Local historians try to identify family on a famously blacklisted Wigan picture from 84 years ago

The search is on to find the Wigan family who featured in a controversial 1939 photograph.
Wigan Street Corner 1939. The family has never been identified.Wigan Street Corner 1939. The family has never been identified.
Wigan Street Corner 1939. The family has never been identified.

It is an icon representing the dark days of mass unemployment in the UK, however the famous picture of the man on a Wigan Street corner with his children was never published at the time.

The 1939 picture story taken for Picture Post Magazine was thought too controversial and the focus on negative issues upset those in power in the town.

Read More
RETRO: Bird's eye view of Wigan borough in 2005
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They asked the magazine for prints of all the photographs taken to be submitted first for checking and modern day historians believe the famous unemployed man was kept back: in effect censored.

It was of course eventually published.

Now a new book is being researched about the remarkable stories and photographs that never made it onto the pages of this legendary picture magazine which folded in 1957.

Authors Colin Wilkinson and Derek Smith want to dig deeper into the Wigan image and they are keen to find out who this family were and most importantly what happened to them.

Derek said: “These images are so much a part of our national history but it is remarkable that no one bothered to record the names of the father and his children who have become so familiar.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The chances of the children being alive now are remote, the boy would be over 90 years old, but there is a chance that a later generation of this family might recognise their relatives in the photograph.

"What happened to the man in the clogs? Was he conscripted into the army to serve during the approaching war?

"That conflict created employment for him would be a sad irony.”

Hopefully more will be revealed in the chapter on the Picture Post Wigan story planned for the book which is being published at the end of the year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If anyone can shed light on the photograph please contact Derek on [email protected]

Picture Post was a photojournalistic magazine published in the United Kingdom for more than 20 years in the middle of the last century. It is considered a pioneering example of photojournalism and was an immediate success, selling 1,700,000 copies a week after only two months.

Related topics: