An exhibition celebrating Wigan's cultural heritage, with photography by Martin Holden


Wigan is a with a strong sense of cultural identity. The town’s position between the two major northern metropoli of Liverpool and Manchester means it can be overlooked in discussions about northern culture and identity. This exhibition celebrates what it means to be from the town that brought the world Wigan Casino, Theodore Major, Gandalf and The Verve. We’ve come a long way from Orwell’s cinder paths and slag heaps, and a new generation is celebrating Wigan’s heritage and culture.

Wigan has inspired generations of artists with its red brick buildings, industrial heritage, mineworks, canals, flashes and of course, people. This celebration of Wigan’s cultural heritage is not an exhaustive list of all the art and artists ever to emerge from our beautiful borough, but rather a collection of our most iconic figures and artworks. It also includes artists and writers born beyond the boundaries of our beautiful borough, but inspired by our landscape and residents to create art of national and international significance.


Click on the buttons below to begin exploring 



Wigans industrial landscapes, our green spaces and public spaces, our buildings and our streets, influenced two of the most significant artists of the 20th century. Both were woefully unrecognised in their lifetimes, but their work is now achieving national and international recognition.



Wigan has played a role in shaping the music scene from the 1920’s to the noughties. Thrillseekers from all over the country descended on the Wigan Casino for its legendary all nighters, it’s sweaty dancefloor acrobatics and it’s hardcore Northern Soul DJ’s. In the 80’s a new generation of music lovers sought out the Bounce and Donk beats throbbing out of the legendary and much missed nightclub, The Pier.  


Wigan has both inspired literature and theatre as well as paid host to some brilliant advocates for culture in their early years. All with different experiences, the individuals in this section are representative of the talent that has come out of the borough. 



Our town centre is packed with inspiring, thought provoking and sometimes surprising art works. Some of them commemorate people and places from the past, others pay homage to our industrial history, and others capture the simple joy of being a Wiganer.

All images are by Martin Holden


We've put together some activities you can do inspired by our exhibition. More will be added over the coming weeks!


On one sheet of paper or card draw a series of buildings (or you can download our templates!). Colour them in and add as much detail as you like, then cut the excess from the top of the sheet and fold along the edges of the buildings to create a concertina. Do a few then layer them one in front of the other and you've made yourself a cardboard city!


Using Google street view, you can take a tour of the very best street art around the world. Why not take a look around for some inspiration using the link below, then design some street art that you'd like to see in your town (on paper only!)?

We'll add new activities here in the upcoming weeks so make sure to visit again!

If you join in don't forget to tag us


#creativewiganandleigh #makeitdigital