There is no pier at Wigan, of course: Wigan is inland. The original ‘pier’ was a small staithe for discharging coal into barges on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and was made famous long before Orwell’s time in a music hall joke by George Formby senior (the joke ran something like this: some miners are on their way to Southport for a day out, but their train is delayed when the tracks are flooded: they ask where they are and the signalman says ‘Wigan Pier’). Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier mentions the pier briefly only once, in the form of a regret that he couldn’t find it — unsurprising since it had been demolished around 1929, several years before he wrote the book.
The staithe today has been reconstructed as part of a ‘Wigan Pier experience’ project, including a museum and pub — named, inevitably, ‘The Orwell’.
Wigan Heritage Services: phone 01942 828020 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 01942 828020 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
See a clickable index of all titles covered