During the Industrial Revolution Wigan experienced dramatic economic expansion and a rapid rise in the population. Although porcelain manufacture and clock making had been major industries in the town, Wigan has since become known as a major mill town and coal mining district. The first coal mine was established at Wigan in 1450 and at its peak there were 1,000 pit shafts within 5 miles (8 km) of the town centre. Mining was so extensive that one of its town councillors once remarked that "a coal mine in the backyard was not uncommon in Wigan". Coal mining ceased during the latter part of the 20th century. In 1974, Wigan became a part of Greater Manchester. Wigan's status as a centre for coal production, engineering and textiles in the 18th century led to the Douglas Navigation in the 1740s, the canalisation of part of the River Douglas, and later the diversion of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in the 1790s at the request of the mill owners, to transport coal from the Lancashire coal pits to Wigan's mills and was also used extensively to transport local produce. As a mill town, Wigan was an important centre of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution; however it wasn't until the 1800s that cotton factories began to spread into the town. This was due to a dearth of fast-flowing streams and rivers in the area, but by 1818 there were eight cotton mills in the Wallgate part of Wigan. In 1818 William Woods introduced the first power looms to the Wigan cotton mills. Trencherfield Mill was built alongside the canal in 1907, for William Woods & Sons Ltd.
The industry peaked in 1912, when it produced 8 billion yards of cloth. The Great War of 1914–18 halted the supply of raw cotton, and the British government encouraged its colonies to build mills to spin and weave cotton. The war over, Lancashire never regained its markets. The independent mills were struggling. The Bank of England set up the Lancashire Cotton Corporation in 1929 to attempt to rationalise and save the industry. Trencherfield Mill was one of 104 mills bought by the LCC, and one of the 53 mills that survived through to 1950. Trencherfield Mill Steam Engine is one of the largest and finest working examples of its type. Built over 100 years ago, this mammoth metal powerhouse was regarded as a feat of industrial engineering. Churning out a massive 2,500 horse power to feed the ever hungry machinery of Trencherfield Mill, it played an instrumental role in Wigan’s industrial development. Open with two tours every Sunday, the engine is powered up every other Sunday (contact for dates). The Steam Engine is housed in the Engine House, so you'll be able to see the world’s largest working horizontal triple expansion steam engine in its original location. This area is accessible by stairs with handrails or by lift. Please note that wheelchair access is limited to the viewing platform, accessed by lift. Access to the Engine Hall lift is available directly from the ground floor reception area. A ramp allows access into the Machinery Hall. The Engine Hall benefits from a hearing loop system. Toilet facilities - including an accessible toilet - are available in the reception area. Guide and assistance dogs are welcome. Group tours can be arranged on weekdays. The walk from the bus stop along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Towpath is exceedingly pleasant and interesting.
Location : Trencherfield Mill Steam Engine, Wigan Pier Quarter, Heritage Way, Wigan WN3 4EF
Transport: Wigan North Western (National Rail). Bus routes 352, 375, 385, 395, 600, 601, 606, 607, 610, 621, 622, 628, 631, 632 and 633 stop nearby.
Opening Times: Sunday, Tours at 11:00 and 13:00
Tickets: Adults £2.00. Children (-12) £1.00
Steaming Sundays: Adults £4.00. Children (-12) £2.00
Tel: 01942 828128