Inside the Museum of Wigan Life. Courtesy Museum of Wigan Life
The History Shop, the 132-year-old museum where George Orwell researched The Road to Wigan Pier, has been reopened as The Museum of Wigan Life following a year-long, £1.9 million restoration project.
Rugby league legend Billy Boston and Northern Soul champion Russ Winstanley, who founded Wigan Casino, unveiled the revitalised Elizabethan building, revealing dramatically improved internal building work, a new dedicated learning space and meeting room, a spruced-up reception, shop and family study area and the installation of a new Wigan exhibition.
Putting the final touches to the exhibits inside the newly refurbished museum. Courtesy Museum of Wigan Life
“It is fantastic to be able to share the results of this wonderful project with everyone,” said Sara Hilton, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, who provided match funding of £500,000 to Wigan Council and the Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust.
“The new museum has a key role to play in the cultural life of the borough, giving local people the chance to explore and contribute to Wigan's fascinating story. The transformation and conservation of this landmark building will ensure that visitors will be able to enjoy and learn about the heritage of Wigan, both now and for many years to come."
The historic exterior of the museum. Courtesy Museum of Wigan Life
The History Shop opened in March 1992, taking over the site which had hosted Wigan’s first public library, designed by Manchester Town Hall and Natural History Museum architect Alfred Waterhouse.
Residents and heritage followers were kept in touch with developments through a lively blog, detailing features including a new roof and chimney stack for the ancient building.
Learning and outreach projects and digitisation of 5,000 images will also be made available online with the funding.