Bolton and Leigh

Bolton and Leigh

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In 1825 William Hulton appointed George Stephenson as chief engineer of the proposed Bolton & Leigh Railway. Where the route was very steep, the line incorporated cable-hauled sections. George and his son Robert Stephenson were asked to produce the company's first locomotive, the Lancashire Witch. The Bolton & Leigh was opened in 1828 and following year the Kenyon & Leigh Junction Railway was incorporated to extend the line to meet the Liverpool & Manchester at Kenyon Junction.

1824 - The Railway

Although small scale coal digging was widespread in the area it was performed on an industrial scale in the early 1800s on the estates of William Hulton especially around Chequerbent (the Quarter Pit and School Pit at Pendlebury Fold) and the edge of Atherton at the Hulton Collieries Company (eg No 3 Bank Pit or Pretoria Pit). He would supply coal to power the mills of the rapidly growing cotton industry with mills at Atherton, Tyldesley, Leigh and especially Bolton where there was also a substantial domestic demand. His coal would be taken in horse drawn carts along a route close to the present Wigan Road / Deane Road or over Daubhill via the Bolton and St Helens Turnpike.

clipping from Bolton Evening News

[[ Both routes necessitate a considerable climb either over Snydle or over Deane Moor and Daubhill as well as the climb out of the town centre up Derby Street or Deane Road. Between Snydle and Deane Moor the land is rather lower but probably very boggy and there does not seem ever to have been a road following this line which the railway eventually took.

There was a footpath which still exists which almost certainly workers from the Daubhill area to the mines at Chequerbent would have used but this probably came into use along the side of the railway after the railway was established. It is marked as a right of way on present OS maps. Until around 2005 there was a gate post at the edge of Knutshaw Farm farmyard which bore a Victorian cast-iron plate saying “close the gate” (the gate had disappeared long before). ]]

In 1824, William Hulton decided on the construction of a railway to speed delivery of coal from his mines to Bolton.

The Bolton and Leigh Railway company was formed to get thenecessary bills through Parliament and to raise the necessary finance (not entirely paid for by Hulton as often thought). Hulton formed a committee of about forty local dignitaries and contacted George Stephenson who is reported to have stayed at Hulton Park for three weeks and who was already in the early stages of surveying for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Stephenson commissioned Hugh Steel who had worked with him on L&M to survey the Chequerbent to Bolton route which was then built by a local man Robert Dalglish (who had already constructed the first Railway in Lancashire in 1812 to carry coal from Mr.John Clarke's Orrell Colliery, Winstanley near Wigan to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Gathurst near Crooke Village, using “Blenkinsop and Murrays” patent cog and rack steam locomotives to haul the coal wagons) between 1824 and 1828.

Opened for use in 1828 it precedes Stephenson’s Liverpool to Manchester railway which began construction in 1826 and opened in 1830 (the Rainhill Trials at which George Stephenson with “The Rocket” won the contract to build locomotives for the Manchester to Liverpool railway took place on 16th October 1829). In 1829 it was extended to Leigh. Shortly after, the Leigh and Kenyon Railway was built and joined to the Leigh-Bolton track extending this toKenyon to join George Stephenson’s Liverpool Manchester railway expressly to create a link from Bolton to Liverpool. The Liverpool Manchester railway was the world’s first railway whose primary purpose was the transport of passengers and Kenyon junction (originally Bolton junction but renamed in June 1843) was the first main-line junction.

Sign board at "The Hulton Arms", Four Lane Ends

The first locomotive was the “Lancashire Witch”, originally intended for the Manchester-Liverpool line but brought to Bolton because the Bolton-Leigh railway was opened first. The more famous Rocket which came a year LATER was a development of this. After the Rainhill Trials the Manchester Liverpool railway company bought “Sans Pareil” as well as “Rocket” and later leased it to the Bolton Leigh company on which line it ran until 1844 (Wikipedia).

The Bolton to Kenyon junction line ran from sheds (still in use by Mason’s fireplaces in the early 1960s but demolished in 1963) in the corner of Moor Lane and Deansgate alongside the Bessemer furnace (demolished around 1925), alongside Blackhorse Street, across Great Moor Street and Crook St, Fletcher St, High St, Adelaide Street and across St Helens Road at the level crossing. The gradient up to Adelaide Street was severe (1 in 33) and in the early years the trains were assisted by a cable pulled by a stationary engine. There was a similar arrangement up to Chequerbent from Atherton (1 in 30). Initially just the trucks were cable-hauled down and up an “inclined plane” from Bolton to Adelaide Street leaving the locomotive available to return to Chequerbent, a relatively level journey, for another load. But before long the locomotive remained coupled to the trucks for the whole journey which provided motive power between Crook Street and Deansgate as well as removing the need for coupling and decoupling at Adelaide Street.

The line was built before the Sunnyside Mills. It is likely that the site of the mills was determined by the existence of the railway which would have delivered coal and raw cotton and almost certainly took finished products away.

At the inauguration of the line, the locomotive was named “The Lancashire Witch” by Mrs Hulton then driven into Bolton with Robert Stephenson at the controls and George Stephenson sitting with the honoured guests. They alighted at Blackhorse Street from where they walked to the Commercial Hotel.

For a report on the inauguration of the railway from the Bolton Chronicle - scroll to the bottom of the page.

The “Lancashire Witch” had been intended for the Liverpool and Manchester railway but was

brought to Bolton because this line was opened first. It was later used on L&MR and the Sans Pareil brought to B&LR. It seems that in the early days the railway only had one locomotive but by 1831 it owned three others, "Union" built in 1830 by Rothwell, Hick and Rothwell of Bolton, and "Salamander" and "Veteran" both built by Crook & Dean in Bolton. (Wikipedia quoting Sweeney, D.J. (1996). A Lancashire Triangle Part One. Triangle Publishing)

The first use of the railway by the public was an excursion to Newton for a horse racing event.

For regular public use, two trains a day from Bolton to Liverpool beginning 13 June 1831, a simple station was established at Great Moor Street / Blackhorse Street where the Bolton and Leigh railway company had offices. The station was at street level (and was known as “Bolton station” with “Great Moor Street” being added in October 1849 some time after the rival Trinity Street station had opened.) whereas the later station that many people still remember was elevated.

Sans Pareil, the second locomotive to run on the Bolton and Leigh Railway.

The Bolton to Leigh line came under the ownership of London, North Western Railway (LNWR). When the Lancashire and Yorkshire (L&Y) opened Trinity Street station with a line from Bolton to Manchester (29th May 1838 to Salford, 1843 to Manchester Victoria and thence into Yorkshire, 1841 via Chorley to Preston, 1845 to Blackburn, 1848 Wigan and on to Liverpool, 1848 Bury and Rochdale) LNWR also applied for permission to run into Manchester. The anticipated increase in passenger necessitated an improved station so a temporary station, Bolton Crook Street, was opened 1st August 1871 while a new station was built at Great Moor Street. The line was raised by about ten feet which allowed the line to cross Crook Street by a bridge and also reduced the gradient of the line into the station.

“The new Bolton Great Moor Street, built in a classic 'Italian' style, came into use on 28.9.1874. The station and its approaches were on a viaduct and it consisted of four platform faces of 300ft length. They were covered over by a roof and provided with extensive waiting facilities.” The first service on the new Manchester line went from Great Moor Street to Roe Green on 1.4.1875.

picture from an original print:

. have a look at this fantastic set of pictures of old Bolton.

The line to Deansgate remained for a little while after the new station was built.

Stations were established at Daubhill and at Chequerbent in 1846. (Wikipedia) though evidence for this is lacking.

After nationalisation in 1948 the value of having two lines from Manchester to Bolton was being questioned. The Great Moor Street service took longer than the L&Y route. By 1954 only four trains per day operated towards Manchester. The Kenyon line had also declined and only six trains operated to either Kenyon Junction or Warrington. All regular services operating out of Bolton Great Moor Street ceased to operate on 27.3.1954. The last train was the 10.35pm to Kenyon Junction.

After closure Rugby League Specials and Holiday trains continued to use the station until 1958. Goods traffic continued until the early 1960's. The Manchester direct line was the first to be lifted. The Kenyon line was lifted in stages between 1963 and 1969 the southernmost section surviving the longest.

Bolton Great Moor Street station was demolished in 1966.

It may be that there was a Daubhill Station on this original line, demolished in 1885 when the line was re-routed. Its whereabouts are not precisely known. A drawing of the Sunnyside Mills complex (see later) shows the old railway running in front of the mills just down from St Helens Road. It shows a structure that Lesley Gent (ex Bolton Evening News editor) in his book “Bolton Past” says is the old Daubhill station. However that drawing differs from the actual apprearance of the mills complex in a number of details probably having been drawn BEFORE the mill was built to illustrate what the site was going to look like. So that drawing is certainly not evidence of a station. (When William Hulton opened the line it was to transport his coal into Bolton and a station at Daubhill was not needed in the early days, though trains would have stopped for the attachment and detachment of the cable.) There is no station marked on an 1850 map (before Sunnyside Mills were built).

[[ There have been steeper tracks (excluding rack railways like Snowdon’s 1 in 7.85 average, 1 in 5.5 steepest). The Hopton incline on the Cromford to High Peak railway was 1 in 14 and was originally cable hauled but replaced with locos in 1887. The steepest main line gradient on the current railway network is the Lickey Incline, between Bromsgrove and Blackwell in the West Midlands at 1 in 37.]]

These are the promoters of the Bolton and Leigh railway:

Cotton manufacturers: John Mawdsley, Thomas Holmes, William Morris. Spinners: Thomas Bolling, Edward Bolling, William Bolling. Bleachers: Richard Ainsworth, Peter Ainsworth, George Blair. Calico printers: H.Duckworth. Reed makers: William Pratt, Richard Taylor. Vitriol and Bleaching powder manufacturer: John Rainforth. Iron founders: Joseph Cole, Isaac Dobson, Benjamin Dobson, Benjamin Hick, James Hilton, Peter Rothwell, William Swift, Thomas Thompson. Colliery owners: William Hulton, John Booth. Brewer: Matthew Carr Dawes. Gasworks engineer and manager: Ralph Spooner. Merchants: Will Bowker, Will Tickle, James Tickle. Linen draper: Johnson Lomax. Slate and Timber Merchants: James Gray. Chemist: James Scowcroft.

Some of these names are familiar from the geography and history of Bolton - Mawdesley Street, Bollings Yard, Dobson and Barlow's, Hick Hargreaves, Rothwell Street, Bowker's Row and of course William Hulton.

The “Bolton Chronicle” of Saturday, 2nd August, 1828, contained a long report of the day’s activities under the heading


The composition of the train hauled by the “Lancashire Witch” was described thus:

“About a quarter past 12 o’clock the new locomotive engine constructed by Messrs. Stephenson and Co., Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, started from Pendlebury-fold, near Hulton Park. Six wagons were attached to the engine, completely filled with gentleman also a coach of beautiful structure which is intended at some future period to convey passengers on the railway. A number of gentlemen were also upon the roof. Next followed seven other wagons containing ladies and gentlemen, and the Bolton old band. The whole weight attached to the engine could not be less than 40 tons.”

Upon arrival at the Daubhill stationary engine, the “Lancashire Witch” was uncoupled from the train, returned to one of Mr. Hutton’s collieries and brought back six wagons, each laden with two tons of coal it is recorded that some of the pieces weighed as much as 12cwts., but whether this is a mis-print or the reporter’s enthusiasm outran his discretion one cannot say.

Having returned with the coal wagons, the “Lancashire Witch” proceeded to give a demonstration run without load and the “Bolton Chronicle” had no hesitation in saying that the engine moved at the rate of 12 miles an hour. At the conclusion of this performance, the locomotive and ceremonial train were lowered down the gradient from Daubhill by the stationary engine rope and then, as the “Bolton Chronicle” reported: “The procession moved on until within a short distance from Bolton, when the wagons and the coach were separated, and horses were put to each, for the purpose of conveying them the remainder of the distance to Bolton, but the populace actually took away the horses, and drew the vehicles and their contents to the termination of the railway in Blackhorse-street.”

The gathering at the Commercial Inn was of a most convivial nature. Many toasts were drunk, including one to George Stephenson and one to his son, Robert, both gentlemen replying in suitable terms. George was forty-seven years of age at this time and entering the period of his life when success, so truly merited, came his way his son was twenty-four, his life, with all its eventual achievements, before him.

Reproduced from ‘The Railways Of Bolton 1824-1959”, by J.R. Bardsley.

Posted to Bolton and Leigh Railway Society Facebook Group by Steven John Parker 16/4/2014

One might note that both the loco and the train were lowered down the inclined plane using the stationary engine. That leads one to wonder why at some point later the train was uncoupled and horses used.

Reports imply that in the early days the train was uncoupled at Adelaide Street and only the wagons were lowered down the inclined plane without any indication of how the trucks were then taken on to Blackhorse Street (and later to Deansgate) but it seemed likely that horses were used.

However it was not too long before the whole train, loco and wagons together were taken down the inclined plane to save the fuss of uncoupling at Daubhill and to remove the need to keep horses.

Facts about Bolton 5: Bolton le Moors

Bolton le Moors is considered as the original settlement in Bolton. It was included as a part of Lancashire in the past. It was moorland.

Facts about Bolton 6: Bolton Massacre

One of the important events which occurred in Bolton was Bolton Massacre. There were 700 prisoners taken and 1,600 residents killed.


The original stations at Daubhill and Chequerbent closed on 2 February 1885, both due to replacements opening on the new alignment. [13] [14] Up until 1939 the passenger service was regular and between Atherton and Bolton trains ran more or less half-hourly. As with other lines, wartime economies reduced services to a minimum. The war over, services did not return to their pre-war levels (see 1947 LMS Timetable and 1951 Bradshaw Guide) there were just six trains daily in each direction. The station at Chequerbent and that at Rumworth & Daubhill closed to passengers on 3 March 1952. [16] All other stations between Bolton Great Moor Street and Pennington inclusive closed to passengers on 29 March 1954, [7] with Atherleigh, [18] West Leigh [11] and Pennington [15] closing completely on this date. Some rugby and holiday special trains served Great Moor street until 1958. [7] Atherton Bag Lane closed to freight on 7 October 1963, Chequerbent closed to freight on 27 February 1965 [10] and Rumworth & Daubhill closed to freight on 29 March 1965. The date of closure of Bolton Great Moor Street station to freight is not recorded, but the last of the rails on the line were lifted in 1969. [7] Kenyon Junction closed to passengers in 1960 and to all traffic on 1 August 1963, although the main line is still open to traffic. [12]


In the 1880s, the LNWR decided to remove the inclines at Daubhill and Chequerbent. A new alignment was built at Daubhill, and a new station opened to replace the original. The new alignment included a short tunnel. The original line was retained as a freight line at each end, but severed in the middle. [13] The new Daubhill station opened on 2 February 1885, and was renamed Rumworth & Daubhill on the 28 April of that year. [16] At Chequerbent, a new alignment and station was also built, but the original line remained in its entirety, serving the Chequerbent Pits. [17] The last station to open was Atherleigh which the London, Midland and Scottish Railway opened on 14 October 1935 as there had been new housing development in the area. [18]

The original stations on the line were Bolton, [7] Bag Lane [10] and Leigh in Westleigh. [11] Kenyon Junction, on the L&M, opened on 1 March 1831. [12] Further stations opened at Daubhill [13] and Chequerbent [14] in 1846, along with Bradshaw Leach on the K&LJ. [15] In 1871, the original station at Bolton Great Moor Street was closed by the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) for reconstruction, and a temporary station opened at Crook Street, which was open from 1 August 1871 to 28 September 1874. The new Great Moor Street station opened on that date, having been rebuilt on its original site but some ten feet (three metres) higher. A new direct line to Manchester via Roe Green opened on 1 April 1875. [7]



Rumworth township was the centre of the ancient parish of Deane, it was the township in which the parish church was situated.

It was included in Bolton Poor Law Union in 1837, and became part of Bolton Rural Sanitary Authority in 1870.

In 1872, Rumworth was divided into two parts the eastern portion was added to the Borough of Bolton (Rumworth Ward), and the western part remained in Bolton Rural Sanitary Authority.

In 1894, the western portion became a civil parish in Bolton Rural District, and its name was changed to 'Deane'.

In 1898, the Rural District Council was abolished, and Deane became part of Bolton County Borough Deane-cum-Lostock Ward.

Bolton and Leigh - History

Carole Mulroney has over many years been collecting and disseminating information about the Leigh families, most of whom she has a connection to Carole now has a database of over 23,000 people who in some way – however distant, have a connection to Leigh. She is more than happy to help anyone who is looking for their Leigh roots and can be contacted on [email protected]

Carole has access to the parish registers and census returns and many
other sources.

Just to give you a flavour of how the Leigh families have intermarried over the years Carole has calculated from the entries in the parish registers and taking just 2 old Leigh families, the Cotgroves and the Osbornes from the 1690s to 1899, that there were 77 Cotgrove marriages, 52 of which were to a spouse also from Leigh, 7 of them to other Cotgroves and 4 to Osbornes. Of the 49 Osborne marriages 22 were to Leigh spouses. So for just 2 families there are 74 marriages in 200 years where it is reasonably certain when checked against the parish registers and the census that the spouse was also from Leigh.

So there is plenty to keep the genealogist occupied in Leigh.

If you have connections to a Leigh family or an interesting tale to tell about Leigh please get in touch with Carole.

Many of the families are featured in our newsletter ‘Leighway’ and archive copies can be accessed via the web site.

© Copyright The Leigh Society | Leigh Heritage Centre Ltd is a Registered Charity No 281871 and a Registered Company No 01500364
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Earthenware manufacturer at Copeland St, Stoke. The Shorter business was established by Arthur Shorter in about 1872 as a partnership with James Bolton. Although from a ‘railways’ family, Arthur Shorter was apprenticed as a china painter at Mintons under the renowned Leon Arnoux, before starting his own china decorating business in the 1860s and finally forming the manufacturing partnership with James Boulton in about 1872.

In 1891 Arthur Shorter absented himself from the business to manage of the Burslem company established by his brother-in-law A. J. Wilkinson (following the latter’s accidental death), and from 1891 to 1900 the Shorter & Bolton concern was run by James Bolton (1891-97) and then by his son William Bolton from 1897 to 1900.

In 1900 Arthur Shorter’s younger son John Guy Shorter became the manager and the partnership of Shorter & Son probably dates from this time. In 1905 John Shorter also left to join his father and elder brother Arthur C. A. Shorter at A. J. Wilkinson Ltd. The Shorter business had various managers from 1905, but in 1932 Harry L. Steele was appointed manager, a position he was to hold for the next 30 years. Arthur Shorter died in 1926 and in 1933 the business was incorporated as Shorter & Son Ltd with brothers Arthur ‘Colley’ Austin Shorter and John Guy Shorter, as Directors and Harry L. Steele as the Director-in-Charge.

Shorter & Son Ltd remained in production throughout the Second World War and in 1950 John B. Shorter, son of Guy Shorter, joined the company and was soon after appointed as sales director.

The death of Arthur Colley Shorter in early 1964 spelled the end for the Shorter companies. In 1963, faced with loss of part of the Copeland St factory to a road development scheme and the expense needed to convert to smokeless firing to conform to the Clean Air Act, the decision was made to accept an offer for the business from S. Fielding & Co. Ltd the owners of the Crown Devon name. From early 1964 Shorter & Son Ltd operated from Fielding’s Sutherland St factory under the management of John B. Shorter who continued with the new owners until his retirement in 1972. Shorter & Son Ltd was still listed as a subsidiary of Crown Devon Ltd in 1971. The other Shorter family companies A. J. Wilkinson Ltd and the Newport Pottery Co. Ltd were sold to W. R. Midwinter Ltd by Colley Shorter’s widow Clarice Cliff-Shorter, in 1964.

The pre-1920 Shorter ware was typical Edwardian majolica ware, jardinieres, plant stands, umbrella holders, bulb bowls, jugs, vases, etc and undistinguished domestic earthenware, novelty lines and ornamental earthenware.

From the 1920s onward, Shorter & Sons Ltd specialized in the manufacture of ornamental and novelty earthenware. To quote an article in the Pottery Gazette (March 1941):

‘There are literally thousands of high-quality earthenware novelty lines covering all table adjuncts and every conceivable household pottery novelty—cleverly modelled and effectively decorated’.

The novelties included Toby Jugs, tobacco jars, ash trays, sugars, creams, cruets, butter dishes, posy holders , and a host of other household items and many of these, especially the Toby Jugs, were still in production in the 1960s.

Following the death of Arthur Shorter in 1926 the burgeoning influence of Clarice Cliff began to influence the design of products from all three companies in the Shorter group and there is some attractive art deco-style Shorter tableware and table accessories. In addition to the Clarice Cliff influence, Mabel Leigh designed for Shorter & Son from 1933 to 1935 and ‘Period Pottery’ based on ethnic designs from the Mediterranean, Africa and Central America dates from this period.

In the 1950s and 1960s, in addition to the fancy earthenware, Shorter & Son Ltd was a successful and prolific manufactured good quality domestic earthenware and of note from this period are the company’s Cottage Ware, Fishware, oven-to table ware and florists accessories.

Shorter & Son Ltd trade names include ’Batavia Ware’ and ‘Sunray Pottery’. The Shorter marks are utilitarian: virtually all ware was marked with a printed ‘Shorter & Son Ltd, Stoke-on-Trent, England’ or similar wording. There are a number of illustrative marks including those used for Batavia Ware and ‘Sunray Pottery’.

The diversity and quality of the Shorter wares is probably under-appreciated.

Lying within the county boundaries of Lancashire, until the early 19th century, Great Bolton and Little Bolton were two of the eighteen townships of the ecclesiastical parish of Bolton le Moors.

These townships were separated by the River Croal, Little Bolton on the north bank and Great Bolton on the south.

Bolton Poor Law Union was formed on 1 February 1837. It continued using existing poorhouses at Fletcher Street and Turton but in 1856 started to build a new workhouse at Fishpool Farm in Farnworth.

Townleys Hospital was built on the site which is now Royal Bolton Hospital.

In 1838, Great Bolton, most of Little Bolton and the Haulgh area of Tonge with Haulgh were incorporated under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 as a municipal borough, the second to be created in England.

Further additions were made adding part of Rumworth in 1872 and part of Halliwell in 1877.

In 1889, Bolton was granted County Borough status and became self-governing and independent from Lancashire County Council jurisdiction.

In 1898, the borough was extended further by adding the civil parishes of Breightmet, Darcy Lever, Great Lever, the rest of Halliwell, Heaton, Lostock, Middle Hulton, the rest of Rumworth which had been renamed Deane in 1894, Smithills, and Tonge plus Astley Bridge Urban District, and part of Over Hulton civil parish.

The County Borough of Bolton was abolished in 1974 and became a constituent part of the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton in Greater Manchester.

Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council is divided into 20 wards, each of which elects three councillors for a term of up to four years.

As of January 2010 the Council has no party in overall control.

The seats are divided, Labour – 41, Conservative – 16 and Liberal Democrats – 3.

Under the Reform Act of 1832, a Parliamentary Borough was established. The Bolton constituency was represented by two Members of Parliament.

The Parliamentary Borough continued until 1950 when it was abolished and replaced with two parliamentary constituencies, Bolton East and Bolton West, each with one Member of Parliament.

In 1983, Bolton East was abolished and two new constituencies were created, Bolton North East, and Bolton South East covering most of the former Farnworth constituency.

Also in 1983, there were major boundary changes to Bolton West, which took over most of the former Westhoughton constituency.

Bolton unsuccessfully applied for city status in 2011.

Wigan Archives and Local Studies

  • NRA 17928 Anderton of Ince and Buxton: family and estate papers link to online catalogue
  • NRA 15031 Ashton-in-Makerfield Urban District Council link to online catalogue
  • NRA 15032 Aspull Urban District Council link to online catalogue
  • NRA 14184 Atherleigh Hospital, Leigh link to online catalogue
  • NRA 15033 Atherton Urban District Council link to online catalogue
  • NRA 15036 Billinge and Winstanley Urban District Council link to online catalogue
  • NRA 14183 Billinge Hospital, Wigan link to online catalogue
  • NRA 26877 Combined Egyptian Mills Ltd, cotton spinners, Atherton
  • NRA 26858 Dicconson family of Wrightington: legal papers link to online catalogue
  • NRA 30988 Eckersleys Ltd, cotton spinners, Wigan link to online catalogue
  • NRA 30192 Edward Hall, bookseller: MS collection link to scanned list
  • NRA 19719 Ellis, Sayer & Henderson, solicitors, Wigan
  • NRA 30990 Fine Cotton Spinners and Doublers Association Ltd link to online catalogue
  • NRA 35104 GKN Crompton Ltd, lock and hardware mfrs, Ashton-in-Makerfield: misc records of predecessor compani
  • NRA 15048 Golborne Urban District Council link to online catalogue
  • NRA 32460 Greater Manchester schools
  • NRA 19726 Thomas Grimshaw, townclerk: personal and official papers
  • NRA 35097 Harrison, McGregor & Guest Ltd, agricultural implement mfrs, Leigh link to online catalogue
  • NRA 29475 Lancashire parishes
  • NRA 15365 Leigh Board of Guardians link to scanned list
  • NRA 15021 Leigh Borough link to online catalogue
  • NRA 14181 Leigh Infirmary link to online catalogue
  • NRA 14185 Leigh Joint Hospital Board link to online catalogue
  • NRA 19717 Leigh Methodist Circuit link to online catalogue
  • NRA 16385 Leigh of Hindley Hall family, estate and business papers
  • NRA 41241 Lindsay family, Earls of Crawford and Balcarres: Haigh estate papers link to online catalogue
  • NRA 41242 Lindsay family, Earls of Crawford and Balcarres: legal and estate papers, mainly rel to the Haigh e link to online catalogue
  • NRA 19142 Marsh Son & Calvert, solicitors, Leigh
  • NRA 35098 Park Webb Ltd, iron and steel forgings and edge tool mfrs, Wigan link to online catalogue
  • NRA 30989 Pennington Mill Co Ltd, cotton goods mfrs, Leigh link to online catalogue
  • NRA 14180 Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, Wigan link to scanned list
  • NRA 26878 Scarisbrick family, baronets, of Scarisbrick: estate papers link to online catalogue
  • NRA 15633 Standish, Anderton and Towneley families: estate papers
  • NRA 26876 Standish family of Standish: family and estate papers link to online catalogue
  • NRA 15074 Standish-with-Langtree Urban District Council link to online catalogue
  • NRA 15079 Tyldesley Urban District Council link to online catalogue
  • NRA 35103 Walker Brothers (Wigan) Ltd, engineers and mining machinery mfrs link to online catalogue
  • NRA 14182 Whelley Hospital, Wigan link to online catalogue
  • NRA 36424 Wigan Archives Service: business records
  • NRA 19365 Wigan Board of Guardians link to scanned list
  • NRA 19028 Wigan Grammar School
  • NRA 3468 Wigan Methodist Circuit
  • NRA 15632 Wigan Quarter Sessions link to online catalogue
  • NRA 13277 Wigan Record Office: misc accessions
  • NRA 31022 Wright & Appleton, solicitors, Wigan

Bolton Branch History

The Bolton Branch of the Historical Association, having been founded in 1927, celebrated its 80th birthday suitably spectacularly in October 2007. Not only did it have, for the occasion, a distinguished Chief Guest as visiting lecturer, and an audience of nearly 200, but it also had a large, decorative and delicious birthday cake to be ceremonially cut, distributed and enjoyed. Only when that ceremony had been completed could our Chief Guest, Professor Sir Ian Kershaw, who had actually cut the cake, proceed with his lecture.

The Branch was originally very much rooted in Bolton School. Its meetings were held there. Richard Poskitt, the Branch President for 33 years, from 1933 to 1966, was also Headmaster of Bolton School (Boys' Division). His successor as President, David Baggley, was his successor as Headmaster. Both were Cambridge History graduates. In due course David Baggley was succeeded by the former Senior History Master of Bolton School, the redoubtable William E. Brown. From 1987, the President (and Chairman) has been an Oxford History graduate and Burnley Headmaster, David Clayton, who is nevertheless also an Old Boy of Bolton School. Interestingly, however, in 2008-9, the Branch is about to leave the Bolton School premises and base itself instead in the Bolton Parish Hall (a former Victorian grammar school building in the centre of the town).

Over the years many of the officers and committee members have been members of the teaching profession. There were, however, some significant exceptions, among them a pillar of local government, Alderman Harry Lucas, a distinctive Chief Education Officer, Mr W.T. Selley, and an Editor of the Bolton Evening News, Mr J.M. Hope. In the 1990s, a lawyer, a former Deputy Town Clerk, Mr David Hoggins, became Branch Secretary, and from the early 1980s and up to date, another lawyer, Mr Geoffrey Berry, has been a watchful and purposeful Treasurer. But the Secretary in the 1950s and early 60s, Mr John (J.H.D.) Bate was Senior History Master at the County Grammar School, and the resolute and exceptionally efficient Treasurer at that time, Miss Lois Basnett, was both an influential History teacher in Westhoughton and also THE authority on the origins and early years of the Bolton to Leigh Railway (1824-28). Miss M.V. Wood, Senior History Mistress at Canon Slade Grammar School, was a formidable Vice-President in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Three Branch Secretaries in the period 1968-1989, Mrs. Elizabeth Tatman, Mrs. Margaret Nelson and Mrs. Julie Hollis, had close links with the teaching profession, and indeed the last of these is now a Headmistress in Oldham. The two most recent Secretaries, Mrs Ann Green and the current Secretary, the dynamic and creative Mrs Jennifer Hyde, have both been teachers.

The high quality of the lecture programme throughout the life of the Branch has been an outstanding characteristic, providing, as it has, insights, stimulus and delight both for the teachers and for the so-called "leisure historians" in the audience. Audiences have risen, season after season, to average sizes in the 40s and 50s. Visiting lecturers over the years have included several major academic figures: Professor A.R. Myers (when National President of the Association), Professor Christopher Brooke, Mr Christopher Hill (when Master of Balliol), Professor R.H.C. Davis, Professor Henry Mayr-Harting, Professor Conrad (Earl) Russell, Professor Denys Hay (when President of the Association), Professor C.L. Mowat, Mrs Irene Collins (Association President and a visitor three times over), Professor Woolrych, Professor Aylmer, and, more recently, Professor John Fines (Association President), Professor Michael Biddiss (Association President), Professor Chris Wrigley (Association President), Professor Malcolm Crook, Professor Norman Davies, Professor Peter Hennessy and Professor Sir Ian Kershaw (a visitor twice). In recent years lecturers have been happily rewarded after their visit by being made honorary (and informal) members of the Branch, entitled to receive copies of future programmes, and welcome to return on any subsequent occasion. Some have gladly taken advantage of this.

During the 1950s, 60s and 70s the Branch provided an additional and useful service not only to History teachers but also to their pupils. Several years before the universities began to do this directly themselves, the Branch organised annual conferences in the Bolton School lecture theatre for sixth formers from all the schools and colleges in the Bolton-Bury-Rochdale region, at which university academics spoke on and answered questions on typical A-level topics and also on essay-writing techniques. So successful were these that the Branch began equally effective conferences at the Hayward School for senior secondary modern pupils from all the appropriate Bolton schools.

Another particularly prominent feature of Branch life in the 1950s, 60s and 70s was the extent, vigour and popularity of social events. These included formal annual dinners and annual dances, plus evening excursions to local houses, castles and museums, and weekend excursions to more distant parts. There was even a separate excursions secretary. Places visited included York, the Scottish Borders, Warwick and Kenilworth, Ludlow, St Albans and Stamford. While the changing pattern of car ownership has meant a virtual disappearance of coach trips of this sort, and even of car-pooling, it is pleasing to be able to report the survival and, indeed, the thriving of specific social gatherings during each HA year, involving musical, or words and music entertainment evenings, and celebrations of Christmas or HA anniversaries or local history research.

The Branch programme is currently distinctly lively, and members are encouraged to stay for tea, coffee and biscuits at the end of formalities, and to chat both about the subject of a lecture and its subsequent question-and-answer session and about other local events and cultural activities. Attendances remain as high as they have ever been. There are now normally six formal academic lectures in the period early October to early March, plus the AGM in September, a social event in mid to late April and the Local History celebration in May. We hope that the move to our new town-centre location sees the Branch flourishing for another 80 and more years at least.

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