Bid to preserve town hall artifacts

A detailed stone-carved crest at the top of the building, at the site of the old Wigan Town Hall, which has been derelict for years, as the building is being demolished

A detailed stone-carved crest at the top of the building, at the site of the old Wigan Town Hall, which has been derelict for years, as the building is being demolished

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THE clatter of bricks falling to the floor and the buzzing of a masonry saw mean the end is nigh for Wigan’s former town hall.

What was once one of the town’s grander buildings, the 136-year-old structure will be no more by the start of next week.

Contractors are now making sure some of the building’s redeeming features - such as the prominent five foot crest that stands above the entrance - are taken down in one piece.

Roy Collier, building control manager at Wigan council said: “Workmen are up on the scaffolding as we speak taking the crest and some of the urn features down by hand.

“It has to be done this way as due to the cellars of the old building, the ground is not stable enough for us to get a crane up there.

“We are doing our utmost to get them down in one piece although it is a difficult job, the crest is five foot tall and very heavy.

“And the urns are also larger than you think and are in three pieces. It will difficult to get hands around them to lift them off.”

Initially, only a section of the derelict building was set to be demolished but after work began, it became clear that the section on Rodney Street encompassing the facade was structurally unstable.

Mr Collier added: “We had every intention of just taking down the section on King Street but the whole structure was in a worse condition than we first thought.

“Because the Rodney Street part of the building had been boarded up to prevent trespassers, no-one had been able to assess the true condition of the building for a while.”

Extra precautions are also being taken to protect the adjacent Francos restaurant and a perimeter wall will be left in place.

The demolition work is being funded by the building’s owners and is scheduled to be completed next week.

Council bosses also stressed English Heritage had been contacted regarding the listed sections of the building.

Steve Normington, director of economy, said: “The building has not been the council’s responsibility for many years.

“We have made efforts to encourage the owners to preserve it and develop the site but our powers are limited.

“We have acted now because the building has become a danger to public safety.”