Updated: Saturday, 22nd February 2020 @ 5:50am

Greater Manchester youngsters take boat trip through history to learn more about Wigan’s iconic past

Greater Manchester youngsters take boat trip through history to learn more about Wigan’s iconic past

By Colin Henrys

Keen Wigan youngsters took a boat trip into the past as they continue to learn about the history of borough.

The council’s Voice and Engagement (Youth) Service have teamed up with The Action Factory and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) to teach children on the Landgate estate about the area’s history.

And a 40-strong group of children, parents and community workers were taken into the heart of Wigan’s industrial heritage along the Leeds-Liverpool canal in the project’s latest instalment.

Project co-ordinator Gavin Newton, a Voice and Engagement worker, hopes the project will raise a greater awareness of Wigan’s colourful history and unite Landgate’s community.

“We know that there is a great deal of historical significance on our own doorstep and we wanted the children and young people to appreciate some of this,” he said.

“We wanted them to realise how important the canal network would have been to trade in our borough and how the cotton and coal industries were at one time the life-blood of Wigan Borough.

“It was also a great opportunity to bring the community together and enjoy some fresh air and fantastic countryside along the way.”

The group hiked from Landgate, Ashton-in-Makerfield, to Scotman’s Flash where they boarded the Kittywake, the iconic canal barge.

From there they were taken to Trencherfield Mill, Wigan’s iconic cotton-spinning mill on the banks of the canal which boasts the largest working wheel of its kind in the world.

After receiving a hands-on tour of the mill engine from engineer Bill Rowley – the group’s young members were left suitably impressed.

Chloe Eden, nine, said: “It was awesome! It’s really big and noisy and we got to hear the mill whistle blow, which you can hear in Bolton.

“The boat trip was really great too, we’ve all learnt a lot about where we live.”

Friend and fellow group member Jenna Sharp, ten, said: “It's really important that we remember our own past because it helps us to learn more about ourselves.

“The mill engine and the canal were really important to Wigan and I never knew, until now.”

The project is building towards the production of a giant 3D knitted tapestry, detailing the history of the Landgate estate since it was built in the 1950s.

A video charting the progress of the tapestry and an animation featuring knitted local characters such as ‘Kenny Bootlace’ and ‘Eileen from the toffee shop’ is also being created.

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