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Bolton History!


Bolton Origins
After the Norman Conquest of Britain, Bolton was given by William the Conqueror in 1067 to Roger de Pitou, whose family, the Montgomerys, held it until 1200 when it passed by marriage to the Earl of Derby. The coat of arms shows an arrow (or "bolt") through a crown. The arrow may have referred to the key role which Bolton archers are said to have played in the defeat of the Scots at Flodden Field in 1513. The crown itself represents the wooden stockade which surrounded the Saxon village - known as a "tun" or "ton" (the origin of the word town) - hence "bolt-tun".
In 1251, William de Ferrers obtained a Royal Charter from king Henry III for a market and fair to be held in Bolton. By 1253, Bolton had been granted another Charter making it a free borough and a market town. It still boasts one of the largest and finest shopping centres of any of the towns around Manchester - from the new shopping complex at Knowsley Street to the big Market Hall, and the excellent fish and vegetable markets at Moor Lane.

Bolton during the Civil War
In the 17th century, Bolton was a Puritan stronghold and sided with the Parliamentarian cause against the Royalists. It is said that the Civil War began in Preston, the first battle was in Manchester, but at Bolton the fight was bloodier and at its most intense. Bolton suffered three attacks during the Civil War, led by James Stanley, the Earl of Derby and Prince Rupert. Bolton finally fell to the Royalists in 1644 when their forces entered the town and carried out the only massacre of the Civil Wars. After the war, when the Royalist cause was lost, Derby was tried and sentenced for the massacre. Ye Olde Man & Scythe pub, (pictured above left) is the site of the execution of James, the seventh Earl of Derby in 1651. A cross outside the pub bears plaques which relate stories of Bolton through the ages.

Until the 19th century, Bolton was properly known as "Bolton-le-Moors" and the Parish Church of St Peters is still officially called "St. Peter's, Bolton-le-Moors". Before 1830, the town was run by 2 authorities, Great Bolton with 40 representatives, and Little Bolton with 30, the two separated by the River Croal. Locally, the trustees for Great Bolton were known as the "Forty Thieves". Its wealth was built on textiles; Flemish émigré weavers settled in Bolton around 1337 and introduced spinning and weaving to the area, as well as bringing clogs, which were absorbed into the local culture. Cotton spinning and weaving was a large concern, employing over 15,000 men and 21,000 women by 1911. By 1929 Bolton had 216 cotton mills and 26 bleaching and dyeing works. Sadly the 20th century decline in the Lancashire cotton industry took a heavy toll on Bolton's workforce - by the 1980s it had fallen to around 2,500 men and women.

Bolton's Eight Townships
Bolton Borough is made up of eight towns : Farnworth, Kearsley, Blackrod, Little Lever, Westhoughton, Horwich, South Turton and Bolton; presently it has a population of around 261,000 and covers an area of some 54 square miles - 93,000 people presently work in the borough.