Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network

Meeting minutes

10.30 a.m. 18th April 2011 at Tudor House, Hindley

Welcome and Apologies:

Present - John O'Neill (Greenheart Partnership Board); Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum); Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group); Tom Price & Peter Taylor (Wigan Civic Trust), Jan Johnson (Hesketh Meadows Action Group); Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society),) Glenys McClellan (Leigh & District Family History), Carol Tyldesley (Heritage Services); Mary Pennington (Wigan Archaeology Society); Jackie Roberts (ETNA); Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society)

Apologies: Brain Parr & Tom Glover (Discovery Group); Rachel Bryant (Heritage Services), Gordon Winnard (Lancashire Irish Heritage Centre), Simon Martin (Lancashire Local History Federation), David Shallcross & Dave Wilson (Leigh Ornithological Society); Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage) Allan Roberts (RSPB), Peter Goodwin (Mirabilis Media), Vince Price (Atherton); Avis Freeman (ETNA); Margaret Harrop (Leigh & District Family History Society); Jason Kennedy (conservation officer Wigan MBC)


The Manchester Big Dig Group has been looking at sites across the borough and will start work at Hetherston Hall near Leigh Sports Village if the Heritage Lottery Fund is supportive.

The booklet on Wigan's Roman History is at the printers and should be available via the Museum of Wigan Life shortly.

The George Formby Society will be holding events to commemorate the 50th aniversery of his death and the golden jubilee of the society September 28th. Members of the George Formby Society will be playing in the Grand Arcade on the 28th of May.

Minutes Last Meeting:

Accepted as true and accurate.

Matters Arising:

The chair reported on progress with the re-vamp of the Township Forums. A series of meetings has been held and an analysis of those meetings will be compiled into a report that will be submitted to Cabinet in July for a decision that will probably be announced in autumn.

Future heritage projects and awards are planned to involve primary schools and an open essay competition, based on local people, places and things will be arranged with the best being published in Past Forward.

Heritage Open Days will be held in September organised by the Lesure Trust and Wigan Civic Trust.


Alex Miller, the borough archivist, gave a presentation about his work regarding the records kept at Leigh Town Hall, where records going back to 1185 are stored and maintained. These records are growing is scope, particularly since the advent of digital records, of which a massive amount is being generated. There has been a big shift towards more public access. A guide to the archives is available and the archives can be accessed online at http://www.wlct.org/Culture/Heritage/archives.htm

Alex passed around several interesting artefacts from the archives and reminded us that volunteers to assist with the work of cataloguing are always welcome.

Greenheart Report:

Minutes of the meeting of the Greenheart Forum Group held on the 14th of April will be made available on the website www.visitgreenheart.com/

With 70% of the borough being rural, this is a huge part of what Wigan has to offer. British Waterways is to become a national charity and this might have a significant impact on the North West and Greenheart. The idea is in consultation stage and it is expected that Steve Broomhead will chair its NW division. Details should be obtainable via the DEFRA website at www.defra.gov.uk/

Heritage Subgroup Report:

Carol Tyldesley reported and circulated minutes of the last meeting. The subgroup is looking at capital projects concerning archaeology with Norman Redhead; principally Ertherston Hall. The Haigh Windmill restoration should be open for viewing 1st or 2nd weekend in May. Wigan is still a priority area as far as Heritage Lottery is concerned and they are willing to support major funding bids. The next meeting will be July 7th.

Members Reports:

Members were invited to email in any reports concerning their activities if they would like them to be included in the minutes.

From Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum):

Just at the moment we are suffering from what we regrettably call the 'Astley Disease'. This is when any piece of moving equipment we want to use, we have to fix before we use it. As you all probably appreciate, most of our plant equipment is as old as some of our exhibits, and members come to think of it. Forward movement on the railway extension has been, yet again, foiled by n 'immobile' mobile crane and a fork lift truck battery charger that refuses to re-charge the batteries.
As I mentioned at the meeting, we have also been re-visited by the metal thieves and some considerable cost has been expended in more cameras and proximity lighting.
Hopefully once the crane and battery charger are repaired we can then continue with the railway extension.
The Headgear Structural Survey request for funding from Viridor has currently stalled due to a lack of appreciation of what we are trying to achieve by Viridor in Taunton, their headquarters, but other avenues for funding are also being explored to clear the impasse.
School visits are about to start and also our outreach activities, several of which have already been booked.
Meanwhile our external exhibits are progressively being painted and we hosted a successful Stationary Engine Society Rally on Sunday 17th April. Two motorcycle groups are also to have their rallies here this year.
Our biggest event has been to run the giant Winding Engine on the first Sunday in April. This was restricted to supportive members, but from now on each First Sunday in the month at 2pm the event will be repeated. We will keep it low key this year, as the Engine is 100 years old next year and it is the centenary of full production being achieved at the mine. Hopefully we will have a community Gala with the media and dignitaries present. The First Sunday in the Month has been deliberately chosen to give visitors the opportunity to see the Engine in operation and then visit other nearby sites in a similar vein e.g. Eland Road Mill, Bolton Steam Museum, and Trencherfield Mill etc.

Any Other Business:

Jan Johnson has put up a number of video clips on YouTube concerning intergeneration events and is considering organising a nostalgia day soon. This idea might fit with Heritage Open Days and are hoping that for the Civic Hall in Lowton will be venue for the event. Geoff Jones is happy to provide a slide show for that occasion.

Next Meeting To be held on the 6th June and will also be the AGM.