Heritage Baskets

Heritage Baskets

In 2013 Shevington & District in Bloom embarked on their largest project so far, to bring to the attention of the people of Shevington the almost forgotten local cottage industry of basket making in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

A local blacksmith from Upholland was commissioned by ‘in Bloom’ to make three planters woven in metal to represent baskets similar to those in the photograph below.  An information board was also installed. 

A rare 1890's photograph of the basket makers.

Harry Daines who is in this photograph continued the basket weaving in Shevington into the early 1900s, he also taught local people to weave baskets.

A local resident who is related to Harry gave the information that from Gathurst to Dean Lock, reeds were grown between the River Douglas and the Canal to use in the making of the baskets.  After the canal barges had emptied their coal, Harry’s reeds would be put on them for the return journey, and would be dropped off at Gathurst for the horse and cart to bring them into Shevington. 

Local woods were also copiced for twigs which when collected were stripped by young people learning the trade, for which they were paid a few pence a day.  Whoever stripped the most twigs in a week was rewarded with sweets as an incentive.  There has been a recent coppicing project in Elnup Wood on the edge of Shevington. 

When the baskets were completed, a homing pigeon was put in one and once delivered, the pigeon was released, so that when it arrived home, they knew the baskets had been delivered.

At this time you could tell the occupation of workers by the basket they carried, with mill girls carrying small lunch baskets while railway workers had the biggest baskets in which they could carry coal home.

Wigan Leisure Trust were very helpful in allowing the planters to be located outside Shevington Library.

A local blacksmith who had made three large ‘torches’ for the arrival of the Olympic torch to Wigan in 2012 was commissioned to make the baskets for Shevington. 

Funding was generously given by District Councillors from their Brighter Borough Fund, Wigan and Leigh Housing from Brighter Neighbourhood Fund and a generous donation from a locally born resident in appreciation for the work done in Shevington by ‘in bloom’.

Below are photographs of the baskets being made:

Installing the Baskets:

With snow still in his trailer Jake the blacksmith delivers the baskets watched by staff from the Library.  Jake can be seen  inside a basket bolting it to the ground.


The photograph below shows staff from Moss Bank Nurseries and Jake taking a break during installation and planting. 

Moss Bank Nurseries lined the baskets with moss, filled them with peat and generously planted them.  Our District Councillors funded the filling, planting and maintenance of the baskets for 12 months from Summer 2013.

The Baskets in Spring 2013:

The finished Heritage Baskets.

Summer 2013

In summer 2013 an Interpretation Board funded by Wigan and Leigh Housing’s Neighbourhood Fund was installed and the baskets were planted with summer bedding plants.

Interpretation board 2013.
There was an unveiling of the Board where all those who had either funded the project or helped with the project were invited to attend. Tracey Williams from Wigan and Leigh Housing and the great-niece of Harry Danes who trained the young people of Shevington to make baskets, unveiled the board.  

The photograph shows in the foreground, Tracey Williams (W&LH), Barbara the great niece of Harry Daines unveiling the board with the ‘in Bloom’ flag and Jake the blacksmith who made the baskets. With members of ‘In Bloom’, Paul Liptrot, District Councillors, Staff from the Library and Damian Jenkinson from Wigan Borough in Bloom.


The Heritage Baskets have now been partially planted with sustainable perennial grasses and Heuchera to give height colour and movement to the planters. 

Heritage Baskets in Spring 2014