Town Hall set for facelift

One of Wigan's most imposing buildings is set for a facelift - over the next 12 weeks specialist contractors will carry out repairs to the distinctive red terracotta facade of Wigan Town Hall.

Work will start on the Hewlett Street side on September 29 and move to Library Street from November 3.

The council says disruption will be kept to a minimum and access should be maintained at all times.

The listed building, which dates back to 1903, was recently surveyed and some of the terracotta found to be in urgent need of repair to prevent pieces from "spalling," or breaking away.

A council spokesman said: "The town hall's terracotta facades are what gives the building its distinctiveness.

"The survey showed that in some places there is a danger that pieces could come away and potentially be a hazard to passers-by.

"While the contractors are doing the urgent repairs they will also assess the condition of the remainder of the terracotta work."

The work is being done in partnership with NPS (Wigan) and specialist contractors Maysand.

Wigan Town Hall owes its origin to the town's once dominant coal industry and unlike other northern town halls wasn't originally built for council use.

Opened by the Countess of Crawford (of Haigh Hall fame) 105 years ago, it provided a new home for the expanding Wigan Mining and Technical College.

Click next page for more ...The college developed out of the Wigan Mechanics Institute, and by the turn of the century was regarded as one of Britain's top places for training mining engineers.

But as the nation's pits dwindled, the demand for specialist engineers reduced, and other departments of the expanding technical college moved in.

By the end of the 1980s, Wigan College of Technology needed larger premises. At the same time the council was looking for more offices and following a complex series of moves Wigan's "new" town hall opened in 1990.

It received the royal seal of approval in November 1991, when excited crowds lined Library Street to greet the late Diana, Princess of Wales, when she performed the official opening.

The town hall today contains much to fascinate visitors who are interested in Wigan's proud history. The walls of the Charter Suite function room display replicas of 10 royal charters granted to Wigan since it became a borough in 1246.