What’s it about?
Wigan’s been around for a very long time, which suggests its poor reputation is long-earned. The Celts, the Romans, the Vikings; everyone’s had a go and pissed off.
The Industrial Revolution turned things around, making Wigan the centre of the textile industry and known throughout the world for shite working conditions and child labour.
George Orwell detailed the period in The Road To Wigan Pier, originally titled The Road To Wigan Pie until an extra ‘r’ fell on during printing.
Still, it might be shit but at least it’s not Bolton.
Any good points?
Pies. Pies are to the residents of Wigan what pasta is to Italians, if pasta was sure to kill you. Bakers in Wigan are like Starbucks in Seattle or Prets in London; there’s one on every fucking corner. The Rolling Pin Bakery in Newton is where the locals clog their arteries.
This is also the town that invented the Wigan Slappy or Wiganburger: a pie served inside a sliced barm cake. A pie sandwich. It has failed to catch on internationally.
Residents talk about the DW Stadium, formerly the JJB Stadium and still called that by half the pricks here, like it’s Madison Square Garden and not just because it was built in 1999 so it’s the newest thing in town.
Home to football team Wigan Athletic, which like most small-town clubs is the bane of its supporters’ lives because it just can’t stop being shit. It’s also the where Wigan Warriors play, the most successful rugby league team in the country with an impressive three rivals: they hate Leeds, Warrington and St Helens equally.
Tired of boarded-up shops? Derelict factories not really doing it for you? Why not take a stroll down the Leeds-Liverpool Canal?
Nothing improves the mood like filthy water where empty crisp packets bob amid the shopping carts and the absolute certainty there’s a body in there somewhere.
If you have the stomach to see the walk through to the end you will find yourself at the famous Wigan pier, the only pier in the country to not actually have a pier in it. It’s a dock. No one thought to point that out in 1891 and the name stuck.
Hang out at…
Like any small town where there’s nothing to do but slowly drink yourself to death, there’s no shortage of pubs, bars, and clubs in Wigan.
Artisan pubs and local brewers are here in the form of Sherrington’s and Wigan Central, but for the authentic Wigan experience do as the Wiganers do, put on a Ted Baker shirt and get pissed out of your mind to early 90s dance.
Northern Soul? Where athletic dancers liberally covered in talcum powder threw themselves around to hyper-obscure American soul records? Nah. Wigan Casino’s gone. There’s a shopping centre there now.
Pure is the biggest nightclub in town and for the people of Wigan it’s the only way to end a night. Other than a fight, obviously. And a pie for the walk home.
Where to buy?
Somewhere else. There’s no reason to move to Wigan unless you get a job in the Uncle Joe’s Mint Ball factory. If you work in Manchester or Liverpool, both are within a short train journey. Except TransPennine Express doesn’t do short train journeys. They’re delayed or they’re cancelled, that’s your choice.
It’s pretty much all cheap, compared to the rest of the country; Ashton-in-Makerfield’s halfway fancy, Skelmersdale’s cheerfully grim. If you’re moving from more than a mile away, be prepared to be considered an outsider for the rest of your life.
From the streets:
Steve Malley, aged 54, warehouse supervisor: “George Formby’s from here. The lad with the ukelele. He liked a pie.”