Building Name

Public Hall, 62 King Street, Wigan

1852 - 1853
King Street
GMCA, England
New Build

The Market (sic) Hall at Wigan, for which Lane’s designs were reported to have been adopted in the Builder xi 1853 p327, was not in fact built. Howard Colvin: A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600 -1840. (Third Edition 1995)

It is generally considered that Colvin’s Dictionary of British Architects provides the definitive list of works by Richard Lane. The exclusion of a specific building for which there is documentary evidence is therefore particularly unusual. However, in making this claim, Colvin lacked ready access to the vast wealth of information now made available through the internet. An examination of a wider range of contemporary sources now suggests that Richard Lane’s designs for a Public Hall at Wigan were indeed fully implemented and, further, that the building survived until the 1970s.

In April 1852 the Builder reported: “The committee to carry out the erection of the proposed public hall at Wigan have unanimously chosen the plans drawn by Mr R Lane of Manchester, architect.” Tenders were returned on 22 July and on the 11th of August 1852 Nathaniel Eckersley Esq, mayor of Wigan, laid the corner stone of a new Public Hall in King Street. The following month the Civil Engineer and Architects’ Journal published a detailed description and plate illustration of Lane’s design. Unusually, this was stated as being in the “Italian style,” a style somewhat removed from the “Greek Revival” style for which Richard Lane is better known.

Construction was completed by October 1853 when the Mechanics Institution, (which was to occupy the building for over thirty years), held an inaugural soiree. A later description, fully in accord with the plans of 1852, recorded that the Public Hall contained the Mechanics' Institute, Library and News-rooms, and two large rooms adapted for concerts, balls, or public meetings. [Worrall’s Wigan and District Directory 1881].

When the Mechanics Institute vacated the building is unclear. Wigan Town Trail (page 43), suggests that the architectural practice of Heaton Ralph and Heaton had some involvement in 1898 but gives no further details. By 1905 the Public Hall was the property of Messrs Roger and Rennick, and had been converted into publishing offices for the “Wigan Examiner.” At some stage the ground-floor frontage was also altered to incorporate shop units on each side of the original main entrance doorway.

The newspaper closed in May/June 1961 after which the building seemingly remained unoccupied until its demolition in the 1970s. Rodney House, a modern office block, now stands on the site. Photographs of the 1960s and 1970s, (www., show the building in its last years. Notwithstanding a century of pollution, the later alterations, and a general air of dilapidation, the building still retained a quality of monumental grandeur not immediately apparent in the plate illustration. It was a building of considerable originality, and one certainly worthy of inclusion in any list of Richard Lane’s known works.

WIGAN - The committee to carry out the erection of the proposed public hall have unanimously chosen the plans drawn by Mr R Lane of Manchester, architect. [Builder 24 April 1852 Page 264]

WIGAN PUBLIC HALL - TO BUILDERS AND OTHERS - Persons desirous of contracting for the whole or any part of the works required in the ERECTION of the PUBLIC HALL, Wigan, may see the Plans and Specifications, and obtain the requisite bills of quantities at the office of Mr Richard Lane, architect, 1 Chapel Walks, Manchester, and at the Borough Surveyors office, Wigan, on or after Thursday the 8th inst. >‘ Tenders sealed and endorsed ATender for erecting Wigan Public Hall,” to be sent to Mr HUNTER, Borough Surveyor on behalf of the Building and Finance Committee not later than twelve o’ clock  noon, on Thursday 22nd instant. The committee does not pledge itself to accept the lowest tender. Wigan July 1, 1852. [Manchester Guardian 3 July 1852 page 11]

WIGAN PUBLIC HALL – The ceremony of laying the foundation stone of this edifice was performed by the mayor on Wednesday forenoon last.  His worship was presented with a beautiful silver trowel, manufactured by Mr George Esplin of Wigan and bearing the inscription “Presented to Nathaniel Eckersley Esq, mayor of Wigan, on the occasion of his laying the corner stone of Wigan Public Hall on the 11th day of August 1852.” [Manchester Guardian 14 August 1852 page 10]

WIGAN: STRANGE AND IMPUDENT ROBBERY - On Saturday night last or early Sunday morning, the corner stone of the Public Hall, to be erected in King Street, was removed by some thieves who stole a glass bottle containing a crown, a half-crown, a florin, a shilling, a sixpence, a four-penny piece, a three-penny piece and a three halfpenny piece in silver, and some copper coins, together with a number of papers and documents connected with the origin of the Public Hall. On Sunday morning the bottle was found broken in Darlington Street, about a quarter of a mile from the site of the building, and with it were found the papers that had been deposited therein. The thieves had lifted the covering stone and moved it a little in order to obtain possession of the bottle: and the copper plate, with which it had been covered, was found on the ground about a yard from the stone. The stone was uninjured, and an attempt had seemingly been made to restore it to its proper position.  [Manchester Guardian 18 August 1852 page 7]

WIGAN MECHANICS INSTITUTION – Inauguration. Soiree in the Public Hall 20 October 1853. [Manchester Guardian 26 October 1853 page 7]

WIGAN RIOTS – Troops quartered at the new Public Hall, King Street. [Manchester Guardian 2 November 1853 page 6]

The Town Hall, King Street, erected at a cost of over £17,000, contains the Borough Gaol, Police and Fire Engine Stations, Sessions' Courts, and other public offices. In the same street are located the Liberal Club, the Theatre Royal, and the Public Hall. The latter building contains the Mechanics' Institute, Library and News-rooms, and two large rooms adapted for concerts, balls, or public meetings. [Worrall’s Wigan and District Directory 1881]

The Public Hall, formerly the Mechanics’ institute, and erected in 1852, is now the property of Messrs Roger and Rennick, and has been converted into publishing offices for the “Wigan Examiner.” {Kelly Directory 1905.]

NEW TOWN HALL, WIGAN - On the 11th August last, the foundation stone of this public hall was laid by N. Eckersley, Esq., the Mayor, in the presence of the corporation, the members for the borough, the local clergy, and a large number of persons. It is to be erected from the design of R. Lane, Esq., architect, of Manchester, by Mr Fairclough, contractor, at a cost of £3,240; but the expenses of lighting, warming, and fitting up the hall are anticipated to be about £700 more. The facade is of an Italian character, the lower compartment being of stone, with a granulated rustic basement, terminating with a deep facia and moulded stringcourse. The upper compartment is of stock brickwork, with stone quoins and dressings to windows, surmounted by a bold modillion cornice, facia, and neck-mould. In the centre is a circular-headed recess in stone, formed with quoins corresponding with those at the external angles of the building, inclosing a door-case with Doric columns, and entablature with triglyphs and dental cornice, having a circular-headed doorway with moulded imposts and archivolt, carved spandrels and key-stone. The central window over is circular-headed, and ornamented with a carved scroll band. The whole front, though simple in its forms, is rich and effective. In the internal arrangements, a flight of steps, 13 feet wide, leads to the vestibule and principal staircase. On the right and left of the entrance is the library and news-room, and committee room, and from the centre of the vestibule are the doors leading to the large public room, 80 feet long by 40 feet wide, and 30 feet high, fitted up with a spacious orchestra at the end, adequate for concerts on a large scale. Over the library and news-room is a large saloon, 40 feet by 30 feet, for balls, public meetings, lectures, etc. The space below the large room is intended to be appropriated to the purposes of a mechanics' institution. [Civil Engineer and Architect’s Journal volume 15 1852 page 305]

Reference    Builder 24 April 1852 Page 264 – appointment of Richard Lane
Reference    Manchester Guardian 3 July 1852 page 11 - contracts
Reference    Manchester Guardian 7 July 1852 page 12 - contracts
Reference    Manchester Guardian 10 July 1852 page 2 - contracts
Reference    Manchester Guardian 14 August 1852 page 10 - foundation stone
Reference    Manchester Guardian 18 August 1852 page 10 - foundation stone (II)
Reference    Civil Engineer and Architects’ Journal 1852 page 305 With Engraving, Plate XXXIII.)
Reference    Howard Colvin: Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, page 596