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ROWBOTTOM SQUARE

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Wigan Observer Building
Photo: Cyril
Views: 820
Item #: 33357
I was recently intrigued when I saw an ancient document stating that The New Post Office was situated in the building that I only knew as the Wigan Observer Building in Rowbottom Square, apparently Thomas Wall the printer and stationer initially had his shop in the premises what became The Minorca, was also the Postmaster for Wigan.

Clare Abs has supplied the historical research of this part of Rowbottom Square, and very interesting it is too.
A house called Rowbottom House, believed to have been surrounded by ornamental gardens, once stood on the site where the Observer building now stands. The earliest map of Wigan we’ve been able to find showing Rowbottom Square is the 1827 Mather Map. At some time it changed hands and by 1848 it had become a Temperance Hotel with commercial and private rooms. run by Peter Grant.
In The Wigan Directory of 1869, we can see it had changed hands once again. It was still being run as a Temperance & Commercial Hotel, at 8 Rowbottom square by a Mr Thomas Nicholson.
Shortly after that listing from 1870 it became Wigan Post Office.
Thomas Wall had previously based all his businesses in the shops which were part of the Minorca building on the corner. But business was booming and time-consuming printing pressures forced Thomas to look elsewhere for expansion. He didn’t have to look far.
A 'Notes and Jottings' record from the Wigan Observer said that 'the insufficient accommodation at last impressed the Post Office's official mind and the powers in London asked Mr Wall to provide bigger premises'. Accordingly he bought the temperance hotel and transferred the post office until it moved on Monday, October 19, 1885, to the site on Wallgate across from Rowbottom Square. The rest is history.

Comment by: Cyril on 7th October 2021 at 20:01

As it was too early for photography to capture it a pity a painting or drawing showing Rowbottom House and the ornamental gardens it was situated in isn't around, or maybe there could be somewhere, I had no idea that such a grandiose property had once stood there in the town centre.

Comment by: Stan on 7th October 2021 at 20:19

Cyril check this out from Colin Harlow.
Item number 19682 Thomas Wall bookseller and stationer.
Item number 18219 Historic building.
Item number 19221 Thomas Wall.

Comment by: Veronica on 7th October 2021 at 20:38

Very interesting story but I just cannot imagine the building surrounded with ornamental gardens. The last time I went In there was to order a copy of a wedding photograph from 1969.

Comment by: Malc on 7th October 2021 at 21:59

The Same here Veronica. The Wigan Observer was founded in 1853 in this very building and nothing has changed since then.

Comment by: Edna on 8th October 2021 at 09:08

Some history there Cyril. What is it used for now? It was the 1960s when I last went in.

Comment by: Albert.S. on 8th October 2021 at 10:40

In the 1940s I used to collect a quantity of Wigan Observers from these offices, on a Friday. I was then a paper lad for Tatum’s, in Spring View.
I had to get them back to the shop, but how I managed it, I cannot now, remember. I do remember that in the main office there was a painting of Royal Mail carrying ship. I always admired it.

Comment by: Albert.S. on 8th October 2021 at 12:24

Probably Colin Harlow can remember the painting. as far that I can remember, the ship’s name was the name of a United Kingdom Castle, but which, I do not remember. Such a long time ago.

Comment by: Cyril on 8th October 2021 at 15:30

Veronica, the house with the presumed ornamental gardens was there before this and the other buildings, and most likely would have been medieval.

Comment by: Carolaen on 8th October 2021 at 16:09

I can as a small boy in the 1950s, remember seeing the name Wigan Examiner on columns outside a building on King Street near the old Town Hall. This was the name of a Wigan newspaper (rival to the Observer) which closed I think in the 1940s ? However as a young lad I was convinced for several years that this was the place where the man lived who marked the 11+ exam papers. I suspect m dad told me this as it was typical of his humour.

Does anyone remember the Examiner (and these offices) and know when it closed. I tried searching on Google and got nowhere

Comment by: Rainh on 8th October 2021 at 16:24

Albert , it was probably one of the Union Castle Line . I found a site iancoombes.tripod.com
which shows all the ships which may help you locate it to the picture . There is a very interesting piece history to read about , so thank you Albert for inadvertently giving me the link to it .

Comment by: Veronica on 8th October 2021 at 17:36

As someone else mentioned it would be good if there was a drawing of its previous existence Cyril. Pity the Post Office can't find a home there again.

Comment by: John on 8th October 2021 at 21:54

Carolean, - the Wigan Examiner closed in 1961 according to the Wigan Local History and Heritage Society website. I remember the Tuesday (?) edition was very good for all the local sports results from the previous weekend

Comment by: Albert.S. on 9th October 2021 at 09:47

Rainh. I am almost sure it was the Carnarvon Castle, one funnel, depicted on the Union Castle web site ploughing through the sea, in full glory. I was always fascinated by the picture of it. It may not of been a painting, but a picture.

Comment by: Colin Harlow. on 10th October 2021 at 13:34

Carolaen, take a look at item number 12369 under Colin Harlow's comment it may answer
your question about the Wigan Examiner. Cheers.

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