Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network

Meeting minutes

10.30 a.m. April 4th 2016 at Leigh Town Hall


Mary Pennington (Wigan Archaeology Society), Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists), Peter Goodwin (Tradition Films), Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society), Glenys McClellan (Leigh Family History Society), Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage), Michael Caine, Dave Wilson (Leigh Ornithological Society), Alex Miller (Wigan MBC).

John O’Neill (Greenheart), Joe Taylor (Billinge History Society), Tom Price (Civic Trust), David Shallcross (Leigh Ornithological Society), Lynda Jackson (Wigan MBC).

Minutes of the last meeting: Accepted as a true record.

Matters Arising:

Avis welcomed Richard Sivill back to the meeting. Richard thanked everyone for their good wishes.

Neil Forshaw has obtained a trophy for the George Formby commemorative race at Haydock Park. George’s birthday was 26th May 1904.

Greenslate Community Farm have had publicity in newspaper and are hoping to supply vegetable boxes on order. They had their AGM last week.

Archive Lottery Bid:

Alex Miller reported on progress with the Heritage Lottery bid to upgrade the Wigan Borough Archives sited at Leigh Town Hall.

Alex circulated a floor plan diagram. The proposal has several features. A new enlarged Archive research room would take the space on the ground floor currently used by the Leigh Life Centre, which would move into the library in the Turnpike Centre across the Civic Square. The Leigh Local History desk run by Hannah Turner has already moved from the library into the current Archive research room on the second floor and will move into the proposed new ground floor facility. The Leigh Town Hall foyer would be adapted to contain a small café space. The ground floor space currently occupied by the first four shops attached to Leigh Town Hall (numbers 2 to 8 Market Street) would be converted into an exhibition space and meeting room, and connected to the Town Hall foyer by a new doorway. The basements of these shops would be converted into Archive storage rooms and connected to the current Archive strongrooms in the basement so expanding storage capacity by a third.
Alex reported that the Heritage Lottery Fund panel had met on 11th March and he was still waiting for a decision – hopefully by the end of this week. He is hopeful of a positive decision. This bid is for Phase One – a grant of approx £60K matched by a 10% contribution from Wigan Council – which will produce full architect plans and details for the Phase Two full bid. This full bid is likely to be submitted in April 2017 for £1.4m of £1.5m project with 10% matching contribution from Wigan Council and some contribution from fundraising.

Strategically the proposal fits into the Council’s idea of a ‘Leigh Campus’ with services based around the Civic Square in Leigh Town Hall and the Turnpike Centre.

The meeting welcomed the proposal and offered Alex encouragement and support.

Members News and Reports:

Dave Wilson outlined his concerns about three sites where wildlife space and open green spaces are threatened by possible housing developments. They are the Bickershaw site, the Atherton South site (which is a large area behind Howe Bridge Sports Centre stretching to Tyldesley), and the Gadbury/Gibfield site (which is north of Hag Fold and Atherton). Dave stressed the importance of green spaces both for bioversity and for human health. He sees it as a constant battle to try and preserve green spaces against current housing development pressures.

Richard Sivill, who lives in Howe Bridge, joined in the discussion with his local knowledge of what is happening in the area. Richard believes that the Atherton South site will be ‘nibbled away at’ for housing developments.

Dave Wilson and Michael Caine informed Alex Miller about the Tom Edmondson collection, which includes many archive photos from 1950s and 1960s of Pennington Flash and Leigh. They enquired about the procedure for depositing this collection with the Borough Archives.

Mary Pennington distributed the latest Archaeology Society newsletter. Their next meeting will include a talk about Egyptology by John Johnson of the Horus Society which is involved with the Wigan Museum Egyptian collection.

Neil Forshaw explained about the Newton-le-Willows archives being moved from the basement of Newton library to the St Helens Archive in order to keep them in a correct preservation environment. Neil is currently volunteering with others to digitize archives before they move.

Richard Sivill reported that Atherton Heritage has a full programme for the year, and lots of new members joining.

Avis Freeman thanked everyone and closed the meeting.

Date next meeting: Monday 16th May 2016 at the Museum of Wigan Life.