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The Old Arcade, Wigan

The Old Arcade.
Again demolished for the Shopping Centre. This was home to shops like Sherringtons who sold pots and pans, washing tubs, scrubbing boards, posses etc. Smiths newsagents where a well known (to Wiganers) Frank Ryding worked and now runs his own stall in the New Market Hall. Who was the man who had the weighing machine? What was his name?. Gorner's Cafe, the aroma of hot food made you feel hungry. And of course The Legs of Man (must have been the longest pub in the country) as it went from the top to the bottom of the arcade, what about the reputed ghost, who was he? Does anybody know?

Comment by: Lynne Monaghan (Blackpool, Lancs) on 26th April 2024

My Nan Elizabeth Barlow worked at Gorners cafe in the early 50s. She cooked and baked in the stuffy hot basement. My brother and I would go up and down in the dumb waiter when cafe was shut. The “spotted dick” with custard was very popular from the menu. We lived with Nan on Park Road.

Comment by: Malcolm. Ryding (Westhoughton, England) on 12th October 2021

Sadly just been told Ali Khan mentioned in several messages has died from Covid and health complications.

Comment by: Chris Winstanley (Wigan, United Kingdom) on 14th January 2021

At the top of the arcade there was a shop that sold fire works and as a young lad I, along with a whole host of other young kids , would take their "Guy Fawkes" pennies and buy our fire works, usually bangers from an unlocked display glass cabinet at the top of the arcade. These were then put in a paper bag for you (To keep them safe?)and you would make your way home with a pocket full of gunpowder. Happy days and O! so different from the health and safety zealots of today.

Comment by: donald baker (roby mill, england) on 1st June 2019

speedway at poolstock riders percy brinr` norman hargreaves etc dicky lees cafe pies after rugby match at central with my dad

Comment by: james patrick abram (wigan, lancashire) on 24th March 2019

Iremember my mother getting me thunderbirds toys from the toy stall there, and football magazines from frank ryding, my mum bought me a lot she was the best mum in the world.

Comment by: David Rigby (Northallerton , England) on 2nd January 2019

My uncle was Des Forshaw and I often used to visit his shop. I recall it as an old-fashioned ironmongers and it was only after reading these jottings that I recalled that it was also a toy shop and in particular dolls. I also remember the ice cream seller and the old rhyme ‘ I like ice creamio, made by Cassinellio, it slips down your bellio, like a lump of jellio’ . Clearly worthy of the bard himself! Can anyone remember more?

Comment by: Carole Hope (Livesey) (Wigan, England) on 16th August 2016

I worked as a 'Saturday Girl' on my cousin Margaret's stalls in the Old Arcade for several years from 1963 to 1970. In the end, she owned 3 stalls in there, and I worked on them all - the Baby Stall, the Stocking Stall and the, what I can only call the Mature Ladies' Stall. I loved them all. There was a real community feeling. I remember Evelyn's handbag stall with lots of scary Catholic icons, Forshaw's toy stall (I went out briefly with Graham, who died so tragically), Sid Smith on his paper stall who quite frightened me because he was so loud and Frank Ryding who worked for him, Ali Khan's and, oh - Gorner's café run by Gino and his wife Barbara. If I close my eyes I'm there. I can see the huge, uneven flags that paved the Arcade, I can smell the café (steak pudding and mash),I can remember taking down and putting up the boards that locked the stalls and the poles that we hung the clothes up with to display them around the stalls. Just writing about it makes me smile - yes, they really were happier times.

Comment by: Toni Forster (now Francis) (Chatteris, UK) on 4th May 2016

I vaguely remember a pub called the 'legs of man' in the old arcade which seemed to run behind the shops. there were also cobbles, a clog maker and a weighing machine. This must be going back about 45 years I think

Comment by: Jackie Oakes (Hindley Wigan, England) on 20th March 2015

The weekly Saturday morning pilgrimage to Wigan would not have been complete without walking down the arcade to smell the coffee from Gorner's (could only smell it as it was too expensive to sit inside and indulge)The 1d guess your weight was a highlight of the week, if we had 1d ! Sometimes we walked home just to get weighed. My uncle only 9 years senior promised he would take me for my first drink in the top leg and buy me some Benson's crisps with the little blue salt bag inside for my 18th,we lived it up in those days. sadly it was no longer there by the time I was 18 and the little blue bag in crisps was long gone, ready salted are no fun, but do you remember the disappointment when there was no blue bag inside the packet?

Comment by: Jane Atkins (Surrey, England) on 3rd January 2015

My mum & dad Bernard & Margaret Gaynor had a handbag and leather goods stall in both the old & new market hall. Spent all my childhood growing up there thinking I was all grown up helping my dad serve the customers. Many happy memories. Wish I could spend one more day with dad doing something he loved and had immense pride in.

Comment by: Giovanni (Wigan, UK) on 4th November 2014

Lived in Wigan for years but somehow never drunk in the Legs of Man. Maybe thy couldn't make a Bellini!

Comment by: Joe Thomas (Wigan, England) on 11th September 2014

Your Right Alan From Charnock Richard Bob Rudd Was Is Name He Was My Mothers Cousin Bob And Our Family Used To Live In Linney Street Scholes

Comment by: Debbie Roberts nee Crabtree (Abergele, North Wales) on 22nd May 2014

Hi Emma Lovely to hear from you. My mum is Margaret Crabtree and worked for your aunty Margaret back in the late 60`s!!Please tell her we remember her fondly and it would be fab to make contact!

Comment by: Sheila (Wigan, UK) on 7th May 2014

One of the Smith brothers and his wife were good friends of my mum and dad. Forshaws son Colin was one of my brother's teenage friends. I think he had a brother who died in a tragic accident! My friend's mum worked at Gorner's Café. I had a Saturday job at the Chicken BBQ in Makinsons Arcade. There were queues all the way down the arcade when it first opened. The manager sent me to Legs of Man pub to buy ten Capstan Full Strength. I was terrified (at 16 I wouldn't say boo to a goose) but daren't refuse. It was awful but probably helped me in later life.

Comment by: Emma Gordon (Sydney, Australia) on 29th March 2014

Unfortunately I can't leave a memory of my own as I'm too young. However my Aunty is Margaret Razaq and reading all of these amazing stories is making me terribly homesick! My Mum Eunice has many stories to tell I will get her on this, this is gold

Comment by: Stella (Polemi, Cyprus) on 1st July 2013

Hi Fred ,was your Dad called Fredrick ?was he a Foreman Scaffold er in his day ?Stella originally from Bradford

Comment by: Margaret Finch ne Green (Baughton Worcs, UK) on 3rd September 2012

Any one remeber Forshaws in old arcade I or rather Mum did bought me a Dolly from ther and I christened her Marina adter the duchess of Kent, and later on meeting up with Jack Lathom near the paper stall so romantic ha ha those were the days

Comment by: alan norris (charnock richard, United Kingdom) on 23rd August 2012

Theweighing machine man was my wifes uncle, a mr robert rudd(bob)"1p a weigh"

Comment by: Sue Cookson (Round) (Pwllheli, North Wales) on 15th June 2012

My memories of the little Arcade were the fabulous uneven York Stone flags, the weighing machine and Smith news sellers where I used to get my Cosmopolitan magazine and Jackie mag. Also Margaret the stocking lady (tights hadn't really come in in 1966) and I used to buy really long stockings in the hope that I wouldn't show my suspenders as our mini dresses were so short! Also the Legs of Man being at the top and bottom of the Arcade and as a little girl I was fascinated by how long it must be. Fabulous memories!

Comment by: janet - ravenall (hindley, wigan) on 10th June 2012

remember gorners cafe ,sherringtons was near bottom -i think..+ not sure but was there a man who cleaned shoes as well ?

Comment by: FamilyChest (Wigan, Lancashire) on 20th May 2012

http://www.familychest.co.uk/FamilyChestDocs/documents/0512079.htm This is a link to a photo of a conveyance document dated 05 December 1895 concerning a mortgage on a Public House known as The Legs of Man Hotel in Woodcock Street, Wigan, Lancashire, together with 10 lock up shops in the arcade leading from Woodstock Street to Market Place, Wigan. In 1881 The Oldfield Brewery Company Limited (" The Old Company ") mortgaged the property to William Howell for £8000. since then the property has somehow been transferred to The Oldfield Brewery Limited (" The New Company "). They are now transferring the mortgage to the Law Debenture Corporation.

Comment by: Val livesey (Old saybrook, Usa) on 29th April 2012

I remember going to Gorners for chip with gravy with my mum and sister Lyn. I also remember the smell of the news papers from all of the stands that lined the arcade. Just before they tore it down, I remember going to a pub with my friend Cherry

Comment by: E A Ainscough (barcelona, spain) on 16th January 2012

Yes i remember the dolls hospital .My mum used to ask me what do you want for christmas and i used to say i want to take patsy my black doll to the hospital because by the end of the year she was half white she was made of rubber and painted so the paint used to rub off Does any body remember the train that ran from ince to wigan

Comment by: Christine Dunphy(formerly Jones) (Wigan, England) on 22nd October 2011

I remember so many of the things you've all written down here, and it makes me sad. I know that as time goes on progress has to be made, but so much, in fact almost all of REAL Wigan has gone. It used to have character, but now it has just the same as every other town. Shopping malls with a clock tower, wine bars, and restaurants that are owned by large companies, serving the same thing here that they would in Outer Mongolia. The town planners shouldnt have been allowed to knock down and get rid of so many characteristic and charming buildings. They should have used the money to bring them back to a standard. If this had happened in the centre of Chester, with all its old black beamed buildings there would have been an uproar! The council pulled down some beautiful Edwardian buildings on the main road in Spring view and Lower Ince in the 60's and 70's and moved everyone to Millers lane, Platt Bridge. It left Spring View, that used to have a street full of shops, a community, with nothing except spare land, and now they're building apartments and houses on it. Had the old houses been brought up to standard, Spring View would still be a thriving community. As it is, it has one shop, one pub and one chip shop. People need a car to live there now as there is nothing close by, and the brains in the council decided to put the old folks bungalows furthest away from the road. There is nothing to write about in Wigan now, and I cant tell you how sad that makes me.

Comment by: cath gall (wigan ,{home of pies }, lancashire) on 16th September 2011

i remember the sweet shop.if i was good mum bought me and my sis some sweets,the smell of the food was lovely.also on a sat if we was good we had chips and mushy peas at the cafe near the train station .cant remember the name of it but it was allways full and you had to wait ages for a seat.

Comment by: June Walford (Swinton, England) on 2nd July 2011

Jayne I remember Bernard & Margaret Gaynor. My husband George was the shoe repairer in the old and new market. His Mum used to go to work with him on Saturdays. Your Mum was lovely and she always took time to ask how everyone was doing. Everyone loved George and had this weired idea that he needed feeding. There was a husband and wife owned a Deli and Gud was always buying cheese. She would give him samples of cheese for his lunch. Good memeories. :o)

Comment by: Debbie Roberts (Abergele, North Wales) on 28th June 2011

My mum worked for Margaret Razak in the old arcade.I remember her standing behind the counter which seem`d very high up to me as I was only little when my nana took me to town on a Saturday while mum was at work. My mum is Margaret Crabtree and she is here in Welsh Wales living the good life!!!!

Comment by: Ken Scally (wigan, lancs) on 8th June 2011

The ghost of the legs of man, could be that of the Lord Derby wounded at the battle of wigan Lane in the civil war, he was nursed in the Old dog inn which changed its name to the legs of man as they were the coat of arms of Lord derby in his honour, Derby was captured by that lot from Bolton and hung by Bolton town hall soon after.

Comment by: kathryn cutler (dorset, uk) on 2nd May 2011

My mum was Dolly and my auntie was Madge from Gorners cafe in wigan

Comment by: Dave Roscoe (South Glastonbury, CT, USA) on 12th April 2011

This is whay I like this site so much. Many of the posts bring back memories long since banished to the back of my brain. What a place for a young lad on his way home from Wigan Grammar School to dawdle, check out the comics at Smiths, dream of owning the latest LP at Hursts. What happened to these safe character filled places. Thanks for the fond memories to all who posted here. Keep up the good work; my memory depends on it.

Comment by: Edna Booth (Warrington, UK) on 3rd March 2011

I remember the Old Arcade well, in particular Gorner's cafe, and the delicious "prato-pie). As a tiny child in the 1940s I was a fussy eater and very thin. So when we came into Wigan on Saturday afternoons we went to the Old Arcade and I got weighed on the scales (only just realised they were jockey weighing room scales), then, although money was scarce, we went into Gorners so that I could eat my fill of the delicious food! I didn't know that the "Legs of Man" pub ran the whole length of the Arcade, but I well remember the Manx sign! In my day there were two signs and the place was known as "The Bottom Legs" and "The Top Legs", and I'd thought they were two separate establishments. Those were the days! And I wonder if George Formby, in his early racing days, ever got weighed on those scales!

Comment by: Anita Richardson (Ingleton, England) on 28th January 2011

Does anyone remember the "Dolls Hospital" in The Old Arcade ? As a child in the 1950's my broken dolls and Teddy bears went to be "made better"

Comment by: pat worthington (wigan, lanc,s) on 6th January 2011

Also in the arcade was Aly Khan's knitwear , Margaret Razaks stocking bar and Evelyns 'Catholic' stall

Comment by: Lyndon Berry (London, England) on 15th October 2010

Talking about a long time ago. My mother's name was Bertha Pennington who married Joseph Berry,miner at Garswood Hall Colliery. Mother was a shop assistant at Slater's in Wigan town, a haberdashery. Mother was intensely proud of Wigan and made me believe that the sun only shone by permission of Wiganers. The sun's rays shone directly into Gorner's Cafe, then deflected off the shining knives forks and spoons into her beloved Wigan. Sadly she had to leave her heaven when my father went to the new coal fields of Doncaster during the 1930's depressione. She never got over leaving Wigan and would often herd me and my younger bother onto the train for the many visits back to her home town and the many relatives there...Where do you think we always went? Gorners and the food and drink of the Gods. By the way, I would love to hear from any of you lot in the Berry or Pennington clans. God bless you all from Wigan and may the sun be with you.

Comment by: John Wood (westhoughton, england) on 15th September 2010

i used to go to gorners wih jimmy brown he was brought up in lower ince and moved to platt bridge when he married vera he died age 41 i lost my best mate does anyone know where vera is and his son garry i would love to contact them

Comment by: John Wood (westhoughton, englandwhen) on 13th September 2010

when i was a cleaner at springs branch groups of us used to go to gorners for pudding chips and peas never had any as good since. proper suet pastry cooked in a muslin cloth.

Comment by: val (wigan, uk) on 28th August 2010

I remember going to gorners cafe on a saturday with my older sister and having a roast beef dinner.

Comment by: Tom Gaskell (Chorley, UK) on 13th August 2010

The man with the scales i think was called Bob Rudd, He married Lily Pendlbury if my memory serves me right.

Comment by: john (auckland, new Zealand) on 9th August 2010

We used to go for a sandwich and a lemonade after work the Legs of man pub what fun. What makes me sad it that it appears that re development has taken place without regard to the preserving the valuable history of Wigan, I note that many of the streets mentioned here have in brackets ( No longer there) how sad and are we really better off with all the changes for changes sake?

Comment by: David Atherton (Wigan, England) on 31st July 2010

I am the youngish man with the short jacket standing in the middle of the arcade, looking at the magazines. No longer young I am afraid to say!

Comment by: Carol Burns (Caloundra , Australia) on 5th June 2010

Would like to get in contact with Ian Duncalf regarding Hilda Gabriel who is my aunt. You can contact me Ian by email which is carolburns47@hotmail.com

Comment by: alanm (Liverpool, UK) on 23rd March 2010

Hello Joe Berry, I was known as Ip in The Park & The Market. This was 1969. My mum used to work in Gorner's when she was young, she was friendly with Gladys, who ran the habedashers. I enjoyed my first crumpet (steady on folks) there as a four year old. Toasted on the range fire in a room at the back of the stall. Used to yearn for the dinky cars in that long long long toy shop. I was fascinated but a bit frightened of the weighing machine man. Back to Joe Berry; was it you that stuck your thumb out in Milan and got one lift all the way to Standish?

Comment by: Ian Duncalf (High Wycombe, Bucks, UK) on 20th February 2010

No memories of Wigan, I'm afraid, but I'd like to hear from Carol Burns (nee Ramsden) who posted a message here. I'm doing some family research (isn't everyone?) and have discovered that my great-aunt Hilda Gabriel was Thomas Ramsden's daughter. I'd be interested to exchange some family references.

Comment by: Eric Sayer (Wigan, England) on 18th February 2010

I remember Dewhursts butchers Wigan; In 1955 as the order lad of Dewhursts Higher Ince I had to go to the Wigan branch on the bike in pouring rain and passed outin the shop and came to on the butchers block at the back of the shop I forgot the meat I'd gone for and ran like the clapper for home.

Comment by: liz (town, england) on 15th February 2010

Just remembered the stall was in the Market Hall.Not the old Arcade.

Comment by: liz (wigan, england) on 15th February 2010

Yes, dave your right.There was a Record stall called Roy Husrts.I use to buy all my records from there.If you could,nt find a record you wanted from the other shops,he always seemed to have it in.

Comment by: dave godwin (Bristol, England) on 31st January 2010

I'm pretty sure that there was a stall in the "old arcade",Hurst Records, as i remember buying Heaven and Hell by Black Sabbath in May of 1980.Was he Roy?

Comment by: Lynn Bolton (WIGAN, United Kingdon) on 18th December 2009

Can anyone tell me when the old arcade was knocked down to make way for marketgate pls..?

Comment by: Beryl Gibson (Braintree Essex, England) on 23rd November 2009

I remember the Old Arcade, and the man with the weighing machine. I don't know his name, only that he called out " Try your weight ladies ", and, as a child, I always thought that he was saying, " fly away ladies ". Happy days.

Comment by: Beryl Bowker nee Houghton (wigan, England) on 7th October 2009

I used to love going to the pot fairs which were held outside the Market Hall .The used to be held at the same time has Silcocks fair.