ONE of the borough’s most iconic landmarks will celebrate a major milestone today - with events scheduled for a celebration throughout the next 12 months.

Leigh’s Turnpike Centre turns 50 today, (November 3) with Wigan Council encouraging visitors to share their memories of the building.

Coincidentally, the anniversary also aligns with the completion of a renovation project to help make its facilities more accessible.

Opened in 1971 by former Speaker of the House of Commons, Lord Maybray-King, the brutalist structure was built to house Leigh Library by George Moss and Sons Ltd and designed by architects JC Prestwich and Sons.

Library books were transferred to the site from their former home in Railway Road and notable visitors include HRH The Queen in 1977 as part of the silver jubilee celebrations.

The Turnpike Gallery, on the first floor, has hosted exhibitions detailing the work of artists such as John Constable, Theodore Major, LS Lowry and Pete Shelley, with sculptures by Henry Moore

the very first exhibition hosted at the Turnpike after its opening.

Celebrating its history and anniversary year, the Turnpike CIC has been developing artwork and literature throughout the year with local schools, young people, artists and community members as well as working closely with the team at Wigan and Leigh Archives to create a new Turnpike Centre archive.

Councillor Chris Ready, cabinet portfolio holder for community assets and culture, said: “The Turnpike Centre is undoubtedly one of the borough’s most recognisable buildings and many of our residents will have their own personal connections to it.

“We will be marking this milestone with an eye on the future as the recent investment to improve the facilities there will make a big difference.”

Helen Stalker, gallery director of The Turnpike CIC, which has operated the art gallery since 2017, added: “It has been an absolute privilege to be part of the Turnpike Centre’s rich history.

“We have seen how providing facilities such as this one and having it embedded within local communities can transform lives through the power of the arts and culture.”

Throughout the coming months visitors to the Turnpike Centre, which includes Leigh’s Life Centre, library facilities and the art gallery, will be encouraged to fill in contact cards with their memories of the building.

An exhibition showcasing key moments from its 50 years is then scheduled to open to the public in 2022.

The restoration project – including new flooring, redecoration and improvements to entrances to make the building more accessible – has been taking place throughout October.