Catterall, Stephen (2005) 'Otherness' Plus the Three Cs Minus Orwell: 'The Wigan Pier Experience'. Labour History Review, 70 (1). pp. 103-112. ISSN 0961-5652

For generations Wigan has become less a place than a state of mind in the British psyche. Successions of visitors and writers, including Ruskin and Orwell, have echoed the theme of ‘otherness’ in ‘our’ own land.1 Wigan, a town barely three hours by train from London, has come to symbolize the ‘other’ Britain associated with the legacy of industrialization and the social deprivation and squalor this produced. More recent writers, commenting on the symbolism that Wigan has acquired, have continued to perpetuate this view. Mannin, writing during the early 1970s, confessed that:
Originally I had the frivolous intention of writing about Wigan for the hell of it. If we were to call the book England My Adventure, and it seemed we were, what more of an adventure than a trip to unknown Wigan? There are places I expatiated, such as Timbuctoo and Nineveh and Babylon and Jericho, which have existence but which seem apocryphal, and Wigan is another of them’.
The association has resonated around the legacy of an industrial dispensation characterised as the three 3Cs, representing Coal, Cotton and Canals. It is to this sense of ‘otherness’, about which ‘Wigan Pier’ is as much the mythologised metaphor as the town, which has made ‘the Pier’ one of Britain’s most popular heritage attractions.

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