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Bolton ( ) is a town in Greater Manchestermarker, in the North West of England. Situated close to the West Pennine Moorsmarker, it is north west of the city of Manchestermarker. Bolton is surrounded by several smaller towns and villages which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Boltonmarker, of which Bolton is the largest settlement and administrative centre. The town of Bolton has a total population of 139,403, whilst the wider metropolitan borough has a population of 262,400.

Historically a part of Lancashiremarker, Bolton originated as a small settlement in the moorland known as Bolton le Moors. During the English Civil War the town was a Parliamentarian outpost in a staunchly Royalist region. In 1644 Bolton was stormed by 3,000 Royalist troops led by Prince Rupert of the Rhine. This attack, which later came to be known as the Bolton Massacremarker, resulted in 1,600 residents being killed and 700 taken prisoner.

Noted as a former mill town, textiles have been produced in Bolton since Flemish weavers settled in the area during the 15th century, developing a wool and cotton weaving tradition. The urbanisation and development of Bolton largely coincided with the introduction of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. It was a boomtown of the 19th century and, at its zenith in 1929, 216 cotton mills and 26 bleaching and dying works, made it one of the largest and most productive centres of cotton spinning in the world. After World War I the British cotton industry declined sharply and by the 1980s cotton manufacture had virtually ceased in Bolton.

Bolton is today noted for its Premier League football club Bolton Wanderers who play from the Reebok Stadiummarker, with Reebok, the sportswear company, being based in the town.



The name Bolton derives from the Old English bothel and tun, meaning a "settlement with a special building". The first record of the town dates from 1185 as Boelton. It was recorded as Bothelton in 1212, Botelton in 1257, Boulton in 1288, and Bolton after 1307. The town's motto of Supera Moras means "overcome difficulties" (or "delays"), and is a pun on the Bolton-super-Moras version of the name, meaning (like Bolton-le-Moors) "Bolton on the moors". The current Arms of Bolton Metropolitan Borough are a pun on the word Bolton, as they depict an arrow (a "bolt") passing through a crown (a "tun").

Early history

Man has lived on the moors around Bolton for many thousands of years. There is a stone circle on Cheetham Close above Egertonmarker, and Bronze Age burial mounds on Winter Hillmarker. A Bronze Age mound was excavated in Victorian times outside Haulgh Hall.

The Romans built roads from Manchester to Ribchestermarker to the east and a road along what is now the A6 to the west. It is claimed that Agricola built a fort at Blackrodmarker by clearing land above the forest.

Evidence of a Saxon settlement exists in the form of religious objects found when the present Victorian parish church was built.

Bolton is first mentioned in recorded history in 1067 when William the Conqueror bestowed the Manor of Bolton to Roger de Poitou.

The town was given a charter to hold a market in Churchgate on 14 December 1251 by King Henry III of England. It was then made into a market town and borough by a charter from the Earl of Derby, William de Ferrers, on 14 January, 1253.

English Civil War

During the English Civil War, Bolton supported Parliament and the Puritan cause, unlike most of the rest of Lancashire. The town was twice attacked unsuccessfully until the third assault on 28 May, 1644. Prince Rupert's army along with troops under the Earl of Derby, attacked the town. There were 1,500 dead, and 700 taken prisoner. It became known as the Bolton Massacremarker.

Textile manufacture

The town's position on the west of the Pennines provides a damp climate. It is this feature which probably led to Flemish weavers, fleeing the Huguenot persecutions in the 17th century, to eventually settle here, as moisture-laden air allows for the spinning of cotton with little breakage. The cotton industry was to provide the catalyst for the town's expansion between the 14th and 19th centuries. Large, steam-powered textile mills eventually dominated the town's skyline, providing the major employment and defining the rhythm of the working week, so much so that an annual shut-down for maintenance in late June became the Bolton holidays. There were also some large iron foundries in the town as well as other engineering works, many connected with the cotton industry. The Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal connected the town to Burymarker and Manchestermarker.

The Bolton and Leigh Railway was one of the oldest in Lancashire, opening to goods traffic in 1828 and to passengers in 1831.

Bolton was Worktown in the Mass-Observation project which has left us with many photographs taken around the town by Humphrey Spender as part of that project.


Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council is made up of 60 directly elected Councillors of which there are presently 28 Labour Party Councillors, 23 Conservative Party Councillors and 9 Liberal Democrat Councillors.The Labour Party is presently in control of Bolton Council and has formed an administration with 10 Executive Members.The present Leader of Bolton Council is Cllr. Clifford Morris and the present Mayor of Bolton is Cllr. Norman Critchley.

Until the early 19th century, Great Bolton and Little Bolton were two of the eighteen township 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. 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 Halliwellmarker 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 Breightmetmarker, Darcy Levermarker, Great Levermarker, the rest of Halliwellmarker, Heatonmarker, Lostockmarker, Middle Hulton, the rest of Rumworth which had been renamed Deanemarker in 1894, Smithills, and Tonge, plus Astley Bridge Urban District, and part of Over Hulton civil parish. The County Borough of Boltonmarker was abolished in 1974 and became a constituent part of the Metropolitan Borough of Boltonmarker in Greater Manchestermarker.

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 Westmarker, each with one Member of Parliament. In 1983, Bolton East was abolished and two new constituencies were created, Bolton North Eastmarker, and Bolton South Eastmarker 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 constituencymarker.



Township change

These census population figures are for the former townships of Great Bolton and Little Bolton.
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Great Bolton 12,549 17,070 22,037 28,299 33,449 39,923 43,435 45,313 45,694 47,067
Little Bolton 4,867 7,099 9,258 12,896 15,707 19,888 24,942 35,013 41,937 44,307
Sources: Local population statistics. Great Bolton Tn/CP: Total Population. Little Bolton Tn/CP: Total Population.

Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 168,215 180,851 178,683 177,250 163,823 167,167 160,789 154,223 143,921 139,020 139,403
County Borough 1901-1971 Urban Subdivision 1981-2001


Bolton is one of the more deprived boroughs in England according to the Indices of Deprivation 2000. It is the 28th most deprived in England in terms of numbers of people who are income deprived. A third of the borough's population lives in seven wards which are amongst the 10% most deprived in England. Despite this, Bolton is currently experiencing much attention and is experiencing an influx of people, leading to property prices increasing faster than most other parts of the UK. The borough already contains traditional and also increasingly affluent areas including Heaton, Horwich, Harwood and Smithills.

On 13 February 2003, Bolton was granted Fairtrade Town status.

In recent times, the town has swapped much of its heavy industry for service-based activities including a large number of data processing and call centres and also hi-tech electronics and IT companies. It attracts shoppers from all over the north of England and further afield, not only to the Victorian splendour of the town centre but to newly developed Middlebrookmarker retail park, home to Bolton Wanderers, the Bolton Arenamarker, leisure facilities, shops, pubs, restaurants and sundry other businesses. The town retains a variety of more traditional industries, employing people in, amongst other things, aerospace, paper-manufacturing, packaging, textiles, transportation, steel foundries and building materials. The area of Horwich around Middlebrook has been designated by Bolton Council as the `Bolton Economic Development Zone', and is currently seeing much building work, predominantly office space for law firms and business headquarters.

Tourism plays an important part in the local economy, with visitor attractions such as Hall i' th' Wood (the home of inventor Samuel Crompton), Smithills Country Park and Smithills Hallmarker, Rivingtonmarker, Last Drop Village, Barrow Bridge mill village, Bolton Steam Museummarker and the civic museums in the town centre. Residents and visitors alike can make use of the facilities at Leverhulme, Moss Bank and Queen's parks.

Bolton is the birthplace of the Reebok brand. The company's European headquarters are located in the Reebok Stadiummarker. Bolton is also the home of the family bakery, Warburtons, who began their business in 1876 on Blackburn Road in Bolton.

Bolton also has a strong presence in the Aerospace industry through the production of military missiles and systems. This centred round the British Aerospace (BAe) factory in Lostockmarker which formerly had the largest machine shop in Europe. BAe also had factories in Farnworthmarker, Wingatesmarker and in the Spa Lane area of Bolton. The Lostock factory has been reduced drastically over the last couple of decades with the bulk of the buildings being sold off. A workforce of around 300 people continue to work there under the BAE Systemsmarker subsidiary MBDA. Current missile systems produced there include; ASRAAM, Rapier and Storm Shadow which are in service with the RAF and various forces around the globe.

Bolton town centre over the next 10 years will under go a series of major improvements including Church Wharf by Ask developments and bluemantle it will cost 226 million, Merchants Quarter which includes the local developer Charles Topham group it will cost 200 million, Bolton Innovation Zone(BIZ) which is a large 300 million development it has the University of Bolton at its core, this development will include various develpers. There is also the central street development which is a retail lead development which will cost 100 million by Wilson Bowden Developments Limited there is also many smaller operations. The developments listed above are likely to attract 20,000 new jobs.


Bolton Town Hall

Bolton Town Hall

Situated in the town centre, the Town Hall is an imposing neoclassical building designed by William Hill who later designed the Portsmouth Guildhallmarker. Opened on 5 June 1873 by Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later as Edward VII), it was built on the site of an old Pot Market in the Market Square. In the 1930s, the building was extended, by Bradshaw Gass & Hope, with additional office space which almost doubled in size.

Incorporated within the Town Hall are the Albert Halls. The original Albert Hall was destroyed by a massive fire on 14 November 1981. It took three and half years for the complete internal reconstruction work to be finished. Reopened in 1985, the new Albert Halls now comprises two separate halls and several function rooms.

Smithills Hall

Smithills Hallmarker is thought to date back to the 14th Century when William de Radcliffe received the Manor of Smithills from the Hulton family. The manor was first recorded in the 11th Century as part of a package of land granted to Roger de Poitou by William the Conqueror. In the 12th and 13th centuries the manor was held by the Knights of St John of Jerusalem and then passed to Hulton family.

Legend has it that the Saxon King Ælla of Deira built a summer palace near to where the hall now stands, above Ravedon Brook. In 739 Eanbald, Archbishop of York and Æthelberht, Bishop of Hexham are said to have dedicated a chapel to the Blessed Virgin at Smithills in response to the sacking of Lindisfarne. In 1554 George Marsh was accused at Smithills Hall of false preaching. He is said to have stamped his foot at the entrance passage to the chapel, burning a footprint into the stone flag which can still be seen today.

The Great Hall was built sometime in the 14th Century, the chapel in the 16h century and greatly extended during the 19th. It is now a museum.

Hall i' th' Wood

Hall i' th' Woodmarker is a late mediaeval yeoman farmer's house which may have been built by Laurence Brownlow. It passed to the Norris family around 1637 and the stone west wing added. In the 18th Century it was divided up into tenements for leasing and this was how its most famous occupant Samuel Crompton came to live and work there. In the 19th Century its condition deteriorated further with cattle kept in the Great Hall and the stone wing used as a barn.

In 1895 was bought by the Bolton industrialist William Hesketh Lever who restored it and presented it to Bolton Councilmarkerin 1900. It remains a museum to this day.


Other town centre landmarks in Bolton include Le Mans Crescent, Ye Olde Man & Scythemarker, Little Bolton Town Hall, The Market Place, Wood Street and Holy Trinity Church. Outside the town centre can be found Mere Hall, Firwood Foldmarker, Haulgh Hall, Park Cottage, St Mary's Church, Deane, Lostock Hall Gatehousemarker and All Souls Church. Notable mills still overlooking parts of the town are Falcon Mill, Sir John Holden's Mill and the Swan Lane Mills Complex. Most views are dominated by the Winter Hill TV Mastmarker on the West Pennine Moorsmarker above the town. Just outside the town's boundaries is the Royal Bolton Hospitalmarker in Farnworthmarker and provides healthcare services for the people of Bolton and the wider metropolitan borough.


Post Office in Deansgate, Bolton
Bolton is well served in terms of both the local road network and national routes.
The A6, a major north–south trunk road, passes through Hunger Hill and Westhoughton.

The A666 (sometimes referred to as `The Devil's Highway' because of the numeric designation) is a 4-lane dual carriageway which acts as a spur from the large M61/M60marker motorway interchange, carrying traffic to and from the town centre.

The A666 continues North, up through Astley Bridge, Egerton and on into Darwen and Blackburn, Lancashire.

The M61 itself has three dedicated junctions serving the borough.

Bolton is served by the National Express coach network.

Bolton is located on the Manchester loop of the West Coast Mainlinemarker and as such is served by Virgin West Coast trains passing through Manchester Piccadillymarker station. There are regular commuter services between most of the local stations and Manchester. The Bolton metropolitan area is served by the following railway stations:


Bolton is home to a leading independent day school, Bolton Schoolmarker, whose Boys' Division originated around 1516. It was endowed by Robert Lever in 1641 and again by William Hesketh Lever (later Lord Leverhulme) in 1898, allowing it to be rebuilt alongside a new Girls' Division on its current site in Chorley New Road. The town can also boast Lord's Independent School, established by Mr Lord, a local eccentric, in 1906.

Bolton also has its own modern university, the University of Boltonmarker. Formerly Bolton Institute of Higher Education, it gained university status in 2005 and has seen much building work and growth since.

The town's secondary schools include Canon Slade Schoolmarker, Ladybridge High School, Sharples School, Smithills School (which boasts a world champion brass band), Thornleigh Salesian Collegemarker, Turton High School Media Arts Collegemarker and Withins School. Bolton Community College provides further education to the town and which has other sites throughout the borough. Bolton Sixth Form Collegemarker comprises the North Campus and Farnworth Campus, with a third campus which is due to open in 2010.

The Bolton Teaching and Learning Centre serves schools as a central point for online materials.


Bolton Parish Church

Bolton Parish Church

The Parish Church, dedicated to St Peter, is a fine example of the gothic revival style. Built between 1866 and 1871 of Longridgemarker stone to designs by Paley, the church is in width, in length, and in height. The tower is high with 13 bells.

The first known church on the site built in Anglo-Saxon times, was rebuilt in Norman times and again in the early 1400s. Little is known of the earlier churches, but the third building was a solid, squat building with a sturdy square tower at the west end. It was modified over the years until it fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1866. Fragments of stone and other artefacts from these first three buildings are displayed in the museum corner of the present church.

Today, the parish of Bolton-le-Moors only covers a small area in the town centre, but until the 19th century it covered a much larger area and was divided into eighteen chapelries and townships.

The neighbouring ancient parish of Deanemarker once covered a large area to the west and south of Bolton, and the township of Great Levermarker had been part of the ancient parish of Middletonmarker.

St George's Church

The red-brick St George's Church was built in 1794-96 when the Little Bolton area was a separate township from Great Bolton. Built by Peter Rothwell it was paid for by the Ainsworth family. The last service was in 1975, it was leased to Bolton Council and became a craft centre in 1994. For many years Stuart Hall of It's a Knockout fame housed his clock collection in the craft centre, but the building has now returned to the Church of England and remains closed. It is a Grade II* listed building.


The town gives its name to the English Football League club Bolton Wanderers F.C. which was formed in 1874 and is currently based at Reebok Stadiummarker in Horwichmarker since 1997. For 102 years prior to that they played at Burnden Parkmarker south of Bolton town centre, this is now the site of an Asda superstore. The club has won four FA Cups, the most recent in 1958, and have spent a total of 70 seasons in the top division of the English league - more than any club never to have been league champions.

The oldest football club in Lancashiremarker, Turton F.C.marker, was formed in a village on the moors above Bolton in 1871 and is said to have introduced the Association game to the county. There have been recent claims that their original ground, which is still in use, is the oldest surviving football ground in the world. It is claimed matches were played there since the 1830s.

Indoor facilities for sports training and major racket sports tournaments are provided courtesy of the newly built Bolton Arenamarker, which was used for some of the events in the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Bolton is home to one of North West England's largest Field Hockey Clubs, Bolton Hockey Club.

There are two local cricket leagues in Bolton, the Bolton Cricket League, and the Bolton Cricket Association.

Speedway racing, then known as Dirt Track Racing, was staged at Raikes Park in the pioneer days – 1928 – when the venue was short lived.

Bolton also has a rugby union club, Bolton RUFC were formed in 1872 (7 years before Bolton Wanderers FC), and are situated on Avenue Street. The club operates 4 senior teams, as well as thriving womens and junior sections.

Bolton Robots of Doom is a baseball club that was started in 2003, playing their home games at The Ball Park at Stapleton Avenue. In addition to the adult team, there is a junior team, Bolton Bears. Baseball in Bolton dates back to 1938 with a team called Bolton Scarlets.

Bolton is also home to the Bolton Bulldogs, an American football team which plays home games at smithills school. They opperate a varsity and junior varsity (JV) teams

Culture and society

According to a survey of the British Association for the Advancement of Science Boltonians are the friendliest people in Britain.Bolton's oldest public house is Ye Olde Man and Scythemarker, dating from 1251 – one of the oldest remaining public houses in England.


Bolton has a theatre called The Octagonmarker along with many small, independent groups such as Bolton Little Theatre, Farnworth Little Theatre and the Phoenix Theatre Company. Inside the town hall there is also a large theatre and conference complex called The Albert Halls, named after the Prince Consort, Prince Albert whose early death in 1861 at the comparatively young age of only 42 would eventually lead to many buildings and monuments throughout Great Britain and her vast empire being named in his memory. The Halls opened on 5 June 1873.

Visual arts are also represented in Bolton via Bolton Museummarker and Art Gallery which has a fine collection of both local and international art.

Bolton Civic Centre in 1994, Le Mans Crescent.

Le Mans Crescent, (currently home to the central library, museum, art gallery, aquarium, magistrates' court and town hall) is to be at the centre of a new Cultural Quarter. This area will no longer house the magistrates' court; instead the library and museum are to be extended into these sections of the building, along with other new cultural projects. These works are to take place during a large-scale expansion and improvement project, which is set to more than double the size of the current town centre and improve its appearance, infrastructure and amenities.


Bolton Central Library was one of the early public libraries established after the Public Libraries Act 1850, opening on 12 October 1853 in the Exchange Building on Market Square (present day Victoria Square). The library moved to its present site in Le Mans Crescent on 4 July 1938.


The town's local daily newspaper is The Bolton News, formerly known as the Bolton Evening News. There are weekly free papers, such as the Bolton Journal and Bolton Council's free monthly newspaper, Bolton Scene.

The town falls under the BBC North West and the ITV Granada television regions, which are served by the Winter Hill transmittermarker near Belmontmarker, just to the north-west of the town.

Local radio is provided by Tower FM, a station which broadcasts across Bolton and Burymarker. In addition, a new radio station called Bolton FM began broadcasting from the Bolton town centre on 20 June 2009.

In popular culture

The industrial village of Barrow Bridgemarker became Millbank in Benjamin Disraeli's novel Coningsby.

Bolton is referenced in the famous Monty Python's Flying Circus "Dead Parrot" sketch, in which it is the location of the shopkeeper's brother's pet shop. The shopkeeper's brother (played by Michael Palin), incorrectly describes the town as Ipswichmarker. On being challenged by Mr Praline (played by John Cleese), Palin's character defends himself, claiming (wrongly) that Ipswich is a palindrome of Bolton. Cleese's character retorts, "It's not a palindrome. The palindrome of Bolton would be Notlob. It don't work." As a consequence, Bolton is sometimes humorously nicknamed, "Notlob" . Bolton is also referred to in Monty Python's "Blackmail" sketch, in which the host of the gameshow "Blackmail" (played by Michael Palin) announces that if a Miss Betty Teal from Lancashire sends the show 15 pounds, he will refrain from revealing her lover in Bolton.

In "The Rutles" (Eric Idle, 1978) the bands manager (after Arthur Scouse) was Leggy Mountbatten. In the words of the film "In October 1961 Leggy Mountbatten, a retail chemist from Bolton, entered their lives. Leggy had lost a leg in the closing overs of World War Two and had been hopping around Liverpool ever since. One day he accidentally stumbled down the steps of a dingy disco, what he saw there was to change his life: a sailor who told him about the Rutles. It was a dank, sweaty, basement cellar, torrid and pulsating with sound. Leggy hated it. He hated their music, he hated their hair, he hated their noise: but he loved their trousers."

Spring and Port Wine by playwright, Bill Naughton was filmed and set in Bolton.The Family Way based on Naughton's play All in Good Time was also filmed and set in Bolton.

More famously Peter Kay is from Bolton and much of his comedy TV series That Peter Kay Thing and Phoenix Nights are set in the town. The latter was filmed at St Gregorys Social Club in Farnworthmarker, and an episode of the former was set at Bolton West servicesmarker on the M61.

Many Bolton buildings have also stood in for other towns and cities. Bolton Town Hall stood in for an East European Bank in the 1980s film Sleepers and Le Mans Crescent has featured as an upmarket London street in the Jeremy Brett version of Sherlock Holmes and a Russian secret service building in the 1990s comedy series "Sleepers".

The 1990s BBC drama "Between the Lines" also filmed an episode in Victoria Square.

Notable people

Bolton has produced its fair share of actors, comedians, musicians, sports personalities, engineers, inventors, politicians, authors and other notable people. They have all made a mark in different periods of time, whether at local, national or international level.

Twin towns


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