Top Facts About Wigan
Friday, 24th Aug 2012 10:54
Ever wondered what Wigan is like, how long is the pier and are the pies as good as they say, here we take a look at the Lancashire borough and bring you all the facts.
1. The metropolitan borough of Wigan has a population of 305,600 and is around 7 miles from Bolton and 16 from Manchester, It was incorporated as a borough by roayl charter in 1246, just in time that they could all take lunch at 1300 hrs and partake of a traditional pie.
2 Wigan initially came to prominence during the industrail revolution, although it was one of the Lancashire mill towns, it was also big in coal mining and at its peak there were over 1,000 pit shafts within 5 miles of the town centre.
3. With all these mill workers and coal miners, Wigan's other main occupation was feeding them and soon pie factories sprung up as it became the centre of pie making for the Lancashire area, at one stage it was reckoned that over 30% of the population were involved in the industry, centreing around the Wigan pie market where in the early hours of the morning traders would come from all around to buy pies wholesale for their respective areas, the mornings auction would be a sight to behold, the much loved Meat & Potato pie fetching the top prices whilst lesser pies would often be sold off at cheaper rates as the auction progressed.
4. Pie manufacturing still accounts for 30% of all employment in Wigan although the pie market is no more and many of the massive pie mills have shut, main manufacturer is Holland's where workers traditionally are given 10 pies at the end of each shift, its said that no employee of the company weighs less than 20 stone.
5. Wigan Pier is actually not a pier, but a wharf on the Leeds & Liverpool canal and was made famous by George Orwell in his book The Road To Wigan Pier, which was not as its title sounds a travel guide to pie shops in the Wigan area, but a famous book that highlighted the poor working and living conditions in the town in the 1930's. Now the wharf and its warehouses have been transformed into a cultural and leisure centre with bars and restaurants etc.
6. Rugby League has been the main sport in the town for many years, football of the round ball variety was something of a secondary interest, even after Wigan gained entry to the football league in 1978 their crowds were fairly miniscule until the turn of the 21st century when Dave Whelan transformed the club and built a new stadium, also purchasing the Rugby league team and moving them in there.
7. Wigan Casino was a fabled night club that back in the 1970's spawned the Northern Soul culture, where obscure American Soul records were turned into cult classics and people from all around the country went to dance the night away all night, it shut in the early 80's and sales of talcum powder plummeted, the site of the Casino is now a massive shopping centre opened in 2007.
8. The World Pie eating contest has been held in Wigan since it was innaugrated in 1992, the first contest was won by local man Dave Smyth who ate four pies in three minutes, controversy has dogged the competition, in 2005 it was found that pies had been imported from nearby olton causing uproar, this didnt worry Anthony Danson who set a new world record by eating 7 of them in the allotted 3 minutes, individual record is 23.91 seconds set in 2010, after Governement health guidelines in 2006 forced the organsisers to change it from a quanity competition into how quickly one pie could be eaten, this came around a century too late for the residents of Wigan.
9. Wiganers are called Pie Eaters, although its though that this was not only because of their love for the delicacy but because of the general strike of 1926 when striking miners were starved back to work by the Governement and were said to have been forced to eat humble pie.
10. Wigan has been famous as being at the cutting edge of popular music ever since local resident George Formby exploded onto the local indie scene with his mix of Ukelele and feedback, seen today in the town as the role model for Kurt Cobain, Formby's influence can be heard on Nevermind, Dave Grohl unveiled a plaque to Formby in the Town in 2004 on the tenth anniversary of Cobains death to mirror the one unveiled in Seattle to Formby in 1991 the 30th anniversry of his sad demise. Other local superstars include The Verve and The Railway Children as well as Limahl from Kajagoogoo
Photo: Action Images
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