Plans for creative and digital business hub in historic Wigan hotel

A Wigan culture organisation has announced its plans for the next chapter in the story of a much written-about town centre building.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th March 2021, 3:46 pm
The Grand Hotel

The Old Courts has confirmed it has agreed to purchase The Grand Hotel and is working on obtaining the funding for a comprehensive renovation to give it a new lease of life.

The announcement is particularly timely as it comes in the Dorning Street black-and-white building’s centenary year.

The team at The Old Courts have ambitious plans to turn the former hotel, which has fallen into comparative disrepair as it has been shut for some time, into a hub for the creative industries, with modern office spaces, studios and a cafe and accommodation for overnight stays.

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Now, though, the plan is to turn the building into a site giving everything newly-established Wigan firms in the cultural, creative and social enterprise sectors need to thrive.

David Jenkins, managing director of The Old Courts, said: “The need to have a facility like this has never been so strong. We are focused on helping those making their first steps into creative and social entrepreneurship as supported as possible.

“Our industry strives through collaborations and sector support.

“We’re passionate about creating an ideas centre where individuals and organisations can work, benefit from peer support and grow with provision of training opportunities, key note speakers and introductions to local and national opportunities.

“We want to give these creatives the best chance of success.”

The Old Courts is now working with GMCVO, a Greater Manchester organisation which supports development in the city-region, to secure the funding needed to renovate the Grand Hotel.

The plan includes hot-desking areas, private and shared offices, studios for digital creatives and a facility providing food and drink.

There will also still be hotel bedrooms available for booking .

It is eventually hoped that as many as 200 people from the artistic and creative industries will be working from the former hotel.

The Old Courts is currently working alongside Wigan Council and other partners across the borough on the Social Enterprise Network which aims to aid investment and growth for socially focussed organisations.

The team at the Crawford Street arts and culture hub, which has itself been created in another historic Wigan building in the shape of the town’s Victorian former seat of justice, is promising a restoration sympathetic to the Grand Hotel’s 100-year past.

The identity of the building and as much of its period character and splendour as possible will be retained, The Old Courts said.

The original architecture of the hotel will be also be strongly featured in the finished design.

The Grand Hotel is the latest historic site in Wigan which The Old Courts is taking on, as it is currently returning The Royal Court Theatre on King Street to its former glory as a site place for entertainment.

This is not the first scheme The Old Courts has put forward for bringing the Grand Hotel back to life.

A few years ago it floated the possibility of the building becoming accommodation for students who would have travelled north as part of a link-up with St Martin’s art college in London.

Prior to that there were a number of other ideas mooted for the corner plot.

Once owned by well-known Wigan businessman John Riley, the Grand Hotel shut after its financial struggles gradually deepened and has now been empty for some time.

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