SD5705 : The Orwell, Wigan Pier

taken 11 years ago, near to Ince-in-Makerfield, Wigan, Great Britain

This is 1 of 3 images, with title The Orwell, Wigan Pier in this square
The Orwell, Wigan Pier
The Orwell, Wigan Pier
Originally built in 1877, The Orwell is a converted Victorian cotton warehouse (Gibson's Warehouse), situated on the canal side at the heart of Wigan Pier.
Wigan Pier

Wigan Pier was made famous by a joke and a book. George Formby Senior (father of the more famous ukulele-playing George Junior) included jokes about Wigan Pier in his Victorian Music Hall act whilst writer George Orwell used the pier as a symbol of the region’s industrial decline when he wrote the book “the Road to Wigan Pier” in 1936.

Despite the humorous connotations of the name which conjures up an image of a seaside pleasure pier, whilst Wigan is in fact an inland and traditionally industrial town, the pier was not simply an invention of fiction. The original "pier" was a coal loading staithe, probably a wooden jetty, where wagons from a nearby colliery were unloaded into waiting barges on the canal. Wigan pier was a “Tippler”. Coal laden trucks, or tubs, from nearby collieries would travel down tracks to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. They would hit the jetty and tipple (topple over), unloading the coal into the waiting barges. There were many of these tipplers along the canal. The pier here was connected to Winstanley Colliery and became known as the Wigan Tippler or Wigan Pier.

George Orwell looked for the pier but was unable to find it (LinkExternal link George Orwell, BBC Overseas Service broadcast, 2 December 1943); in his book, he wrote “..and even the spot where it used to stand is no longer certain” (The Road to Wigan Pier, Ch 4). Orwell couldn’t find the original pier because it had been demolished in 1929, with the iron from the tippler mechanism being sold as scrap for £34. A replica was built in 1986 by students of Wigan and Leigh College.

Today, the name “Wigan Pier” refers to the area around the canal around the original pier. In the 1980s, the canal warehouses were restored and put into use as a museum, exhibition hall and pub. The nearby Trencherfield Mill was incorporated into the "Wigan Pier Experience", with a waterbus linking it to the main site. The area is set to undergo a further transformation with the development of a cultural "Wigan Pier Quarter" which will include a performance centre and retail outlets.

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Grid Square
SD5705, 290 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Friday, 5 March, 2010   (more nearby)
Friday, 5 March, 2010
Public house > Public house   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SD 576 052 [100m precision]
WGS84: 53:32.5192N 2:38.4096W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SD 576 051
View Direction
North-northeast (about 22 degrees)
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Image classification(about): Geograph
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