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Hindley is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wiganmarker in Greater Manchestermarker, England. Lying three miles east of Wiganmarker it covers an area of 1044 hectares and is within the historic county boundaries of Lancashiremarker. Hindley borders the towns of Ince-in-Makerfieldmarker, Leighmarker and Westhoughtonmarker, and, as of 2001, had a population of 23,457.


Hindley town centre is located on a cross roads of the historic routes between Wiganmarker and Boltonmarker (A58) and Wiganmarker and Manchestermarker (A577) approximately three miles to the east of Wigan centre and four miles to the north-west of Leigh.


The name Hindley is derived from the Old English hind and leah, meaning a "clearing frequented by hinds or does".

Hindley was one of the fifteen berewicks of the royal manor of Newton before the Norman conquest of England in 1066. After the Conquest it continued to form part of the Barony of Makerfieldmarker. The town is first recorded as Hindele in 1212 and again as Hindelegh in 1260. By 1292 it was commonly being referred to as Hindeley. The area was held by various free tenants until 1330 when Robert Langton, Baron Makerfield, gave the lordship of the whole manor to his younger son. His descendants were lords of the manor until 1765 when it was sold to the Duke of Bridgewater.

For much of the Middle Ages and into the 18th century the land was a mixture of pastoral, farming and woodland with the local farmers being tenants of a variety of lords. Some of this ancient woodland still remains today in Borsdane Woodmarker which is a fine example of an ancient British woodland and is protected as a Local Nature Reserve.


Parish registers from the end of the 17th century reveal that residents described themselves as Yeomen, independent farmers who supplemented their income by spinning and weaving. There are also many references to Blacksmiths, whitesmiths, nailers and wheelwrights demonstrating the essentially rural basis of the local economy.Hindley was also noted for its nail making between the 17th and 19th Centuries.

Hindley is built on the Lancashire coalfield and benefits from the moisture of the western climate of Britain. As a result, the two great business of the town for over three centuries were coal-mining and cotton spinning.

Cotton Spinning

Cotton manufacturing became increasingly important from the end of the 17th century until the middle part of the 20th century. By the end of the 18th century, the majority of men described themselves as weavers in the parish registers showing a marked change from a century earlier when most worked in agriculture.

The first cotton factory was erected in 1785 by Richard Battersby at Lowe Mill, formerly a water corn-mill. Later hand-loom weaving was one of the chief industries, each cottage having a weaving shop attached and as the Industrial Revolution grew, larger cotton mills were built. Nevertheless, Hindley retained a rural character throughout the century. In 1790 Market Street, known then as Mill Lane, remained unmetalled and predominantly undeveloped.

In 1822, John Pennington constructed his first power-driven mill. He was previously a significant employer of hand-loom weavers in the late 18th and early 19th century.

In 1835 John Leyland provided an insight into the growth of the town when he wrote, "Mr Pennington is extending his works, and a new mill is being built by Mr Walker. When these get completed a large increase in inhabitants must follow. In a small time it will doubtless rank as a small town."

Coal Mining

The first recorded coal mine was in 1528 and by the end of the 19th century there were over 20 pits in the area. At the start of the 20th century profitable coal seams were nearly exhausted and concerns were raised regarding the need to diversify industry and further develop the cotton mills.

Peak production of coal was achieved just prior to World War I. The period between the first and Second World War was marked by the closure of most of the collieries and mills including Hindley Field and Swan Lane collieries in 1927, Hindley Green Colliery in 1928; Lowe Hall Colliery in 1931; Lowe Mill closing in 1934 and Worthington Mill was demolished. During the post war period the Hindley workings became part of the large colliery complexes being developed at Bickershaw, Parsonage and Golborne.

The population of Hindley increased during the 19th century from 2,300 in 1811 to 23,000 in 1911 reflecting the transformation of the town from a country village to small, dense industrial town. The economic depression of the 1920s and 1930s hit Hindley hard and by the time of the Second World War the population had declined to 19,000.

Like many other local towns, the coal mining and cotton spinning have all disappeared and most residents of Hindley work in neighbouring Wigan and Boltonmarker or commute to Manchestermarker or Liverpoolmarker. Hindley has in the past, and continues, to produce many senior managers of business and local government.


Hindley Council Offices viewed from Cross Street in 2006.
The Local Government Act of 1858 was adopted by the township in 1867 and under the Local Government Act 1894 an Urban District council of fifteen members was constituted. New council offices were opened in 1904 and Hindley Urban District Council ran succesfully until local government reorganisation in 1974 when Hindley became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Wiganmarker.



All Saints Parish Church.
St John Methodist Church.
St Benedict Catholic Church.

The first chapel in Hindley was All Saints Parish Church, built by public subscription in 1641 on land given by George Green. All Saints' Church is not in the town centre but is the parish church of Hindley, and can be found on Chapel Fields Lane and George Street, named after George Green. The church was built as a Chapel of ease to Wigan Parish Church and was built with the blessing of the Rector of Wigan, Bishop Bridgeman. The church was originally regarded as Puritan, and its first regular minister, Thomas Tonge, preached an early version of the Presbyterian discipline established a few years later. He was succeeded by William Williamson, and then by James Bradshaw, ejected in 1662 for noncormformity. The chapel seems to have remained unused for six years, and then a succession of curates followed. The chapel was finally consecrated in 1698 on All Saints' Day. All Saints' Church was rebuilt in 1766 with modifications made in 1863 and remains to this day much the same as then, an attractive, bright church with an upper balcony and wide nave demonstrating typical architectural features from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. These include subscription windows dedicated to some of Hindley's most prominent families and a main East window depicting Early English saints.

St Peter's church, near the crossroads in the town centre, was built in 1866 and contained a rare example of an organ by Edmund Schulze. The organ is now unused, having been replaced by an electronic organ by a local constructor. St Peter's is a large church typical of the church architectural style of the period and the clock tower contains a fine set of bells.

The war memorial, outside St Peter's Church at the town's main crossroad, was unveiled on 4 November, 1922 and was built in a simple style; other war memorials exist in individual churches.

Hindley has a strong tradition of Methodism and non-conformist churches in their various forms. The Wesleyan Methodists acquired land in 1846, and built a chapel in 1851. The United Methodist Free Church had two chapels at Hindley Greenmarker, Brunswick Chapel, built in 1855, and another in 1866. The Primitive Methodists had one at Castle Hill, built in 1856, and another at Platt Bridge, built in 1854. The Independent Methodists had a church at Lowe Green, built in 1867. The Particular Baptists built Ebenezer Chapel in Mill Lane in 1854, converted to the Mahabharat Indian restaurant in recent years. The Congregationalists made a first effort in 1794, but no church was formed until 1812; St. Paul's Chapel was built in 1815, meetings for worship having been held some years earlier in cottages. Presbyterians built a chapel in 1698 and this has been continuously used ever since, the present congregation being Unitarian in doctrine. St John's Methodist Church at the top of Market Street was built in 1868.

Nothing is known of the permanence of Catholicism during the 17th century, but mass was probably said at Lowe Hall as Dom John Placid Acton, a Benedictine, was stationed at this place in 1699 and died there in 1727. Succeeding priests, who till 1758 resided chiefly at Park Hall in Charnock Richardmarker, or at Standish Hallmarker, moved the chapel to Lowe Hall and then to Hindley village. From 1758 there has been a resident Benedictine priest in charge of worship and the present church of St. Benedict in Market Street was built in 1869.

The cemetery on Castle Hill Road was opened in 1879 and is divided into denominational sections and of note is the amount of masonic gravestones to be found throughout. Hindley has a long masonic tradition that still survives today.

Grammar school

Hindley and Abram Grammar School was established in 1632 and survived as a school until the 1980s when, as Park High School, it was closed by Wigan Metropolitan Borough. The building still survives as a teachers' centre and is located on Park Road, approximately half a mile from the town centre.

The original school was situated in "Lowe Hall" and the first edition of the Ordnance Survey map (1848) shows that the school was at the end of a short track off Stony Lane, now Liverpool Road. It was known as "The Lowe School". The school was relocated to Park Road in 1856 Originally pupils attended without payment but by 1829 the master was at liberty to make charges for instruction on Latin, writing and arithmetic. By 1882 the building consisted of a large school room, a smaller classroom and a headmaster's house. It is interesting to note that in 1882 no boys came to the school from Abram as the condition of the road between Abram and Hindley was so poor.

Between 1900 and its closure in the 1980s Hindley and Abram grew in both size and reputation becoming one of the leading grammar schools in Lancashire Education Authority. The school produced academics, businessmen and women, judges, scientists and teachers of note for over a century. It also had a fine tradition in both the arts and sports producing performers of note in both areas.

Mornington High School

Mornington High school was established in the late 1960s andits first headteacher was John Lowe, a resident of the town and noted local historian. The school quickly established itself as a school providing excellent grounding in technical and commercial skills with many of its pupils going on to succesful further study at Wigan Mining and Technical College.

This tradition continues today with the school being a specialist centre for Arts.

Historical and Architectural features of the Town

Worth noting in Hindley are the following:

  • The pattern of the main roads running through the town is little changed from the medieval road from Wigan to Bolton and the eighteenth century Turnpike linking Wigan with Manchester.

  • Leyland Library and Museum was built in 1886 by Thomas Worthington. It is designed in a Free-Elizabethan style and given to the people of Hindley by Nathaniel Eckersley, on the instruction of John Leyland upon his death.

  • The Bird I’th Hand public house at the main crossroads in the town and the Lord Nelson Hotel on Bridge Street both have eighteenth century origins. The Lord Nelson is a Grade II listed building. The ‘Last Orders’ public house with its painted red brick, moulded brick eaves cornice and Doric doorcases dates from the nineteenth century.

  • No.5 Deansgate is a rare surviving example of a modest vernacular cottage dating from the eighteenth century or earlier and illustrates a type once common in Hindley.

  • Hindley railway stationmarker is one of the principal stations that lie on the Wigan to Manchester line and is typical of the type of station in use in the region.There are now two platforms in use, with the remains of two older and disused platforms still in existence.

  • Borsdane Wood is a place of outstanding natural beauty and in 1986 was declared a Local Nature Reserve.

Notable Families

John Leyland (1832-1883)

Leyland was an important mill owner and benefactor of the town. He was born in Mill Lane (Market Street) in 1832 to a well known family of cloth makers and eventually took over the family business.He became a governor of Hindley and Abram Grammar School and published a history of the town "Memorials of Hindley" in 1873. On his death, as a memory to him his estate paid for an extension of the Grammar School and built the Leyland Public Library in Market Street. He left his estate to Nathaniel Eckersley, and instructed that the estate should go to the benefit of Hindley.

The Eckersley family

Nathaniel Eckersley (1779-1837)

Colonel Nathaniel Eckersley lived at Laurel House on Atherton Road. This can still be seen as the front building at Laurel Nurseries.

Eckersley had a distinguished military career and served with Duke of Wellington in Portugal in the Peninsular Wars. He constructed defences for the town of Peniche and led numerous attacks from the town. He then saw action in the siges of Badajos and later led the Engineers at the siege of Fort Piccurina where he was shot through the lungs and was invalided home. Mentioned in dispatches he returned home a minor hero.

Lieutenant Eckersley, among other trophies of war, brought home a pair of duelling pistols (of very superior workmanship), taken by two of his troopers after the battle of Vittoria, from the carriage of Joseph Bonaparte, the King of Spain.

In Hindley, the hero-soldier was a good neighbour and friend, greatly respected and much beloved. He was one of the guardians of the poor, and assisted to acquire for “Hindley Chapel”, the extension of its graveyard.

Nathaniel Eckersley died in 1837. His nephew, Nathaniel also, went on to become one of Wigan's most famous sons.

Nathaniel Eckersley (1815-1892)

Nathaniel Eckersley was to become one of the most important Wigan figures in the town of Wigan and left a huge legacy. Banker, mill owner, J.P., M.P., Mayor and magistrate. He also formed the 21st Lancashire Rifle Volunteers and their base at Powell St. Mr. Eckersley was Captain. In 1878, he served as High Sheriff of Lancashire.

Nathaniel was married on two occasions, his first wife passing at an early age and leaving two daughters. His second marriage provided three sons, the youngest going on to lose his life at Burma.

Mr. Eckersley boasted excellent relationships with other leading figures, and thoroughly provided for society as quite possibly Wigan's most important benefactor. He shared the same principle as his good friend, John Leyland.

James Carlton Eckersley (1854-1926)

First son of Nathaniel Eckersley, James went on with his father's philosophy and was instrumental in education and church welfare. Locally, he laid foundation stones at the New Infants' School, All Saints, Hindley, St. Nathaniel's Church, Platt Bridge, the Hindley & Abram Grammar School (now a teacher training centre), Conservative Club, Hindley, Church of St John The Evangelist, Hindley Green, St. Nathaniel's Mission Church, Platt Bridge, and St. Nathaniel's School (infants).

James was also a J.P., continuing the tradition of the family. He settled at Carlton Manor in Yeadon and was known as "the Squire of Yeadon", where he continued his solid work with the church and educational purpose.

Upon his death, James left all of his souvenirs (gained upon laying certain foundation stones) to his brother, who went on to leave them to the inhabitants of Hindley. (see below)

A charity still continues to this day, named the "James Carlton Eckersley Charity". This was a trust left by James on his death.

Nathaniel Ffarington Eckersley (1857-1935)

Second son of Nathaniel Eckersley, he is better known for building the Western Mill's, built around the Swan Meadow Mill's and better known as the Eckersley Mill's complex. He realised the potential of ring spinning and became the biggest ring spinners in Lancashire. Worldwide, Eckersley carried certain trademarks which were used in other textile interests of the British Empire.

He served as Mayor of Wigan on one occasion, and also served as Captain in the Boer War. He amalgamated his mill interests with his grandfather James' original company to form Eckersley's Ltd.

Mr. Eckersley settled At Wem, Shropshire. He did visit Wigan on two notable occasions. In 1927, he gifted the Leyland Free Library & Museum with a memorial case, collected by his brother James Carlton. One year later, he opened the Eckersley Gardens at Poolstock, a memorial seat was placed in memory of his father.

Nathaniel FF was appointed High Sheriff of Shropshire in 1919. He passed away in 1935 to bring to an end nearly two hundred years attached to Hindley & Wigan.

For more information on the family, visit

The Pennington family

The Penningtons were a well known family of industrialists in Hindley throughout the later eighteenth and mid nineteenth centuries. Their industrial empire began with a single mill in 1822 which John Pennington's expanded to six mills by the middle of the century.

John's son and grandson became powerful figures in the town, employing a high percentage of the population of the time. John Pennington had other children who went on to be well known in public life. Frederick Pennington became a Liberal MP and supporter of many women's causes; Pennington's daughter Maria married Thomas Thomasson, the philanthropist, and John Pennington's other daughter became the mother of the well known suffragette Ursula Mellor Bright who married Jacob Bright son of the famour orator John Bright.

The Pennington family donated over half of the £9,000 required to build St Peter's Church in 1866 and contributed to other improvements in the town.

Other Noted residents

Among other noted past or current residents of Hindley are:


Population change

The population of Hindley increased during the 19th century from 2,300 in 1811 to 24,100 in 1911 reflecting the transformation of the town from a country village to small, dense industrial town. The economic depression of the 1920s and 1930s hit Hindley hard and by the time of the Second World War the population had declined to 19,000.

Population growth in Hindley since 1901
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1981 1991 2001
Population 23,504 24,100 23,563 21,632 18,993 19,415 19,396 21,493 22,581 23,457

Urban District 1901–1971 Urban Subdivision 1981–2001

Hindley Today

Hindley's proximity to the modern motorway network and train lines to Manchester and Wigan (where connections to the West Coast Mainline can be made) and affordable housing mixed with modern small estates make it increasingly attractive for commuters. Hindley Green in particular has seen a growth in housing stock and new estates.

The town has a modern supermarket which whilst attractive in itself has added to the slow demise of the independent traders on Market Street. In keeping with other towns across the UK, the only type of trader seemingly to thrive is the fast food establishment. However, the main street is slowly being regenerated by shopkeepers and local entrepreneurs.

Sports and Leisure

Hindley has a swimming pool, a local authority leisure centre and supports a growing amateur Rugby League team ( Hindley ARLFC) and a variety of amateur football teams.

Hindley St. Peter's Cricket Club, who participate in the Manchester and District Cricket Association, Southport & District League and West Lancashire League, won the inaugural Manchester Association Twenty20 tournament in 2007 and the Manchester Association Premier League championship in 2008, retaining the title in 2009.

The town also has a long tradition of producing long distance runners and cyclists of note.

Hindley also has thriving youth based groups including two scout troops, boys brigade, guides and brownies, Army Training Corps and a local gymnastics club. Local schools also provide out of school clubs and activities.


  1. 2001 Census for the Wigan area -
  2. A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4 - Hindley
  3. British History Online article on Hindley citing Townships: Hindley', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4 (1911), pp. 106-111. Date accessed: 18 October 2009]
  4. The Hindley Town Centre Conservation Area (part two) at
  5. John Crank biography - Turnbull server website
  6. John Crank Biography
  7. Arthur Farrimond 1924 Olympics - Bolton revisited
  8. Lily Brayton - Shakespeare and the Players
  9. Obituary of Ian Howarth The Guardian
  10. History for Hindley -

External links

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