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28 October 2014
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Think Wigan, think pie!

When you consider Wigan and food, there’s only one thing that comes to mind… pie! Whether it’s slapped in a barm, covered in pea-wet or served up with chips, Wiganers are renowned for their love of all things pastry-wrapped.

Pies
Pies

In fact, pies go down so well in Wigan that every year, the World Pie-Eating Championship takes place in the town, but why has the town become so synonymous with pie?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s because of the sheer volume of pies that are consumed by Wiganers every year, but in reality, they don’t eat more of the stodgy treats than most other towns. The reason for the nickname actually comes from a very different time.

It all started on 3 May, 1926, when the General Council of the Trade Union Congress called a general strike in support of the nation’s coal miners, to protest against falling wages and worsening work conditions.

For nine days, Britain was brought to a standstill. Workers in key industries, such as railwaymen, dockers, steel workers and transport workers, downed tools and picketed their workplaces to support their mining colleagues.

Despite so much support, the TUC eventually had to give in and tell people to go back to work after the Government stated that they couldn’t force employers to take everyone who had been on strike back.

Let them eat pie

Up in Wigan though, they had already returned to work. The collieries there had decided to take matters into their own hands and were literally starving their miners back down the pit. With nothing to eat and no money, the workers had no choice but to return to work before the workforces of the surrounding towns.

They had, in essence, been forced to eat ‘humble pie’.

Thus the nickname that Wiganers now cherish was born. Not out of a love of pastry-covered meats, but out of the cruelness of employers and the harshness of life. Much as Wigan enjoys its pies now, for one day in May 1926, pie was the last thing they wanted to be eating.

last updated: 14/12/06
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