Former Wigan Observer editor dies aged 87

The man who took the Wigan Observer into the new era of newspapers has died at the age of 87.

Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 7:19 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 8:33 am
Former Observer editor Jack Winstanley

Former editor Jack Winstanley, who joined the paper straight from the Grammar School, was, in his day, a true “Mr Wigan” and he championed a campaign to clean up the vastly polluted River Douglas.

His greatest satisfaction was when salmon were spotted in the clear waters.

Family man Jack was a great local newspaperman, and his enthusiasm and willingness to accept new technology were hallmarks.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Jack presents trophies to Wigan Angling Society in 1966

He once flew in a fighter jet to pen a fascinating article.

In his early days with the paper, he concentrated on sport – rugby and fishing.

And was to write on these subjects for many other newspapers and magazines.

As a young reporter, one of his first jobs in the old atmospheric Rowbottom Square offices was to carry buckets of coal from the cellar to the second floor editorial office.

Jack Winstanley

Much to his relief, central heating arrived in 1957.

New days were looming in the newspaper industry and Jack was the leading light in taking the Observer into the new world – that of web-offset where stories and photos were crystal clear.

Advertisements were swept from the front page, giving way to colour pictures.

Thanks to Jack and his team, the Wigan Observer won the “Weekly Newspaper of the Year” award and he was delighted when a part of the old press was put on display in the London Science Museum.

A journalist with a nip in his pen, Jack led many campaigns and his published books included one on Billy Boston from 1961.

He took the editor’s chair in 1973 when Fred Dove retired, and a decade later he left to concentrate on freelance sports reporting and became the rugby league correspondent for the Mail on Sunday.

The funeral will take place at 11.30am on March 26 at Charnock Richard Crematorium.

He leaves his wife Elsie, and two sons, Andrew and Mark and two grand daughters.