Sir Bradley Wiggins: In the summer of 2012 glorious cycling victories put Chorley on the world stage

We continue our Chorley 150 series and explain why Chorley had not just one, but two, golden reminders of cyclist Wiggins' Olympic glory.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 3:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 5:20 pm
The moment a post box is painted gold in Chorley as a 2012 tribute to Sir Bradley Wiggins' Olympic glory

When a couple of gold post boxes appeared in the Chorley borough a few years ago, people not from Chorley may have wondered what the fuss was about.

But to those in the know, it was to celebrate the achievements of one of Britain’s top sportsmen - Sir Bradley Wiggins.

At the top of his sport, Wiggins had made the village of Eccleston his home.

Sir Bradley Wiggins

It meant that on occasion people driving through the lanes of Chorley may now and again catch sight of Wiggins on his training routine.

Wiggins was born in Belgium, raised in London, but ultimately honoured in his adopted town of Chorley.

His stay in Chorley was not to last but he didn't move on without leaving visible signs of the time he called the borough his home.

At the very least, people driving through the village of Eccleston, could see a very large mural on the side of the old The Windmill pub celebrating Wiggins' victory in the Tour de France.

Bradley Wiggins celebrates his Tour de France win in 2012

That victory in 2012 was a groundbreaking moment;

British riders just did not do that!

Wiggins was well established as a track star, having won four Olympic golds across the Athens and Beijing Games, before his talents on the road began to blossom.

His 2012 campaign began in remarkable fashion as he won Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphine.

Flashback to 2012 and Lisa Jackson, the sub-postmistress at Eccleston Post Office with the post box and commemorative stamp

But the best was yet to come with victories in the Tour de France and Olympic time trial just a matter of days apart.

His 2012 victories were a vital part of the British cycling success story of the past decade.

Then came a golden glint of Olympic glory in Chorley.

Royal Mail pledged to paint a gold post box in the home town of every British athlete who won a gold medal in the Olympics or Paralympics.

Barry Woods raises a glass to Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins after painting this mural on the wall of the old Eccleston pub, The Windmill, in 2012

The first was painted in Chorley - but there was a bit of controversy as Lisa Jackson, the sub-postmistress at Eccleston Post Office, had to contact Royal Mail to say that the village was actually his home town.

So Wiggins became the first Olympian to have two gold post boxes!

That meant one in Eccleston, and one in Chorley town centre.

Wiggins was also featured on commemorative stamps released by Royal Mail featuring all the gold medal winning Olympians.

But Wiggins told the Guardian in 2012 that "fame carries with it a heavy price". He said: "I can’t go shopping at Tesco in Euxton without people asking me for a photo or autograph.

"I left home on June 22 nobody really knew who I was locally apart from a couple of people."

We're asking Chorley Guardian readers to nominate 150 reasons to celebrate Chorley to mark the Guardian's 150th birthday

The Guardian's sports journalist Dave Seddon, wrote at the time of Wiggins' 2012 glory days: "Not too long ago, Wiggins could walk to his local pub for a quiet night out or go for a practice ride around the Lancashire countryside without anyone batting an eyelid.

"Those days are gone thanks to his remarkable achievements in the cycling saddle over the last few weeks.

"Becoming the first ever British winner of the Tour de France was cause enough for celebration.

"But to follow that up with a gold medal in the Olympics time trials ,,, was simply the stuff of what dreams are made of."

Indeed they were.

Which is why Sir Bradley Wiggins, who in 2012 won BBC Sports Personality Of The Year, is celebrated in this Chorley 150 countdown.

The Chorley Guardian is featuring 150 stories about Chorley: Inspirational people, places that we love, or special moments in the life of the borough.

It's a countdown to our 150th anniversary on November 4 and we’re celebrating the community we’re proud to be a part of.

Chorley 150 countdown

Send in your suggestions for this Chorley 150 series of stories.

It could be a person, a place, an event, a sporting moment,

Drop us a line via email [email protected]

We'd love to hear from you.

Read more from our Chorley 150 countdown: