Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network AGM & ordinary meeting
10.30 a.m. Monday 24th May 2010 at Tudor House, Hindley

Present -John O'Neill (Greenheart Partnership Board), Peter Goodwin (Mirabilis Media), Jackie Roberts (Bridleways), Thomas Price & Peter Taylor (Wigan Civic Trust), Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists), Carole Tyldesley (Wigan Heritage Services), Mary Pennington (Wigan Archaeology Society), Jan Johnston (Hesketh Meadows Action Group), Gordon Winnard (South West Lancashire Family History Society), Vincent France (Atherton).

Apologies- Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society), Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group), Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage), Nigel Morley (Wigan Finescale Railway Modellers), Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society), Brian Parr (Discovery Group), Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum), Glenys McClellan & Marge Harrop (Leigh Family History Society); Simon Martin (Lancashire Local History Federation), Tom Glover (Discovery Group)

The Chair John O'Neill welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Minutes of previous AGM

It was moved by Jackie Roberts and seconded by Jan Johnston that the minutes be accepted. This was passed unanimously by the meeting.

Annual Report

The Chair John O'Neill read out his annual report.

The Network has carried on with its work and added Environment to its remit and title. Members continue to do their work as groups and to join together in the Network. New groups have been formed during the year. The Network has developed a three-year Action Plan, which it is putting into practice. The Network has continued to meet at six-week intervals with a variety of presentations at the meetings during the year. There have been three site visits for members. The Schools Project produced a heritage-based DVD using funds from Awards for All. Part of this funding also gave grants to new groups and funded the purchase of a projector. Curating in the Community was a source of grants for members of the Network. The Network continued to be represented on the Cultural Partnership, Strategic Partnership and Encompass. A major event during the year was the opening of the Museum of Wigan Life in the former History Shop. John congratulated Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust on this development. Heritage and the Environment continued to have an influence in the Local Development Framework through initiatives such as the BLINT list and Borough in Bloom. John recorded that the Network appreciates the continuing partnership and support of Wigan Council and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, particularly the involvement of Carole Tyldesley, Rachel Bryant, Jason Kennedy and Martin Purcell. The Network will carry on working in partnership with these organizations. On a personal note, John said that it was good to see a plaque to Fred Holcroft at the new Museum of Wigan Life.

Tom Price thanked the Chair for his work and there was a round of applause.

Statement of Accounts

Copies of the Statement of Accounts were circulated to the meeting. Tom Price proposed that they were accepted and Avis Freeman seconded. The meeting unanimously approved the Statement of Accounts.

Election of Management Committee

The Chair John O'Neill offered to stand for one more year. No other candidates came forward. Avis Freeman proposed that John should be re-elected as Chair and Tom Price seconded. Passed unanimously.

Vice-Chair - Tom Price said he would do it if nobody else would, although he had home commitments that might affect his attendance. No-one came forward and Tom was re-elected unanimously.

Secretary and Treasurer - Joe Taylor could not be present as he was speaking at a conference in Blackpool, but had agreed to stand again. Joe was re-elected unanimously.

Jason Kennedy would continue to be the representative from Wigan Council.

Carole Tyldesley and Rachel Bryant would continue to share the role of representative from Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust.

The meeting noted that it valued and appreciated the support from WLCT and Wigan Council.

Any other Relevant Business

None

The Chair formally closed the AGM.

The Chair began the ordinary meeting and updated members with items of news.

There has been an article in the national press about St Mary the Virgin Church in Leigh, which had received complaints from local residents about the ringing of the church bells on a Sunday morning.

It was noted that the National Civic Trust organization had ceased to exist. It has been re-constituted as Civic Voice, centered in Liverpool.

Wigan Family and Local History Society were worried about its future and was appealing for new members.

A new group based on Irish History was trying to establish an Irish in Lancashire Heritage Centre. They have had two meetings and their next meeting is scheduled for 30th June in the Brian Boru club in Ashton. They are hoping to schedule a program of six meetings with presentations and speakers. Carole Tyldesley reported that she is due to meet Maxine Williams from the group in June.

Minutes of Last Meeting

The minutes should read 'Pithead Baths at Gibfield' not Gidlow.

Matters Arising

Vincent France expressed disappointment at not being invited to the ceremony to unveil the plaque at the Pithead Baths at Gibfield, having used the baths himself.

Vincent then spoke about a recent visit he had made to a colliery museum in Yorkshire near Wakefield, where visitors were taken underground. He suggested that members of the Network might enjoy visiting the site.

Carole Tyldesley explained that when the Way We Were museum closed, the hope was that the industrial heritage of the area would be reflected in an exhibition next to the Mill Engine, but the Council had withdrawn this project. She said that if members really wanted something like that, they ought to be pressing for it.

Peter Goodwin updated the meeting on the DVD project idea. He had met with Joe Taylor, Tom Price and John O'Neill to discuss the DVD. It had been agreed that Peter would make the DVD with the help of the Network, it would be a 'Mirabilis Media production for Wigan Environment and Heritage Network', and that any proceeds from sales would go to Mirabilis Media to cover the expenses involved in producing and duplicating the DVD as no grant has been received for its production. The DVD will aim to be 50-60 minutes long, retail for £10, but would be available to members of the Network at a discount price of £6. The DVD would tell the stories of a selection of heritage sites around the whole Borough and help promote interest in local history and the work of some of the Network's members. Peter read out the provisional list of ideas for items to feature in the DVD. There were twelve ideas: Abram Morris Dancers, Walking Day in Poolstock, Chowbent Chapel, Howe Bridge village, Astley Green Mining Museum, Standish Church and historic centre, Stubshaw Cross Memorial Garden, Waterloo memorial in Bispham Hall, Haigh Hall, Mayor's boatyard in Wigan, something from Leigh and something from Golborne or Lowton.

John O'Neill informed the meeting that the Hesketh Arms in Shevington is now a listed building.

How Might We Engage With Older People?

A paper produced by the Cultural Partnership Heritage Sub-Group on the theme of older people was circulated to the meeting. Carole Tyldesley explained the paper.

Events 2010 -2011

Dates were set for Network meetings for the next twelve months. The dates are: 5th July, 16th August, 27th September, 8th November, 20th December, 31st January 2011, 14th March, 18th April and the AGM on 6th June 2011.

Report on Cultural Partnership Heritage Sub-Group Meeting 26/4/2010

The Sub-Group comprised John O'Neill, Tom Price, Joe Taylor, Reverend Ray Hutchinson, Geoff Jones from Astley Green Colliery Museum, Martin Purcell, Carole Tyldesley, and representatives from Groundwork Trust, Wigan Education Business Partnership, and British Waterways. The meeting had chosen 'older people' as a theme and had produced the paper discussed previously. The Sub-Group also talked about Heritage Lottery Fund projects.

Any Other Business

Avis Freeman mentioned the plaque in Mesnes Park celebrating 100 years of Guiding and Scouting.

Carole Tyldesley made the offer that if the network wanted to visit Trencherfield Mill they would be very welcome. She also made the offer of the new Museum of Wigan Life as a venue for Network meetings.

John O'Neill described the visit that some members of the Network made to Hindley Museum on 17th May. Jack Topping and his wife are heavily involved in running the Museum and it is a good example of a local museum.

Wigan Archaeological Society Report (May 2010)

Excavations at the Rectory (Wigan Hall) site are continuing. Over the last few months our society members have been visiting the site regularly (working at weekends only) and are now beginning to uncover features dating to the 18th century and earlier. Discoveries include a cart track and a water feature.
The old Frog Lane, which was our original target, is still proving to be elusive, but the well-made cart track, lying under the 19th century garden path, could well be its forerunner (we suspect that the lane itself was dismantled and removed when the grounds were extended in 1875). The cart track's width (3.5 metres) is too narrow to be the lane which, on the 1847 OS map, is shown to be 7 metres wide. However on the north side of the track, compacted building rubble probably formed the base for the wider Lane. What appears to be a cast-iron drain (or water feature) found in this area may be the only evidence left of the old lane. Sections through the cart track show gullies flanking its edges, presumably to take the run-off rainwater and pottery coming out of them suggest a post-medieval date.
The ground beneath the cart track shows disturbance and 17th century references suggest the Hall was well defended with a moat, gatehouse and even a drawbridge. However, whether we will be able to find evidence for any of these features has yet to be seen (more details on our website at www.wiganarchsoc.co.uk).


Next Meeting

Monday 5th July 10.30am at Tudor House