A hidden away Wigan milestone from Roman times

A little-known piece of Wigan history could soon be recognised with its own plaque.

Saturday, 19th October 2019, 3:44 pm
Coun George Davies would like a plaque to mark the Roman milestone, within the wall between Wigan Infirmary and The Elms, Wigan Lane

A milestone, believed to be Roman, stands proudly as part of the exterior wall separating Wigan Infirmary and The Elms, on Wigan Lane, Swinley.

It is thought the stone was placed there 2,000 years ago by the Romans.

The wall would then have been built around it when the hospital was erected.

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Wigan Central councillor George Davies is spearheading a campaign to recognise the historic stone with a plaque.

He said: “This milestone, which lies in the conservation area, is the only one in our Wigan area which was put in by the Roman empire’s road builders between AD1 and AD4 and was an important point of any Roman road network.

“The modern word for mile derives from the Latin word ‘1,000 paces’ and this milestone is 1,000 paces from Wigan’s Market Place to The Elms on Wigan Lane.”

Coun Davies wants a plaque to be erected close to the milestone to recognise its importance and ensure Wiganers know what it is.

He plans to pay for it using his Brighter Borough funding, which is cash available to councillors for projects in their wards.

He said: “I am in the process of meeting with the council and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust so that we can deliver this important history story of the Roman conquest during the 1st and 2nd centuries, that the Romans made a settlement named Coccium, which was established where our town of Wigan lies.”

Coun Davies already has the backing of Andrew Foster, chief executive of the hospitals trust.

He said: “Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh has a very strong sense of history although, until now, we were not aware of this Roman milestone at our Wigan Infirmary site.

“We are very happy to support the idea of marking it with a plaque and look forward to the grand unveiling.”

Coun Davies has been keen to recognise Wigan’s heritage.

He arranged for a plaque to be erected last year at the entrance to the Grand Arcade shopping centre to memorialise the famous Station Road, a hotspot for Wiganers of days gone by.

Plaques also commemorate the old market arcade and commercial yard - iconic places from Wigan’s past that were demolished in the 1970s - which were put outside the Marketgate entrance to the Galleries and next to Boots Opticians.

Coun Davies also arranged for a tribute to Wigan’s miners at Mesnes Park and put together a booklet of heritage plaques and maps, as well a list of shops that lined the streets of Wigan through the 1950s, 60s and 70s.