With a thorough revamp of the Wigan Pier Quarter under way, exciting new developments will include a new arts and heritage centre with the treasured Trencherfield Mill Steam Engine still as top attraction. A choice of heritage guided walks depart from both Wigan Pier alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal and from the central heritage base - the Museum of Wigan Life, which has on-site permanent exhibition 'Founded on Coal'. The Museum of Wigan Life is a good place to explore Wigan's fascinating history.The Leeds Liverpool Canal, and Wigan's famous 20 plus locks are ingrained in the town's history. The superb choice of guided walks dig deep into industrial heritage and the Leeds Liverpool Canal, but also other themes which features strongly in Wigan's heritage - sport and music.
Wigan is a famous centre for both Northern Soul and Jazz. The annual July Wigan Jazz Festival boasts a host of famous jazz names playing live in both small venues and at the mighty DW Stadium. Other festivals in the town include the Wigan Beer Festival in March.The DW Stadium is home to both Wigan Athletic FC and the famous Wigan Warriors Rugby Club. The Stadium also hosts numerous big concerts and musical events and boasts extensive conference and events facilities. Wigan Tourist Information Centre, 62 Wallgate, Wigan WN1 1BA. Tel. 01942 825677.
Currently undergoing considerable regeneration, the Wigan Pier Quarter is set to get a brand new arts and heritage learning centre with the historic Trencherfield Mill Steam Engine forming the centre piece. Former museums on the site including Opies and 'The Way We Were' Heritage attraction are now no more, however plans look set to dig even deeper into Wigan's fascinating history, particularly its industrial heritage connected to the mighty Leeds Liverpool Canal which is at the very core of this one time industrial powerhouse centre's history. The Wigan Coal and Iron Co. works employed around 10,000 in the early 20th century and was one of the largest ironworks in Britain. The Museum of Wigan Life in the Town Centre reveals more via exhibitions like 'Founded on Coal'. Wigan Pier has always been famous as the home of the Trencherfield Mill Steam Engine built around 100 years ago and the largest and most beautifully preserved of its type. Weekend free sessions currently run on Sundays when you can see the Engine in action.
Also a number of heritage walking and cycling trails run alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal on the Towpath from Wigan Pier to Arley Hall, Wigan Pier to Appley Bridge and Wigan Pier to Leigh Bridge. Download leaflet guides for these trails via the Wigan Heritage weblink right. Guided heritage walks led by Blue Badge Guides and Countryside Rangers are available too, all part of the Pies, Piers & Pilgrim Father Tours. Guided Walks choice includes Wigan Town Centre Magical History Tour lasting around 2 hours. This one commences at the Museum of Wigan Life visiting the old Wigan Reference Library where George Orwell researched his famous book 'The Road to Wigan Pier', looking into mine working and housing conditions and public health records. You'll also take in the site of the famous Wigan Casino, famed for its Northern Soul and voted 'Best Disco in the World' by Billboard Magazine in 1978! The Casino sadly burnt down shortly after its closure in the early 1980s, however it has a new 'spiritual home' on the web - see the Wigan Casino weblink right. The site offers an excellent guide to Northern Soul events and weekenders across the country. The Wigan Pier Heritage Walk, also around 2 hours, explores the industrial heritage along the Leeds Liverpool Canal taking in the famous 23 locks on the steep climb of the canal at Wigan. The canal pushes on up to Haigh Hall and the Leeds Liverpool Canal Walks move up this way via the Douglas Valley. Contact Wigan Tourist Information Centre for more details and booking on guided walks and view the Guided Walks weblink right for more detail.
Wigan Tourist Information Centre, 62 Wallgate, Wigan WN1 1BA. Tel. 01942 825677. For information on the Trencherfield Mill Steam Engine & Wigan Pier Quarter developments Tel. 01942 323666. Trencherfield Mill Engine, Wigan Pier Quarter, Pottery Road, Wigan.
For a superb insight into Wigan's heritage, particularly coal production and ironworks in the 'Founded on Coal' exhibition visit The Museum of Wigan Life, Library Street.
Wigan's annual acclaimed International Jazz Festival is spread across 9 days in mid July. It's no mistake that one of the best of the UK Jazz festivals is based here in Wigan. The town has a musical heritage to beat all with famous names such as George Formby heralding from here. Famous venues ingrained on the memories of many in Wigan include the old Empress Ballroom and the award winning Wigan Casino which really kicked off the Northern Soul boom in Lancashire and the North West from the early 1970s. Big soul names often perform in the area as Wigan, Blackburn and Preston are all heritage hotspots for Northern Soul. A jazz club was here in Wigan in the early 1950s, and Jazz too has a long history in the town. Checkout the Wigan Jazz Festival's weblink right for artists performing in the next festival - you can expect some big jazz names. Venues used for the festival include Wigan's mammoth DW Stadium plus a selection of more intimate venues like the Tudor House and Wigan Cricket Club. Jazz in Mesnes Park is also on the menu.
Both theatre and art are well represented in the town, with a particular local focus. The historic Wigan Little Theatre on Crompton Street offers a selection of award winning drama performances throughout the year. The beautiful building is a converted old cinema. Checkout the little theatre's webguide right for forthcoming performances. The Drumcroon Gallery's exhibition programme is an exciting mix of international and local contemporary visual arts. With several artists in residence, the gallery has recently shown work by the Portuguese artist Paula Rego. A craft shop is on-site. Drumcroon's webguide link right lists forthcoming and previous exhbiitions.
Wigan Little Theatre, Crompton Street, Wigan, Lancashire, WN1 3SL. Tel. 01942 242561.
The Drumcroon Gallery, Wigan Education Art Centre, 2 Parsons Walk, Wigan, WN1 1RS. Tel. 01942 321840. See also nearby at Leigh the Turnpike Gallery, Civic Square, Leigh, Gtr. Manchester WN7 1EB. Tel. 01942 404469.
Situated on the east bank of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, Wigan's famous Grade II listed stately home Haigh Hall is set within 250 acres of woodland and parkland. Site for numerous events throughout the year including Craft Fairs, and offering regular guided tours of the Hall, the main house is a pre-Tudor Mansion which was rebuilt by the Earl of Crawford from 1830 to 1849.
The Hall is a popular venue for both conference and wedding events, (see Haigh's webguide right for details). The grounds are free to enter and are open daily with a host of amenities including a gift shop and cafe, a craft gallery, nature and woodland trails, a children's playground and a miniature railway.
Crazy golf (open between Easter and September and a golf complex are also on-site. The extensive golf facilities on-site include Balcarres 18th hole course, Crawford 9 hole short course and the Himalayan Putting Gree. Details are via Haigh's weblink.
Haigh Hall & Country Park, Haigh, Wigan, WN2 1PE. Tel. 01942 832895.
Opened in 1999, the mighty DW Stadium in Wigan, home to both Wigan Athletic Football Club and one of the most famous rugby teams in the world - the Wigan Warriors, has a seating capacity of 25,135. The stadium has been a real boost particularly for Wigan Athletic's rise.
Members of the Super League, the Wigan Warriors came from early humble beginnings when the club was founded in 1872 to become one of the most famous sports clubs in the world. Local rivalry with neighbouring St Helens is legendary.
The multi-purpose DW stadium offers extensive conference and events facilities. (see the weblink right for details and how to book). Live Acts, concerts and themed nights run throughout the year too with tribute bands a particular favourite. You can take a tour of the DW Stadium - details are given on the Wigan Warrior's webguide. The tour traces the history of the Wigan Warriors team with footage of all the greats and the move from Central Park (previous Wigan Warriors stadium from 1902 until 1999) to the DW Stadium. Tel. 01942 770437 for details.
DW Stadium, Loire Drive, Robin Park, Wigan, WN5 0UH. Tel. 01942 774000.