Manchester's Ten  Metropolitan Boroughs




Districts of Bolton

Including surrounding villages and hamlets within the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton

Moses Gate - Farnworth, Bolton
Moses Gate - Farnworth/Bolton. Aerial Photo Courtesy of © 2005


In the early 13th century this old district of Bolton was called "Bradeshaghe" (meaning a "broad wood" or copse) and is famous for the 16th Century tower which is all that remains of the Bradshaw Chapel of Ease and to the church of St. Maxentius. By 1666 there is mention of Bradshaw Hall, (demolished in 1949), which was in the ownership of the Bradshaw family and latterly by the Hardcastle family until 1948. The Hardcastles owned the local bleach works, which was a major employer in the village until its closure in 1963. From 1837 another bleach works had existed in Harwood Vale under the various ownerships until it closed and was demolished in 1965.


Horwich is a substantial township located about 5 miles north-west of Bolton town centre, just off Junction 6 of the M61 Motorway, and has a resident population of around 20,000. Now a notable local landmark is the Bolton Arena Sports Complex at Middlebrook, which played host to the Badminton competitions in the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and now hosts many other world and national events. Also part of this sports complex is the Reebok Stadium, home to Bolton Wanderers Football Club .
The name Horwich is thought to derive from two Old English words "har" and "wice" meaning "the grey wych-elms".
Horwich was at one time renowned for its locomotive industry, though this has long since gone, and the Loco Works are now a modern business park and educational/training centre. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway established its Locomotive Works in Horwich in the mid-19th century and subsequently the town became identified with railway craftsmanship for more than 100 years.
Nowadays it has other employers, such as British Aerospace, paper product manufacturers Fort Sterling and Ingersoll Rand, makers of compressed-air tools and equipment.
Lying as it does in the lea of the Pennine Hills and close to the moors, Horwich is an area of great natural beauty offering panoramic views over surrounding countryside. Recreational facilities in the town include golf, cricket and football clubs.

North Turton

North Turton is located about 6½ miles north of Bolton town centre, and is an area made up of several small villages and hamlets, most of which were once part of the former Turton Urban District Council. Turton was once the largest of the townships in the old Bolton-le-Moors parish before being separated into two areas in 1974, which became North Turton and South Turton. Three villages now make up North Turton - they are Edgworth, Chapeltown and Belmont (see later on this page). Other small hamlets like Entwistle, Quarlton, Round Barn, Turton Bottoms and Whittlestone Head are also included in the district. The area is predominantly agricultural, and is fortunate to be located on the commuter railway line from Blackburn to Manchester, though with a very limited service.


Edgworth lies in the north-east corner of North Turton between Broadhead Brook on the west and Quarlton Brook in the south-east. The name Edgworth is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has existed in many forms, including in the 13th century, Eggwrthe, Egewurth, Eggeswrth, Edgeword and Eggeworth . The name probably means "a village on the edge of a hillside". It is notorious for its so-called 17th century 'Folds'. A "Fold" generally refers to an enclosure of a farmstead and associated cottages. Names like Isherwood Fold, Horrocks Fold, Thomasson Fold and Brandwood Fold are typical of the village.
The village of Edgworth is actually composed of five small hamlets - Quarlton, Turton Bottoms, Entwistle, Round Barn and Whittlestone Head. The district is well known to walkers and ramblers for its picturesque landscapes, and views of its two large reservoirs - the Wayoh, and Entwistle, which provide freshwater to the surrounding areas.


The village of Chapeltown is set within the Lancashire Moors some 5 miles north-east of Bolton town centre, and is distinctive for its fine Tudor and 18th century stone cottages. The village still boasts its stocks, located in High Street, which is now a designated conservation area. Nearby is the Jumbles Reservoir, which gathers water from the surrounding moorland. The reservoir and Bradshaw Valley park offer many recreational activities including fishing, picnicking and walking. The imposing Turton Tower is situated at the southern end of the village This area has many good pubs/restaurants and is very popular with walkers.


The small village of Belmont is located about 3 miles from Bolton high in the hills and moors on the A675 road from Bolton to Preston and Chorley. Renamed in 1804 from Hordern to its present name of Belmont, meaning "beautiful hill". The village saw extensive expansion and development in the mid-19th century with the mechanisation of its traditional bleaching and dyeing crafts; a stone quarry and a calico printworks also came to be major employers in the village. Though the bleach works still survives fully operational, a shadow of its former self, industry has now largely gone, and Belmont has reverted back to a rural moorland community. Nearby is Winter Hill, the highest point in the West Pennines, and now distinctive for its radio and telecommunications transmitter masts. Belmont Reservoir is also the home base of Bolton Sailing Club, as Delph Reservoir hosts the Delph Sailing Club. A third, the Wards Reservoir, supplies Bolton with fresh water is known locally as the Blue Lagoon. An unusual feature of the village is the street name plaques - carved stone in oval cartouches. Edward Deakin, the owner of the local Bleachworks, went on to become High Sheriff of Lancashire.


Rivington is a popular historic and scenic area located between the towns of Horwich, Bolton and Chorley. Owing to its hilly location, most of Rivington's features are not accessible by car. Plans are in hand to renovate some area's amenities through the Lever Park Management Plan, despite considerable local opposition to the intention to charge for visitor access the area.
The local landscape is dominated by Rivington Pike standing high on Rivington Moor, built in 1773 by the owner of Rivington Hall. A path from the Hall leads through terraced gardens to the top of the moor, and is well worth taking for the more energetic visitor. Rivington Village is at the north end of Lever Park, located at the junction of the Anglezarke Lower and the Yarrow Upper Rivington reservoirs, and is a charming place with its 16th century parish church. The Great House Barn in nearby Lever Park, which may have dated from the Middle Ages is a trip into the past, and is a well restored and preserved monument, now a restaurant, and serves as a Tourist Information Centre. Also See: Rivington Pike.


The township of Farnworth is located about 1 mile south of Bolton town centre. Its name comes from the old English and means "the enclosure among the ferns". By 1282 it was known as "Ffornword" , and later as "Ferneworth" . By the end of the 13th Century, the district had passed into the ownership of the Levers and the Hultons. George Hulton had first begun coal pits in the 17th century, and by the middle of the 19th century there were no fewer than 20 pits in the area. Farnwoth boasts one of the earliest paper mills in Lancashire, built by the Crompton family. It opened its first steam weaving mill in 1828 , and an iron foundry in 1838. The River Irwell and the River Croal flow though Farnworth, both of which are popular walking and picnicking spots in summer.


Harwood is an area located in the district of Bradshaw, a former township in the parish of Bolton, in the old Salford Hundred, located about 2 miles north-east of Bolton. It lies between Castle Hill and Bromley Cross. In the 13th century it was known by the name of "Harewode" The origin of its name is ambiguous - two possible explanations exist. One possibility is that it simply means 'the wood where hares abound'; the other explanation maintains it is from the old English 'har' meaning grey or hoary, (therefore - "the grey wood"). The word 'har', however, can also indicate a boundary, so the origin of the placename remains shrouded in uncertainties.


The former township of Breightmet lies between Bradshaw and Blackshaw Brooks on the West Pennine Moors above Bolton. Its unusual name, (impossible for any outsider to pronounce properly), is thought to be Saxon, and meaning a 'bright meadow'. Over the years there have been many different spellings of the placename - Brihtmede, Brightemete, Breghmete, Brithmete and Brightmede . Breightmet, its present form, has existed since the late 16th century. Pronunciation varies too - is it "Bright-met", "Brate-met", "Break-met" or "Breat-met"? Who can say? Even locals disagree.
There is a suggestion that Breightmet Hill may have at one time been a site for a Fire Beacon, and therefore "Bright-met" seems the most likely correct pronunciation.
Breightmet was part of the Bolton Rural Sanitary Authority - established in 1872. In 1898 Breightmet became part of the Bolton County Borough, where it had formerly always been recognised as being a separate township


The small village of Entwistle is located between the towns of Bolton, Darwen and Bury. It is surrounded by the villages of Edgworth, Quarlton and Turton, and is on the railway line between Manchester and Blackburn. It lies to the north-eastern corner of the old Turton Urban District and consists of some 1668 acres. As a separate township Entwistle dates from the early 13th century, when it formed part of the Manor of Entwistle (then known as "Hennetwisel" ) belonging to the Entwistle Family of the Hospitallers. Their county seat was Entwistle Halland their most famous former occupant was Bertine Entwistle, said to have been knighted on the field at the Battle of Agincourt by King Henry V himself. By 1555 ownership had passed to the Tyldesleys. The Old Roman Road from Manchester to Ribchester runs through Entwistle going south to north past Pike House Farm at Whittlestone Head and possibly dividing the Township at the boundaries of the Old and New Livings. The Bolton to Blackburn Turnpike built in 1797 runs along the Western boundary of Entwistle at Bull Hill. Entwistle Reservoir was built in 1832, its 108 feet high dam being the highest in Britain at that time. Construction of the Entwistle and Wayoh reservoirs displaced many local farming residents, as did the building of the railway later in 1848. This involved the cutting of Cranberry Moss Tunnel, over 1 mile long from Whittlestone Head to just short of Darwen. The whole project including the viaduct at Entwistle took three years.

Darcy Lever

Darcy Lever was at one time a township or civil parish in Lancashire, in the Bolton (then called Bolton le Moors) Ecclesiastical Parish and in Bolton Poor Law Union. In 1898 it became part of Bolton Borough. The notable Darcy Lever Viaduct is one of its distinctive features, comprising a wrought iron structure of eight spans, standing on stone piers and abutments and dating from 1848. Carrying the Bolton to Bury line over the River Tonge and Radcliffe Road at a height of over 80 feet, the structure was finally designated non-operational in 1983, some thirteen years after the line closed. This magnificent structure has needed only minimal maintenance work due to the high quality of its materials and construction. It must surely be one of the most dramatic and spectacular viaducts in this country, towering over the surrounding area, crossing over a dramatic river valley and immortalising the "mill town" character of Darcy Lever.


The derivation of the placename is vague. It could have been derived from the old English "hlose" meaning pig or swine, and "stoc" meaning sty. Another possible derivation may be from the Celtic "llostog" the name for a beaver, and may refer to the river where beavers were frequently to be found. Lostock is located between Horwich and Middlebrook. Local industries now include BAE Systems, (formerly British Aerospace), Matra Dynamics, (once the deHavilland Aircraft Company) - these all have locations on a new large industrial estate in Lostock.

Little Lever

The once small village of Little Lever is located in the south-east of the Borough of Bolton on the Radcliffe road, now considerably expanded by continued house-building over the past few decades. Despite development, Little Lever has retained much of its village character. There is a pleasant shopping centre and many social activities including the town's annual carnival.
In former times there were 27 coal pits in the locality. But, by 1927 all but one had closed. The last surviving pit was the Ladyshaw Colliery, the last pit in Lancashire to use candles for illumination. The Bolton Canal was breached in 1936, and the prohibitive costs of reparation effectively led to its closure in 1941. Local industries have included mineral water production, brick & tile making, terra cotta clayworks, pottery and an iron works, as well as three cotton mills.


The name Kearsley is defined as "a meadow of water grass". Located Three miles south-west of Bolton, Kearsley (one time known as "Kersley" ), lies in the Irwell valley, the river having been the basis of early settlement and industrialisation in the region. This township or civil parish was formerly in Lancashire, in Deane Ecclesiastical Parish and in Bolton Poor Law Union. In 1865 Kearsley Local Board of Health was established for the area of the township. In 1894 the area of the Local Board became an Urban District. In 1933 part of Clifton Civil Parish and part of Outwood Civil Parish were added to the Urban District. In 1974 it became part of Bolton Metropolitan Borough. The area developed around a thriving mining community sometimes known as Kearsley Moor. In 1878 forty-three miners were killed in the Unity Brook Colliery disaster, and later, in 1885, there were 180 killed in an explosion at Clifton Hall Colliery.
Other early industry included handloom weaving and papermaking. In the 1790s the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal was constructed, serving coal mines from the Clifton, Agecroft, and Pendleton. Later, in 1838, the Bolton to Salford railway opened to take over the carrying trade.
Nowadays, Kearsley is a small manufacturing town with new industrial estates, and new housing development.


The name of the old rural district of Halliwell is thought to be derived simply from the words "holy well". Its name has appeared in many forms over the years: as HaliWalle, Haliwell, Halliwoe and Hollowell . The well in question was located in Moss Bank Park and was filled in 1740 after a young girl fell into the well and was drowned. Its exact location is unknown. To the north of Halliwell lies Smithills.
Halliwell saw considerable development during the 19th century, largely as a result of the opening of the Astley Bridge branch railway line.
By the end of the 18th century industry had arrived in the district. In 1739 the Halliwell Bleach Works was opened by the Ainsworth family, who also owned Smithills Hall and its estates. The Ainsworths were notable local philanthropists who also funded the building and running of churches, schools and housing in the area.


The township of Westhoughton is located on the A6 trunk road about 4 miles south-west of Bolton. The M61 Motorway runs along its northern boundary. Earliest records show the small market town of Westhoughton, originally in Lancashire, had been known by at least two other versions of the placename, including Westhalcton and Westhalghton . Formerly an Urban District Council with its own Town Hall, (built in 1903 to replace the former Local Board Offices), Westhoughton was brought into the Borough of Bolton in 1900.
Coal mining was its main occupation. In 1910, at Pretoria Pit in the town, an underground explosion killed 344 miners leaving just 3 survivors.
Nowadays, Westhoughton is a popular dormitory district for workers in Bolton and Wigan. It has a small shopping centre and the A58 diversion opened up a major development site for commercial and retail use on the outskirts of the township.

Bromley Cross

This area is a township of Bradshaw. It was named from an ancient cross, originally called Kershaw's Cross. The family name of Bromley was also known as Bromiley. The district is an affluent and sought-after place to live, overlooking rural country landscapes and well clear of the urbanisation of Bolton town centre. To the south-west is Eagley, Last Drop Village lies to the north, and in the south is Harwood. The original cross recorded in the placename has now long since gone. The area was once dominated by the Ashworth family mills - they also established the Bolton-Blackburn Railway Company. To the northern edge of Bromley Cross is the Last Drop Village which was created in 1964 from derelict farm buildings off Hospital Road into a village-like community that contains a hotel providing various sports facilities, a pub, bistro and function rooms, craft shops where one may watch craftspeople at work, and an old-world teashop full of period attractions. Glass blowers, ceramic sculptors, toy and jewellery makers are among those who demonstrate their crafts and sell their wares. See Also: Last Drop Village.


This village is set on a hill and is located about 6 miles due west of Bolton. The name of Blackrod probably comes from two old English words, "blæc" or "black" (actually meaning "bleak"), and "rod" (signifying a clearing in the forest). This might refer to its exposed location high on the moors, once part of the forest of Horwich which was subsequently cleared to create the Blackrod township. In 1201 it was known as ' Blakerode' . The earliest written record of 1125 records the Manor of Blackrod as being held by William Peverel. The township's main industry was coal mining and agriculture - there were 7 pits in 1869 and 30 farms known to exist in 1902. A weaving mill was also built in 1906. Today the pits have all gone and only a few farms remain. Blackrod is mainly a residential area and still retains a Mayor and Town Council. Six miles west of Bolton, this small, growing, mainly residential town, is set on a hill overlooking open countryside with views across to Rivington Pike and the West Pennine Moors. Its location close to Junction 6 on the M61 Motorway, make it a popular commuter area for workers in Bolton, Manchester, Chorley and Preston.


The district of Tonge in Bolton Borough is located south of Castle Hill between Bradshaw Brook and the River Tonge. The name is supposed to be derived from the Old English 'tang' or 'twang' meaning a fork in a river. To the north lies Tonge Moor. Tonge was at one time owned by the Starkie family, and the 'The Starkie Arms' commemorates them today; they were one-time residents of the Hall 'Ith' Wood.

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This page last updated 16 Nov 12.