Wigan is a town in Greater Manchester situated roughly halfway between Manchester and Liverpool. The River Douglas runs through the town and is affectionately known as ‘The Duggie’.
Though less than 20 miles away, most locals consider themselves to be Lancastrians rather than ‘mancs’ or ‘scousers’. Many also speak (speyck) with a strong local dialect known as Wiganese. To help you to converse with them, check out the local dialect and phrases.
Some myths and other interesting(?) stuff
Myth: Wigan Pier was made famous by George Orwell in his book ‘The Road To Wigan Pier’. However, it is actually not a pier but a wharf on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. It was restored as one of the UK’s top heritage attractions, winning 15 national tourism awards for its portrait of local life at the turn of the century. Sadly now closed.
Myth: Wiganers are called ‘Pie Eaters’. However, this is not 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 Government and were said to have been forced to eat humble pie.
Wigan is sporty: Wigan Warriors are the most famous and successful rugby league club in the country whilst ‘little’ Wigan Athletic won the FA Cup in 2013 (beating Manchester City) and spent several years mixing it with the big boys in the Premier League (2005-2013). The World Pie-Eating Championship has been held in Wigan ever since it was inaugrated in 1992. The current pie-eating world champion (2015) is a Wiganer, Martin Clare [press report]
Wigan is culinary: Wigan has more pie shops per square mile [also per square meter] than any other town in the UK.
Wigan is healthy: In the 18th century Wigan was a popular spa town. Eventually though, the waters became too polluted from the booming coal mining industry.
Wigan is musical: The Verve;
Wigan is a desirable place for business: The Heinz factory in Wigan is the largest food processing plant in Europe and the largest H. J. Heinz facility in the world;
Wigan is a desirable place to live: Wallace And Gromit live In Wigan, at a fictitious address ’62 West Wallaby Street’. If needed, proof is visible in both ‘The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’ and ‘The Wrong Trousers’. Other famous residents include Sir Ian McKellen (actor and Gandalf).
Wigan is a good place to be born: George Formby (singer/comedian); Margery Booth (opera singer and spy); Kay Burley (TV newsreader and presenter); Lawrence Isherwood (artist); Roy Kinnear (actor); Frank Randle (comedian); Danny Wilson (footballer and manger); Gerrard Winstanley (founder of Diggers); Colin Bean (actor)
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.
Wigan is also the birth place of Uncle Joe’s Mintballs which have kept local Dentists in business for nearly a 100 years now!!
It is also the birth place of Marks and Spencers, Heinz, Pataks, De Roma, Sir Ian McKellen, George Formby, The Verve and has literary ties to George Orwell who wrote The Road to Wigan Pier – which is actually one of only a handful of inland piers in the world.
Trencherfield Mill next to Wigan Pier houses the world’s largest steam engine. A Unique Twin Tandem Triple Engine 2,500 Horsepower Horizontal Mill Engine, nonetheless! It was built especially for the mill in 1907 by Bolton Engineers John and Edward Wood.