FEARS emerged today over the state of one of Wigan’s most beautiful historic buildings.
Town hall chiefs are currently looking at a “long-term sustainability” package of works at Haigh Hall and country park – where the state of the roof is causing particular concerns.
One councillor says he had learned that it will cost around £2m to repair the roof. Council chiefs today refused to confirm the figure, but admitted a review was under way.
Stephen Normington, council director of the economy said: “The council is currently examining options for the long-term sustainability of the Haigh Country Park, including the hall.
“The hall does need some work to sustain the longer term integrity of the roof and, if possible, bring the upper floors back into use. As with many buildings of this nature and age, there are isolated areas where leaks occur, which are dealt with. However, a more long-term solution will be required in the future, and at the present moment is not possible to speculate on the cost of these works.
“Part of our considerations is how the future strategy for the Haigh Country Park can provide resources that can assist in ensuring that the integrity of the Hall is maintained for the enjoyment of future generations.”
The Grade Two building has been repeatedly listed in English Heritage Buildings at Risk register in recent years because of the condition of the roof, which currently has a temporary roof covering making it weatherproof.
However that isn’t considered safe enough to allow the top floor to be opened for commercial use.
Hindley Green Independent Coun Bob Brierley recently joined a private tour of the closed upper floor inside the Hall.
He was so shocked by what he saw that he now wants an inquiry into the council’s care and maintenance regime.
He said: “Officers have now told me that they have been seen quotes of more than £2m to repair the roof, which is an astonishing amount.
“It doesn’t seem right to me that we pay Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust to manage the hall and they take all the revenue, yet the council ends up having to foot the bill for repairs.
“The council used to describe Haigh Hall as the jewel in our crown but as far as I can see it has been allowed to become a dump.”
Haigh Hall was built between 1827 and 1840 of stone quarried at nearby Parbold. It the ancestral home of the Lindsay family, Earls of Crawford and Balcarres.
Its finest hour was when the Prince and Princess of Wales stayed there in 1873, before the future King officially opened Wigan’s Royal Albert Edward Infirmary.
The aristocratic family “sold” it and the plantations to the then Wigan Corporation in 1948 to pay off a massive £18,000 bill for unpaid rates.
The fine antiques and paintings were actioned in London and the rest was sold at a three-day sale at Queens Hall.