Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network

Meeting minutes

10.30 a.m. August 8th 2016 at Museum of Wigan Life.

Peter Fleetwood (Save Wigan), Peter Goodwin (Tradition Films), Mary Pennington (Wigan Archaeology Society), Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists), Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society), Glenys McClellan (Leigh Family History Society), Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage), Joe Taylor (Billinge History Society), Tom Price (Civic Trust), Bob Bruce (Astley Green Colliery), David Shallcross (Leigh Ornithological Society), Mandy Wellans-Bray (Billinge & Orrell Transition Town). Guest Speakers - Fiona Smith and Helen Rimmer

Peter Taylor (Civic Trust), Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group) John O’Neill (Greenheart),Lynda Jackson (Wigan MBC), Michael Caine, Dave Wilson (Leigh Ornithological Society), Alex Miller (Wigan MBC), Eileen Walsh & Eileen Bithel (BETA)

Avis spoke about the tribute paid to the late Tony Ashcroft for his contribution to the heritage of the borough.

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

Matters Arising:

Avis expects we could visit Dam House in October. The cost would be £10 per head. She hasn’t yet written to Donna Hall as mentioned in the previous minutes.


The majority of the meeting consisted of presentations on fracking by Fiona Smith of Frack Free Wigan, Leigh and Makerfield and Helen Rimmer from Friends of the Earth, then a general discussion on the topic.

It seemed obvious that it is important for individuals to inform themselves on this topic, so research and discussion with others are essential. The more people are talking about this subject across the community, the better. There wasn’t time to reach some kind of consensus on the subject or if we wish to consider issuing a statement which sets out our position on fracking. That would be something for us to discuss at some later date.

Mandy Wellans-Bray informed the meeting about the ‘Incredible North’ initiative that stems from the Incredible Edible project in Todmorden. It is being backed by Council as Incredible Edible Wigan and will simplify the licensing of council owned land for use by individuals and community groups for such things as growing flowers or food, planing trees and erecting memorial benches.

There will be a launch event at St Peter’s Pavilion August 31st from 9.30 - 12.00 and one at the Diggers Festival September 10th. Funding to assist develop this project will be included in the next round of ‘The Deal’.

Members Reports:


Leigh Family History Society will restart their monthly meetings on 16th August at 7.30 p.m. at the Derby Room of Leigh Library with an Open Evening aimed at encouraging newcomers to start their family history research or anyone who has come up against a ‘brickwall’ in their

The Society will also be attending the “Leigh for All” event at Leigh Library on Saturday 10th September from 10.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. along with other Societies from all over the Borough and a car rally. This will coincide with the opening of various Heritage Buildings including the Town Hall and Parish Church.

Tom Price:

Gareth Williams of Weston Park Shropshire, is coming to speak about Capability Brown and his influences in the North West. Knowsley Hall has some of his work. The Venue will be the Mercure Hotel, formerly the Oak Hotel at the end of Riverway, opposite the old Central Park.
There is free parking at the Hotel and admission is also free but there will be a voluntary collection for expenses. The Talk will start Monday 12th.September at 2.30. Gareth Williams is Head of Learning at Weston Park and is familiar with many Subjects on Heritage and Environmental Issues.


Regenerating Wigan Archives Project: The project to create new archives storage and public access facilities has now been formally started with the HLF, with a Project Board constituted to oversee the development phase of the project.

We will now spend the next 8-10 months creating a detailed second round application to the HLF, giving full architectural plans, design proposals and with full precise costs for realising the full ambitions of the project.

We would like network members to play an active part in the development phase, particularly in public consultation exercises, but also in terms of fundraising as we have to raise some monies to contribute towards the match funding percentage asked by the HLF.

If all goes according to plan, the second round application will be submitted around April 2017 with a decision in the autumn of 2017. Please contact Alex if you would like to get involved in any way or would like more information. You can also access the project website at: http://www.wigan.gov.uk/regenerationproject

Also a plug for the Leigh For All event on Saturday 10 September - all the usual heritage activities on Leigh Civic Square. We're also still looking for any groups interested in having a stall in the local and family history fair. Any network members are very welcome to have a pitch - inside in the Derby Room, no charge. Please contact Alex for more details.

Mary Pennington distributed the latest Archaeology Society newsletters.

Avis thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting.

Next Meeting: 19th September Discovery Room