Goose Green , Wigan , WN3 6SB
01942 243068

Industry in Wigan

Wigan is one of the 4 oldest Boroughs in Lancashire - Liverpool, Lancaster and Preston being the others.
Wigan was a wealthy town and had many industries.
Up to the 1300's Wigan's main source of income was the market but over the following 100 years they developed Pottery, Brewing, Tanning, Woollen textile Mills, Linen, Felt Hats and Coal Mining.
"Robert de Standish reserved "fyrston" (firestone) and "secole" (sea coal) in an exchange for land."
He got Pemberton and Orrell in 1434 and parts of Wigan in 1450. Metal working also began at this time.
In 1538 John Leland described Wigan as..

"big as Warrington but better builded. There is one Parish Church amid the town. Some Marchaunts, sum artificers, sum fermers and Mr. Bradshaw hath a place called Hawe a myie from Wigan. He hath founde moche Canal like Secole in his grounde very profitable to hym."
By 1635 Wigan was the wealthiest of the 4 oldest boroughs in Lancashire.

However the outbreak of the Civil War, in 1641, caused great problems for the town. During the Civil War Lancashire was broadly divided by the Royalists in the West and the Parliamentarians in the East.
Wigan housed the garrison of the Royalist Earl of Derby. In 1651 the Royalists were finally defeated in the Battle of Wigan Lane when Thomas Tyldesley of Myerscough, was killed.
After the war heavy taxes and outbreaks of the plaque hindered the prosperity of the town.
It was not until the Industrial Revolution in the 1700's that Wigan rose again and became one of the most prosperous towns in Lancashire.

Can you find some old English words on this sheet! ?
Do you know what they mean?
Coal and Wigan
The History of Wigan has, up to the 1990's, always been linked with coal.
From Prehistoric times when the forests died and began to form into cool, through to times when many Wiganers were miners of coal, or worked in Mills which used coal as a fuel, or transported coal on the railways, or simply used coal to burn in their homes for heat.
Wigan, as you con imagine, with all that coal being burned was quite a smoky and mucky place.
Here are some important questions:

1. How did coal come to be in Wigan?

2. How did Wigan coal miners get coal out of the ground?

3. What changes happened in Wigan because of coal

a) Transport
b) The Landscape
c) The Atmosphere
d) The People
e) Other Industries
The Black Diamond Fields of Wigan

By looking at fossils found in Wigan, like the ones seen in the History shop, we can find out what kind of plants and animals lived in Wigan and the kind of landscape at the time.

"Wigan was covered by a shallow sea with no land to the North or South.
Vast rivers flowed down silting the sea up with tons of sand and mud. The new land was a dense swampy jungle of plants inhabited by amphibians, reptiles and large dragon-like insects.
There were huge trees 35m tall. Violent earth movements caused mountain ranges like the Pennines to form. The dead vegetation was buried when the ground folded protecting them from erosion of wind and water. The coal lay safe until man came along to dig it up for use in homes and industry."