Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network Meeting
10.30 a.m. Monday 25th January 2010 at Tudor House, Hindley

Present-John O'Neill (Greenheart Partnership Board), David Wilson (Bickershaw Conservation Group), Jackie Roberts (Bridleways), Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society) Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum), Thomas Price & Peter Taylor (Wigan Civic Trust), Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists), Mary Pennington, Glenys McClellan (Leigh Family History Society), (Wigan Archaeological Society), Brian Parr (Discovery Group), Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group), Peter Goodwin (Mirabilis Media), Vincent France (ETNA), Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage),
Rachel Orme (Wigan Heritage Services)


Apologies-Simon Martin (Lancashire Local History Federation), Jenny Tunney (Wigan MBC conservation dept), Tom Glover (Discovery Group), Nigel Morley (Wigan Finescale Railway Modellers), Marge Harrop (Leigh Family History Society), Carol Tyldesley (WL&CT), Ann Rampling (Town Green Residents Association)
Dave Smallcross (Leigh Ornithological Society),

John O'Neill opened the meeting by welcoming those present noted apologies and made the following announcements:

The meeting arranged by the Environment Agency between Red Rose Forest and the bird watching fraternity concerning the Heritage Lottery Bid for Lightshaw Meadows has been re-arranged for a date in February.

The site visit to Haigh Hall has been arranged for Monday 1st of March from 10.30 to 1.00 followed by lunch. This will include a workshop relating to the future use of Haigh Hall and the surrounding woodland area, one of the key ingredients to the Greenheart Project.

The meeting between Environment & Heritage Network and the Bio Diversity Group will be on the 18th of February at the Town Hall, starting at 6.00 for refreshments.

Local History Day this year is Saturday 5th of June

At Wigan Pier on the 4th of February, there are craft exhibitions and workshops all day from 10.00 - 4.00 at The Way We Were, just run up anytime during the day.

Minutes of the last meeting - true and accurate, passed

Matters arising:

The £3000 from Awards for All, to help new groups, was discussed.

In view of the constitution provided by Jan Johnson from the Hesketh Meadows Action Group, it was agreed that this group would be allocated £300 to help them get established.

The Friends of Wigan Pier Quarter Group was allocated £300 at our last meeting but the cheque has not yet been issued you.

With this £600 taken into consideration, that leaves £475 from the £3000. We have to report to Awards For All by May. It was agreed that we should purchase a digital projector for use by all the member groups (as is the premises at Tudor House). Joe Taylor and Geoff Jones will consider options and look at insurance for the projector. Should any surplus remain from the £3000 when the report it due, the meeting agreed to donate it to the Discovery Group towards equipment costs.

Richard Sivill reported that he had tried to encourage new groups in the Atherton area to take advantage of this limited funding opportunity.

Rachel Orme then gave an update on progress with the former History Shop and the Outreach program that has been in place during renovations.

The renamed Museum of Wigan Life (previously The History Shop) will reopen to the public on Friday 9th April. We would like to invite the Heritage Network (either as a group or as the wider groups people on the Network represent) to the newly refurbished Museum between 9th April and 16th June for a preview/feedback visit. We would really like to know what you think about the refurbishment and the new exhibitions, and hope that the Heritage Network can use the Museum as a platform for their own groups and objectives. We will be offering a brand new programme of events and activities, and these will be available to the Network before reopening, and will hopefully be of interest.

Please contact The Museum of Wigan Life/Rachel Bryant for further information: (01942) 828121.

The next round of Heritage Service's Curating in the Community grant funding will be available from April 2010.

Please contact Rachel Bryant for further information/application form: r.bryant@wlct.org

John O'Neill commented that the 'outreach' program and proved to be a good initiative, especially where schools were concerned, has got people involved more directly in local environment and heritage issues. He will again talk to the Township Forum management team about getting environment and heritage included as a permanent agenda item.

Review of the Action Plan:

The two points under discussion were (1) 'promote individuals & group membership' and (2) promote the significance of environment/heritage issues through temporary exhibitions as the history shop' (note the HS is now the Museum of Wigan Life).

On point (1) it was suggested we should have a poster designed to put up in all the libraries, we use Past Forward more often, try to get an article in Borough Life, have something up in the Museum of Wigan Life and for as many members as possible to attend the meeting with the Bio Diversity Partnership on the 18th of February.

On point (2) Ken Barston has produced a booklet and a calendar relating to Stubshaw Cross. It is advantageous to develop relationships with reporters from local newspapers. The Blue Book is a good outlet for articles in the Leigh/Atherton/Tyldesley area; the Courier is a good outlet for articles in the North part of the borough.

Members Reports:
Members present who gave verbal reports about their many and varied activities were Tom Glover, Avis Freeman, Glenys McClellan, Richard Sivill, Mary Pennington, Ken Barston and John O'Neill.
Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society) provided this written report.
Sales of The Billingers are going reasonably well and half the cost of printing has been recovered so far. When the full cost is recovered, the surplus will go to the Environment & Heritage Network.
Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum) provided this written report.

Our current major development is the extension to our narrow gauge railway, which will ultimately let us take passengers, in authentic colliery rolling stock, to the Boothstown border. This would give a return journey of about one and a quarter miles. Complicated planning permission, land retrieval and the adverse weather have held us back, but the surveyor should arrive this week to peg out the future line and then our contractors will start the required earthworks. Once these activities are complete we can then start to lay the actual track. Phase 1 will take us to the Bridgewater Canal, followed, subject to funding, by Phase 2 to a picnic site on the border.

Our HLF bid has been put in abeyance until we can find alternative accommodation for the many bits and pieces stacked in one of the building's rooms.

Previous attempts to obtain a container from a farm have fallen by the wayside so we have decided to bite the bullet and buy a second hand container ourselves.

School visits and outreach talks/ slideshows are beginning to be booked, with interest currently shown by schools in St. Helens and Warrington who have never visited before. Also 60 pupils and teachers from France are due to visit in April.

We are also in negotiation for a diesel generator as we have nearly exhausted all the available power from our meagre electrics. This will prevent 'Coronation Street' becoming a small dot on village T.V.s. We are continuing in resolving leakage problems on our currently Sleeping Giant, the Winding Engine, although we have disturbed it from its slumbers on several occasions. This has freed the movement by successful trials with compressed air.

We now have a written guide sheet for visitors who wish to explore the site on their own and have improved information signs throughout the site.

BBC Bristol has carried out a short introduction for the Flog It programme and I am waiting to hear when the programme will be shown. Also media study students from Manchester University have made a short film at the museum about the Miners' Strike.

Bolton School pupils are also to visit to discuss how they can make a similar short film about the Pretoria Pit Disaster.
Any Other Business:
John O'Neill distributed a copy of the material displayed on the new Shevington 'interpretation board and copies of the latest Royal Horticultural Society judging criteria which includes environment & heritage aspects and a recent Royal Society for the Protection of Birds letter appealing to the government to favourable consider the society's work when making budget cuts'
Brian Parr asked if the Network could be a consultee for any proposed developments where there is a potential impact upon heritage and the environment. John O'Neill is engaged in conversations regarding this matter with the Environment Services Department.
Next Meeting:
March 8th at Tudor House 10.30 a.m.