Museum of Wigan Life

Museum of Wigan Life
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Following a £1.9 million Heritage Lottery Fund refurbishment, the award-winning Museum of Wigan Life (formerly The History Shop) opened to the public, offering a fantastic opportunity for learning and discovery.

The Museum of Wigan Life is housed in Wigan’s first public library and first public building with electric lighting. Alfred Waterhouse designed the building, which opened in 1878. He also designed the Natural History Museum in London and Manchester Town Hall. In 1936 George Orwell researched his book 'The Road to Wigan Pier' in the Reference Library (now Family History and Local Studies) upstairs.

Discover the people and places of Wigan borough, past and present at the Museum of Wigan Life. Lively displays on everything from sport to world war and from music to festivals in Wigan, Leigh and across the borough.

Do you know the tale of Mab’s Cross?
Who is our most famous ukulele player?
And why is Wigan so famous for pies?

You’ll find all the answers and more in our main gallery. Our special exhibitions explore aspects of local history from rugby league to the mysterious sport of clog fighting.

The museum especially welcomes families. Trails for children age 7-11 are available on reception, and the special exhibition has children’s activities. We host a varied and exciting programme of events for adults and families. Please visit our website to find out what is in store! www.wlct.org/wigan/museums-archives

The Museum of Wigan Life Shop offers a huge range of products from miners lamps to the popular ‘I Love Wigan Pie’ range – now featuring handcrafted mugs and teaspoon rests. Try our specialist maps for the family historian or chose a bag of Uncle Joe's Mint Balls to satisfy that sweet tooth.

Venue Type:

Museum, Archive

Opening hours

Monday 10.00 - 17.00
Tuesday 10.00 - 17.00
Wednesday Closed
Thursday 10.00 - 17.00
Friday 10.00 - 17.00
Saturday 11.00 - 15.00
Sunday Closed

Closed: Wednesdays
Sundays
Bank Holidays

Admission charges

Free

Getting there

The museum is at the end of Library Street, five minutes walk from Wigan town centre and 10 minutes walk from Wigan Wallgate and Wigan Northern Western train stations and Wigan bus station. There is very limited parking outside the museum but there is a multi-storey at the Grand Arcade shopping centre.

Collection details

Archaeology, Coins and Medals, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Industry, Music, Natural Sciences, Photography, Science and Technology, Social History

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.

Stand and Deliver - George Lyon, the Upholland Highwayman

  • 31 January 2017 12-1pm

George Lyon was the last highwayman to be hanged at Lancaster Castle in 1815. Highwaymen often became folk heroes and hundreds turned up to watch Lyon’s execution. He had been convicted for burgling Westwood House in Ince, the home of Charles Walmsley. Come along to this illustrated talk by Marianne Howell which contrasts the fortunes of George Lyon and Charles Walmsley. A special event as part of Crime Month.

Admission

£2.50 including tea/coffee

Places are limited so please book by phoning 01942 828128 or emailing wiganmuseum@wigan.gov.uk.

Website

https://wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/whats-on.aspx

Chinese New Year

  • 4 February 2017 11am-3pm

Chinese New Year
Saturday 4th February

11am – 3pm Free family activities at the Museum
11.30am Student Performance at the Museum
12.00 Lion Dancers at the Market Place
1pm Martial Arts Performance at the Grand Arcade
2pm Lion Dancers at the Museum of Wigan Life

Join us for an extravaganza of FREE family fun as we celebrate Chinese New Year with music, dancing, costume and craft. Watch the fabulous Chinese dancers throughout the town centre before a special finale at the museum.
FREE – no booking required.

With support from the Confucius Classroom, Wigan and Leigh College.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

https://wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/whats-on.aspx

Chinese Celebrations:

  • 21 February 2017 1-3pm

Half term is packed full of family fun with our traditional Chinese craft and costume. Try your hand at painting, calligraphy and paper cutting, and then get dressed up in traditional Chinese clothes. FREE – no booking required.

With support from the Confucius Classroom, Wigan and Leigh College.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Admission

Free

Website

https://wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/whats-on.aspx

The Spanish Civil War and Wigan

  • 28 February 2017 12-1pm

We mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Jarama when the International Brigades helped stop Franco’s advance on Madrid during the Spanish Civil War. What made local people up sticks and fight for democracy and socialism in another country? What was the background to this international conflict? Find out more about the passion and sacrifice of the young volunteers of the International Brigades and their supporters both here and in Spain.

Admission

£2.50 including tea/coffee

Booking essential on (01942) 828128 or wiganmuseum@wigan.gov.uk.

Website

https://wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/whats-on.aspx

George Orwell – The Road to Wigan Pier at 80!

  • 7 March 2017 12-1pm

Stephen Armstrong, author of The Road to Wigan Pier Revisited, marks the 80th birthday of Orwell’s original book with this fascinating talk about Eric Blair (George Orwell) and his writing. Orwell researched his book in the old reference library, now the Museum of Wigan Life, and his work has sometimes been controversial in the town. Armstrong examines the context in which Orwell wrote and his approach to social reportage. Come along and find out more about Wigan’s relationship with one of the 20th century’s most important writers.

Admission

£2.50 including tea/coffee

Places are limited so please book by phoning 01942 828128 or emailing wiganmuseum@wigan.gov.uk.

Sylvia – The Play about Sylvia Pankhurst, Artist and Suffragette

  • 8 March 2017 10-11am, 2-3pm

Sylvia – The Play about Sylvia Pankhurst, Artist and Suffragette
Written and performed by Jacqueline Mulhallen
Wednesday 8th March
10am - 11am and 2pm - 3pm
£5 adult or £4.50 child
Suitable for age 12 – 80 years
To celebrate International Women’s Day a special one-woman performance about the life, art and campaigns of Sylvia Pankhurst. This charts the Suffrage movement’s powerful struggle up until the outbreak of the First World War. Rave reviews include ‘Abosrbing…inspired…a gripping reminder o f our own – recent – past’ (Times Educational Supplement).

Admission

£5 adult or £3.50 child

Places are limited so please book by phoning 01942 828128 or emailing wiganmuseum@wigan.gov.uk.

Wigan Pewter – A Lost Industry

  • 20 April 2017 12-1pm

During the 1600s Golden Age of Pewter, Wigan was only second to London in the number of pewterers working here. The town supplied much of the North and traded abroad via Liverpool. Why did the pewter industry thrive? Who were the ‘Troublesome Pewterers’ of Wigan? Why did such a flourishing industry begin to fail? This is your chance to obtain answers to these questions and many more and to handle and view genuine pewter artefacts.

Admission

£2.50 including tea/ coffee.

Places are limited so please book by phoning 01942 828128 or emailing wiganmuseum@wigan.gov.uk

Website

https://wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/whats-on.aspx

Family History and the First World War

  • 27 April 2017 2:30-4pm

What did your family do in the war? If you have an ancestor involved in the First World War and want to find out more, this is the workshop for you. We will look at how to search military records online including Wigan Borough Online War Memorial. Tea/coffee not provided.

Admission

£2.50 per person.

Places are limited so please book by phoning 01942 828128 or emailing wiganmuseum@wigan.gov.uk.

Website

https://www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/whats-on.aspx

Victorian Medicine

  • 8 May 2017 12-1pm

Victorian medicine could be a combination of quackery, pseudoscience and luck. Medicines ranged from mercury, arsenic and phosphorous to leeches and laxatives. Find out about the use of electricity and class A drugs on the ill and beliefs about the women and sex. Discover how approaches to care were defined by a patient’s social class, gender and race. Don’t miss this intriguing look into the medical quirks and progress of the Victorian Age.

Admission

£2.50 including tea/coffee.

Places are limited so please book by phoning 01942 828128 or emailing wiganmuseum@wigan.gov.uk.

Website

https://www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/whats-on.aspx

Museums at Night

  • 19 May 2017 7-10:30pm

Building on last year’s success, Museums at Night returns! After dark the building comes alive with new art, music and performance. Forget what you know about museums and see culture in a new light. Visit for a drink, explore the quirky corners and discover newly commissioned artworks, live music and soundscapes.

Admission

£3.00 per person.

Website

https://www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/whats-on.aspx

Family History and the First World War

  • 8 June 2017 2:30-4pm

What did your family do in the war? If you have an ancestor involved in the First World War and want to find out more, this is the workshop for you. We will look at how to search military records online including Wigan Borough Online War Memorial. Tea/coffee not provided.

Admission

£2.50 per person.

Places are limited so please book by phoning 01942 828128 or emailing wiganmuseum@wigan.gov.uk.

Website

https://www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/whats-on.aspx

The Douglas Navigation

  • 20 June 2017 12-1pm

Back by popular demand Mike Clarke looks at the story of Wigan’s River Douglas as it was turned from a natural waterway into an industrial highway. The Douglas Navigation was authorised in 1720 and finally opened in 1742 before it was closed in 1781. Find out more about this important part of our industrial heritage.

Admission

£2.50 including tea/ coffee.

Places are limited so please book by phoning 01942 828128 or emailing wiganmuseum@wigan.gov.uk.

Website

https://www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/whats-on.aspx

Passchendaele and the First World War

  • 6 July 2017 12-1:15pm

July 2017 marks the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, an event made infamous by the mud and slaughter faced by troops on both sides during the First World War. After three months of fighting, causalities numbered 325,000 for the Allies and 260,000 for the Germans. The huge loss of life for limited gains continues to make this major battle controversial today. Why did the battle take place? How was it fought? What was the reality on the ground? Find out more about the military context of this battle and the conditions for those who lived and died through it.

Admission

£2.50 including tea/coffee.

Places are limited so please book by phoning 01942 828128 or emailing wiganmuseum@wigan.gov.uk.

Website

https://www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/whats-on.aspx

Getting there

The museum is at the end of Library Street, five minutes walk from Wigan town centre and 10 minutes walk from Wigan Wallgate and Wigan Northern Western train stations and Wigan bus station. There is very limited parking outside the museum but there is a multi-storey at the Grand Arcade shopping centre.

Museum of Wigan Life
Library Street
Wigan
Greater Manchester
WN1 1NU
England

Website

E-mail

heritage@wlct.org

Telephone

01942 828128

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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