Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 15:29 UK

'Orwell' library to be restored

Inside the History Shop
The restored building will be a heritage hub for Wigan, say restorers

The library where George Orwell researched his book The Road To Wigan Pier is to be restored.

The Grade II-listed building, now the History Shop in Wigan town centre, will receive a £1.6m transformation over the next year to create a heritage hub.

Restoration firm William Anelay said it meant Wigan's history would be in one place for the first time.

"It's the story of Wigan from the Romans to the Battle of Wigan Lane," said a spokesman for the company.

The Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust said the conservation project was possible following a £500,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

'Powerful backdrop'

This was matched by Wigan Council and the trust, which manages the building and heritage services of the borough.

Trust executive director Pete Gascoigne said: "Ensuring the History Shop's magnificent architectural features will be restored creates a powerful backdrop for visitors to view the story of Wigan and its people."

Orwell visited library in 1936, almost 60 years after it was built in Rodney Street.

The architect was Alfred Waterhouse, who also designed Manchester town hall and the Natural History Museum in London.

In 1990, the site was no longer used as a library as additional space was needed and the books were moved to Wigan town hall.

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