A town with a proud past, an almost unparalleled industrial heritage and a thriving cultural, sporting and arts scene all nestled amongst some of Lancashire’s most open and picturesque countryside, Wigan stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and the almost insatiable desire to re-invent itself and diversify from its traditional industries. 

The town itself benefits from a long and varied history, beginning as the Roman settlement of Coccium whichalong with Mamucium (Manchester) and Bremetenacum (Ribchester) was one of Lancashire major towns in the 2nd Century. In 1246, it was incorporated as a borough and received its first market charter and, by the early to mid 16th century, it had already become one of our region’s principal population and commercial centres, with famous antiquarian John Leland describing it as being “as big as Warrington, and better built,” in his 1536 ‘Itinerary’ publication.

During the Civil War, Wigan sympathised with the Royalists, led by James Stanley, the 7th Earl of Derby who made the town his northern headquarters. The famous Battle of Wigan Lane was fought on the banks of the River Douglas, just outside of the town in 1651. At this point, Wigan was still a market town but, by the early 18th century, it had been transformed into a major centre for coal mining, engineering and textiles; so much so that part of the River Douglas was canalised, later to become a section of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, transporting coal to Liverpool for export, as well as inland to the growing number of mills and factories of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

By the 20th century, Wigan had become a northern industrial powerhouse which continued to boom until after the Second World War when its traditional industries, particularly textiles, began a rapid and irreversible decline. English novelist and essayist George Orwell, in his famous account of the town and the plight of its working classes – entitled ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’ – painted the area – and not, it must be said, its people – in a less than favourable light, likening it to a “monstrous scenery of slag-heaps, chimneys, piled scrap iron, foul canals and paths of cindery mud criss-crossed by the prints of clogs.”

Today, nothing could be further from the truth, with Wigan now officially the best Greater Manchester borough for overall life satisfaction, according to a recent survey commissioned by the Office for National Statistics (as recently reported by online publication (http://www.mancunianmatters.co.uk/life/18032024-wigan-has-the-best-life-satisfaction-in-greater-manchester-whats-behind-this-success-story/). Wiganers seem to be an intrinsically happy bunch, and with so much going on in and around their fascinatingly diverse, dynamic and historic town, it’s not hard to see why.

Strong roots in the arts and music

As with many of the great northern towns and cities, Wigan has a strong musical legacy beginning with the famous music-hall comedian, ukulele player and reluctant film star, George Formby, as well as opera singer Margery Booth. Fast-forward to the 1960s, and we see the emergence of legendary R&B singer-songwriter and Hammond organist Georgie Fame (real name Clive Powell, born and bred in nearby Leigh). Founder member and lead vocalist of the seminal 1970s Manchester punk band The Buzzcocks, the late Pete Shelley was also a native of Leigh, whilst frontman of 1990s superstars The Verve and successful solo artist, Richard Ashcroft hails from Billinge, near Golborne. Currently, the town is represented by indie darlings The Lathums.

Famous Wigan-born actors include Roy Kinnear, Greg Ellis and Kathryn Drysdale and the town has a thriving arts scene with a host of small music and theatrical venues. Perhaps the most famous of all venues in the town, was the Wigan Casino – unofficial headquarters of the iconic Northern Soul music scene which thrived in the late 1960s and the 1970s, and lives on to this day with many all-nighters coordinated by die-hard enthusiasts across the North West of England. 

A hive of activity

Whilst Wigan rightly pays homage to its past, it also embraces modernity with open arms. The town centre boasts The Grand Arcade shopping complex – built, ironically, on the site of the Wigan Casino, as well as many popular High Street chain stores, independent shops and a famous indoor market, located in Makinson Arcade. On the fringes of the town centre, Wigan Pier is also currently undergoing redevelopment, whilst there are also thriving retail centres in nearby towns within the borough including Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley.

A trip to Wigan Pier and its museum always evokes fond childhood memories for me. I vividly remember going there on a school trip from Salford as a Year 2 pupil, aged 6 with my classmates and our teacher, Mrs. Collins. It was a typically rainy Lancashire spring day, where we did the full museum tour, complete with dressing up and took a boat ride on the canal… an experience I think anybody attending a school within a ten-mile radius of Wigan can relate to.

As well as its music and culture, another of Wigan’s many claims to fame is the ‘Wigan Kebab’ (for readers outside of the North West, this comprises a buttered barm cake with a meat and potato pie sandwiched in the middle) – a local delicacy that is unmatched. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ‘World Pie Eating Championship’ is hosted annually in Wigan, usually at Harry’s Bar on Wallgate near the town’s main railway station. 

Its famous culinary exports also include ‘Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls’ and ‘Heinz Baked Beans’, up to 3 million cans of which are made every day at the H. J. Heinz Factory in Kitt Green, near Orrell.

A centre of sporting excellence

Rugby League is the borough’s main sport, with current Super League and World Champions Wigan Warriors based at the town’s iconic DW Stadium, which is also shared by local Football League club, 2013 FA Cup Winners Wigan Athletic. Less than 7 miles to the east, Leigh Leopards are the current holders of the Rugby League Challenge Cup, with neighbouring Tyldesley also playing a prominent role in the huge success enjoyed by England Women’s National Football Team (2022 UEFA Championship Winners and 2023 World Cup Runners-up), being the birthplace of midfielder Ella Toone, who also plays for the Manchester United Women’s Team. 

Exploring the great outdoors

Beyond its urban landscape, Wigan is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. The expansive Mesnes Park provides a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life, with its lush greenery, ornamental gardens, and serene lakes. Additionally, Haigh Woodland Park offers miles of scenic walking and cycling trails, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. A personal favourite walk or cycle route is the Wigan Pier to Haigh Hall part of the Lancashire Way, which has 23 locks over 5 miles.

For those with a penchant for history and adventure, a visit to the nearby Wigan Flash is a must. This picturesque wetland is a remnant of the town’s industrial past and now serves as a haven for wildlife, offering opportunities for birdwatching and leisurely strolls along the water’s edge.

Strong connections with local schools

As an organisation, Moxi Recruitment is in the fortunate position of having strong partnerships with schools throughout the Wigan area, including our partner EdStart Schools located in Marsh Green, just to the west of the town centre.

The educational make-up of Wigan is, like many of Greater Manchester’s boroughs, diverse with 25 primary schools and 4 local authority high schools located in the town itself, and many more in the wider metropolitan borough, a significant number of which are rated ‘good’ by Ofsted. Wigan also has three sixth-form colleges, as well as a University Technical College located in the town centre.

As with any major town, Wigan encompasses a broad demographic and has some of the North West’s most upmarket housing areas within its borough borders such as Standish and Parbold, as well as districts that rank amongst the region’s most deprived. The five areas of Wigan with the highest levels of deprivation are currently Marsh Green, Laithwaite, Ince-in-Makerfield, Atherton North and Leigh North.

A key point of difference between ourselves and other education recruiters, is that Moxi is community-focused and, wherever possible, we always seek to work with local candidates who know the area, its strengths, its demographic profile and its challenges. In this way, we can make a really lasting contribution to our region’s educational environment at all levels, and help drive the local economy.

We have a fantastic cohort of classroom-ready candidates currently available in and around Wigan, all looking for long-term, permanent roles in Early Years, Primary and Secondary schools. The training of these candidates – some of whom are new to the world of education – is ongoing, and we work in collaboration with our partners across the North West of England to help people take that all-important first step with regard to a career in teaching, teaching assistance, admin and support.

As part of our all-encompassing package, we can provide bespoke training that includes a Level 2 Teaching Assistant qualification, Mental Health First Aid, Lesson Planning and Mindfulness.

If you’re looking to get a head start in education as a career, then call me today on 0300 303 4414, email info@moxi-recruitment.co.uk or visit www.moxi-recruitment.co.uk/contact/ and send us a message. We will always try and support you in the best way we possibly can. Whether that be through new career opportunities, training or CPD!