Wigan historian's call to use Haigh Hall to remember war history

A clergyman who has extensively studied the borough's past wants to incorporate elements of history in the landmark building's latest chapter.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 3:29 pm
Haigh Hall
Haigh Hall

Ideas are currently being discussed for what to do at Haigh Hall after its time as a hotel came to an end.

Rev David Long, from Standish, has said he would like to see a couple of parts of Wigan’s past remembered as part of the revamp.

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Rev David Long on a visit to the Somme

And he wants to see space set aside at the listed building, which in its current form dates from the 19th century, for displaying war memorials and plaques which were in churches which have been demolished or are no longer in use.

It is well known that Haigh Hall was used briefly as a hospital in World War One and that Earl Crawford himself served for a few months as an ordinary private in the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1915.

However, what is not quite such common knowledge is that three Red Cross hospitals were established, one of them next to the Plantation Gates at The Woodlands.

The infirmary itself also played a major role in the treatment of wounded soldiers and became the beneficiary of the surplus funds the Red Cross held at the end of the war through the equipping of the Red Cross Ward, part of the hospital which has been lost due to subsequent redevelopment work.

Rev Long would like to see this history commemorated if a garden is created as part of the ideas for Haigh Hall.

He said: “Some injured men would go to the infirmary, some to the Woodlands hospitals. It might just have been a matter of space where they ended up.

“The four establishments worked together. It would be good to have information boards and maybe include the plantation gates themselves.”

Rev Long also wants to discuss the possibility of using part of the hall to permanently display war memorials which no longer have a long-term home.

Rev Long has been concerned for some years about memorials in churches which have closed or could be under threat as he has spent several years recording the names of the fallen who are commemorated across Wigan.

He said: “I’ve been thinking about this since I discovered that there are so many in storage or in buildings that are under threat.

“Promises were made that there would be everlasting remembrance, but 100 years later many are in a store or forgotten.

“We should honour the promise that was made to honour the sacrifices they made.

“I know there are chapels that have closed or are going to close and they don’t know what to do with the plaques.

“The hall would be somewhere we could bring these memorials, put them on display and ensure they are seen and appreciated.

“With both of these ideas I want to bring the obscure into the light.”

Wigan Council has suggested Rev Long can speak to artists Al and Al, who are involved with the Haigh Hall project.

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