Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network

Meeting minutes

10.30 a.m. Monday 26th March 2012 at Tudor House, Hindley

Present - Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage), Peter Goodwin (Tradition Films), John Hill & Huttson Lo (Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust), Mary Pennington (Wigan Archaeology Society), Tom Price (Wigan Civic Trust), Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists), Jackie Roberts (Bridleways), Jan Johnston (LENDF), Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society), Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society), Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group), Glenys McClellan (Leigh Family History Society), Marge Harrop (Leigh Family History Society), Vince French (Atherton), Liz Vango-Smith (Lancashire Wildlife Trust).

Apologies- John O'Neill (Greenheart Partnership Board), Peter Taylor (Wigan Civic Trust), David Shallcross (Leigh Ornithological Society/Chowbent Chapel), Dave Wilson & Tony Bishop (Bickershaw Conservation Group/Wigan Biodiversity Group), Brain Parr (Discovery Group), Allan Roberts (Wigan RSPB), Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum)

The Chair, Avis Freeman, welcomed everyone to the meeting.


The book, 'Road to Wigan Pier Revisited' is now published and available

John Hill updated about the Cultural Olympiad Performance Reward Grants. He stated that 80 applications had been submitted and out of these only 6 were ineligible because they were from outside the borough. Wigan Council Small Grants Team gave an additional £40k to the Olympiad Project. As a result a total of £80K was allocated to

The Big Dig at Etherstone Hall was launched 8th March. Wigan Archaeology Society took the lead. Mary and Avis reported that lot's of local school children were involved and that details of findings can be found on the Wigan Archaeology Society website, you need to go to forums and chose the public forum.

Avis reported on the War Memorial meeting with Jason Kennedy on the sixth of March. Carol Littler has recorded all the memorial sites and Jason Kennedy, the conservation officer, would like to know if any are damaged as soon as possible.

The local history essay competition details will be published in the next edition of Past Forward. Next year we hope to run another and one for schools as well.

Minutes of the last meeting:

True and accurate

Matters Arising:


Presentation on the Kirkless Site by Liz Vango-Smith, Lancs Wildlife Trust:

The site can be accessed from Bell Green Lane, Ince, and via the canal path at Top Loch. This site was once home to the world's largest Iron and Steel facility and the glow from the furnaces lit the night sky. It was reputedly at target for Zeppelin bombing in the First World War. The waste from the industrial process has caused a unique range of fauna, more in keeping with a costal dune environment. Motorbike and four-wheel drive access is a problem and as the site is developed, this aspect will have to be looked at, as will access for horses. The Wildlife Trust is hopeful that a Friends Group might develop and members are asked to encourage this. Liz is the contact for this development and can be reached in 01942 233976 or by email at lvango@lancswt.org.uk

Presentation by Richard Sivill:

Richard had brought a number of artefacts along with him and told stories relating to each of them. These included the records of the local co-operative society 1857 - 1907 and a book called 'Changes in Men and Manners', 1880, which lamented the growing access to shooting for the 'common man'. He had several long service awards, a memorial to the Penny Gate mining disaster at Ince in 1875, the Atherton Official Guide 1950, Guild of the Coalfields 1971 and the magazines of the Atherton and Manchester Collieries. On a more personal note, Richard had retained a box of collar studs against the eventuality of them coming back in fashion. It was a reminder of how our heritage is the foundation of the present and how much is contained within the memory of anyone of us.

Members News and Reports:

Glenys spoke about the upcoming bi-centenary celebration event of the burning of Westhoughton Mill in 1812 by the Westhoughton Local History Group on Saturday and Sunday 21st and 22nd April. Details can be found on the website www.theluddites.org.uk

John Hill reported that on the 9th of April a Victorian themed Easter extravaganza would take place at Mesnes Park Wigan 11.00am - 3.00pm. The objective of the day is to promote the end of the Phase 1 Restoration Works, to promote Mesnes Park and officially re-open the Pavilion and Bandstand. A Military Band and a Samba Band will perform and parade on the day.

Tom Price reported that Wigan Parish Church History Day is on the 26th of May and visitors are welcome from 10.00 to 4.00.

Peter Goodwin informed the group that 400 Wigan Heritage DVD's had been sold and an article about them would be in the next edition of Past Forward.

Next Meeting:

Pennington Flash is the venue of the next meeting 14th May, starting at 10.00. Contact Dave Wilson for details of where to meet. The next meeting at Tudor House will be on the 18th of June.