*from Jeanette Winterson’s “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit” (1985).
“The Local Government Act 1888 constituted all municipal boroughs with a population of 50,000 or more as “county boroughs”, exercising both borough and county powers. Wigan accordingly became a county borough on 1 April 1889, giving it independence from Lancashire County Council. Ward boundaries were altered, and the county borough was divided into ten wards, each electing one alderman and three councillors. The former area of Pemberton Urban District was annexed to the County Borough of Wigan in 1904, adding four extra wards to the borough. In 1974 the County Borough of Wigan was abolished and its former area became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan.”
From: The Changing Scene (1937), by Arthur Calder-Marshall:
“…in many families the husband’s or the wife’s parents, drawing the old age pension, are given their board and lodging in return for their 10s. a week. They pass their old age, if not in comfort, at any rate with a certain sense of security, living among the people of their own blood.
But as soon as such a family comes under the Means Test, they are regarded as ‘lodgers,’ in rather the way that the piano is regarded as a luxury. Their children’s dole is reduced accordingly, and they become an intolerable burden, instead of pleasant members of the family. In his Road to Wigan Pier, Chapter I, George Orwell describes a lodging house over a tripe shop in the North…”
(Wikipedia): “Colin Frederick George Wills (17 January 1906 – 1965) was an Australian journalist, poet, broadcaster, war correspondent, scriptwriter and travel writer. Wills left Australia in 1939, to work as a journalist and broadcaster in Europe.”
From a BBC Overseas Service broadcast, YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED: WIGAN PIER, with Colin Wills, 2 December 1943:
“COLIN WILLS: …I am going to try some more of these trick questions on somebody else in another programme. And now we’ve got time for just one more question, asked by Sergeant Salt and Signalman McGrath serving in India. They say: ‘How long is the Wigan Pier and what is the Wigan Pier?’ Well, if anybody ought to know, it should be George Orwell who wrote a book called The Road to Wigan Pier. And here’s what he’s got to say on the subject.
GEORGE ORWELL: Well, I am afraid I must tell you that Wigan Pier doesn’t exist. I made a journey specially to see it in 1936, and I couldn’t find it. It did exist once, however, and to judge from the photographs it must have been about twenty feet long.
Wigan is in the middle of the mining areas, and though it’s a very pleasant place in some ways its scenery is not its strong point. The landscape is mostly slag-heaps, looking like the mountains of the moon, and mud and soot and so forth. For some reason, though it’s not worse than fifty other places, Wigan has always been picked on as a symbol of the ugliness of the industrial areas. At one time on one of the little muddy canals that run round the town, there used to be a tumble-down wooden jetty; and by way of a joke someone nicknamed this Wigan Pier. The joke caught on locally, and then the music-hall comedians get hold of it, and they are the ones who have succeeded in keeping Wigan Pier alive as a by-word, long after the place itself had been demolished.
WILLS: And so Signalman Salt and Sergeant McGrath, if you meant to floor the experts with a question about Wigan Pier, you’ll have to try again with something else! Now our time’s up for this week but we’ll be back again on the air at the same time next week to answer some more of your questions.”
Charles Graham reported for Wigan Today on 21st September 2020:
“The revival of a long closed Wigan theatre has landed a share of a £1.25m Government boost.
It is one of two High Street Heritage Action Zones (HAZ) in Wigan and Tyldesley become a reality as part of a Heritage England scheme.
For its King Street HAZ plans – which includes bringing back to life of the Royal Court Theatre – Wigan Council is providing match funding which, along with private sector and other sources, will see investment of around £2.5m.
Coun Terry Halliwell, heritage champion at Wigan Council, said: “This project will help us retain the character of our town centre, conserving buildings and putting them at the heart of our regeneration and growth plans.
“We’re delighted that the funding has now been confirmed for these exciting proposals to make King Street the go-to place for cultural and leisure activities.”
King Street has traditionally been a focal point for entertainment and commercial uses, but in recent times its historic character has deteriorated.
The plan aligns with the council’s cultural manifesto – The Fire Within – and Strategic Regeneration Framework for the town centre – which outline long-term ambitions for a more diverse offer for residents and visitors.
Wigan Council is leading the delivery of the King Street’s HAZ in partnership with a range of community, education, cultural partners.
The refurbishment of the Royal Court Theatre owned by Arts in the Mill CIC (known locally as The Old Courts) is seen as one of the key catalysts for the regeneration of King Street.
Rebecca Davenport, director of Arts At The Mill said: “We are delighted that King Street is getting the regeneration it deserves, it’s a place rooted in heritage and culture and we believe it can be a thriving place once again.”
The organisation has also received additional funds from Power To Change to support the regeneration of the theatre building.
Wigan Council and partners will begin a programme of community and business engagement events and activity over the next few months to explore what King Street means to residents and help shape the vision for its future.
Coun Halliwell added: “The launch of the Heritage Action Zones comes at a very opportune time for the Council as we are preparing to launch our draft Historic Environment Strategy for public consultation at the end of month.
“The Historic Environment Strategy celebrates our fantastic heritage and sets a framework for the conservation and management of our historic environment together with businesses, residents and all in our community.
“Securing funding through HAZ helps make this vision a reality.” “