Have your say on what happens to Wigan's Haigh Hall

Wiganers are being invited inside Haigh Hall to share their memories and have their say on its future.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 12:00 pm
Al and Al at Haigh Hall

Artists Al and Al are working with Wigan Council to put together a masterplan for the historic building and the wider site.

It comes after the hall was returned to the local authority’s control following a court battle with the firm which was operating a hotel there.

Before drawing up their plans, Al and Al want to speak to people who live in the borough to find out what they would like to happen at Haigh Hall.

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So they are holding a “conversation”, where members of the public are invited along to the hall to share their views.

Al Taylor said: “We are going to ask three questions. We are going to ask people to tell us their stories and to share their memories of Haigh Hall with us.

“Then we will ask people to share their hopes and dreams for the future of Haigh. As well as thinking about the past, we want to know what they think the future should hold.

“The third thing is to be specific about the one thing they would like to see at Haigh Hall or the whole estate, if there is one thing they would like to see come back or something they would love to

have.”

The pair and the project team have already spoken to groups interested in Haigh Hall and volunteers, but now hope to speak to the wider public.

Rather than employ consultants to gather views, Al and Al plan to talk to people directly to discover what they would like to see at the

hall.

They will be based in the building’s vestibule on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for four weeks, starting on Friday, September 17, so people can go along.

Al Holmes said: “Every weekend for four weeks we will open the vestibule on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We will make tea and cake and we are going to listen and chat to people.”

Al Taylor said: “We feel that Haigh Hall means a lot to people in the borough and we care about everyone loving what we do. I think it’s really important that people connect with what happens here in the future and that they feel a part of it.

“From the groups we have met, the heritage groups and the open access group, and the volunteers that work here, they feel really connected to the place and it’s about having an inclusive conversation and being part of what happens.”

Al and Al are creating a film entitled The A-Z of Haigh, which will be projected onto the wall in the vestibule and hopefully provide suggestions for talking points.

Al Holmes said: “We will show little stories and clips to inspire conversations about the heritage. It will also inspire the ninth century at Haigh Hall, which we are going into together.”

They are asking people to take along their photographs related to the hall from over the years, so they can scan them for a new archive, and they will collect contact details so people can get involved with the project.

They also hope to film or make audio recordings of the things people have to say, to create an oral history of the building.

It will add to the extensive research they have been doing into the historic building, the surrounding land and the people who have lived there over the past 800 years.

The information they gather during the four-week event will be used by the pair as they draw up proposals for what should happen to Haigh Hall.

Al Taylor said: “We will then come up with some plans and share those plans with everybody and that will be the second phase of the conversation.”

While only the vestibule will be open during the consultations, it is hoped that more of Haigh Hall can be opened to visitors in future and events held there.

Al and Al will be at Haigh Hall from 11am to 3pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, for four weeks from September 17.

People are invited to turn up to give their views, with booking not required.

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