The Wigan area has a long and rich history. Interest in our local heritage has never been higher. Wigan Heritage Service, comprising The History Shop and our Archives, Museums and Local History Services, seeks to preserve this heritage and to interpret it to as wide an audience as possible. Our Heritage Services Manager Alastair Gillies and he can be contacted on (01942) 827375

The History Shop

The History Shop is our most recent heritage development. It is located in the splendid setting of Alfred Waterhouse's 1878 library building on Library Street, Wigan, and is, we believe, the first of its kind in Britain.

Phase 1 opened in 1992 in the magnificent first floor reference library. Phase 2 opened in August 1996 on the ground floor of the building, with full disabled access.

The History Shop now offers the following:-

  • 'Charter 96' - the first exhibition on the new Wickham Gallery, commemorating Wigan's 750th anniversary as a royal borough.
  • 'Founded on Coal' - the story of our area.
  • Wigan's first traditional art gallery featuring painting's from the Heritage Service's own collection, on display for the first time.
  • Audio-visual theatre.
  • The Charter Mural.
  • Temporary exhibition gallery.
  • Family and local history research area.
  • Meeting room
  • Monthly lecture programme
  • Retail outlet - with a wide range or heritage-related merchandises, including local history and genealogical books, photographs and an assortment of souvenirs.

For more information on the History Shop ring (01942) 828128


As well as having a major input into The History Shop and Wigan Pier, our Museums Service is responsible for Astley Green Colliery with its magnificent engine house and outdoor display of industrial artefacts.

Museums' staff will be happy to help you identify objects and to interpret your local heritage.

If you can fill a gap in our collections by donating objects to the Museums Service please contact Yvonne Webb, Collections Development Manager on (01942) 828123.


The Archives Service preserves, conserves, promotes and makes available for consultation the written heritage of the Wigan area. The service, based in Leigh Town Hall, holds a wide range of original archival documents.

The Archives Service has a public search room in Leigh Town Hall, which is equipped to accommodate up to nine researchers, using either original archives or microfilm, (please make appointment). Copies of most documents can be supplied. We also have an increasingly popular photographic service.

Our Archives Officer, Nicholas Webb, can be contacted on (01942 404430).

Local History

Many of our libraries have material relating to the history of their locality. However, the main local history collections are held in the History Shop, Wigan, and the Turnpike Centre, Leigh.

In both centres a specialist local history officer is normally available to help you with your research.

To find out more about our local history service please contact Bob Blakeman on (01942) 828020 or Tony Ashcroft on (01942) 404559.

History Shop, Library St, WiganMon10.00am- 7.00pm
Tues - Fri10.00am- 5.00pm
Sat10.00am- 1.00pm
Museums Service, History Shop, Library St, Wigan " " "
Local History (Wigan Area), History Shop, Library St, Wigan " " "
Local History (Leigh Area), Turnpike centre, Leigh Library Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 10.00am - 7.00pm
Wed10.00am- 5.00pm
Sat 10.00am- 1.00pm
Archives Searchroom, Townhall, Leigh Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri10.00am - 1.00pm
2.00pm- 4.30pm
Astley Green Colliery, Higher Lane, Astley, Nr. ManchesterTues, Thurs1.00pm - 5.00pm
Sun 11.00am - 5.00pm