Wiganers are referred to as "pie-eaters".This dates back to the 1926 General Strike, when Wigan miners were starved back to work before their counterparts in surrounding towns and so were forced to metaphorically eat "humble pie".

Wigan Pier.

Like most people, I have heard of Wigan Pier due to the famous George Orwell book 'The Road to Wigan Pier'. He wrote this in 1937. I knew the pier was a joke thus thought it did not exist. I was surprised to learn it did. Wigan Pier is the area around the canal at the Wigan flight of locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The bit referred to as the pier was a coal loading staithe where wagons from a nearby colliery used to be unloaded onto barges. It no longer exists having been demolished in 1929. The joke that Wigan has a pier came from the following incident. In 1891, an excursion train to Southport got delayed. Someone asked: "Where the bloody hell are we?" and the answer from a local wit was 'Wigan Pier.' George Formby Sr. continued the joke in the music halls in Wigan. I liked this area, though it was a little lonely to walk on my own. I walked along the edges of the canal viewing old warehouses, statues and locks. Nearby was Trecherfield Mill. I did not visit the mill, but apparently it is worth visiting and has one of the largest still functioning steam engines in Britain. Trencherfield Mill steam engine is open every Sunday. Tours take place at 11am and 1pm.

The canal in Wigan. - Wigan

The canal in Wigan. - Wigan

Statue at Wigan Pier. - Wigan

Statue at Wigan Pier. - Wigan

Wigan Pier - Wigan

Wigan Pier - Wigan

Wigan Pier - Wigan

Wigan Pier - Wigan

Wigan Pier - Wigan

Wigan Pier - Wigan

Wigan Pier - Wigan

Wigan Pier - Wigan

Trencherfield Mill. - Wigan

Trencherfield Mill. - Wigan

George Formby statue.

George Formby is one of Wigan's native sons. There is a statue of him playing his famous ukelele in the Grand Arcade Shopping Centre. We took a look at it before Peter went off to his match. George Formby was an English actor, singer songwriter and comedian. He was born in Wigan in 1904. He started out in music halls, then became a major film star by the late 1930s and 1940s. He died in 1961.

large_7686231-George_Formby_statue_Wigan.jpg

The Church of All Saints.

After visiting Wigan Pier I walked to The Church of All Saints in Wallgate just off the main street. This is a beautiful building with a tall war memorial outside it. The Church of All Saints is an Anglican parish church. The oldest parts of the church date from the thirteenth century. The church has magnificent stain glass windows. Monuments in the church include effigies of Sir William de Bradshaigh and his wife, Mabel. They are well known local figures who once lived in Wigan's grand manor house in Haigh. There is a local legend about them which I will explain in my Mab's Cross tip. The war memorial outside the church dates from 1925 and was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott. It records the names of those who fell in both world wars. A very helpful man pointed out many of the church's interesting features and told me about its history. This church is definitely worth visiting.

The Church of All Saints - Wigan

The Church of All Saints - Wigan

The Church of All Saints - Wigan

The Church of All Saints - Wigan

The Church of All Saints - Wigan

The Church of All Saints - Wigan

The Church of All Saints - Wigan

The Church of All Saints - Wigan

The Church of All Saints - Wigan

The Church of All Saints - Wigan

The Museum of Wigan Life.

I am not hugely fond of museums but I visited The Museum of Wigan Life for two reasons: one to see the building itself, and two to get out of the non-stop pouring rain. The Museum of Wigan Life is located on Library Street. The building housing the museum was Wigan's first public library and its first building with electric light. It was designed by Alfred Waterhouse and opened in 1878. In 1936 George Orwell researched his book 'The Road to Wigan Pier' in the Reference Library upstairs in this building. This is still a Reference Library nowadays and is well worth a look. The downstairs part of the building deals with various aspects of Wigan life. Among other things it had sections on clock making, rugby, football, coal mining, pies. The museum is free entry. It has clean toilets and a gift shop. I bought some Uncle Joe's mints from here. Apparently they are a famous Wigan mint. Opening times Monday: 10am - 5pm, Tuesday: 10am 5pm, Wednesday: Closed, Thursday: 10am 5pm, Friday: 10am 5pm, Saturday: 11am 3pm, Sunday: Closed.

The Museum of Wigan Life. - Wigan

The Museum of Wigan Life. - Wigan

The Museum of Wigan Life - Wigan

The Museum of Wigan Life - Wigan

The Museum of Wigan Life -Wigan

The Museum of Wigan Life -Wigan

The Museum of Wigan Life - Wigan

The Museum of Wigan Life - Wigan

The Reference Library. - Wigan

The Reference Library. - Wigan

Mab's Cross.

I went looking for Mab's Cross because I kept reading or hearing about it everywhere I went in Wigan. I first came across it reading information in The Moon Under Water Pub, then in the Church of All Saints I saw the effigy of Lady Mabel from the legend. Then in The Museum of Wigan Life I came across it again. The site itself is not particularly impressive. In fact I initially walked past it without seeing it even though I was looking for it. Mab's Cross is a stone cross dating from the thirteenth century. It was one of four stone crosses which were used as way- markers on the medieval route from Wigan to Chorley. At one time it was located on the opposite side of the road from its present position. The cross is not much to look at, but has an interesting legend attached to it. The cross is named after Lady Mabel Bradshaw. Her husband, Sir William Bradshaw, failed to return from the crusades and she then married a Welsh knight. When Bradshaw unexpectedly returned after a ten year absence, he murdered his wife's new husband in Newton le Willows. Lady Mabel did penance for her bigamy by walking from Haigh Hall to a stone cross in Wigan "bare footed and bare legged" once a week for as long as she lived. Although the legend is not true, Sir William Bradshaw and his wife Mabel were real people. They lived in the manor house that is now the site of Haigh Hall. I would have liked to go and see Haigh Hall even though it is now a hotel, but after getting repeatedly soaked, I had to retreat to bed unwell for a few hours to recover.

Mab's Cross. - Wigan

Mab's Cross. - Wigan

Mab's Cross. - Wigan

Mab's Cross. - Wigan

The Face of Wigan.

The Face of Wigan is a large sculpture of a face located outside Wigan's civic centre. It was sculpted by Nick Kirby and paid for by Modus, the owners of the Grand Arcade. It is worth having a look at and is quite colourful.

The Wigan Face. - Wigan

The Wigan Face. - Wigan

The Wigan Face. - Wigan

The Wigan Face. - Wigan

The Mercure Wigan Oak Hotel.

We stayed here for two nights in August 2016. The hotel was about ten minutes walk from the Wigan North Western train station. Check in was fine. The room was clean and comfortable. It had tea/coffee making facilities and a safe, but no fridge. It was quiet at night. We had free wifi which worked fine. We ate in the hotel restaurant on our second night. Food was ok, but not great. Service was a bit slow and there were a lot of complaints. We did not complain, but we were given all our drinks free because of the slow service which was rather nice. At check out they tried to charge us for breakfasts we had not had. They removed them straight away when we complained but we were very clear that we did not want breakfast when we checked in so the mistake should not have been made. The location of the hotel is convenient for Wigan town centre, sights, bars, restaurants and shops. I would stay here again. Address: River Way, Wigan, Lancashire WN1.

A_meal_in_the_hotel_restaurant

A_meal_in_the_hotel_restaurant

The Moon Under Water.

The Moon Under Water is a Wetherspoon's pub so has cheap food and drink. We had fish and chips washed down with cider. There were displays on the walls about local history which helped me plan my next day's sightseeing. Good food and friendly service. Not too noisy for a Friday night. I've noticed lots of pubs called The Moon Under Water here's why : "The Moon Under Water" is a 1946 essay by George Orwell, in which he provided a detailed description of his ideal public house, which he named The Moon Under Water. Some of the features Orwell wanted were: The architecture and fittings must be Victorian. Games, such as darts, are only played in the public bar. The pub is quiet enough to talk in. The barmaids know the customers by name and take an interest in everyone. It sells tobacco and cigarettes, aspirins and stamps. It sells cheap, good quality food. It has a garden. Address: 57a Market Place, Wigan.

The Moon Under Water

The Moon Under Water

The Moon Under Water

The Moon Under Water

Wigan Market.

Wigan has rather an attractive market place plus lots of large shopping centres such as the Grand Arcade and the Galleries. Some of the shopping centres have their entrances in Tudor style buildings on the main street. There is a large Marks and Spencers in the Grand Arcade. Apparently Marks and Spencers originated in Wigan. Most well known high street stores can be found in the shopping arcades in Wigan. My visit to the market was in pouring rain, but I stopped off in the covered part and bought a pie for lunch.

Entrance to the galleries. - Wigan

Entrance to the galleries. - Wigan

Tudor style buildings on main street house shops. - Wigan

Tudor style buildings on main street house shops. - Wigan

Royal Arcade, Wigan. - Wigan

Royal Arcade, Wigan. - Wigan

Wigan market place. - Wigan

Wigan market place. - Wigan

Posted by irenevt 05:38 Archived in England

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