There was a Roman settlement known as Coccium on the site, and the town`s charter was granted in 1246.
Coalmining started here about 1450, and by the 19th century had been developed into a formidable inudustry.
All Saints Church has a Roman altar built into the tower.
Wigan Pier was the main loading point on the Liverpool and Leeds (Yorkshire) Canal for distribution of coal to the cotton mills. Today it houses a heritage centre which is a popular tourist attraction, including The Way We Were.
There was a Civil War battle fought at Wigan in 1651.
Mab`s Cross, subject of a local story about a lady who believed her husband dead and married again, is mentioned in "The Betrothed", by Walter Scott.
One of George Orwell`s best known books is "The Road to Wigan Pier".
William Hesketh Lever, later Lord Leverhume, began making soap at Wigan in 1886.
The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was rumoured to be a fan of Wigan Athletic Football Club.
Among people born at Wigan are George Formby, entertainer; Roy Kinnear, actor; John Leland, writer; and Ian McKellen, actor.