Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for BOLTON

BOLTON, a town, two townships, three subdistricts, and a district in Lancashire. The town is in the parish of Bolton-le-Moors, and sometimes itself bears that name; it consists of the townships of Little Bolton, Great Bolton, and Haulgh, excepting the higher or detached part of the first; and it stands on the rivulets Croal, Bradshaw, and Tonge, 1½ mile NNW of their joint influx to the Irwell, and 11 NW of Manchester. A canal connects it with Manchester and Bury; and railways go from it in six directions toward Manchester, Bury, Blackburn, Chorley, Wigan, and Leigh. It dates from the time of the Saxons; became a market-town, by royal charter, in 1256; and made some figure at several points of history. The manor belonged, in 1067, to Richard de Poicton; passed, in 1100, to Roger de Merehaya; went afterwards to Ranulph de Blunderville, Earl of Chester; belonged, in the time of Edward III., to the Ferrers; passed to the Pilkingtons, till forfeited by Sir Thomas for his adherence to the cause of Richard III.; was then given to Lard Stanley, who became Earl of Derby; and is now divided into four parts, one belonging to the Earl of Derby, another to Lord Bradford, another to S. Freeman, Esq., and another to various parties. The seventh Earl of Derby besieged and stormed the town in 1644, in the cause of Charles I.; and was beheaded in it in 1651, in terms of a military sentence, after the battle of Worcester. His Countess also acted as a heroine; and was the Charlotte de Tremouaille who figures in "Peveril of the Peak." The town made a start in manufactures in 1337, when a number of immigrant Flemings settled in it; and it displayed such vast enterprise in them during the sixty years preceding 1862 as to have become a great provincial town. No fewer than about 400 dwelling houses and shops, besides warehouses, factories, and other erections, were built in it during the year 1858.

Much of the ground now occupied by the town, and by environing villages, was, not many years ago, all bare or rural, without a single dwelling. Part of the site is a hill; and this commands a good view of the valley below, studded with factories and print-works. The town presents strongly the aspect of a great seat of manufacture; yet has several long and broad streets, and contains many good private houses, and some fine public buildings. The exchange, with free library, was erected in 1825. The market-hall, a very fine structure, was built in 1855, at a cost of about £80 000. The new townhall was in progress in 1866, at a cost of about £30,000. A public park of about 46 acres was opened in 1866, and cost about £60,000. A mechanics' institute, a monument to the Earl of Derby of 1651, and several other public erections also are recent. The waterworks were constructed at a cost of £40,000. A spacious ornamental cemetery, at Tonge, was opened in 1856. The grammar school dates from 1641; possesses £486 a year from endowment; and had Ainsworth, the lexicographer, for both pupil and master. The Church of England institute was built in 1853; and is a fine edifice, with main frontage of 150 feet. Two other schools have endowed incomes of £82, and £24; and charities, additional to the schools have £1,017. There are numerous public schools, a temperance-hall, assembly rooms, a theatre, and public baths. The places of worship, in 1851, were 36, with about 23,000 sittings; and twelve more were built prior to 1869, also two rebuilt and enlarged, giving an addition of about 12,000 sittings. St. Peter's church, the mother one of Bolton-le-Moors, was erected in 1424; was a large structure, with very beautiful east and south windows; and, in March 1865, was about to be taken down and rebuilt. Holy Trinity church, in Bradfordsquare, was built in 1825, at a cost of £13,413; and is a handsome edifice in the later English style, with a tower. St. Paul's church, at end of Deansgate, was built in 1863; St. James' church in 1869; and each has a tower and spire. The Congregational chapel, at the junction of St. George's road and Bath-street, was built also in 1863, at a cost of £7,000; and is in the decorated English style, with a spire 130 feet high. The Wesleyan chapel, in Park-street, was built in 1864, at a cost of £11,000; and is a very beautiful edifice, with fine carvings.

Textile manufactures in Bolton were greatly accelerated by the inventions of Arkwright, who resided here when a barber, and of Crompton, who, when a weaver, lived at Hall-in-the-Wood, an old timbered seat of the Starkies in the neighbourhood, still extant. Cotton velvets and muslins began to be made about 1760; and muslins, cambrics, counterpanes, dimity, and ginghams came to be the chief productions. About 17,667 persons were employed, prior to the juncture of the cotton-distress of 1862, in cotton-mills, print-works, and bleach and dye works; and about 5,514 were employed in ironfoundries and engine-works. The number of factories, in 1865, was 70, and that of foundries 33; and one of the machine-works has a brick chimney 368 feet high. Vast quantities of coal are mined in the neighbourhood; and the trade in them contributes to the local traffic. The town has a head post office,‡ two telegraph offices, three banking offices, and eight chief inns; is a seat of petty sessions and a polling-place; and publishes two weekly newspapers. Markets are held on Monday and Saturday; fairs on 4 and 5 Jan., 30 and 31 July, and 13 and 14 Oct. The town was invested with the franchise by the act of 1832, and incorporated in 1848; and it sends two members to parliament, and is governed by a mayor, twelve aldermen, and thirty-six councillors. Direct taxes, in 1857, £31,087. Electors in 1868, 2,293. Pop. in 1841, 50,583; in 1861, 70,395. Houses, 13,129.

Little Bolton township includes a detached part, called Higher End, not within the borough; and contains the villages of Horrocks-Fold and Eagley-Bank. Acres, 1,450. Real property, £78,877. Pop., 25,891. Houses, 5,128. Great Bolton township is wholly within the Borough. Acres, 820. Real property, £137,070. Pop., 43,435. Houses, 7,767.-The three subdistricts of Bolton, are Little Bolton, Bolton-Eastern, and Bolton-Western; and the first consists of the portion of Little Bolton township within the borough, while the other two are simply subdivisions of Great Bolton.—The district comprehends also Sharples subdistrict, containing Sharples township and the detached part of Little Bolton township; Edgeworth subdistrict, containing Edgeworth, Entwistle, and Quarlton townships; Turton subdistrict, containing Turton, Bradshaw, and Longworth townships; Tonge-with-Haulgh subdistrict, containing Tonge, Haulgh, Breightmet, and Harwood townships; Horwich subdistrict, containing Horwich and Lostock townships; Halliwell subdistrict, containing Halliwell and Heaton townships; Westhoughton subdistrict, conterminate with Westhoughton township; Hulton subdistrict, containing Little Hulton, Middle Hulton, Over Hulton, and Rumworth townships; Farnworth subdistrict, containing Farnworth and Kersley townships; and Lever subdistrict, containing Great Lever and Darcy Lever townships and Little Lever chapelry. Acres, 43,896. Poor-rates in 1866, £39,825. Pop. in 1861, 130,269. Houses, 24,944. Marriages in 1866, 1,314; births, 5,640,-of which 408 were illegitimate; deaths, 4,122,-of which 1,914 were at ages under 5 years, and 39 at ages above 85 years. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 11,232; births, 50,712; deaths, 32,924. The places of worship in 1851 were 26 of the Church of England, with 19,614 sittings; 2 of the Presbyterian Church in England, with 850 s.; 14 of Independents, with 5,971 s.; 2 of Baptists, with 540 s.; 2 of Quakers, with 652 s.; 2 of Unitarians, with 1,014 s.; 22 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 8,150 s.; 2 of New Connexion Methodists, with 600 s.; 9 of Primitive Methodists, with 1,690 s.; 1 of the Wesleyan Association, with 500 s.; 1 of Calvinistic Methodists, sittings not reported; 5 of the New Church, with 786 s.; 1 of Brethren, with 70 s.; 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 140 s.; 2 undefined, with 700 s.; 2 of Roman Catholics, with 600 s.; and 1 of Jews, with 14 attendants. The schools were 58 public day schools, with 7,956 scholars; 92 private day schools, with 3,682 s.; 103 Sunday schools, with 25,729 s.; and 18 evening schools for adults, with 522 s. The new workhouse stands at Fishpool, and is a large ornamental edifice, with excellent arrangements.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, two townships, three subdistricts, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Bolton CP       Bolton PLU/RegD       Lancashire AncC
Place: Bolton

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.