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"ANCIENT AND LOYAL" - PAGE 11


The Old Town Hall

The Old Town Hall

THERE is evidence that there existed in the 17th century an old town hall, but very little information is available. It is, however, recorded in the year 1720, that the then representatives for Wigan, Earl Barrymore and Sir Roger Bradshaigh, built for the town, a new Town Hall in the Market Place. This is an interesting example of "community bribery" very common at elections in the 18th century.

THIS quadrangular building is illustrated above. It served its purpose down to near the middle of last century, but in its last days had the ground floor of the hall divided into booths occupied by butchers, who, through long possession claimed proprietorship, whilst the upper portion was useless and conspicuous only by its railed balcony, from which many a political speech in the old hustling days had been delivered. Below the turret is seen the original royal arms of George I, carved in stone. It was described by Whitehouse in 1826 as "as fine a piece of sculpture as any in the north of England." Its fragments now ornament the north end of the lake in Mesnes Park. Two inscriptions were affixed on separate iron tablets to what was, by moderns, called "the old new Town Hall." One, notifying the erection of the original building, and the other referring to the enlargement, which consisted of the aforesaid railed balcony and outer stairs. After strange vicissitudes, additions and repairs, this silent witness of political and other Wigan annals was pulled down in 1882 to satisfy the spirit of modern improvement. The tablets are preserved in the Public Library.

THE present building, in King Street, which serves as a Town Hall, was built in the year 1868 and is a solid stone erection built in the Italian style.
 

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