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Bob's back at school
Friday 29th January, 2010

Bob's back at school
Jim Walsh (front row left), Lesley Black (front row centre) and Bob Aspey (front row right) explore the town hall.

It was a case of back to the classroom for Bob Aspey of Newtown this week.

The retired chartered engineer was an apprentice at Wigan’s internationally renowned mining college from 1952 and left with an HNC and a long career as a designer. This week the 72 year old was one of a group of students of a very different kind who returned to the same building for a guided tour.

“It’s changed a bit since my day,” says Bob. “It’s now Wigan town hall of course. The room where I took my exams is now the council chamber and it’s been interesting to hear about the history and changes.”

Bob is a member of an arts group who meet at Norley Hall Community Centre. Before Christmas, the Mayor, Cllr Mark Aldred, visited one of their weekly sessions and invited the group to the town hall for a tour of the building.

Chair of the arts group, Lesley Black, found the trip fascinating: “It’s been a really interesting visit, and the facts we’ve learned from Jim about the work of the Mayor and the history of the building have been excellent.”

Jim Walsh led the tour. As one of the Mayor’s two attendants, he does far more than drive the big car – he is the keeper of the dignity of the office, which directly represents the Queen. Visitors are shown the Mayor’s mace and the chains which are worn at the hundreds of civic occasions, major and minor, which the Mayor carries out on behalf of the borough each year. Jim’s vast knowledge of the history of the building and the office of Mayor enlivens tours by groups from artists’ groups to Brownies, and from local history experts to foreign visitors.

The Mayor, Cllr Mark Aldred, said: “I’m delighted the group enjoyed their visit. Civic pride and an understanding of the work of community representatives on the council are essential to how our democracy works. And I know that my attendants love showing local groups around the town hall as well!”

To book a visit to see the hidden gems of the old mining college - Wigan’s new town hall - contact the Mayor’s Office on 01942 404149. And eager artists in Norley Hall can come along to the community centre on Norley Hall Avenue on Tuesdays for the morning or afternoon art sessions.

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