Market place Wigan5 Comments
Item #: 29982
The illustration on the left shows in the distance, the “old” Town Hall, in front of the Parish Church, built in 1720 and demolished in 1882 when it was practically falling down.
The towns Fish stones should have been visible in the first illustration since they were removed as late as 1866, they were in the Market Place at the bottom of Millgate.
In the Wigan Trail booklet the Market Place is described as an enclosed “court” space, i.e. enclosed or partially enclosed, perhaps by a bend or a change in building line. Other information in the booklet included these sentences.
By 1538 John Leland was able to describe Wigan as “as big as Warrington but better builded. There is one parish church amid the town. Some Marchaunts, sum Artificers (a skilled craftsman), sum Fermers” and “Mr Bradshaw hath a place called Hawe a myle from Wigan. He hath founde moche Canel like Se Coal in his grounde very profitable to hym”.
By 1635 Wigan was the wealthiest, paying Ship Money Tax of £50 compared with £25, £30 and £40 for the other towns in Lancashire.
In 1698 Celia Fiennes on her journeys round England described Wigan as a “pretty market town built of stone and brick”.
However in reports of around 1850, various commissions considered Wigan to be one of the unhealthiest towns in the country with abnormally high death rates.
In contrast in the second half of the century national laws and local action including Public Health Acts; the Library Act (1876) and Wigan Improvement Act of 1874 brought radical changes in the town centre.
The Wigan I knew is recognisable in both images...but is it recognisable as it is today ?
My thoughts exactly, Helen!
Can anyone say that the scene today is an improvement over that of 1958
I can see the pub sign of Ye Olde Dog, on the 1958 one
Well Arthur, I don't see any cadgers, chuggers, Big Issue sellers, accordion players, last will and testament touters, pretend blind beggars, or asylum seekers in either of these two pictures, so given the situation that we currently have to endure when traversing Wallgate, Market Place and Standishgate, then I'm inclined to think that we may have taken one or two retrograde steps over the past half century or so. Walking through Wigan town centre nowadays is akin to running the soddin' gauntlet.