Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network

Meeting minutes

10.30am Monday 3rd August 2009

Tudor House, Hindley

Present - John O'Neill (Greenheart Partnership Board); Joe Taylor (Billinge History / Heritage Society); Tom Price & Peter Taylor (Wigan Civic Trust); Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists); Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum); Jackie Roberts & Vince France (E.T.N.A); Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group); Tom Glover (Wigan Archaeology Society); Nigel Morley (Wigan Finescale Railway Modellers); Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage Society); Ann Rampling (Town Green Residents Association); A J Smith (County Bird Recorder), Rachel Orme (WL&CT).

Apologies - Colin Ives (Transition Town Wigan); Dave Wilson, (Bickershaw Conservation Group); Simon Martin (AGRA), Carole Tyldesley, Philip Butler (Wigan Leisure & Culture Trust); Glenys McClellan & Margery Harrop (Leigh & District Family History Society); Society); David Smallcross & Tony Bishop (Leigh Ornithological Society, Simon Martin (Lancs Local History Federation)

John O'Neill welcomed those present, noted apologies and opened the meeting.

Minutes last meeting: - True and accurate, passed

Matters arising: Martin Purcell, co-ordinator for the Greenheart Project, will report progress at future meetings

Presentation: Mark Crossfield officer responsible for Brickershaw north was unable to attend to give his presentation but an update would be reported to the next meeting.

Rachel Orme reported on the Heritage Capital Strategy (2009 - 2013).

In 2003 Wigan Council drew-up its first capital strategy for Wigan's heritage assets with a primary purpose of providing a prioritisation of projects from a host of potential large-scale (£50,000+) capital applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The success of that strategy (which had a 2003-2007 life-cycle) is outlined in the updated 2009-2013 strategy introduction.

During 2008 Wigan received Priority Area Status from the HLF, which has fostered the HLF's working in partnership with Wigan Council and Wigan Leisure & Culture Trust. These partners are currently working together to support the generation of more potentially successful applications for small-scale grants through their 'Your Heritage Programme' (under £50,000).

However, it was recognised that Wigan still needed to be able to respond to the Heritage Lottery Fund in terms of larger scale projects. In the Spring of 2008 relevant staff from Wigan Council, Wigan Leisure & Culture Trust and Wigan & Leigh CVS met to prepare the ground for the HLF priority area work which would commence in 2009, and this group has steered the development of the Heritage Capital Strategy 2009-2013. The group undertook consultation in the summer/autumn of 2008 with local stakeholders, and the outcome of that consultation is presented within the strategy.

The objective of this strategy is to support the prioritisation of large-scale applications (£10,000+) to the various strands of the HLF. The strategy is written with recognition of the more limited resources available to the HLF over the next four years, as well as the rapidly changing economic climate.

Rachel can be contacted for further information, including copies of the strategy, at r.orme@wlct.org

Member's News:

Tom Price (Civic Trust) has been working on the Heritage Open Days (10th - 13th September) list and has compiled it for distribution.

Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists) has also been working on the Heritage Open Days list

Jackie Roberts (ETNA) believed that there has been a 60% reduction in the Right Of Ways budget and that Funding for the Bickershaw North project had been withdrawn. Both items to be confirmed at the September meeting.

Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group) reported that the Heritage Gardens are now almost complete after three years work. These gardens would be a good place for the group to visit at a suitable time in the future.

Richard Savill (Atherton Heritage) has been out giving talks to various organisations. His group has been trying to get agreement regarding the placement of a plaque commemorating the Gibfield Colliery Pit Head Baths and believed to be the first of their kind in the industry.

Vince France (ETNA) commented that the Devonshire Sheltered Accommodation does have a commemoration plaque in place. It was named after a ship (a model of which is on display at Leigh Town Hall), as was the practice during the Second World War. He worked at Gibfield Colliery and remembers the pithead baths, whose construction was inspired by an incident with the colliery owner and a miner's wife, who complained about the lack of such a facility

Ann Rampling (Town Green Residents Association) explained how the huge effort that went into creating the community gardens is having beneficial spinoff via school involvement (art, drama, visits etc.) and in bringing the local community together.

Nigel Morley (Wigan Finescale Railway Modellers) reported on his society's show in December to be held at Robin Park. Members are currently doing repair work on a former members layout and interested persons can get information via www.wiganfrm.org.uk

Tom Glover (Wigan Archaeology Society) and society members have been engaged in the search for the ram-pump in Menses Park, which has taken four months to locate and has been a fascinating experience. School children have been involved in the project and many different methods have been tried and tested, including divining rods. The location of the ram-pump has been determined but it remains to be confirmed whether it is still intact and in working order.

Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum) has been organising family days at the museum and getting inquiries from schools, both local and from overseas. There was a burglary a little while back that has caused some disruption and inconvenience. Extensions to the railway system are still in progress but he hasn't managed to get the headgear onto the 'buildings at risk' national heritage list yet. Memorial gardens have been installed to commemorate the 100-year aniversery of the Astley Pit Mining Disaster.

Anne Smith (County Bird Recorder) reported that Peregrine Falcons have successfully fledged in Wigan Borough but Ravens unsuccessfully nested at JJB Stadium (the nest was destroyed) and on the old Welley Loop-Line.

Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society) reported on the double-decker bus trip organised in conjunction with Community North West that took a group of people to various points of local environment interest around the eastern part of the borough

Local Development Framework Preferred Options - heritage & environment concerns:

The chairman reported on core policies 9, 10, 11 & 12 as the most relevant to the Network and distributed copies of each. Members of the Network had been involved in discussions on 'the historic environment'. The draft core strategy will be published in 2010.

Report from the meeting with the county archaeology officer:

The chair reported on the meeting he had with Norman Redhead, county archaeology officer and others, on the 15 July, to discuss archaeology and heritage issues and other relevant opportunities across the borough.

A copy of the minutes of that meeting will be made available to members shortly.

Environment & Heritage Network Action Plan to 2009 -12:

Deferred to next meeting due to lack of time

Any other business:

Rachel Orme gave out a questionnaire regarding funding.

Tom Price handed out a list for Heritage Open Days, which is also available on Internet and via Borough Life

Joe Taylor reported that 'The Billingers' is almost ready for publication.

Next meeting:

Monday 21st September Tudor House 10.30