Turnpike turns 40

A childrens party for the 40th birthday of Leigh's Turnpike Centre with entertainer Rumple
A childrens party for the 40th birthday of Leigh's Turnpike Centre with entertainer Rumple

WIGAN’S deputy mayor was one of the special guests at a 40th celebration of the Turnpike Centre, in Leigh.

The party was the culmination of a week-long series of events from a comedy night to cookery demonstrations were organised to mark the occasion.

Coun Myra Whiteside said: “I love Leigh and I love the Turnpike. I must say a big ‘thank you’ to all staff past and present who over the years have done a fantastic job.

“Everybody is welcome here and it is a true hub of the community.

“I’d like to wish the Turnpike a happy 40th birthday and here’s to the next 40 years.”

Stuart Murray, chief executive of Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, who manage the facility on behalf of Wigan Council, said: “One of the Turnpike’s greatest assets is that it has moved with the times. It has kept itself relevant. It has been at the heart and soul of Leigh for decades.”

For one attendee it was an extra special day.

Rita Goodwin, now 88, was one of the organisers when it first opened.

She said: “I’m very proud to be here. It’s a great centre and has been since it opened.

“There’s been a lot of talk over the years about how it looks, but this place has character and I like that.”

Local history and reminiscence talks and presentations also took place while Three Towns Opera who performed at the first Leigh Arts Festival when the centre opened, also performed again.

The Turnpike Gallery also held a specially selected exhibition of works from the Arts Council Collection by 24 artists on display; many of whom have previously shown at the gallery, including LS Lowry, and made possible by Arts Council Lottery Funding.

School children from 11 local schools also made special birthday cards to wish the Turnpike a happy 40th birthday.