Ten of the most common urban myths from Wigan's colourful history

Every town has its own fair share of urban myths, and Wigan is certainly no exception to the rule.

Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 1:26 pm
Hedy Lamarr

Whether passed around the tables in pubs and workplaces, repeated on street corners or make their way around the terraces at football or rugby league matches, certain stories take on the character of collective truth. With its storied and colourful history dating back to Roman times, Wigan has certainly picked up its fair share of commonly-held beliefs and popular anecdotes, but do any of them actually reflect the truth? WiganToday looked into 10 of the most durable urban myths surrounding the town ...

Wigan has more pie shops per square mile than any other town in the country - the WN1 postcode, containing the town centre, which might reasonably be thought of as the hotbed of pie selling, has just 10 to 15 bakeries and stores
Wiganers are named pie eaters because they eat a lot of pies - this actually refers to the 1926 general strike when Wigans miners were the first to be forced back to work, and a headline read they were forced to eat humble pie

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Is there actually a Wigan Pier? While the tipplers do slightly resemble a pier in shape, they barely extend more than a few inches across the water as the whole idea was to fill a boat with coal as it was moored up to the bank
George Orwell visited Wigan with the intention of writing a hard-hitting book which would be negative about Northerners - he actually arrived to publicise the plight of miners, where the lack of safety made extracting coal lethal
George Formby made his professional debut in Wigan - his debut was actually at Earlestown Hippodrome
A former Earl of Crawford had his body dug up by a ratcatcher - a local poacher was indeed convicted of grave robbing and Earl Crawfords body was dug up before being buried at dawn in Wigan Parish Church in 1882
Artist J Lawrence Isherwood was married twice - the story of the painters second marriage to Pat White was common knowledge. But it was revealed after they had split that they had never been married at all
Film star Hedy Lamarr made several visits to Wigan - unfortunately the person responsible for the sightings was a Wiganer who had modelled herself on the star of films including Samson and Delilah, Boom Town and White Cargo
Haigh Hall is haunted by the ghost of Captain Smith, who stayed in Wigan just before setting sail on the doomed Titanic - although Smith did indeed stay at Haigh Hall, the exact dates of his visit to the borough are unclear
A monkey was once buried in Wigan Cemetery - the animal was indeed once laid to rest in the cemetery, but it was done before the site was used as a human burial ground