Wigan Grammar School
The Second School

 

The Second School

During the 17 th century the School was short of money, though it received some bequests, notably from James Leigh and Sir John Bridgeman. It was largely owing to the latter that, when the original building became dilapidated, a larger and better building was erected in 1723. Two sites were available, one at Hall Channell at the bottom of Standishgate, the other Cockerham’s house and croft in Millgate – the Rodney Street site , where the present History Shop stands.

The latter was the more convenient, and, as it happened, the cheaper, and was the one selected. The trustees bought it 22 Jan., 1723 from Alex. Leigh for £210, and when it was sold, and the School transferred to the Mesnes 150 years later, the estate realised twenty-one times its purchased cost.

No time was lost. 4 Mar., 1723, John Markland, Alderman and trustee,signed a contract with the trustees and with William Wigan and William Latham both of Wigan , masons, and Robert Sayer of Haigh, and Henry Sephton of Rainford, masons, for the new building to be completed before Michaelmas that year.

30 Nov., 1730. The old Free Grammar School on School Common had so far decayed that part had lately fallen. "It is quite useless where it is. Cockerham’s house still stands but it cannot be let as it has no outbuildings. The trustees order that John Markland shall take down the old school, convey the materials to the new school croft and erect the desired outhouses. "

 

The Master's House in Millgate

Later on the trustees let off the old school site on long lease, and cottages were erected on it, for one of which, No. 3, School Lane, the then Headmasters had Parliamentary votes which were exercised in 1885-6 and 1892-5.

At the beginning of the 19 th century the financial position of the School was so low the the Trustees sold off the urban property to raise money. But the position was not permanently improved and further economies were necessary in 1847 when the Rev. S.M.R. Doria began his ‘golden reign’ of twenty years. The number of pupils had dropped to 40, but he doubled this and improved the standard of the School in every way.

The demolition of the old School was completed in 1874 and the Public Library was erected on the site. For six years the School had no building of its own, the scholars being temporarily housed first in the Methodist Chapel in King Street, and later in St. Paul’s School in Standishgate.