In the days before Lancashire Cotton was crowned king of the textile world a small village called Bolton-on-the-Moors made a modest living from the handloom weaving of wool and from farming.
Before steam, the power of water was the energy source which ran freely and abundantly from the healthy and heathery hills.
The bustling town is now still very much “Bolton in the midst of industry” but what character it has and how much to offer the interested visitor.
The walk begins at Church Bank and into the grounds of the Parish Church. This is one of the most imposing churches in Lancashire which began life in Norman times as a village place of worship. It was rebuilt almost entirely in Victorian times when cotton created lots of muck and brass some of which was given to St. Peter’s. Many men of cotton are resting from the labours in the churchyard industry, Samuel Crompton who invented the spinning mule. His life and work are celebrated in the nearby museum at Hall i’th Wood.
From the church follow a narrow alley to reach the angel thoroughfare of Bradshaw gate. Turn right and follow the road to reach a crossroad.
Turn left on to Deansgate, a popular shopping centre and which once led from the town to the church and was used by the Dean of the church — hence it’s name. Continue and ignore each turn until Le Mans Crescent is seen to the left. Turn left here.
Here are some of the most magnificent buildings ever constructed in Industrial Lancashire. In the area around Victoria Square each and every building should be examined closely because since the year 2000 there have been depictions of Elephants. The elephant trail is likely to become a popular alternative trail to the present walk. They can be seen on bollards and atop the building which was once the Bank of Bolton. Do not miss taking a look even at the litter bins!
The town hall is a reminder of old Greece at it’s best and was designed by William Hill and opened in 1873. It is a gigantic structure which provided work not just for the building workers but there were also spin offs for quarry workers and those like carpenters and plumbers.
Also on Le Mans Crescent is the art gallery, museum, aquarium, library and the Tourist Information Centre (01204 334321). Each and every one of these buildings should be enjoyed and never rushed. The architects and builders deserve nothing less.
From Le Mans Crescent stroll on to Victoria Square. Turn left and then right on to Deansgate until you reach the crossroads at Bradshawgate.
Turn straight ahead and onto Church Gate. The market cross is in the centre of the street and then comes Ye Olde Man and Scythe. Look to the left and find a plaque indicating the site of Richard Arkwright’s barbers shop. Before he made his huge fortune from cotton mills and machinery he worked hard not only as a barber but became famous as a wig maker. He toured the local area and persuaded young folk to part with their hair for a fee!
Return to the Parish Church passing the Bolton News offices.