Prolific Leigh architect recognised with blue plaque

An architect known for designing many of Leigh’s historic buildings has been recognised with a blue plaque in the entrance to its town hall.
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James Caldwell Prestwich, who was born in Atherton and educated at Leigh Grammar School and Nantwich Grammar School, travelled to London before returning to Leigh in 1875.

Following the return to his hometown, Prestwich went on to set up his architectural practice where he worked until he was 77 years old.

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Coun Chris Ready, the local authority’s cabinet member for communities, said: “Prestwich was a remarkable man: gifted, industrious and prolific in his output.

Representatives gather to celebrate JC Prestwich's blue plaqueRepresentatives gather to celebrate JC Prestwich's blue plaque
Representatives gather to celebrate JC Prestwich's blue plaque
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“He contributed more to the unique character of Leigh’s urban landscape than any other individual, through the many civic buildings he designed and if you’ve visited Leigh, the chances are you have stepped inside one of his buildings.

“It’s brilliant that he can be recognised in this way in this year’s round of Blue Plaque awards.”

Buildings designed by Prestwich include Leigh Technical School and Library on Railway Road, Leigh Infirmary and Leigh Town Hall, which was completed in Edwardian Baroque Revival style in 1907.

A picture of JC Prestwich courtesy of Archives: Wigan and LeighA picture of JC Prestwich courtesy of Archives: Wigan and Leigh
A picture of JC Prestwich courtesy of Archives: Wigan and Leigh
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Since its reopening in 2021, Leigh Town Hall has been home to Archives: Wigan and Leigh, with facilities made possible with support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to preserve the history of the borough’s schools, churches, hospitals, businesses, families and estates.

Members of the public can use the records to trace their family histories, explore how past communities lived and learn about how the borough has grown over centuries.

The archives also feature an education space adjacent to the Chambers where schools participate in an exciting programme of activity, meaning future generations can admire Prestwich’s creations.

Prestwich was nominated by a keen advocate of his work, Heather Lawler.

The Mayor of Wigan borough, Coun Kevin Anderson, and nominator Heather Lawler with the HC Prestwich plaqueThe Mayor of Wigan borough, Coun Kevin Anderson, and nominator Heather Lawler with the HC Prestwich plaque
The Mayor of Wigan borough, Coun Kevin Anderson, and nominator Heather Lawler with the HC Prestwich plaque
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She said: “I love buildings and architecture, and when I became aware of JC Prestwich who designed the town hall, I also realised he’d designed so many other buildings in his hometown of Leigh.

“I created a town trail, where I encourage people to look up to see some of the magnificent buildings he created. It's a happy day to see him recognised with a blue plaque.”

Nominations can now be submitted for next year and ceremonies take place each year, linked with the borough's cultural manifesto The Fire Within.

For more information about the Blue Plaque scheme, visit: https://www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/Wigan-Archives/Blue-Plaque-Scheme.aspx

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