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John Scott

The Moses from Wigan

Sir John Scott was a Judge born in Wigan. In the spirit of Wigan’s fight for workers rights his Fire Within reformed the Egyptian legal system, abolishing slave labour that had been in existence since the Pharaohs. After his death, his collection of Ancient Egyptian treasures were gifted to the people of Wigan. In the manifesto, the priceless Royal Egyptian gold death mask is worn by Wiganers past and present.

Sir John Scott, 1841-1904

George Orwell

The Unforgettable Eye

From the moment George Orwell encountered the ‘lunar landscape’ of Wigan Pier and experienced working-class life in our town, he found The Fire Within to write an unforgettable, graphic description of social injustice, slum housing, mining conditions, squalor, hunger and growing unemployment with unblinking honesty, fury and great humanity. His searing account and bitter polemic in The Road to Wigan Pier continues to grip every reader with its exceptional immediacy, freshness and vigour and will forever connect our town to the struggle for liberation from the constrictions of class.

George Orwell, 1903–1950

Theodore Major

The Child Who Walked on Fire

Theodore Major was a visionary painter who was born and lived in Wigan. Theo believed he could paint everything, all beauty, all of life from his own village. In the industrial landscape of his home town Theo captured human relationships transformed by technology. Theo thought the great iron works in Wigan was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. The Fire Within Theo was lit the day he saw the great blast furnace lighting his friend’s reflections on the wet pavement and saw they were like ‘children walking on fire’.

Theodore Major, 1908-1999

Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker

Leigh's Goddess of the Sea

Dr Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker was a botanist born in Leigh. The Fire Within inspired her research into the reproductive biology of algae, which is the key to efficient farming of the seaweed ‘nori’, the essential component of Japanese sushi. On the 14th April at the annual Drew festival in Japan, Kathleen is worshipped as a Goddess, The Mother of the Sea.

Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker, 1901-1967

James Edwards

The Master Baker

James Edwards was an award winning Masterbaker whose bakery came to define the culinary identity of Wigan. His father was a Cornish mine shaft engineer who migrated to Wigan and died tragically during a shaft sinking accident creating a new pit. His wife started baking & selling pies from her fire side oven to take care of her young children and escape the workhouse on Frog Lane. James transformed the bakery with his incredible attention to detail, winning national awards for his creations. James is the Grandfather of Al Taylor, who created The Fire Within Manifesto & Exhibition spaces with his partner Al Holmes.

James Edwards, 1905-1978