In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Wigan like this:
Wigan, parl. and mun. bor., manufacturing town, par., and township, SW. Lancashire, on river Douglas, 21½ miles NE. of Liverpool - par., 29,033 ac., pop. 117,725; bor. and township, 2188 ac., pop. 48,194; 3 Banks, 2 newspapers. Market-days, Monday and Friday. Wigan is an ancient place, but has become of consequence only since the rise of the cotton mfr. Its position in the midst of a great and rich coalfield, and its easy means of transit by railway and canal, have given it peculiar facilities for mfrs., which consist chiefly of calicoes, checks, fustians, and other cotton fabrics. ...
It has also linen works, iron foundries, iron forges, iron rolling mills, railway waggon works, chemical works, breweries, and a papermill. Some of its cotton mills and iron works are among the largest in the kingdom. The original parish church of All Saints dates from the 14th century. A public park of 30 acres was opened in 1878. Wigan was a borough by prescription, first chartered by Henry III. It returns 1 member to Parliament; it returned 2 members from the time of Edward VI. until 1885.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Wigan has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Wigan. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Wigan and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Wigan in Lancashire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 22nd December 2014
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