Support grows for plaque in honour of famous screenwriter James Hilton

A LOCAL man is hoping more will be done to celebrate Leigh’s connections to an Oscar-winning screenwriter.

Ian Massey, who has been supporting moves to have a plaque put up in memory of James Hilton, said it was an important opportunity for the area.

“I think sometimes we can be reticent to highlight the things that are great that come from Leigh,” he said.

“I think we should shout about James Hilton because he is as famous as Danny Boyle in his own way.”

James Hilton was born at 26 Wilkinson Street in Leigh on September 9, 1900.

His father, John, was from Tyldesley, and his mother Elizabeth was from Leigh and they married at the Wesley Chapel.

At 32 James Hilton wrote Lost Horizon in which he introduced the word 'Shangri-la' to the English language.

The book was turned into a 1937 film, directed by Frank Capra and starring Ronald Colman.

“If we did more to celebrate him James Hilton could really put Leigh on the map,” said Ian, who is from Lowton.

Hilton went on to write two other novels, which also became successful films – Goodbye Mr Chips and Random Harvest.

He won an Oscar for his work on the screenplay of the 1942 film Mrs Miniver, but died in December 1954 from liver cancer aged 54.

His connections with Leigh are marked with a plaque at the Town Hall and in a local pub, but it is hoped a blue plaque will one day rest at his birthplace.

Richard Hughes, Chairman of the James Hilton Society, emailed Ian to say their members would like to join in any celebration of a plaque that recognised the screenwriter’s life.

He said: “The James Hilton Society hope to take part in the unveiling ceremony.”

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