Globe-trotting book that embarks from Wigan Pier

A Wigan-born author is trying to prove the old saying about there never being more than six degrees of separation is true of the borough as well.

Tuesday, 29th November 2016, 2:34 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 4:37 pm
Author John Sharrock Taylor

John Sharrock Taylor’s latest book Six Steps From Wigan Pier takes the reader through a collection of true stories, all of which have some connection to the borough.

John, who hails from Ince, has worked in a host of exotic locations including El Salvador, Malawi and Malaysia and the book reflects his globe-trotting outlook.

While some of the tales in the book go no further than the famous Pier and the Uncle Joe’s Mintballs factory others range to far-flung locations such as Gallipoli, Guatemala, Mexico and India.

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John said: “When my son Richard mentioned the theory that each one of us is no more than six steps from any other person on the face of the planet I realised that I’d stumbled upon a wonderful framework for one of my favourite activities, telling tales.

“Wigan is a rich source of pies, tripe, coal, cotton, culture and, above all, stories. Some of the tales in this book connect with me or my family. All of them connect in some way with Wigan.

“If you are a Wiganer you may already have met some of the memorable characters in the book. If not, you may be in for some surprises.”

Readers who delve into John’s book can learn about George Formby’s connection with JRR Tolkien’s wizard Gandalf or what links Oliver Cromwell with a girl who sang for Adolf Hitler and hid military secrets in her underwear.

The book also asks who the mysterious Man Who Killed A King was and discovers just how much distance there is between an ordinary Wigan girl and iconic civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

John, who now lives in Andalusia in Spain, says he also uncovers some secrets for the first time, including the tragic story of a Lancashire collier who became Henry Ford’s right-hand man in Europe but whose chances of fame and glory ended on Blackpool’s beach at the hands of a deserted wife.

The book also contains 48 photos by keen lensman John whose previous work, In and Around Wigan Through Time, saw him visit the scenes of 60 historic images to see what they look like in the 21st century.

John first got into print with his debut A Wigan Childhood, and then turned his experiences running an international school in Asia into 2013 work No Baboons in India.

Six Steps From Wigan Pier is available online and at bookstores. For details visit