A walk around Wigan #1

Wigan Metropolitan Council has a large (population around 300,000), in its post-industrial area in North-West England. The town’s close neighbours are St Helens, Warrington and Bolton. The cities of Manchester and Liverpool are, in opposite directions from the town, a bit more than 16 miles.

The town was, until fairly recently, a textile mill town. but its major employer until the late 20th century was coal-mining. The photograph above shows the former Trencherfield Mill.

The Trencherfield Mill Steam Engine remains one of the largest and finest working examples of its type. In its heyday it churned out a massive 2,500 horse power to power the machinery of the Mill and played an instrumental role in Wigan’s industrial development.

The Mill building is now partly used cultural events, partly for public tours of the steam engine, but also houses residential apartments.

On my day of photography around the town, I began by walking from Wigan North-Western railway station, passing the Mill building on my way towards Wigan Pier.

The Leeds to Liverpool canal flows through the town a short walk from the town centre and the River Douglas travels from the River Ribble in the North to join the canal East-South-East of Wigan Pier (photographed above) in the Town centre.

I expect that most of the people who will read this post will have heard of the writer, George Orwell and of at least one of his books, 1984, a dystopian imagining that, in 2022, reads more like prescience than fiction.

I quote an extract from Wikipedia about Orwell’s 1949 novel,

‘Thematically, it centres on the consequences of totalitarianismmass surveillance and repressive regimentation of people and behaviours within society.[2][3] Orwell, a democratic socialist, modelled the totalitarian government in the novel after Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany.[2][3][4] More broadly, the novel examines the role of truth and facts within politics and the ways in which they are manipulated.’

I read about ex-President Trump and fake news or election fraud in America, about alcohol-fuelled Downing Street parties in the UK during lockdown that were working events, and about the Russian political opponents of President Putin who disappear or get poisoned. About autocracy posing as democracy. My greatest worry is about the constant sabre-rattling of East and West – currently about Ukraine – that sounds like Orwell’s Oceania. Technology – private and public – monitors everything but our unspoken thoughts.

George Orwell also wrote a lesser known book – The Road to Wigan Pier.

In The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell described the lives of the dreadful conditions in which the poor lived and worked during the 1930s.

After the decline of the town’s main industries, the warehouses and wharves of Wigan Pier became a local heritage centre and cultural quarter.

In the photograph above – and in the two that immediately preceded it, I show the canal and its towpath, which reached by a short flight of steps from where I was standing when I took the first photograph in this post. The canal passes under the road-bridge above it to flow alongside Trencherfield Mill on its way to Leeds.

The image above is of Pier Two, across the bridge to the road leaving Wigan for St Helens, Warrington and the M6 motorway. Vehicles travelling in that eastwards direction also pass the town’s Rugby League stadium.

In the photograph above – taken with that below, you may see that there are, in fact, four piers in all – Pier 1 being that shown in this post’s opening image with the twin tunnels and the barges.

In tomorrow’s post we walk back into Wigan town centre.

Today’s Featured Photo is one that I took from the head of the stairs leading down to the towpath where the light from the Trencherfield Mill side of the road illuminates the area beneath the road bridge.

EXIF Data were: I used my Fujifilm X-T4, 26 MP, cropped-sensor, mirrorless camera paired with a Fujinon XF 10-24 mm f/4 lens. Shutter speed was 1/30 secs @ f/4 and 21.9 mm. ISO was 160.

Author: writingandphotography0531

I am a retired local government officer. At that time, I was an IT manager and had associated responsibilities for training. I have previously been involved, in various organisations, with aspects of industrial training and management development. My hobby is photography and, until recently, hillwalking in Snowdonia. I have just written my first novel, Persephone and the Photographer, published as a Kindle eBook.

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