HAIGH Hall looks set to become home to an Alton Towers-style giant theme park.
The ambitious “Pie World” plans were unveiled today as cash-strapped council and leisure chiefs look for new and innovative ways of raising revenue during the recession.
The stately home is a popular venue for events and the grounds are of course a regular haunt for day-trippers.
But there is a feeling that this borough jewel-in-the-crown is still under-used and not generating as much revenue as it might.
The upper floors for instance are vacant and among the ambitious blueprints are suggestions of having some of the more thrilling attractions actually based within the former seat of Lord Crawford, including a ghost train in the attic and a giant slide sprouting out of the front and down onto the drive from the balcony.
An equivalent to Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s colossal rollercoaster The Big One might also be incorporated into the fabric of the grade II listed property with G-force-inducing carriages hurtling in and out of upper windows and around the surrounding precincts.
It’s a far cry from the rather more sedate miniature railway whose fortunes enthusiasts are currently trying to revive. The authority is hoping to cash in on the recent closure of the Camelot theme park at nearby Chorley and there is talk of its buying up its now redundant Pendragon’s Plunge water shoots and run them off the side of the Haigh hillside, at the same time providing novel and challenging extra obstacles to golf course users.
It is hoped that the park, set for completion by summer of next year if approved by planners, will re-instate Wigan as a top tourist attraction – a label it lost with the closure of most visitor facilities at Wigan Pier several years ago.
A name has yet to be decided upon but Pie World, which naturally pays tribute to Wiganers’ love of savory pastries, has not been ruled out.
A council spokesman said: “April 1 is the start of the new financial year and so we wanted to begin it with a bang. This is a very exciting venture which could put Wigan right back on the tourist trail.
“We are in talks with a number of theme park operators with a view to setting up big rides in front of Haigh Hall, even incorporating some of them into the building. Pie World is the nearest thing to Disneyland Britain will ever get and we hope to get Mickey Mouse to open it.
“It should make Wigan a North West Mecca for thrill-seekers.”