Family fun day will celebrate 'unique' air shaft from Wigan's mining industry

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A group set up to protect and celebrate a piece of Wigan’s mining heritage is organising a fun day for the whole family.

The Friends of Wall Hey are dedicated to the air shaft in Haigh which was once an important part of the area’s coal mine.

The pit was sunk in 1840 by Lord Crawford of Haigh Hall but work stopped by 1871 and it was repurposed as an up-cast ventilation shaft.

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Friends of Wall Hey with the air shaftFriends of Wall Hey with the air shaft
Friends of Wall Hey with the air shaft

Neil West, a member of the friends group, said: “The group was set up to raise awareness of the air shaft and investigate its ownership and whether it was practical to, if not restore it, at least maintain it in its current state.

"It’s proven very difficult to establish who exactly owns it. A local farmer owns the land, but the air shaft itself is an orphan structure. It belonged to the coal board and has been through the hands of different companies and ownership of it was lost and the Land Registry doesn’t have any record of who owns it.

"It makes it very difficult to get a survey done because we haven’t been able to establish who the owner is.”

In the meantime, the group has been working to raise the profile of the tower, which is on Haigh Road.

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It secured money from the National Lottery for a project with primary school children, which saw them handling artefacts and learning about coal mining.

They are now organising a family fun day, which will be held from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, June 1 at the One House community centre in Aspull, which was once the office for the coal mine.

There will be tours of the air shaft, led by local historian Phil Livesey, and a Lego tent where people can build their own version of it.

There will also be arts and crafts activities, children's theatre, entertainment from the Chorley Cakes and stalls.

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Mr West said: “It’s about bringing people together and using the air shaft as an iconic feature on the landscape. It’s what we all have in common.

"The air shaft is quite unique. There aren’t many left in the country or even in Europe. It’s a rare survivor because they would have been capped off or demolished by mining authorities.”

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