25 Wallgate, Wigan
Part of Group:
At Risk: No
25 Wallgate and 1 to 3 Rowbottom Square – formerly Rothwell Grocers
The building complex is in three sections, the front section has mock Tudor frontage, the other two have been rendered. The front two sections are three storeys, the rear one is just two. Currently occupied by Forest Recruitment agency (2021).
Evidence of a hoist and upper floor loading doors remain on the Rowbottom Square elevation.
First depicted on the Mather Map of 1827 and comparison with the 60inch OS Map of 1847 and later maps shows little change. This suggests that current building is the same as it was in the early 19th century.
Two Photos from 1900 and 1920 show the building gained its mock-Tudor cladding sometime between these dates.
Apparently it was extensively refurbished around 1999 by the Heritage Trust for the North West who are believed to currently own the building (2021).
From at least the mid19th century it was a grocer, the proprietor being recorded as John Rothwell who is described as a tea, coffee, and wine merchant.
A photo from 1920 shows it was still called Rothwell. In a 1950 photo it appears to be a men’s outfitters. A Photo from 1964 shows it as Weaver to Wearer and in 1981 an optician. It was Bridgefords estate agents in the 1990s.
The Rothwell’s grocery business was founded by John Rothwell. He was born in Goose Green. In 1841 John Rothwell was an apprentice grocer to Thomas Young on Wallgate. In 1850 he set up his own grocery business on King Street and by 1851 had moved to 25 Wallgate and was employing two apprentices. One was his brother James. He lived with his growing family of four sons and one daughter at the premises on the corner of Wallgate and Rowbottom Square. They sold a full range of quality groceries as shown in their adverts in the Wigan Observer in the second half of the 19th century.
The company also made their own products. They specialised in Cocoa and chocolate products. Cocoa works were opened in 1885 at Sharp Street and Wilcock Street in Wigan. The works were managed by John Rothwell junior, the eldest son, until he died at the age of 28 in 1888. Another Chocolate and Cocoa factory was opened in Harvey Lane Goldborne. They manufactured Welco Cocoa and Red Cow Chocolate as well as their own brand of Rothwell’s chocolate.
John senior was also a local councillor and prominent member of the congregation at Wigan Parish Church. Two of his sons William and James took over the grocery business. Another son George studied at Cambridge and became a clergyman. John died in 1901.
His son James moved to Goldborne to manage the factory. In 1935 the closure of the Golborne factory was announced and it was auctioned for £2,800 in March that year.
Wigan Directories of 1869 and 1881, Ancestry, British Newspaper Archives, Wigan Almanac 1936, Rootschat