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Photos of Wigan

Photo-a-Day Archive
Photo-a-Day Archive

Photo-a-Day  (Wednesday, 23rd November, 2022)


Upstairs at the Cafeteria, Wigan Park.

Photo: Dennis Seddon  (Sony DSC-WX500)
Views: 1,751

Comment by: irene roberts on 23rd November 2022 at 09:49

I remember when I was a little girl and went to the cafe with my parents; you could sit upstairs back then and it was quiet and echoey. I can still see the bentwood chairs and hear the scrape of them on the wooden floor. The cafe had a special "something" that I couldn't have put into words back then, and it was only as I grew up that I realised it had a 1920/30s feel to it. I can remember the first time I went back in a few years ago with my grandchildren, after many, many years, and the surprise I got to find that it hadn't changed that much, and still retained some of that special atmosphere. Unfortunately, I couldn't re-live my childhood as the upstairs was closed....how I would have loved to climb those stairs again! Is the upstairs open now, does anyone know?

Comment by: PeterP on 23rd November 2022 at 10:18

To children even today it must look like a small fortress on the top of the hill when walking along the main path through the park. A little piece of magic in their mind eye we hope

Comment by: Cyril on 23rd November 2022 at 10:25

There was a Wigan Trail competition for the Scouts in the late 1980s where you had to go around the town centre to answer questions and solve clues. one of the questions was: How many windows are there in Mesnes Park Café? The lads and I spent ages counting and we all counted a different number of windows, in the end we just decided on a number and put that, we never got to find just how many there are, if you want to pass some time away try counting them.

It would be interesting to know if they had those new floral patterned terracotta tiles on the left side bespokely made, and if it was a local potter or a specialist in Victorian Architectural pottery that made them?

Comment by: Cyril on 23rd November 2022 at 10:33

Irene, according to this online advertisement there are two floors of seating in The Pavillion. Though from the photos those Bentwood chairs look to have gone. https://www.friendsofmesnespark.co.uk/facilities.html

Comment by: Wigan Mick on 23rd November 2022 at 11:23

Well I for one am glad the old fashioned uncomfortable bentwood chairs have been replaced by modern chairs with nice padded seats.
I was in the park watching a wedding a few months ago, ceremony was done in the gate keepers lodge, then the reception was held in the cafe, the wedding food that was just being delivered was Wigans Baldy Pies and mashed potato.
I cant remember what Mr Baldy said was going to be for a pudding but it was something old fashioned

Comment by: Cyril on 23rd November 2022 at 12:30

I put that question about the windows wrongly, it should read How many window panes are in Mesnes Park Café, I think we counted the windows. Obviously it's a trick question and from the outside it would be difficult to count the actual panes on the upper floor and there are some on the upper roof. We went around on a Sunday and for some reason the Café was closed. I have on occasions called in there for ice creams etc., but I've never been upstairs, so you are one up on me Irene by having gone up there, would it be a good vantage point for a photo, perhaps.

Frederick's ice cream was bought out in 2013 and is now made by R+R ice cream in Skelmersdale who also make Cadbury's, some say it tastes the same as it always has whilst others differ and say it doesn't, I can't say as I've never tasted it, they also say that they have been in the park café since 1896, and yet I'm sure it was Cassinelli's who had always been in there, unless they were the same company.

Comment by: Veronica on 23rd November 2022 at 14:19

This has always been a building of class. I don’t think I have ever seen another like it in any other local park. Built when people had respect for their parks and buildings. Plus the park itself was in the classier part of Wigan with Park Rd and the lovely old property around the Dicconson Street area and Mesnes Terrace ? Leading onto Wigan Lane.

Comment by: Cyril on 23rd November 2022 at 20:17

Mick, those old Bentwood chairs are the 'In thing' now with young people paying good prices for them - especially in London, they're already wearing flat caps so maybe anytime soon they'll be walking Whippets down there too.

If the wedding reception was sitting down to pie and mash and then something old fashioned for dessert, then I'm sure those old Bentwood chairs would have been the perfect match to go with their wedding breakfast.

Comment by: Owd Reekie on 23rd November 2022 at 21:36

I was at the Grammar School from mid sixties to early seventies and, aged about 14, used to go in the cafe at lunchtimes. Probably about 1969 and 1970. It had an upstairs then which was in use. A local vicar used to take the trouble to come in 2 or 3 lunchtimes a week and have a cup of tea and a chat with us. I do not remember his name, nor his church, but it may have been St. Catherine’s. Memory is too vague now but I assume he would have known one of our group from elsewhere. It is possible though that he was just passing by one day by chance and subsequently befriended us. He would have been aged in his 30’s and never spoke to us about religion, just about football, how we were getting on at school and in our lives and so on. This was over 40 years ago and I have remembered his unilateral kindness throughout my life. It did not mean a great deal at the time but must have made an impression on me which grew as I matured and looked back.

Comment by: Tonker (off Wigan World) on 23rd November 2022 at 21:53

Cyril, the Fredericks Ice Cream in Mesnes Park are a different company to the one in Skelmersdale (previously in St.Helens and Ashton in Makerfield). The company originated in Chorley and adopted the Frdericks name through marriage of family members.

Comment by: WN1 Standisher on 24th November 2022 at 08:59

There's still a Fredericks at the top of Back Chorley Road just past Duxbury Golf Course at the traffic lights. It's very popular at weekends.

Comment by: Cyril on 25th November 2022 at 13:18

Aye Tonker, it was the Federici and the Massa families, but, I've no idea why on the web it says it was sold to R+R at Skem?

I remember Italian Toni never knew his surname, but it said Lewis's on his trike and van, anyhow he was from Ashton and in the 1950s he would come around on one of those Stop Me and Buy One trikes before advancing to a van. They did well because we all love what they make, and long may they do so.

What I've always wondered is did the Italians around locally stay here from when being interred at the POW camp at Ashton and became ice cream makers and sellers, or did they leave the beautiful scenery and weather of Italy to come here to make and sell ice cream and become cafe owners too.

Man with croaky voice, "a vanilla cornet please."
Ice cream seller, "Yu havva crusha nuts eh!"
Man, "No I've got a touch of of laryngitis."

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