Masterplan revealed for Wigan's historic Haigh Hall

A masterplan for Haigh Hall has been revealed, as council bosses draw up a bid for £20m to transform it.

By Gaynor Clarke
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 3:45 pm

The grade II*-listed building could become a hive of activity under plans produced by Wigan Council and artists Al and Al, after it was transferred back to the local authority’s control last year.

They propose to have an art gallery – featuring the permanent loan of Wigan artist Theodore Major’s £200m collection – as well as an area for children’s education, event space for weddings and parties, rooftop terrace, restaurant, cafe, bar and more.

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Artists Al and Al show the Haigh Hall masterplan to Coun Chris Ready and James Winterbottom, Wigan Council's director of digital, leisure and well-being

It is hoped much of the project will be funded by a £20m grant from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, with council bosses preparing to submit a bid by the July 6 deadline.

If successful, Haigh Hall could be transformed in just two or three years, jobs will be created and tens of millions of pounds could be brought into Wigan’s economy.

Artist Al Taylor said: “The ambition is to have the local community at the heart of the project, but it is to be a regional place of significance. We want to put Wigan on the map. People go to Manchester to go to The Lowry and we want them to come here. It’s about really creating somewhere for the local community, but also a national visitor destination.”

The plans were drawn up after Al and Al had a “conversation” with the public to find out what they would like to happen to Haigh Hall.

Haigh Hall could be transformed under the masterplan

They spoke to 800 people and found common themes, with 85.5 per cent wanting culture, art and heritage at the hall.

The pair created a masterplan based on three Hs – humanities, hospitality and horticulture – using those themes.

The first floor will be dedicated to culture and heritage, with an exhibition of work by Theodore Major, who rarely put his creations on display.

Al Taylor said: “Quite a few people spoke about local artists and one name in particular came up a number of times, which was Theodore Major. At The Fire Within we started to get to know his family and after the conversation, when we realised everyone wanted culture here, we got in touch with his family and have been in negotiations.

Al and Al at Haigh Hall with artist Theodore Major's daughter Mary Major

"We have managed to secure the loan of the family’s estate, which is worth about £200m. The hall once again is going to be filled with treasure.”

It is hoped the hall can collaborate with galleries and museums, bringing other artwork to Wigan.

There will be work on display from other artists, a reading room where societies and groups can meet, a celestial floor with exhibitions about science and astronomy, and an area for children’s education, including a gallery and workshops.

There will be an area for events such as weddings, classical recitals and more, with eight of the former hotel rooms being retained for guest accommodation.

Other features will include a bar in the cellar, a restaurant and a cafe.

People are invited to find out more at Haigh Hall between 11am and 3pm from Friday, May 13 to Sunday, May 15 and from Friday, May 20 to Sunday, May 22.

There will also be information on Wigan Council’s website so people can have their say before the funding bid is submitted.