One of Wigan’s most recognisable landmarks, Trencherfield Mill was erected in 1907 by William Woods & Son Ltd. The present building is actually the third Trencherfield Mill, with the two earlier mills dating from c.1820 and 1851 respectively. The distinctive name of the mills derives from the Trencher Meadow in which all three mills were built.
Trencherfield Mill was constructed between the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and was designed by the architects, Potts, Son and Henning. They were briefed to design a five storey, fireproof building, which would be capable of employing some 1,000 operatives. These operatives were to be responsible for 24,000 mule and 60,000 ring spinning spindles. The projected cost of the building and the land was, at the time of construction, estimated at £12,000, or approximately £1.3m in today’s money.
The new Mill officially opened on 3rd October, 1908, and included the traditional ‘christening’ of the engine. The two sides of the engine where named after William Woods’ daughters: Helen and Rina. These two engines are still in situation and in full working order, following restoration in 2004 with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
The Mill and its engine continued to spin yarn for a succession of owners and with a variety of updates to its machinery over the following 60 years. In 1920, ownership passed to a new company, Trencherfield Mills Ltd, whilst in the 1930s the Mill became part of the gigantic Lancashire Cotton Corporation. The Mill was re-equipped in 1946, and ownership passed once more to Courtaulds. Wigan Metropolitan Council acquired the Mill in 1983, prior to it being re-developed into apartments and commercial space.
Wigan Pier is widely believed to be a coal wagon tippler, although there are other theories including a wooden railway viaduct, later turned into an embankment. The canal boat was moored by the canal side and the full coal wagon shunted on to the tipping mechanism and was then tipped towards the canal, freeing the end door of the wagon, so that the coal tipped into the barge. The original tippler was removed and what you see today is a reconstruction. Wigan Pier became a music hall joke as even though Wigan was no where near the sea it had a pier, and lent its name to George Orwell’s controversial book, ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’.
The Leeds and Liverpool Canal
The Leeds and Liverpool Canal opened on Saturday 19th October 1816. This canal was the most successful long-distance canal in Britain carrying 2,337,401 tons of cargo in 1906, at the height of its economic utility. It is the longest single canal in Britain with a main line of 127¼ miles. It passes through the cradle of the Industrial Revolution in textile manufacture. The Canal linked Liverpool, Wigan, Blackburn, Burnley, Skipton, Keighley, Shipley, Bingley, Bradford (via the Bradford Canal) and Leeds. The Canal carried a large diversity of freight including, coal, wool, cotton, limestone, grains and many other cargoes.
The old refurbished set of original warehouses opposite “Wigan Pier”. These were built of brick during the Canal improvements of the 1880s and 1890s. The stone warehouses are earlier. The Terminal Warehouse – No 1 Wigan Pier – was the terminus of the now disused Tunnel Branch of the Canal and is now used as offices. For 36 years, the canal from Liverpool terminated at Wigan, where this large stone warehouse was built.