Wigan Borough Environment & Heritage Network Meeting
10.30 a.m. Monday 21st November 2011 at Tudor House, Hindley

Present -John O'Neill (Greenheart Partnership Board), Peter Goodwin (Tradition Films), Martin Purcell (Wigan Council), Tom Price (Wigan Civic Trust), Avis Freeman (Leigh Soroptimists), Hudson Lo (Wigan Heritage Services), Mary Pennington (Wigan Archaeology Society), Neil Forshaw (George Formby Society), Dave Wilson (Leigh Ornithological Society), Ken Barston (Stubshaw Cross Residents Group), Richard Sivill (Atherton Heritage), Geoff Jones (Astley Green Colliery Museum), Glenys McClellan (Leigh Family History Society), Allan Roberts (Wigan RSPB).

Apologies- Joe Taylor (Billinge History/Heritage Society), Marge Harrop (Leigh Family History Society), Jackie Roberts (Bridleways), Peter Taylor (Wigan Civic Trust), Jan Johnston (Hesketh Meadows Action Group).

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

Minutes of previous meeting

Agreed as true and accurate.

Funding News

The Chair informed the meeting about the Community Olympiad Project - Performance Reward Grant. Information had come via the Cultural Partnership. This local fund has £40K still available. Application is through Heritage Services (Carole Tyldesley or Hudson Lo) between 1st November to 3rd January. Categories include Sports, 'wider cultural legacy', 'promoting lasting community and environmental benefit' and 'encouraging volunteering'.

Matters Arising

Hindley Museum - Hindley Library is moving to the Community Centre in First Street, Hindley. The building is being closed which means Hindley Museum upstairs has to close. As a voluntary group, they can't afford the running costs of over £10K per annum, and the building is in need of repair. It is a Grade Two listed building. The Museum are planning to store some of their artefacts in Tudor House. They plan to run an outreach programme next year.

Waterloo Monument - John O'Neill has commissioned a survey of the monument which will essentially 'x-ray' the monument to assess the condition of the metal structure inside. This needs to be done before deciding what work is required to restore the monument.

Boer War Memorial - the fundraising to commission a replica statue to be reinstated on the plinth in Mesnes Park is approaching halfway to the target of approx £40-50K. They are currently running a big raffle to be drawn on 16th December.

Our Heritage DVD - is now available from a range of outlets around the Borough: The Museum of Wigan Life shop, Haigh Hall gift shop, Billinge Post Office, Longshaw Post Office, Orrell Post Office, Leigh Library, Atherton Library, Standish Library (shortly), two shops in Lowton, Astley Green Colliery Museum and from Richard Sivill in Howe Bridge. The DVD has received some publicity in the Wigan Observer, Past Forward and the Wigan Reporter.

Borough in Bloom - Wigan has been chosen to enter the national competition for best Borough. This is as a result of the success and growth of the project in the Borough over recent years. The floral enhancement around war memorials was mentioned, including the idea of removing the decaying tributes a respectful period of time after Remembrance Day.

Greenheart Update

Martin Purcell, project manager, gave an update on Greenheart. Following their photographic competition, Greenheart have produced a 2012 calendar which is available to buy for £3.

Kirkless - Heritage Lottery Fund have awarded approx £50K towards the Kirkless site near Ince, which was formerly the largest iron and steel works in Europe. It is now home to some unusual plants and wild orchids. The project involves educational work and tidying up the site. The plan is to appoint a project officer.

Lightshaw Meadows - the work is mostly completed. It cost around £600K which included more than £500K from Heritage Lottery Fund. There are now Longhorn cattle grazing on the site. Future work will be around interpretation. Meeting will be set for next year. Some members of the Network have indicated that they would like to contribute to this interpretation work. There is planned to be an exhibition at the Museum of Wigan Life in the Spring.

Etherstone Hall - the site within Leigh Sports Village of a former moated manor house has been selected as the first Greater Manchester Big Dig - a project which will stage an archaeological dig in each of the Boroughs of Greater Manchester. There is also the plan to stage a theatrical performance in the Wood there as part of the 2012 Words Festival.

Network Celebration Evening

The Network Celebration Evening at the Museum of Wigan Life last week was well attended - the room was full - and was felt to be a success. There is the idea to run the essay competition again next year, but broaden it out to local schools. It is proposed to stage the event again next year. Peter Goodwin suggested that the event had the potential to be larger and attract members of the public, although it would need a larger room.

Members News

The Chair John O'Neill reported back about the Cultural Partnership Heritage subgroup of the Borough Partnership. The structure of the Borough Partnership is changing. Townships structure is on its way out. Still deciding exactly what replaces it, but likely to focus upon the local elected representatives ie Councillors. Two of the groups born out of the previous structure - the Cultural Partnership and ourselves the Environment and Heritage Network - want to continue to exist.

Roman Dig in Wigan - the public booklet about the Roman Dig on the site of the Grand Arcade has been published and is available for sale. The official academic write-up for the dig - which will be a much longer and detailed work - will cost around £12K to produce. Trying to get the new owners of Grand Arcade to contribute. Original developers who had agreed to fund the archaeological work went bankrupt.

Friends of Wigan Life Museum (chair - Max Finney) are running a Lancashire Day at the Museum of Wigan Life this coming Saturday 26th November.

Leigh Soroptimists are also celebrating Lancashire Day on Monday 28th November with a hot pot supper at Leigh Cricket Club. Avis Freeman also mentioned the ongoing efforts to get bulbs planted on the new roundabout by Leigh Sports Village.

Preston Museum is re-opening on Saturday 26th November. It is next to the prison in Preston. Neil Forsaw reported that it will contain an exhibit about George Formby. The documentary about George Formby presented by Frank Skinner was broadcast recently on BBC 4 and BBC 2.

Dave Wilson reported that the proposed North Leigh development, which will build houses on fields next to Westleigh, is causing controversy.

Glenys McClellan reported that the Leigh United Reform Church in Union Street had closed. It contained a war memorial panel inside that has now been reinstalled and rededicated in the memorial corner in Leigh Parish Church.

Hudson Lo informed the meeting about an email Carole Tyldesley had received from the BBC. They are looking for contributors for 'Nick Knowles Original Features' - people who are restoring old houses with original features.


Future Meetings

Next meeting is Monday 9th January 2012 10.30am at Tudor House

Dates for 2012:

Monday 13th February
Monday 26th March
Monday 14th May - Dave Wilson suggested this date for the visit to Pennington Flash