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Wigan Album

TOWN HALL

11 Comments

Wigan's Town Hall 1720 to 1882.
Photo: Keith
Views: 634
Item #: 32725
Wigan’s New Town Hall 1720 to 1882. The following account is taken mainly from the internet, with a few of my own comments.
“It is 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.
It served its purpose down to 1850, 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.
It was pulled down in 1882 (before it fell down) to satisfy the spirit of modern improvement. The tablets are preserved in the Public Library.”
I’ve asked the Council about these tablets, but was told no one knows where they might be, they were supposed to be stored in a basement.

Comment by: Owd viewer on 17th October 2020 at 23:20

Was the building on the corner of market place and market street?.

Comment by: Veronica on 17th October 2020 at 23:45

I bet there's a few history buffs out there who would volunteer to hunt the tablets down in the many basements that exist, if they had the chance. That's if they were'nt melted down for the war effort in 1940!

Comment by: Cyril on 17th October 2020 at 23:54

Interesting photo Keith, strange isn't it how no one at the council knows about these things. I at one time worked at the council on pest control and regularly sprayed the Municipal Buildings and the Olympic Pool baths. There was an old war room in the basement of the Municipal Bldg which hadn't been touched since the 1940s, it was fitted out with radios, telephones etc. along with a bicycle which had been adapted with a large dynamo attached onto the rear wheel. The Central Watch Station when implemented in the late 1980s was to be situated in this room and it was cleared and renovated by builders, all this equipment was probably put into a skip.

In the basement of the baths a number of old (17th & 18th century) books was stored behind a flimsy hardboard housing, I did look through a few of the books and saw the dates along with their arcane titles and they weren't any that I and possibly anyone else who wasn't an egghead would have read, they seemed to be academia and most likely a collection gifted from someone. I remember at the time thinking that a moist basement of a swimming baths wasn't a place to store books, anyhow inquiries as to what happened to both the war room and the books led nowhere because no one at Estates knew anything about this war room or the equipment, also a denial about the books was issued by the Leisure Trust and that as far as they knew books had never been stored in the baths basement.

The basement of the Municipal Bldg was stuffed to the rafters with long forgotten ephemera and other stuff dating back from whenever, so everything was more than likely bulldozed into builders skips when both buildings were demolished with only the terracotta facade of the Municipal Bldg being preserved.

Comment by: Keith on 18th October 2020 at 14:43

Thank you Cyril for that interesting insight into the memorabilia that may have gone forever, that were integral to the town's history. I was curious to find out when the alterations to the Town Hall had been made (the balcony for instance), the date was inscribed on a tablet that was stored. My hope was to try and determine the date of illustrations or photos that showed these changes or did not, but without that tablet it wasn't possible.

Comment by: albert on 18th October 2020 at 15:55

Many items have mysteriously disappeared in this town e.g. Boots chemist old shop front, Haigh Hall collections of uniforms, birds eggs, coins etc. I wonder where they went.

Comment by: john on 18th October 2020 at 16:44

Superb !!!

Comment by: Cyril on 18th October 2020 at 18:37

I too have often wondered where they ended up Albert and also the items that were in the Powell Museum that was above the children's library on Station Road.

Though I've been informed that Wigan does have, located at a site somewhere in the borough, a secure storage facility for the towns antiquities and collections. The forgotten Ancient Egyptian artifacts that were recently on display only got to be properly assessed when they were relocated to there for storage.

Hopefully Keith the stone tablets you mention may not be lost at all and could well be awaiting discovery within this facility, wherever it may be, how you could inquire there I've no idea, though the Museum of Wigan Life where the Egyptian items were on display might be of help.

The stone crests from the demolished King Street town hall are said to be stored at this secure facility also.

Comment by: Keith on 19th October 2020 at 11:07

Just to add a little to the story of the "New" Town Hall, it was reported in the Wigan Observer and District Advertiser on February 15th 1882 that, "to-day (Wednesday) the last remnants of the "new" Town Hall will have disappeared from its site on the Market-place, and a relic of the past will have disappeared for ever. For a long time it has been a great eyesore to passengers through the Market-place, and some time ago the Corporation were determined to remove it, and add the ground to the street. On Saturday, Mr Masters offered for sale, by instruction of the Town Council, the materials comprised in the building. Mr Gee, builder, Millgate, was declared the purchaser, the price being £20 10s. The work of demolition was commenced yesterday (Tuesday)."

Comment by: Veronica on 19th October 2020 at 13:17

Whereabouts actually was this building? Was it on the ground where the Bobby used to stand or further away in front of the Parish Church, just wondering.

Comment by: Cyril on 19th October 2020 at 14:31

There's some comments on here as to the location of the hall Veronica.

https://www.wiganworld.co.uk/album/photo.php?opt=5&id=22562&gallery=Market+Place%252C+Wigan&offset=100

Comment by: Veronica on 19th October 2020 at 22:30

Thanks Cyril.

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