Wallgate building restorations take shape

One of the former masonic halls in the Wallgate building

A conservation project for a prominent heritage building in Wigan town centre is taking shape.

Earlier this year, Wigan Council announced that £850,000 would be invested to improve the upper levels of the former Masonic Chamber on Wallgate.

The refurbishment of the Victorian building includes upgrades to its terracotta facades, roofing improvements and new windows. It has also been part funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

When complete, the work will mark the end of the council’s ‘Townscape Heritage Initiative’ (THI), which is dedicated to looking after the Conservation Areas and heritage buildings on Wallgate and King Street.

Councillor Terry Halliwell, a Wigan Council heritage champion said: “In line with our commitment to preserving the borough’s heritage, we’re always looking for opportunities to secure external funding, which goes a long way in helping us to deliver our conservation plans.

“Although works on the former chamber will mark the end of a successful THI, we will continue to work with partners renovate key historic buildings across the borough in order to retain our impressive character and history, while also allowing our heritage to adapt to the needs of modern times.”

The former Masonic chamber was built in the late 19th Century and was used as a base for the Freemason’s organisation. It has been vacant for approximately 10 years and has deteriorated significantly throughout that time.

Once complete, the renovations will have transformed the grade II listed building into 20 apartments for residential use.

Sabbir owns the building and has welcomed the work. He said: “The council understands the importance of the borough’s heritage, which gives our towns their distinctive character, and wants to showcase it in all of its glory.

“I’ve been keen to work with them on this project because when complete, the renovations will improve the attractiveness of Wallgate and the town centre.”

The renovations started shortly after the council announced its success in applying for Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) money, which will bring key historic sites on King Street back into viable use.

Together, the HAZ bid and THI works mean that around £4m of public money will have been used to restore buildings between Wallgate and King Street.

The allocated funds for the HAZ project has been matched by the council and local busineses, meaning that the King St area will actually see around £2m of investment.

This includes works to three of the street’s buildings and help with cultural educational opportunities.

Coun Halliwell, who is also cabinet member for housing and welfare at the council continued: “This scheme paves the way for the improvement of King Street and creates more opportunities for our residents.

“Wigan, much like the rest of the borough, has very impressive architecture and heritage and we are committed to retaining this character. The funding means that we can provide engagement opportunities for both residents and schools so they can fully appreciate our heritage. This work is still in development but is another exciting project we look forward to beginning and benefitting our residents.”