I visited seven Wigan pie shops to find out whose are really the best


Wigan and pies go hand in hand like bread and butter, gin and tonic, even Ant and Dec.

The town’s association with deep-filled pastry treats is so ingrained that it has hosted the World Pie Eating Championships for the past 30 years.

Many of the Wigan’s bakeries claim to be the best but, as proved during British Pie Week last year, public opinion is split.

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To try and get an answer once and for all, I was sent on a walking odyssey around a number of towns and villages in the borough, from Standish to Tyldesley.

In the interests of fairness and consistency, I decided to opt for a meat and potato pie from each store I visited and tucked in straight away.

Setting off from my home in Farnworth on a crisp February morning, I thought it would make the most sense to head as far out of the way as possible and then work my way back.

people

Gents pie shop, Standish

My first stop was at Gents, in Standish, but I almost missed it as there was no visible sign on the outside.

Inside, the bakery looked quite traditional and this was emphasized by a ‘cash only’ notice.

The plan to have meat and potato quickly went out of the window when the lovely member of staff told me that they had already sold out, along with steak.

Instead, I opted for my first ever butter pie and was warned that it may be a bit greasy to touch (most likely because of the volume of butter).

The butter pie was a pleasant surprise

I was pleasantly surprised by the price (£1.40) and pleasantly surprised by the pie itself.

The idea of ​​a butter pie has never really appealed to me but after one bite I got it – it is pure comfort food.

While I missed that meaty flavor I would get in a pie that I’d normally go for, the taste and texture of the filling was spot on, as was the pastry.

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Shevington Village Kitchen

Shevington Village Kitchen

Next up was a trip over to Shevington Village Kitchen.

Although a cafe rather than a bakery, I have heard good things about its pies.

On the window of the cafe is a menu, which is very helpful and avoids the awkward situation of walking up to the till with no idea what they do.

Despite this, I could not see feet on the menu. However, there was also a board outside that made reference to ‘pie of the day’ so I made my way inside to inquire.

I was told that the pies of the day were meat and potato and steak – result.

I ordered the meat and potato, expecting big things when I handed over £2.50 and was told to expect a short wait as the pie was being cooked.

Around eight minutes later, I was handed the pie and it looked great.

A meat and potato pie from Shevington Village Kitchen

While a little more rustic than one you’d expect to get from a bakery chain, with the filling starting to ooze out of the sides and a dark egg wash on top, it really gave me that ‘home-made’ feeling.

Inside the pie were chunky pieces of steak, which were delicious and went towards explaining the price point.

For me, the potato chunks were a little harder than I’d probably like, but still a very good effort for the only non-bakery on the list.

rolling pin

The Rolling Pin Bakery
The Rolling Pin Bakery

Rolling Pin in Newtown built up a fantastic reputation for itself in recent years, before changing hands last summer.

From personal experience, I already know that the bakery’s steak pies are a thing of beauty so I was excited to see if the meat and potato matched up.

The pie came in at £2 and was my favorite so far.

It had more flavor to it than the previous two and the texture was more to my liking, with the meat minced.

When it arrived, the filling was piping hot as well, which made me think that it must have been baked relatively recently.

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The potatoes were nice and soft and pastry was top drawer as well – an early contender.

Muffin Man

Muffin Man, Park Lane, Wigan

Last year’s readers’ vote was eventually won by Muffin Man and the bakery has four shops in and around Wigan.

I visited the Park Road, Springfield, store and was asked whether I would like a small or large meat and potato pie.

With three different pies already in my system, I thought it wise to opt for the smaller option, which, despite its name, was still a decent size.

An absolute steal at £1.65, the pie was the real deal.

Muffin Man’s ‘sensational’ meat and potato pie

As a Boltonian, I’m more fond of a pasty than a pie and in my opinion, no one does a better pasty than Carrs.

So you can probably imagine how delighted I was that the Muffin Man meat and potato filling was incredibly close to that of the much-loved Bolton bakery.

The texture was spot on, the pastry lovely and soft, and the flavors absolutely sensational.

Definitely worth a trip back to Wigan.

galloways

galloways
galloways

Of the pie shops I visited, Galloways is the one that has branched out the most from its Wigan roots.

The bakery has 25 stores in total – with seven of those completely outside the borough.

Although sticking to my meat and potato task, the ‘original’ meat pie also jumped out at me on the menu so I opted for both.

Coming in at a pricey £4.55, I was expecting very big things.

First up was the meat pie and I have to say that it very much hit the spot but, unfortunately, the meat and potato let the side down massively.

The pie’s pastry was a bit doughy and while the texture of the filling was pleasant, the flavor was less so.

The potatoes overpowered the taste of the meat for me and it did not live up to its price point.

Dawson’s

Dawson's in Tyldesley
Dawson’s in Tyldesley

My final destination was Tyldesley – a town which has been home to its own foot battle for decades.

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For years and years, Tyldesley has been divided into those who prefer Dawsons and those who would rather go to Whittakers.

It is an argument that has raged on between families in the town and has recently reared its head once again.

Three years after the business went into administration, Dawsons returned to the town with its trademark peppery pies early last year.

My go-to pie is a Hollands peppered steak that they serve on match days at Bolton Wanderers, so the prospect of a peppery pie was certainly an enticing one.

The pepper in a Dawsons pie is very visible

After Galloways, the cost of £1.90 seemed extremely fair and the server asked me whether I wanted it hot, as there are presumably customers who heat them up at home later.

The pie was certainly peppery and even had visible black specs within but I didn’t find it overpowering.

Its filling was the runniest so far but not in a bad way by any means.

whittakers

Whittakers pie shop, Tyldesley

Just down the road, Whittakers is a quaint little shop, with a cash only policy.

Their meat and potato pie was priced exactly the same as Dawsons’ and it was certainly the most interesting.

The pastry had a great color to it but it was upon biting into the pie that the main difference came in.

Although the Dawsons pie was a bit runny, it was nothing compared to this, with the wet filling defying the laws of physics by staying in the half-eaten pie.

How on earth has that filling not fallen out?

It was really tasty though, with a bit of a buttery flavor and certainly comes high up on the list, as does Dawsons for that matter.

The verdict

There can only be one winner and you may have already guessed that it is the Muffin Man.

Its Carrs Pasties similarities really won me over, especially at such a low price.

Whittakers saved one of the best feet until last but just fell slightly short of Muffin Man for me.

An honorary mention must go to Gents – selling out of meat and potato pies so early in the day is probably a huge indicator of quality and my first ever butter pie was delightful as well.

What is your favorite pie shop? Let us know in the comments below.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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