Historic Wigan building flattened to protect public safety

Demolition has begun on the Eckersley Mills site
Demolition has begun on the Eckersley Mills site

Part of an iconic Wigan building is in the midst of being torn down after authorities warned it was a death trap.

A section of the listed Eckersley Mills is in the process of being demolished after town hall officials and Wigan firefighters learned that people were trespassing on the property.

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The work on annexe two has now begun after council chiefs liaised with Historic England about the future of the site, concluding that the best thing to do was raze it to the ground.

Becca Heron, director for economy and skills at Wigan Council said: “We have had serious concerns about the condition of this building within the listed Eckersley Mills complex for a while and have liaised with the owners and Historic England to discuss its future.

“Demolition of the annexe next to mill number two is now underway and we will keep the public updated with any further developments.”

On several occasions, firefighters have warned that anyone attempting to access the property would be “dicing with death” due to the deteriorating state of the structure.

Standing for more than 100 years, the mills have been begging for restoration and have been the subject of numerous unsuccessful planning applications.

As a result, the site eventually became a magnet for anti-social behaviour as it lay vacant and crumbling.

Last year, crews were called out numerous times to fires being set in the former industrial building and in the chimney, which is located at a different part of the site.

Speaking back in August following a spate of arsons, watch manager Gareth Gray said that the building needed to be brought down in order to protect public safety.

“Anyone who is trespassing in there is dicing with death,” he said.

“There are holes in the walls and it is crumbling.

“It is not a place for kids”.

Wigan Council’s Marie Bintley, assistant director for growth and housing also voiced her concerns over the safety of the structure, going as far as closing Pottery Terrace to protect pedestrians.

The area has also been used as a backdrop for popular BBC primetime drama Peaky Blinders.

In 2017 TV crews descended on the mills to film scenes for the fourth series of the period show, which follows a family of gangsters in Birmingham after the First World War.

More recently the building has fallen into disrepair.

In June last year, firefighters tackled a blaze for more than an hour after trespassers gained access to the site.