SD5705 : Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Disused Warehouse at Wigan Pier

taken 9 years ago, near to Wigan, Great Britain

Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Disused Warehouse at Wigan Pier
Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Disused Warehouse at Wigan Pier
Warehouses numbers 2 and 3 at Wigan Pier date from the 1890s and were used to store flour, grain, cotton and even cement. Goods would be picked up from, and dropped into, the sheltered barges from hoists fixed under the wooden canopies.

They were refurbished between 1984 and 1986 and converted into a museum of Victorian life and the home to “The Way We Were” museum as part of the Wigan Pier Experience museum and exhibition centre. The exhibition featured a Victorian school room, a colliery disaster, the Second Boer War and a complete pub transported from Hope Street and reconstructed by shopping centre developers. The Wigan Pier Theatre Company used these displays to remind present generations of "The Way We Were" – not always a happy life. The attraction closed in 2007 because of declining visitor numbers.
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.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal :: SD8842

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is the longest canal in Northern England at 127 miles long. The first of the trans-Pennine canals it took 46 years to build at a cost of five times the original budget, mainly because of the length and complexity of the route. It passes through 91 locks with a summit level of 487 feet at Foulridge near Nelson and Colne. It was originally conceived in the 18th century to carry woollen goods from Leeds and Bradford and limestone from Skipton but in its 19th century heyday it carried stone, coal and many other goods. The impact of the railways was not as great as with other canals and commercial traffic continued along the main canal until 1964. Regular work stopped in 1972 when the movement of coal to Wigan Power Station ceased. In the latter part of the 20th century the leisure potential of the canal was developed and it is now a popular destination for cruising, fishing, walking and cycling. See LinkExternal link for detailed information.

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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SD5705, 297 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Monday, 6 May, 2013   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 8 May, 2013
Geographical Context
Derelict, Disused  Industry  Canals 
Canal (from Tags)
Leeds and Liverpool 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SD 576 052 [100m precision]
WGS84: 53:32.5141N 2:38.4684W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SD 577 052
View Direction
West-northwest (about 292 degrees)
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Other Tags
Warehouse  Canal  Grain Warehouse  Canopies  19th Century  Nineteenth Century  Victorian 

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