The multi-million pound transformation of Leigh Town Hall is underway.
The Revealing Wigan Archives project will see the grade ‖ listed building refurbished and a new home for the archives created along with new museum and exhibition spaces and a new public searchroom.
Wigan Council secured a £1.3m investment from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the project which will transform the town hall, developing a new cultural offer and creating more opportunities for residents and visitors to discover the archives.
With historic records dating back 800 years the archives and local studies service collects, preserves and catalogues thousands of records from schools, churches, hospitals, businesses, families, estates, people, and makes them available to the public.
A new modern searchroom will be built on the ground floor of the town hall which can be accessed by residents and visitors who want to research into their past.
A museum space will be created with a new exhibition programme shaped by the community which will reveal stories from the archives and museum collections.
Children and young people will be able to access the collection and learn more about history with an outreach and engagement programme for schools.
There will also be new volunteering opportunities for people to get involved with including helping to digitise collections, hosting visits, welcoming visitors and stewarding exhibitions.
Three vacant Leigh Town Hall shop units will be converted into new archives and museum exhibition space and additional shop units will be used as specialist storage to protect the collection, which will transform the Leigh archives base and restore part of the town hall building.
Lesley O’Halloran, assistant director for customer services, said: “The archives are vital to our understanding of Wigan Borough’s past as well as bringing history alive for residents and visitors alike. This will enhance the cultural offer of Leigh, alongside the fantastic work already ongoing at the Turnpike Gallery, to bring more visitors to the borough in the coming years.”
Colin Carefoot, Managing Director at Walter Carefoot & Sons, said: “We are delighted to be working with Wigan Council on this exciting project to transform this iconic building as part of the Council’s Construction Framework. The Leigh Town Hall project will allow us to continue to the Social Value initiatives we have been delivering with local schools, Wigan & Leigh College and local homeless charity, The Brick.”
The latest funding boost follows the £5m Believe in Leigh fund which was created last year by Wigan Council to improve and regenerate the town.