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Ashton-in-Makerfield is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wiganmarker, in Greater Manchestermarker, England. It lies in the historic Hundred of Makerfieldmarker, south of Wiganmarker, north-northwest of Warringtonmarker, and west of the city of Manchestermarker. In 2001 it had a population of 28,505.

Historically a part of Lancashiremarker, Ashton-le-Willows (as it was once known) was anciently a township in the parish of Winwickmarker and hundred of West Derby. With neighbouring Haydockmarker, Ashton-in-Makerfield was a chapelry, but the two were split in 1845. The place has long been a centre for the manufacture of locks and hinges, but also sits on the Lancashire Coal Field, and so was a coal mining district.



The name Ashton derives from Old English and means the "farmstead where the ash-trees grow"; it is a common name and is found locally in Ashton-under-Lynemarker in Tameside and Ashton upon Merseymarker in Traffordmarker. The town's name was recorded as Eston in 1212. Later, the suffix "in-Makerfield" was added, which relates the name of an old district of which Ashton was a part; Makerfield derives from the Celtic for a wall or ruin and the Old English word feld, meaning "open land".

Religious History

The hand of St. Edmund Arrowsmith (1585–1628) is preserved as a relic in Saint Oswald's Roman Catholic Church, Liverpool Road, Ashton-in-Makerfield. Catholics have always venerated such relics. After the Reformation, however, particularly at times of great social upheaval such as the English Civil War, radical Protestants would physically destroy these relics whenever possible (see Iconoclasm). Indeed, even in this century, such relics would have been an anathema to the large number of Protestant non-conformists in the district.

The Park Lane Chapel (see Unitarianism), Wigan Road, Brynmarker (part of Ashton-in-Makerfield until recent times), dates back to 1697, although its congregation was founded in 1662. It is the oldest non-conformist chapel and congregation in the whole district. By the 19th century Park Lane was only one of nine non-conformist chapels in the area. There was a Baptist, Congregational church (Hilton St), Evangelical (Heath Road), Independent, Independent Methodist (Downall Green Road), Primitive Methodist (see Primitive Methodism), Welsh Wesleyan Methodist, and English Wesleyan Methodist chapel.

St Thomas' Church of England parish church on Warrington Road has ancient origins although the present building is barely over 100 years old. The graveyard is the final resting place of many of the 189 victims of the Wood Pit explosion (at Haydock on Friday 7 June 1878), the worst coal-mining disaster in Lancashire at the time.

Cave Brown Church on Heath Road was founded by Protestants from St. Thomas's opposed to the High Church ideals brought in by a new Vicar in the 1880s. His introduction of Anglo-Catholic worship caused riots on Gerrard Street and he was initially evicted from the town by a mob of miners. He returned backed by troops from Liverpool. Banned from worshipping in the form they had always done, many left and continued a simpler form of worship in a barn off Ashton Heath. Word of their plight reached a Mrs Cave Brown in London. She sent money for a Protestant Mission to be built. The church was built with the official title of Cave Brown, Protestant Institute (Christchurch).

Coal mining and heavy industry

Ashton-in-Makerfield was part of the St. Helens Area of the South Lancashire Coalfield. The St Helens Area lay to the South West of the Wigan area and occupied around , skirting Wigan, Warrington, St. Helens, Widnes and to within eight miles (13 km) of Liverpool.

In 1867 there were 13 collieries in the district of Ashton-in-Makerfield. Others followed including Brynn Hall Colliery, owned by Edward Frederick Crippin, the Mains and Park Lane Collieries. Park Colliery and some of those open in 1867 (e.g. Garswood Hall) remained productive until the 1950s.

A number of Ashton’s coal miners made a significant impact on modern British history, including: Stephen Walsh M.P.; William Keneally, V.C. and Lance-Corporal in the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers; and Joe Gormley, President of the National Union of Mineworkers in the 1970s and 1980s.

In the late nineteenth century, the district was described by one observer as having "extensive collieries, cotton-mills, and potteries", and famed for the manufacture of "hinges, locks, files, and nails". Mills such as the Record Mill (Spinning), situated in York Road, and the Makerfield Mill (the 'Weaving Shed'), in Windsor Road, took over from home-working. Similarly, Thomas Crompton & Sons in Gerard Street, which would eventually employ around 1,200 workers, superseded the subcontracting system that sustained substantial numbers of locally based blacksmiths and other craftsmen.

As recently as the 1970s the district of Ashton-in-Makerfield had one of the highest proportions of derelict land, mainly in the form of slag heaps left over from coal mining. Major land reclamation schemes have since completely transformed the area.


Before 1894 Ashton-in-Makerfield was a township in the parish of Winwickmarker, part of the West Derby Hundred of Lancashire. By an Act in 1845 and the division of the Parish of Winwick, Holy Trinity Church, Downall Green, was made the principal parish church and St. Thomas' made a parish church in the same Act, both being part of the Diocese of Liverpoolmarker. By the Local Government Act 1894 Ashton-in-Makerfield was made an urban district.

In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the district was split administratively, with the South ward, containing Garswoodmarker and Downall Green, going to the Metropolitan Borough of St Helensmarker in Merseyside, and the rest going to the Metropolitan Borough of Wiganmarker in Greater Manchester. However, Ashton in Makerfield is a town in its own right and is regarded as a "standalone urban area" in the Government National Statistics.

Ashton-in-Makerfield is partnered with Bryn in the Bryn & Ashton Township, consisting of the six neighbourhoods of Bryn, Ashton, Ashton Heath, Landgate, Stubshaw Cross and Town Green, and one of the ten areas into which Wigan Metropolitan Borough has been divided for consultation purposes. Each township has a forum, with some influence over the provision of municipal services.


The wider district of Ashton-in-Makerfield consists of Town Green, Stubshaw Crossmarker, Brynmarker, Downall Green, Garswoodmarker and the Parish of Seneley Green.


Population change

Population growth in Ashton-in-Makerfield since 1901
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 2001
Population 18,687 21,543 22,475 20,546 18,736 19,057 19,262 28,505
Source: A Vision of Britain through Time

Present day

A market is held on the market square off Garswood Street on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Ashton's local semi-pro football clubs are Ashton Athletic F.C. and Ashton Town A.F.C.. Garswood United F.C.marker is also nearby.

Cromptons, the hinge and fasteners making factory in Ashton-in-Makerfield, has closed and is now demolished. A shopping centre called The Gerard Centre now stands in its place.

The Hingemakers Arms public house, on Heath Road, is the only one in the world known to carry that name. It was run by the Corless family for decades until Walter Corless' retirement in 2006. The Hinge, as it is known by its clientele, is now operated by a local consortium called Hingemakers 08.


Ashton-in-Makerfield has three secondary schools: Cansfield High Schoolmarker; Byrchall High Schoolmarker and St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High Schoolmarker.

In November 2008, Wigan council released proposals to merge Cansfield High and Byrchall High into one school.

Notable people

'People who were either born or brought up in Ashton in Makerfield or, or have had some significant connection with the town during their life, include:

  • Joe Gormley OBE., president of the National Union of Mineworkers, 1971–1982.
  • June Croft, Ashton-in-Makerfield born swimmer. Won silver and bronze medals in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics respectively.
  • Kym Marsh (Ryder), singer, actress, TV presenter.
  • Ian Gregson Paralympic athlete, author.
  • Bert Trautmann, Manchester City goalkeeper 1949–1964, was held in PoW Camp 50 in Ashton-in-Makerfield until 1948.
  • Harold Wood, Olympic runner at the Olympic Games in 1928, 1932 and 1936
  • John Hodgkinson, established a large file cutting factory in the town bringing prosperity



  1. source: Coal Mining History Resource Centre
  2. source: Longman Atlas of Modern British History (1978)
  4. James, The Official Manchester City Hall of Fame, p. 135.


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