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No.52 April 2002

Monthly Newsletter

Grand Arcade Approved

The biggest town-centre development in Wigan’s history has been given the green light and construction may begin as early as this summer. The ambitious 55 million scheme will cover over 32500 sq. metres and stretch from Crompton Street, across Station Road, all the way to the bottom of Millgate. Most of the existing buildings in this area will be demolished including the ABC (Ritz) Cinema. Notable exceptions are Pennington’s furniture shop (18th century town-house), the Civic Centre and the two multi-storey car parks. This development presents a great opportunity for further discoveries of Wigan’s past. In the early 80’s extensive Roman and Medieval remains were found in the nearby Weind area prior to construction of the Children’s Library. Greater Manchester Archaeology Unit has therefore stipulated that extensive excavations must be carried out in this potentially important area, in advance of the development. Tom Glover and I have been in close contact with GMAU and the planning authorities to make sure we are kept informed of any developments.

Winstanley Hall

Winstanley HallThis famous 16th century manor house, belonging to the Banks family, was eventually sold last year for development into private flats. Work on refurbishment however, has been held up because of problems with planning permission. The site itself dates back to the 13th century when the Winstanley family were lords of the manor and a moat from this period still survives in the grounds of the estate. In 1560 the Winstanleys abandoned the moated site and built the present hall nearby. Shortly afterwards however (1596) they sold the estate to James Bankes a London Goldsmith and Banker. Over the years this family famous for their mining activities in the Wigan area, developed the hall to its present size. In the1960's the hall was abandoned and since then has slowly deteriorated - hence the sale, which is hoped would stop the rot. Tim Banks, who still owns most of the estate, is currently renovating the nearby lodge for private dwelling. He also wants to develop the surrounding gardens, which include a huge greenhouse. As this backs onto the medieval moat, an archaeological assessment has had to be carried out. This work has now been completed by our friend Mark Fletcher from Matrix Archaeology, and his results will be made available shortly. In the meantime Mark has invited us to view the site with him so that he can explain some of the detail. A field trip has been suggested for Sunday morning 8th April. If you are interested please contact me at the meeting.

Roman Road Potential

Last month a handful of diehard society members gathered on Howe Bridge Crematorium car park on a wet and windy Sunday morning. Mark Haywood, who had spotted something on an aerial photo, guided us to the spot where he thought the road was located. Using steel probes he could show that there was some sort of hard surface not far beneath the turf, especially in the area leading down the to the brook. This seems to correspond with the width of the road as indicated by the 19th century antiquarians. Also around the area of the brook there is substantial stonework. This is an ideal site for the use of our new resistivity meter and when it becomes available (within the next few weeks) another site visit will be arranged.
Wigan Archaeological Society

Next Meeting

Wednesday 3rd April at the BP Centre (Scout HQ) in Greenough Street, at 7.30 pm as usual. This month’s speaker is Ben Edwards, former County Archaeologist for Lancashire, who will be presenting his talk on Vikings and their influence in the North West.
Hope to see you there. B.A.