Packed programme for 80th anniversary bash

Photographer Tim Foster

Photographer Tim Foster

Organisers are marking eight decades since The Road to Wigan Pier hit the shelves in style with a huge weekend of art, literature, drama and history.

The celebration kicks off on Friday March 10 evening with a Sunshine House social event jointly hosted by the Wigan Diggers Festival, which has got involved as local radical thinker Gerrard Winstanley inspired Orwell, The Orwell Society and the Scholes community venue.

Professor John Newsinger will give a talk From Wigan Pier to Nineteen Eighty-Four as part of the evening, which begins at 7.30pm.

On Saturday morning the Wellington Street venue will host a celebration of the written word with local talent inspired by Orwell from 9.30am until noon.

Primary school children will read poems inspired by the Road to Wigan Pier, secondary school pupils will perform an Orwell-themed dystopian drama and community group Pianos, Pies and Pirouettes, will lead singing created from key passages in the book.

The short drama pieces and writing have been prepared with the help of acclaimed Wigan poet Louise Fazackerley.

In the afternoon the emphasis switches to The Museum of Wigan Life for talks on the book’s background and life in 1930s England given by experts and academics between 1pm and 3pm.

In addition, Appley Bridge-raised photographer Tim Foster (pictured) will present a slideshow of his project All Roads Lead to Wigan Pier, looking at how the town has changed since Orwell came, at Wigan Life Centre at 1pm.

After that The Mill at the Pier will host Alra North students performing short drama pieces inspired by The Road to Wigan Pier between 6pm and 7pm.

The commemoration finishes on Sunday March 12 at The Old Courts with screenings of short films showing Wigan in 1936 and a tour of the former seat of justice turned into a community arts hub taking place from 10am until 11am.