Leigh: A Hive of Villainy in Lesser Manchester

Living in Leigh, Greater Manchester

I moved to Leigh by accident about 18 months ago after my husband and I made the rookie first time buyer error of being lured by a big house for a low price, without really researching the area properly first. Big mistake. Don’t get me wrong, the house is great (well it is now after we have exorcised it from the lifetime of grime and dire DIY left by its former inhabitants). It’s when you go outside that the problems start.

We have found ourselves living on Benefits Street, where the majority of the residents have more children than braincells and we are regarded with suspicion and resentment by the judgemental dressing-gown clad doorstep chain-smokers because we actually work for a living. Our sneering salutation when we first arrived was “Ere’s the new neighbours-they don’t say much do they?” before we had even got out of the car, and our neighbourly relations sort of went downhill from there.

There are only two things that Leigh really has in abundance: supermarkets and ner-do-wells. As you venture further into the centre, the streets are teeming with more zombies than the closing scene of Shaun of the Dead, all of whom regard you with the same vacant-eyed avarice, the only difference being you don’t know if they are going to gnaw your arm off or steal your handbag.

How grim is your Postcode?

The local Wetherspoons is conveniently situated within staggering distance of the Jobcentre and the ner-do-wells of Leigh spend most of their time lurching between the two. Having said that, Wetherspoons is just about the only safe pub to go in because the patrons are all too stupefied by cheap Fosters to be able to put up a fight. If you are plucky (and foolish) enough to venture into another pub for a pint, you are generally greeted about as warmly as someone might greet a knife-wielding burglar who has just burst into their living room demanding they hand over their poor dead grandmother’s jewellery. If you do make it to the bar alive, the barman will be so shocked you haven’t already turned and fled in terror that he may just serve you, but with the kind of malicious reluctance that indicates he would rather take a massive dump in your glass than fill it with bad beer.

If you are considering buying a house in Leigh, please take my advice and don’t. You may get a lot for your money, but you will end up paying the ultimate price in every other way by actually having to live here.