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Wigan is a town in Greater Manchester, which was once known for its porcelain manufacture, clock making and coal mining. Wigan Pier, a wharf on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, was made famous by the writer, George Orwell, in his book, The Road to Wigan Pier. Following the decline of heavy industry in the region, Wigan Pier’s warehouses have since become a local heritage centre and cultural quarter. Trencherfield Mill, for example, now houses a steam engine over 100 years-old. The quarter is also home to the Wigan Pier Theatre Company, which was founded in 1986. Rugby League fans will also know that the town loves its rugby! The DW Stadium is home to Wigan Athletic Football Club and Wigan Warrior Rugby League Football Club.
There are 125 listed buildings in Wigan, notably Mab’s Cross, a medieval stone cross that probably dates from the 13th century. There is a legend surrounding the cross that Lady Mabel Bradshaigh, wife of Sir William Bradshaigh, did penance by walking from her home, Haigh Hall, to the cross once a week barefoot for committing bigamy. The 20-acre Mesnes Park, north-west of Wigan town centre, features a bandstand and war memorial, while the Museum of Wigan Life is worth a visit if you wish to learn more about the town’s cultural past. Be sure to check out the Face of Wigan, a stainless steel sculpture of a face, located in the town centre, which stands at 5.5 metres tall.
The Wigan Life Centre houses office accommodation for Wigan Council, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, and NHS Ashton, Leigh and Wigan, while the former Westwood power station was redeveloped in 2006 into the Westwood Park Business Park. The Tote chain of bookmakers has its headquarters in the town, providing around 300 jobs, along with the 55-acre food manufacturing facility of H. J. Heinz, the largest in Europe. Other businesses based in Wigan include DW Sports Fitness, Galloways Bakers, and William Santus & Co. Ltd, the confectioner and producer of Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls.
Wigan lies on the meeting point of two primary A roads, the A49 and A577, which link to the M6, M61 and M58. There are two railway stations in the town centre, Wigan North Western and Wigan Wallgate. The former is on the north-south West Coast Main Line, while the latter serves lines running east and west from the town. The current network of local buses, coordinated by Transport for Greater Manchester, departs from Wigan bus station, which reopened in late 2018 after a £15.7million, two-year redevelopment programme.
Wigan and Leigh College, a further education college with over 8,000 students, has three campuses in the town. There is also Wigan UTC, a university technical college, in the town centre, along with high schools, the Deanery High School, St. John Fisher Catholic High School, St. Peter’s Catholic High School and Rose Bridge Academy, with more throughout the borough.
Property-wise, house prices in Wigan are on the up, with the current estimate in the region of £168,948. This is a rise of 1.57 per cent in the last three months, and in terms of property types, flats sold for an average of £111,285, while terraced houses fetched £104,440.
Last but not least, it would be worth pointing out that Wigan is well-known for its popular music scene. It was the birthplace of The Eight Lancashire Lads, a dancing troupe who gave the young Charlie Chaplin his professional debut. Local bands that have gained wider repute include The Verve, The Railway Children, Witness, The Transads and Starsailor.