First World War soldier to have Bickershaw road named in his honour

Leigh Journal: Private Alfred Wilkinson (courtesy of Wigan and Leigh Archive Service) Private Alfred Wilkinson (courtesy of Wigan and Leigh Archive Service)

A SOLDIER, awarded the highest military honour for bravery, is to have a road named after him.

A road on a new housing estate in Bickershaw will be named in honour of Private Alfred Wilkinson as part of Wigan Council’s programme to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

The builders, Taylor Wimpey, and ward councillors have agreed the most prominent road on the estate should be called Wilkinson Park Drive and there are plans to erect a tribute to Private Wilkinson on the estate.

Leader of Wigan Council, Lord Peter Smith, who is also the ward member for the area, said: “I’m very pleased we are recognising the extraordinary bravery of Private Wilkinson by naming a road in his honour.

“This is a fitting tribute and will ensure that the name of Alfred Wilkinson and all he did for his country will be remembered for years to come.”

Private Wilkinson was awarded the Victoria Cross for the bravery he showed to completing a daring mission across no man’s land during the Battle of Selle in Marou in northern France in October 1918.

Four runners had been killed attempting to deliver a message to the supporting company before Private Wilkinson volunteered.

He succeeded despite being exposed to heavy machine-gun and shell fire.

Private Wilkinson, who served with the Manchester Regiment and later achieved the rank of lieutenant, was born in Leigh in December 1896 and survived the trenches to return to the town where he married Grace Davies in 1932.

He opened a sweet shop with his wife before going to work at Bickershaw Colliery.

He was sadly killed as a result of gas poisoning at the colliery in 1940 and was buried with full military honours in Leigh Cemetery.

The road being named in his honour is located on the former Bickershaw Colliery site.

The council plans to name a further three roads after soldiers who received the VC - the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy” – over the next four years.

For more information, visit wigan.gov.uk/wigan100.

Comments (1)

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9:22pm Mon 7 Jul 14

Ray Lyons says...

A well deserved tribute to a very brave and extraordinary man who sadly died in tragic circumstances. However Wilkinson Park Drive sounds more like a cigarette advert, he, and his fellow men and women who gave their all, some making the ultimate sacrifice, deserve more than we can ever give. Why not namel the proposed drive/road Alfred Wilkinson Drive, Wilkinson Way, Wilkinson Avenue, anything other than Wilkinson Park Drive
A well deserved tribute to a very brave and extraordinary man who sadly died in tragic circumstances. However Wilkinson Park Drive sounds more like a cigarette advert, he, and his fellow men and women who gave their all, some making the ultimate sacrifice, deserve more than we can ever give. Why not namel the proposed drive/road Alfred Wilkinson Drive, Wilkinson Way, Wilkinson Avenue, anything other than Wilkinson Park Drive Ray Lyons
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