New dawn for pit site

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A NEW Wigan business park will create hundreds of jobs.

Shops, a hotel, a pub plus office/industrial units are now set to rise from 32 acres of former moonscape in Pemberton which was once home to Blundell’s pits, one of Lancashire’s biggest colliery complexes.

The exciting development, which received outline permission from councillors last year, is the latest development from Trafford Centre and Ship Canal giant The Peel Group. They are predicting strong interest in Pemberton Business Park because it’s part of a major new mixed-use development with excellent communications because it is yards from the A49 with a direct access to Junction 25 of the M6.

It will rise from land at the side of an existing Phase One “office village” site already comprising more than 93,000 square feet of new build accommodation. Peel have the go-ahead for 650,000 square feet of industrial/office space plus 13,778 square feet of shops.

The site is also capable of accommodating a single warehouse of 250,000ft sq should a business be interested..

Development manager at Peel Matt Fitton said: “The launch of such a significant strategic employment site with the potential to create significant job numbers over the coming years is obviously very encouraging for Peel. We are very confident that Pemberton Business Park will be a success and are committed to delivering this vision.”

Michael Cavanagh, partner at Trevor Dawson Chartered Surveyors, said: “Pemberton Business Park presents a superb opportunity for a mixed used development scheme to come to the fore at the edge of Wigan and within close proximity to Junction 25 of the M6.

“We are confident that with the planning consent in place which includes a variety of uses such as warehousing/manufacturing, offices, leisure and retail that strong interest will be forthcoming from occupiers over the next few months.”

Andrew Pexton, Director of National Markets Industrial and Distribution at GVA Andrew Pexton said: “Pemberton is one of a handful of sites that have the relevant infrastructure in-situ.”

Mining started on this expansive site towards the end of the 18th century.

But it would continue, in the form of controversial opencasting, into the early 1990s.

The first shallow mine was opened by Colonel Jonathan Blundell and family in 1865 when two 18ft diameter shafts were sunk more than 600 yards to the Orrell seams of Cannel coal, known as the upcast King and downcast Queen pits.

An expansive colliery complex grew up around them including a rake of coke ovens, while by-products sent out via the extensive exchange siding which once lay along Pemberton station included coal distillates, Pemberton bricks and tiles.

The last deep mine coal, from the Venture pit which is remembered by the Highfield pub of the same name, was wound just after the end of the Second World War.

But the washery was retained into the late 1960s for opencast workings in the area ... parts of it were only swept away as recently as 20 years ago.

A highly productive Lancashire mine in it’s time, the pit was also touched with tragedy when 40 men and boys (some part of the rescue team) were killed when a massive explosion tore through the King Pit.

Eventually it was deemed necessary to brick up the tunnels at either side of the fire – including the bodies of those killed by the blast – until it was extinguished.

Only then could the bodies be recovered.

The mine was also notable locally for being ventilated by a massive 46ft diameter fan driven by two engines.