Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network

Meeting minutes

10.30 a.m. Monday 19th April 2010 at Tudor House, Hindley

Present-John O'Neill (Greenheart Partnership Board), Peter Goodwin (Mirabilis Media), David Wilson, David Shallcross & Tony Bishop (Leigh Ornithological Society), Jackie Roberts (Bridleways), Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum), Thomas Price & Peter Taylor (Wigan Civic Trust), Glenys McClellan (Leigh Family History Society), Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists), Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group), Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage), Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society), Jason Kennedy (Wigan Council), Rachel Bryant (Wigan Heritage Services), Tom Glover (Discovery Group).

Apologies- Mary Pennington (Wigan Archaeology Society), Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society), Jenny Tunney (Wigan MBC conservation dept), Brian Parr (Discovery Group), Marge Harrop (Leigh Family History Society)

Presentation by Mark Champion from Lancashire Wildlife Trust on 'Operations in Wigan's Greenheart':

Most of the sites that LWT are working on in Greenheart are post-industrial with urban problems of spoil and misuse (motorbikes etc)
Mark has been at LWT for over ten years and in that time the organisation has achieved significant restoration success
Reedbed restoration at Wigan Flashes has removed 2.8 million tonnes of post-industrial spoil, created 12km of ditches & paths, 35 hectares of new reedbed and restored another 40 hectares.
The flashes were created suddenly by deliberate subsidence approximately 100 years ago, but are now an important reedbed wetland
Wildlife supported includes Bitterns, Perch & Rud, Water Voles, Willow Tits and Orchids.
The flashes have 12km of footpaths, attracting 97,000 visits per year. The work utilises 600 volunteer days per year, and has helped at least 11 people into employment. 15 schools per year are involved in projects.
The flashes comprise 1% of the UK's freshwater reedbed, providing habitat for 1.5% of British Bitterns, 1% of Reed Warblers, c. 1% of Water Rails, and 1% of breeding Pochard and Gadwall.
LWT also manages mosslands in the North West including 40 hectares in Wigan.
LWT has just purchased Abram Flash.
LWT has got a 'Strategic Level Agreement' with Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust to support 3 new Local Nature Reserve designations - Greenslate LNR (which is a section of Orrell Water Park), Low Hall LNR, and Three Sisters wetland.
Three Sisters wetland was recently opened by David Bellamy (see current Borough Life magazine) and contains 8 hectares of 'controllable water levels'.
Lightshaw Meadows has now been purchased - this is a partnership with Red Rose Forest.
In summary 'Wild Wigan…A Lovely Place to Visit.'

Minutes of Last Meeting (8th March 2010)

John O'Neil talked through highlights of last meeting's minutes. There were no corrections.

Matters Arising - none

Greenheart Community Forum nominations.

It had been decided at the last meeting that this meeting had to finalise Greenheart Community Forum nominations from the Environment & Heritage Network. John O'Neil pointed out that there would also be community representatives from the BioDiversity Group.

Dave Wilson stated that he would like to be a community representative but would be nominated through the Bio Diversity Group.

There were four nominations from the meeting with one place still to be decided.
Three people in the meeting volunteered:
Jackie Roberts (Bridleways)
Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists)
Tony Bishop (Leigh Ornithological Society)
And Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society) was nominated in his absence.

A Wigan Heritage DVD - Peter Goodwin

A paper had been circulated to the Network about the idea of making a DVD for sale to the public about Wigan Heritage. Peter Goodwin from Mirabilis Media briefly explained that the idea was not to make a definitive film about the history of Wigan, but was to feature a selection of short items from across the Wigan Borough highlighting buildings and aspects of local history. The DVD did not have any grant money, so the idea was that funding for the DVD production would be brought in through sales of the DVD. If possible, there would be a 'story' from each of the ten townships in the Borough. The DVD would help publicise the importance of heritage in the Borough, highlight the work of the BLINT list and help promote the Environment and Heritage Network and its members. Members were invited to be involved in the planning if they wished and the meeting was asked for its comments.

The response seemed favourable, with no objections and quite a few ideas for inclusion in the DVD. Suggestions for consideration included: musical heritage - brass bands & male voice choirs; the 3 towns; Marsh Gymnasium; listed organ at Leigh church; Lane Head chapel which is shutting in May; Atherton Nativity; Roman Invasion project to be staged in September; Ashton Arts Festival; Chowbent Unitarian Chapel in Atherton.

John O'Neill confirmed that he will help. Richard Sivill expressed his interest in being involved. Geoff Jones stated that the film crew were 'free to come anytime' to Astley Green Colliery Museum. Peter Goodwin gave out his phone number 07968 178 211 so that people could phone him with ideas in the future.

Network News

John O'Neill reported on the opening of the Museum of Wigan Life - formerly the History Shop. John and Tom Price had spoken with Yvonne Webb about a plaque dedicated to Fred Holcroft in the Museum and agreed where is should be displayed.

It was suggested that the Network might visit Hindley Museum, situated above Hindley Library, as its next field trip. It would give an opportunity to learn about the running of a small local museum.

The 2010 Wigan Cultural Partnership Convention has been arranged for Saturday 10th July at Formby Hall in Atherton.

Lightshaw Meadows - the Heritage Lottery have awarded a grant of £500,000.

Wigan Boys and Girls Club - the application to build on Mesnes Field has been approved.

Hesketh Arms pub in Shevington - was under threat but has now been listed as Grade II on Thursday 27th January 2010.

Members News

Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage) spoke about the Pithead Baths at Gidlow.

Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum) reported back about the recent visitors to the Museum who have included schools from St Helens, visiting French students, Greater Manchester mayors and Marishi school students from Skelmersdale. The Museum are continuing with the work on the railway line. The restoration of the winding gear is nearing completion.

Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists) reported that the Leigh Girls Grammar School is now totally demolished. She spoke about the history of Lowton Civic Hall and the threat to that building.

Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society) reported that an independent TV production company Liberty Bell had filmed a programme 'Frank Skinner on Formby' which is due to be broadcast in May on BBC4.

Tom Glover (Discovery Group) explained that the Discovery Group was soon to have its second AGM. Tom offered training to other groups in using the Discovery Group's resistivity equipment. The Group has now completed its recent project in Mesnes Park and Tom offered that the Discovery Group could do a presentation about the project to a future Network meeting. The Discovery Group has been appointed as archaeological diggers for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust when required. A member of the Discovery Group recently found a shard of flint in the Leigh area which is thought to be thousands of years old and is creating considerable interest.

Any Other Business - none

Next Meeting - is the Network AGM on Monday 24th May 10.30am at Tudor House.