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A collection of old photographs, some dating back to the late 19th century. From the swimming baths to the schools, this is a fascinating insight into the market town.
A lone car rattles over the cobbles beside the George Moore Memorial and on down Wigton's High Street. The car, with its hood down occupies the centre of the carriageway. Everyone turns away from their business at the market stalls to watch its slow progress.
The horseless carriage has just passed the premises of W. Payne who combines the skills of cycle agent with that of hairdresser and is still able to sell tobacco as well. A small projecting sign recommends Capstan Navy Cut to the discerning smoker.
Next-door underneath an awning to protect the goods from the Wigton sun, The Fountain Hardware Stores, owned by a Mr. Aird has created a hazard for pedestrians and motorists with its display of galvanised barrels and buckets on pavement and highway.
But Mr Aird's display is having to compete directly with that of his enterprising neighbour, Joseph Rogerson, known locally as Jobby. Above the door of the Fountain House Inn he has slung a large, coloured glass barrel which he illuminates in the evening with the aid of gas lamps. The men of Wigton were able to sink their pints beneath the sign of the blazing barrel.
Jobby's neighbour, John Sinton, a boot, shoe and clog-maker, found himself in competition with five others in engaged in the same trade.
The Wigton of a hundred years ago was a thriving, bustling place. On market days the streets were crowded with people going about their business. It was the centre of a lively community.
There were grand houses in the vicinity like Wigton Hall, owned by the Kentish sisters, and Highmoor, owned by the Banks family. But their days were numbered.
Highmoor, despite its oriental bell tower and its ornamental pond bedecked with flamingoes and exotic waterfowl and its parkland stocked with deer and wallabies and llamas, was on the verge of bankruptcy . Wigton Hall was to suffer the indignity of being purchased by the jam factory. Two other large house had become schools. Westmoreland House became the Thomlinson School for Girls and Floshfirld House became the Nelson School for Boys.
The town itself has changed. the jam factory is now UCB, a vast complex, responsible for the economic well-being of the town, and capable of investing £10 million in a state-of-the-art research centre. Redmayne's factory which made outfits for gentleman, has been replaced by a supermarket. The old carts are no longer seen outside the church on market days and the cobbles have been replaced by a tarred surface.
But something remains the same. The lines of the streets are as they were. The signs on the buildings have been changed and their contents are very different, but apart from a few changes, the buildings themselves are the same structures as those of one hundred years ago. There is also something very familiar about the people themselves, who still have the time to stop and talk in the streets, just as their great grandparents did a hundred years ago.
This is a well judged collection of photographs. Many were taken by Joseph Wilkinson who worked from premises in the High Street. But Trevor Grahamslaw has also selected his photographs well to display a community which has retained a pronounced individuality over the years. - Steve Matthews, Bookcase.
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