Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network

Meeting minutes

10.30am Monday 13th October 2008

Wigan History Shop


Present - John O'Neill (Chair, Greenheart Partnership Board) Joe Taylor (Billinge History & Heritage Society), Norma Ackers (Independent Local Historian), Margery Harrop (Leigh Family History Society), Avis Freeman, Jackie Roberts, Vincent France & June Trumble (ETNA), Carl Littler (Local Historian), Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society), Tom Glover (Wigan Archaeological Society), Tom Price & Peter Taylor (Wigan Civic Trust), Jason Kennedy & Steve Thompson (Wigan MBC), Philip Butler (Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust), Nigel Morley Wigan Finescale Railway Modellers, Geoff Jones (Red Rose Steam Society, Astley Green Colliery Museum), Norman Redhead (Greater Manchester Archaeology Unit)

Apologies - John Hill & Zenno Vattev (Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust), Brian Parr (Wigan Archaeological Society), Rev Ray Hutchinson (Wigan Parish Church), Glenys McLennan (Leigh and District Family History Society), Barbara Rhodes (Aspull and Haigh Heritage Society), Peter Goodwin (Mirabilis Media), Peter Guy (Gin Pit Village), David Lythgoe (Friends of Wigan Heritage), Dave Wilson (ETNA)

1.0. Welcome and introductions

1.1. John O'Neill welcomed everyone to the meeting.

2.0. Apologies

2.1. Apologies were noted and recorded.

3.0. Presentation about Wigan Borough's archaeological sites and the potential for community involvement at the sites - Norman Redhead Director of the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit

3.1. Norman explained that he was based at Manchester University. He shared information on the many archaeological sites in Greater Manchester such as Gin Pit Village, Etherstone Hall, Moston Hall, Northenden Mill, Wythenshawe Hall, Pell Hall Mote. Norman said that at these and many other sites, volunteers had been able to get involved with excavations. He went on to say that as a result of their involvement, some of the volunteers had gone on to further education and some are now on degree level courses.

Norman also spoke about the importance of including schools in site visits and open days to enable the learning experience on offer. Regarding Bickershaw, he reported that most of the site had been stripped of value by past open-cast mining, but stated that areas, such as Hurst Hall which is located near to a housing estate at Bickershaw, could in the near future be utilised as a community dig making it a point of interest that could feature on heritage trails and information boards.

3.2. John O'Neill thanked Norman for his well received presentation and stated that it gave all members present a broad spectrum of ideas for directly involving local communities in various aspects of their heritage.

4.0. Minutes of the last Meeting

4.1. The minutes of the previous meeting were reviewed, discussed and accepted as a true and accurate record.

5.0. Matters Arising.

5.1. John O'Neill reported that he had a very constructive meeting with Carole Tyldesley (Heritage Services Manager) on 23 September and discussed the work of the Heritage Sub-Group; how best to co-ordinate heritage issues with the Council and its partners; relevance of the Local Development Framework to the revision of the Heritage Strategy; significance of the Greenheart Regional Park; contributing articles to Past Forward by member organisations and advertising the network in that magazine; and the problem of a loan to finance a reprint of 'The Billingers'.

5.2. John also met Martin Kimber (Director Environmental Services) who agreed that with immediate effect, the Heritage Network would be given prior notice of any relevant development applications that needed its detailed consideration. The news was well received by the group.

5.3. Steve Thompson (Principal Planning Officer Environmental Services) gave a short presentation regarding the Wallgate Townscape Heritage Initiative that was being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. He explained that the project had the potential to make Wallgate an attractive gateway into the town centre. Steve went on to say that Leigh and Ashton could also benefit from similar initiatives in the future.

6.0. The Amalgamation of ETNA & Heritage Network

6.1 Avis Freeman reported that ETNA had agreed to amalgamate with Heritage Network.

6.2. Acting on behalf of the Wigan Borough Heritage Network, John O'Neill welcomed the former ETNA members to the group.

7.0. Local Planning Process for Sites of Heritage Interest.

7.1. John O'Neill had already reported on progress with Martin Kimber and Steve Thompson's presentation was noted.

7.2. John also reported that mapping points of heritage sites within the boundaries of the Greenheart Project would be an important future exercise for the group to undertake.

8.0 Cultural Partnership Issues:

8.1. Joe explained that John Hill had given apologies due to sick leave and so this item could not be discussed. He went on to say that the Heritage Network had two representatives on the Cultural Partnership, two on the Cultural Partnership Heritage Sub-Group and two on Encompass.

8.2. Philip Butler stressed the importance of the Cultural Partnership Heritage Sub-Group as a means of linking Heritage Network members to the Cultural Partnership and beyond.

9.0. Members News:

9.1. Tom Price reported on the interesting presentation given to the Civic Trust about the history of Wigan Infirmary.

9.2. Nigel Morley informed the meeting about the annual model railways exhibition to be held on 13th and 14th December at Robin Park Arena.

9.3. Geoff Jones reported that planning permission was being sought to extend the railway network at Astley Green Colliery.

9.4. Tom Glover spoke about the four ongoing projects currently being carried out by the Archaeological Society and reported that the river Douglas would in the near future be dammed at the bottom of Coppull Lane to act as a flood prevention measure. Tom concluded by saying that the recent resistivity surveys on Wigan Hall, prior to commencement, had not so far revealed evidence of a moat.

9.5. Joe Taylor reported that Billinge History/Heritage Society had been working hard to update the BLINT list and were very pleased with the work undertaken by the Council's conservation officers relating to this matter.

10.0. Time and Date of Next Meeting

10.30am Monday 24th November Wigan History Shop

Joe Taylor
October 08