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Legacy of Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier


The Guardian celebrates the 75th anniversary of the writing of George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier.

Growing up in Britain in the 1970s (which included cheerful events like the so-called Winter of Discontent, that book was continually being referenced even though it was written decades earlier. I always found the Wigan Pier reference completely baffling since Wigan is land locked. When I finally read the book, I was taken aback, like everyone else, by the living and working conditions described by Orwell.

Of course, there is no pier in Wigan but there used to be a wooden jetty used for loading coal on to barges on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Some how the pier term got popularised (probably because people were taking the mickey) and then Orwell wrote his book.

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Richard Davies

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