Wigan is a town that lies in the Greater Manchester region in England. It lies on the River Douglas and is 16 km (10 miles) south-west of Bolton, 19 km (17 miles) north of Warrington and 27.4km (17 miles) west-northwest of Manchester.


Wigan started as a village. It wasn’t until the 13th Century that it became a town. It was granted a charter by the king in 1246 which allowed the people to hold weekly markets. The town grew slowly so that as the Middle Ages neared their end, it had a population of about 3000.

Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, coal mining started around Wigan. However, the main economic activity in the town was making wool. The first process involved weaving the wool. Before it was dyed, it was made clean and thick by getting pounded in a mixture of clay and water. This was known as fulling. Wooden hammers that were driven by watermills pounded the wool.

Civil War

In 1642, civil war began between parliament and the king. The occupants of Wigan were mostly behind the king. However, in April 1643, Wigan was invaded by parliamentary forces. A year later, it got captured by the Royalists. However, their hold was not for long. In July 1644, following the battle of Marston Moor, the Royalists gave up the entire north of England.

In 1651, in an attempt to regain power, Charles II led a campaign with the Scots. He was joined by many of the Englishmen. However, the Royalist force suffered defeat in the hands of Parliamentarians during the battle on Wigan Lane.

Industrial Growth

In the 18th Century, Wigan continued to grow rapidly as it was an important market town. Furthermore, clock makers set up shop and made clocks in the town while whitesmiths crafted pewter goods. 1779 saw the completion of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal up to Wigan. In 1764, a waterworks was set up in Wigan while 1798 marked the opening up of a dispensary where the poor got free medicine.

At the close of the 18th century, coal mining drastically increased in Wigan. Also, in 1790, Wigan got its first iron works. Additionally, the late 18th century saw the cotton weaving business boom in Wigan.

Social Amenities

In the 19th century, there was a considerable improvement in amenities. From 1823, there was gas light in Wigan. In 1848, Wigan was linked to Liverpool and Manchester by railway. In 1856, a cemetery was established while in 1873, the Wigan Infirmary was started.

Written by Digitec Aerials Wigan