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Bring In The Bulldozers

Bring In The Bulldozers

Take yourself back to 1945 if you remember it, or simply imagine 1945 for those who weren’t around. The greatest wartime leader Britain had seen is ousted out, the country is bankrupt and soon after the new Labour Government nationalise industries such as coal, electricity, gas, water and health in the form of the NHS. As time went on, ideas for a practically “new country” were banded about and without further ado changes were made in an instant which changed the culture and social lives of many.
 
Over the following decades a catastrophic demolition of Britain’s heart followed with the removal of so called “slum areas” in many towns and cities which housed communities and had done for many generations. Ancient right of way, place names and road names were removed for “the betterment” of its people although those who remember these times and witnessed places like Scholes undergo a major redevelopment program will tell you there wasn’t much choice in the decision as bulldozers crushed communities for the erection of high rise flats and non-descript housing areas. The relocation of these neighbourhoods in to blocks of flats like beans in a Heinz tin shut off that community spirit of the area and many other areas our social life was built upon. Everything became very private, hardly seeing your neighbours as you would hang the washing out in your own dedicated washing area, no wives talking to each other over the garden fence in respect to the price of bread anymore.
 
The WiganWorld website boasts some excellent photo’s of the real Scholes before it became subject to the slum clearance experiment. Self efficient with a wonderful high street, all this has been replaced with cosmetically poor buildings shaped from poor planning. The butcher, grocer and baker had to make do on Scholes Precinct which differs somewhat from their own dedicated community shops of the past. www.wiganworld.co.uk/album/showalbum.php
 
Another example perhaps in respect to having no choice in a decision was the demolition of the famous Market Hall, built as a gift for Wigan by the then Mayor Nathaniel Eckersley who commented on how “Wigan was proud of its markets” and from then on remained famous in its own right with the Market Square so fondly remembered for the annual Silcock’s funfair. I am yet to speak with anybody in respect to the above who wanted to see the Market Hall replaced with a clear mandate from the people of the time requesting the keeping of the current building which went ignored. A petition for even keeping the funfair was overwhelming in opposition to the plans so a fight on two fronts to keep what Wigan had for so long fell on deaf ears.
 
2011 and the stall holders are struggling to pay their rents, empty stalls and no buzz or character in a “box” of a building. A town now built upon cheaper shops which provide the shopper with everything they need without having to enter the Market Hall.
 
I would really like to chat with anybody in favour of the above demolition of the former Market Hall just so I can convince myself there is somebody out there! My email address is on the committee page.
 
Another “idea” was the demolition of anything Victorian which is covered in a separate topic by the excellent Simon Thurley at www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/28/they-conserved-the-victorian-cities
 
Andrew Lomax
 

 


Posted by Miles Gladson on 6th February 2011 at 23:19
Another excellent and though provoking piece Andrew. However, to play Devils Advocate:[:O]

Over Christmas time, i came past the flats by the ringroad (Douglas House to be specific) and after having been face lifted, must confess that they look rather inviting set against the cool crisp winter air.

All this said, when you look at the pictures on Wiganworld, particulary this one:

http://www.wiganworld.co.uk/album/photo.php?opt=5&id=1740&gallery=Scholes&offset=0

i don't think you can fail to be touched by the humanity. The little child in the red coat walking hand in hand with their parent; the smartly dressed chap walking the other way and the two women stopping for a gossip at the bus stop. I don't know any of the people in the picture and i couldn't even begin to place it, but staring into these echoes of the past makes me feel just a little bit melancholic. You don't get that staring at Tower blocks.


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