Sunday 3 August 2014

Hindley, Greater Manchester

What possessed us to go to Hindley after going to Westhoughton?  The lure of charity shops.

Hindley is just a short drive from Westhoughton along the A58.  We managed to find some free parking behind the “Summat to Ate” restaurant and found that Silcock’s fun fair company were storing some of their rides by the car park.  We noticed someone had tried to remove graffiti that stated “xxx is a grass”.  The irony was that even though they removed the paint, you could still make out the name of who was the grass.  I think someone needs to rethink their graffiti removal technique.
It was mid-afternoon on a Saturday and all was very quiet.  There were many shops already with their shutters down, although from the looks of some of the shops the shutters had been down for many years.

The main shops in Hindley are located on the A58 (Market Street / Bridge Street) with an ASDA on Ladies Lane and a Tesco Extra on Cross Street.  Apart from ASDA and Tesco, most of the shops are independently owned.  As with Westhoughton there were a few with odd names: Buttyful (a sandwich shop, unsurprisingly), Bonkers (discount shop) and Cheerful Cantonese Restaurant.  We did pop into the Suga Shack that does a fab range of sweets.  I’m sure this place must be popular with the local kids. 
On our travels I’ve begun to notice shops and market stalls doing frozen foods and in Hindley there is a shop called Frostys.  Unlike the likes of Farmfoods and Iceland, all these shops have are white chest freezers.  There are no promotional signs to brighten up the place, so it looks quite odd from the road.  It’s like you have found an electrical shops that just does chest freezers or there is a random minimalist art exhibition going on.

The architecture in the town is predominantly Victorian red brick, although there are a few stand out places.  The Lloyds Bank appears to be a mini Greek stone temple, completely symmetrical with columns framing the doorway.  Its only adjustment to 21st century life is the insertion of a disabled ramp on the side.  The RBS is housed a in a purpose built Victorian bank and looks fab with ornate stone work.  The Mahabharat Indian Restaurant is housed in a former Baptist chapel.  I have to say the restaurant have done a good job to make the outside of the chapel look well presented.  Part of me wonders if they have managed to keep any of the original features inside the restaurant.
It was sad to see the former library was up for sale.  The grand Victorian red brick and stone building looked so forlorn boarded up with windows broken.  I really hate to see public buildings left to rot like this.  It would be interesting to see what it looks like inside.  I do wonder what this building could be used for in this day and age.  A restaurant? Converted into flats? Or will it be torn down and be replaced by a featureless building?  It probably has too many problems that the Council can ill-afford to resolve.

One thing is for sure in Hindley there are plenty of pubs to choose from and some of which date back to the 18th century.  The pubs appeared to be the most popular places to be in Hindley.  Apparently the Lord Nelson Hotel is a grade II listed building.  
The reasons we came here were for the four charity shops listed online.  Of the four, only one was open – Annies Orphans.  Maybe it was too late in the day to visit the town for charity shops as Hindley was dead.  Although next door to Annies was a house clearance shop which we had a quick wander through. Sadly Neil didn’t find anything in either shop. 

Maybe it was the time of day and the fact that the football was on, but there wasn’t much going on in Hindley.  There are too many shops for what is needed and the supermarkets really draw shoppers away from the centre of the town.  I do think these former mining and mill towns are struggling to find a purpose in the 21st century now that the industries have gone.  In Hindley’s case it appears to be a functional, commuter town with reasonable low cost housing that serves the local community.  Definitely not one for day trippers – just for visiting friends and family.  I don’t think we will be back here in a hurry, except maybe just passing through to Wigan or Bolton.

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