“By far the best workshop I’ve ever taken part in,” John Hegley
Wigan Pier Workshops mixes local young writers with professionals from all over the UK who come to Wigan to tell their story, teach skills and get everyone writing.
We hold two annual weeklong sessions as well as the occasional stand out event for 13 to 18-year-olds from the borough of Wigan. The focus of the workshops range from ‘Poetry against the cuts’ to ‘How digital changed journalism’ and ‘How many sides to a story? to ‘Constructing narrative from dreams.’ Among our talented professionals are a Booker shortlistee, a national newspaper editor and a BAFTA winning screenwriter. Every Wigan Pier Workshop is unique; the voices of young local writers shape each day. We are thrilled to share some of the outstanding pieces written in session, or inspired by Wigan, here.
George Orwell travelled to Wigan in 1936 to report on life in the North of England and his book The Road to Wigan Pier inspired a legacy of change for national policy. 75 years on Stephen Armstrong trailed Orwell’s footsteps to write The Road to Wigan Pier Revisited. As Orwell had found all those years before, Armstrong saw that once again Wigan is one of the most deprived parts of the country. On his travels he found Sunshine House Community Centre where Armstrong and Barbara Nettleton had the idea of getting some writers to work with the creative young locals as a way to teach skills, inspire aspirations and have fun writing. After a successful pilot working out how the idea could manifest, Wigan Pier Workshops was joined in support by The Orwell Prize and free speech and literature charity English PEN who made it possible for the sessions to grow into what we know them as today. In 2017 we celebrated five years of Wigan Pier Workshops.
Wigan Pier Workshops is still lead by Stephen Armstrong and Barbara Nettleton as well as Kat Lewis who previously administered The Orwell Prize. Local Wigan poet, Louise Fazackerley, leads community groups between the WPW events. Throughout the year we are supported by the volunteers at Sunshine House. We are ever guided and inspired by our sponsors free speech and literature charity English PEN and The Orwell Prize as well as Wigan Library and Wigan Council.
From our inception to the run into 2014 we have benefited from the feedback and backing of Wigan schools who participate. Wigan Pier Workshops presently works with:
- Abraham Guest Academy
- Byrchall High School
- Deanery High School
- Fred Longworth High School
- Rose Bridge High School
- Standish Community High School
- St John Fisher Catholic High School
- St Peter’s Catholic High School
- Winstanley College