George Orwell's seminal book 'The Road to Wigan Pier' celebrates its 80th Anniversary in 2018. A Civic Reception for his son, Richard Blair, took place on Thursday 1st February in The Mayor's Parlour at Wigan Town Hall hosted by the Mayor Councillor Bill Clarke and his wife Joan. Senior figures from the Council were also in attendance including Lord Peter Smith the Council Leader, Donna Hall Chief Executive and Paul McKevitt Deputy Chief Executive.
Richard explained that the book was a commentary on the social deprivation that the whole country was suffering during the depression, following the first world war, and that Wigan was just one example of many working class towns in the North that he could have written about. Richard stressed that his father wasn't criticising the town in the book, but he was describing a very bleak period before there was any state support or social benefits and workers were effectively 'owned' by their employers - the pit the mill owners who used them as cheap labour. Despite very tough working and living conditions, Orwell found a great sense of camaraderie with miners he worked with and of community in a period where people supported each other.
Richard was introduced by local musician Alan Gregory who has written a musical 'Beyond Wigan Pier' which charts the town's progress since Orwell's book. It is based on an imaginary relationship between Orwell and a young girl he met in the town who was cleaning drains, and follows them through the next decades to the current day. 'Beyong Wigan Pier' is Wigan's answer to the West End's Orwell Musical and is written and produced by Wiganers for Wiganers. It is set to be the world's first community Musical with its Premiere on 27th April at The Edge, a new performance venue located, fittingly, in the Wigan Pier Quarter.
We were treated to an amazing acapella performance of one of the songs by local singers Olivia Garcia, a finalist at Open Mic UK 2014 and more recently went to the judges houses in X-Factor 2016, and Scott Chapman who has appeared on The Voice.
The Musical is being supported by many organisations in Wigan; The Council, Wigan Warriors Rugby League Club, Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra as well as many local businesses. At bd2, we're also delighted to be supporting on a pro bono basis what promises to be an amazing event for the town by developing a brand identity and visual theme for all the marketing communications and have been designing and providing various materials for the launch and promotion events. The event is gaining real traction and has featured on Granada Reports and BBC Radio as well as in the local press.
There's more information online at:
And if you're interested in buying tickets for the show, or supporting the event yourself, it's all being funded by voluntary contributions from the community, please visit: