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Westhoughton Town Hall front.jpg
Westhoughton Town Hall, built 1903
Westhoughton is located in Greater Manchester
 Westhoughton shown within Greater Manchester
Population 23,056 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference SD6505
Civil parish Westhoughton
Metropolitan borough Bolton
Metropolitan county Greater Manchester
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Bolton
Postcode district BL5
Dialling code 01942
Police Greater Manchester
Fire Greater Manchester
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Bolton West
Website Westhoughton Online
List of places
Greater Manchester

Coordinates: 53°32′53″N 2°31′44″W / 53.548°N 2.529°W / 53.548; -2.529

Westhoughton /wɛstˈhɔːtən/ is a town and civil parish of the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton in Greater Manchester, England.[1] It is 4 miles (6 km) southwest of Bolton, 5 miles (8 km) east of Wigan and 13 miles (21 km) northwest of Manchester.[2]

Historically in Lancashire, Westhoughton was once a centre for coal mining, cotton-spinning and textile manufacture. Today it is predominantly a residential town with a population of 23,056.[3]

Westhoughton incorporates several former villages and hamlets which have their own distinctive character, sports traditions and amenities including railway stations. They include Wingates (famous for the Wingates Brass Band), White Horse, Over Hulton, Four Gates (or Fourgates), Chequerbent which was all but destroyed by the building of the motorway, Hunger Hill, Snydale, Hart Common, Daisy Hill and Dobb Brow.[4]



The name Westhoughton is derived from the Old English, "halh" (dialectal "haugh") for a nook or corner of land, and "tun" for a farmstead or settlement – meaning a "westerly settlement in a corner of land". It has been recorded variously as Halcton in 1210, Westhalcton in 1240,Westhalghton in 1292, Westhalton in 1302 and in the 16th century as Westhaughton and Westhoughton[5][6]

The people of Westhoughton are known as "Howfeners" or "Keawyeds" (cow heads) or a combination of the two "Keawyedners", and the town is known as "Keawyed City". Supposed folklore ("re-invented" in the Edwardian period) describes a farmer who found his cow with its head stuck in a five barred gate, and, rather than damage the gate, cut the cow's head off, as the cow cost less than the gate.[7]

Banastre Rebellion[edit]

In 1315 a group of men led by Sir William Bradshaigh of Haigh Hall, Sir Henry Lea of Charnock Richard and Sir Adam Banastre met at Wingates to plan a campaign of violence against Sir Robert de Holland of Upholland, chief retainer of the powerful Earl of Lancaster. The campaign came to be known as the Banastre Rebellion and ended with the deaths of most the main protagonists.[8]

Civil War[edit]

On 15 December 1642, during the English Civil War, the Battle of Warcock Hill was fought on Westhoughton Common between Lord Derby's Cavalier forces and Parliamentarians. The site of the battle was off the Manchester Road where Wayfaring is today. The Parliamentarians under Captains Bradshaw, Venables and Browne ran into a force of some thousand Royalists from the Wigan garrison under Lord Derby and were forced to surrender. The three captains and 160 men were taken prisoner.

It is believed that Prince Rupert of the Rhine gathered his troops in Westhoughton before the attack and ensuing massacre at Bolton in 1644.[5] Civil War activity is also known to have occurred around the site of Hunger Hill and a sword claimed to be from the time of the Civil War was discovered in the garden of one of the cottages at Pocket Nook in Chew Moor during the 1950s.[citation needed]

Industrial Revolution[edit]

The original Pretoria Pit Memorial in Westhoughton Cemetery

On 25 March 1812 a group of Luddites burned Rowe and Dunscough's Westhoughton Mill, in one of the first terrorist acts in Britain. Twelve people were arrested on the orders of William Hulton, the High Sheriff of Lancashire.[9][10] James Smith, Thomas Kerfoot, John (or Job) Fletcher and Abraham Charlston, were sentenced to death for their part in the attack. The Charlston family claimed (falsely) that Abraham was only twelve years old; but he was not reprieved.[9] The men were publicly hanged outside Lancaster Castle on 13 June 1812.[11] It was reported that Abraham cried for his mother on the scaffold.[10] By this time, however, hanging of those under 18 was rare and of those under 16, in practice, abolished.[12] Nine others were transported to Australia.[13] The riots are commemorated by a blue plaque on the White Lion public house opposite the mill site.

In 1891 the Rose Hill Doubling Mill had 8,020 spindles and Higson and Biggs' Victoria Mill had 40,000 spindles. Bolton Road Mill housed 564 looms weaving shirtings and Perseverance Mill had 600 looms manufacturing twills, sateens and plain cotton cloth. The looms in John Chadwick's Silk Mills produced broad silks, tie silks, scarves and handkerchiefs. The Lancashire Hosiery Company produced vests. Thomas Welch was a calico printer at the Green Vale Print Works.[14]

The family of William Hulton of Hulton Park owned many small collieries from the 16th century. After 1828 the pits at Chequerbent were served by the Bolton and Leigh Railway. The Hulton Colliery Company sank Chequerbent Colliery in 1892 and Bank Pit Nos 1–4 between 1897 and 1901. The company mined the Trencherbone, Plodder and Arley seams. Bank Pit No 3, known as the Pretoria Pit, was the site of one Britain's worst coal-mining disasters when on 21 December 1910, 344 men and boys died in an explosion of firedamp.[15] The Pretoria Pit Disaster was the third worst in British mining history, after the 1866 Barnsley Oaks Disaster in Yorkshire,[16] and the 1913 Senghenydd Colliery Disaster in Glamorgan.[17] A memorial erected in 1910 is grade II listed.[18]

In 1896 the Wigan Coal and Iron Company's Eatock Pits employed 484 underground and 89 surface workers whilst the Hewlett Pits, at Hart Common, employed 981 underground and 182 on the surface.[19]


Lying within the boundaries of Lancashire since the early 12th century, Westhoughton was a chapelry and township in the ecclesiastical parish of Deane, in the Salford hundred. In 1837, Westhoughton joined with other townships (or civil parishes) to form the Bolton Poor Law Union and took joint responsibility for the administration and funding of the Poor Law in that area.[20] In 1872, a Local Board of Health was established for the township, and was superseded in 1894 when Westhoughton became an urban district of the administrative county of Lancashire. In 1898 most of Over Hulton became part of the urban district.[21] Westhoughton Town Hall was built in 1903 to a plan by Bradshaw and Gass, architects of Bolton replacing the Local Board Offices at the junction of Market Street and Wigan Road.[22]

Under the Local Government Act 1972, Westhoughton Urban District was abolished in 1974 and its area became a civil parish of the newly created Metropolitan Borough of Bolton in Greater Manchester.[23] It is represented by six councilors elected in two borough wards – Westhoughton North and Chew Moor and Westhoughton South – on the metropolitan borough council.[24]

Westhoughton civil parish, gained town council status in 1985, and has 18 town councilors elected from six town council wards – Central, Chequerbent, Daisy Hill, Hoskers and Hart Common, White Horse, and Wingates.[25] Each year the town council elects a town mayor.

Parliamentary representation[edit]

For 98 years, between 1885 and 1983 the Westhoughton constituency represented the town. Although, since 1906, always returning a Labour candidate, the elections were, after 1950, a close run contest, due to the working class conservatism found in Westhoughton and surrounding areas and the inclusion of more rural (Conservative) areas in boundary revision. At the 1906 general election, the birth of the modern Labour Party, William Tyson Wilson was one of 29 successful "Labour Representation Committee candidates."

The constituency had by-elections in 1921, 1951 and 1973 due to the retirement, ill-health or death of the sitting MPs. The last MP for Westhoughton was Roger Stott (Labour) who, on abolition of the Westhoughton constituency, was elected MP for Wigan in 1983, his relatively swift death there prompting a by-election.

The 1983 redistribution of seats reflected local government reforms made in 1974. In September 2011, the Boundary Commission for England proposed recreating a Westhoughton constituency to incorporate Westhoughton, Blackrod, Hindley, Atherton, and parts of Horwich and Leigh[26][27]


Westhoughton covers an area of 4,341 acres (1,757 ha) and has an average breadth of over 2 miles (3.2 km) from north-east to south-west, and an extreme length of nearly 3.5 miles (5.6 km) from northwest to south-east. The highest ground at over 480 feet (150 m) is to the north east with the land sloping downwards to the south-west. The lowest point at about 120 feet (37 m) is in the extreme southerly corner. Borsdane Brook separates the township from Aspull, another brook divides it from Hindley joining a stream which rises on the northern edge of Westhoughton and flows south through Leigh to Glazebrook.[5]

There are three Local Nature Reserves at Hall Lee Bank Park, Cunningham Clough, and Eatock Lodge at Daisy Hill.[28]


Census population of the chapelry/civil parish of Westhoughton
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Sources: (a) Pauline Tatton: Local population statistics.[29] (b) Westhoughton USD: Total Population.[30]
Census population of the urban district of Westhoughton
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 † 1951 1961 1971
Source: Westhoughton UD: Total Population.[31]

The 1939 population is estimated from the National Registration Act figures.[32] The 1941 census did not take place because of the Second World War.


The long established St John's, Wingates CE Primary & Fourgates County Primary schools were closed in 2004 following amalgamation to form The Gates CP School. Westhoughton CP School closed in 2008. An earlier round of reorganisation saw the closure of Hart Common Primary School and opening of St George's on The Hoskers, and the closure of the tiny County Primary at White Horse which is now a private nursery.

School Type/Status Ofsted Website
Eatock Primary School, Daisy Hill Primary 105202 Official site
Sacred Heart R.C. Primary School Primary 105243 Official site
St George's C.E. Primary School Primary 131038 Official site
St James C.E. Primary School, Daisy Hill Primary 105209 Official site
St Thomas' C.E. School, Chequerbent Primary 105234 Official site
The Gates Primary School Primary 133926 Official site
Washacre Primary School Primary 105199 Official site
St. Bartholomew's C of E Primary School

originally Westhoughton Parochial C.E. Primary School

Primary 105237
Westhoughton Primary School (closed 2008) Primary 105180 Official site
Westhoughton High School Secondary & Sixth form 105252 Official site


The parish church of St. Bartholomew

Westhoughton had a chapel in 1552. It was replaced in by a brick built church in 1731 and a third church, which became the parish church, was built in 1869–70.[5] The church, dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, had an east window depicted to the twelve apostles. On 28 November 1990 the church was gutted by fire, but the tower was saved[33] and is Grade II listed[34] as is a sundial in the churchyard.[35] A new church designed by architects Dane, Ashworth & Cottam was built by Laing North with Bradshaw Gass & Hope as project managers and structural engineers. The church cost about £1 million.[36] After the fire services transferred to the parochial school and the church bought the town's redundant telephone exchange as a temporary worship centre until the new church opened. The new church was consecrated on 28 October 1995. A procession from Wingates into the church grounds preceded the Right Reverend Christopher Mayfield, Bishop of Manchester, entering and blessing the doorway.[37] Nicholsons of Malvern built a two manual organ with 1,256 pipes, ranging from 1/2 inch to 16 feet (4.9 m). The pipes are made of tin, spotted metal (an alloy of lead and tin) and hammered lead.[38]

Other Anglican churches in Westhoughton are St John the Evangelist's in Wingates and Austin and Paley's St James' Church, Daisy Hill which is a Grade II* listed building.[39] The Roman Catholic Sacred Heart Parish Church is in Lord Street.

John Wesley plaque, Wingates

John Wesley, the co-founder of the Methodist church, preached a sermon at Barnaby's Farm at Wingates in April 1784. Houses occupy the site where Wesley stood, but the stone from which he preached stands outside the old Grove Lane Chapel, now Westhoughton Methodist Church's Church Hall, Wigan Road. Services were held in the cottages opposite the farm, which became known as Methody Row before the first Methodist church was built in 1835 and the Methodist Church in Dixon Street in 1871. The Wingates Band began as the church’s drum and fife band, part of the temperance movement. The final service was held there by the Independent Methodist Church on 6 May 2001 and the church was subsequently demolished.[40] Daisy Hill Methodist Church was closed and demolished in the late 1980s. The remaining Methodist church is on Wigan Road at its junction with Grove Lane.[41]

The industrial north west was a focus for non-conformism, and until the 1990s there was a Church of the Nazarene in Church Street, now replaced by a block of flats named 'Nazarene Court, a Quaker Meeting House on Wigan Road, now a Christian fellowship,[42] and a tin tabernacleoff, Bolton Road. There is a Pentecostal church on Bolton Road and a United Reformed Church, the Bethel on the old Leigh Road.[43] Following the move to St George's, The Hoskers, Hart Common Church is part of the Hindley Christian Fellowship.

Local landmarks[edit]

Snydle Water Tower

The former Snydle water tower, built by Westhoughton Council in 1914, is now converted to a private dwelling that is visible from the M61 motorway.

A memorial sculpture created by Jane Robbins to the miners killed in the Pretoria Pit disaster was unveiled on 19 December 2010 in Ditchfield Gardens in Market Street.

The Church of England School built in 1861 opposite St Bartholomew's church is a Grade II listed building[44] as are houses 110 and 112, Market Street.[45]


The M61 motorway passes through the north of the town which is served by junctions 5 and 6. The A58 (Park Road/Cricketers Way/Wigan Road), and the A6 (Manchester Road/Chorley Road) cross the town as do the B5236 (Church Street), the B5235 (Bolton Road/Mill Street/Leigh Road), and the B5239 (Dicconson Lane).

Westhoughton railway station on Church Street, and Daisy Hill railway station on Leigh Road are served by Northern Rail trains between Southport and Manchester via Wigan Wallgate. Trains from Westhoughton to Manchester Piccadilly run via Bolton; trains from Daisy Hill to Manchester Victoria run via Atherton. Formerly there were stations at Chequerbent (closed 1952)[46] Dicconson Lane and Hilton House (both closed in 1956).

Electric trams to Bolton served Westhoughton until 1947. The closure occurred after just 23 years of service (on 19 December 1924, the Bolton to Deane service had been extended to Westhoughton).

In the late 1980s a railway station was planned at Dobb Brow but was not built.[47] Lostock and Horwich Parkway stations, to the north, also serve the town. The annual usage of the town's two stations (Daisy Hill and Westhoughton), at over 500,000 passengers in 2013/14, is greater than that of many major UK towns [48] and is regarded as impressive for a town with a population of just 23,000 (21 journeys per annum, per head of population).

Westhoughton is served by several bus services, linking it with Bolton, Wigan and Leigh. The most frequent service is the 540 between Bolton and Wigan run by Stagecoach Manchester and operates every 15 minutes during the day, Monday to Saturday and every 30 minutes in the evenings and on Sundays. Additional weekday journeys run between Bolton and Daisy Hill. Other bus services are the 516 and 517 Leigh – Horwich (South Lancs Travel plus First/Maytree Travel on 516); 521 Blackrod – Little Lever (SLT); 559 Bolton – Aspull (Maytree) and 715 Bolton – Wigan (Arriva North West/Maytree).


Westhoughton Library, Library Street

The weekly Horwich and Westhoughton Journal was published (by The Bolton News) from 1925 until 1980, and had an editorial and revenue office in Market Street.[49]

The town's Carnegie library is at the rear of the Town Hall.[50] Its Carnegie Hall is used for meetings and other activities.[51] A small museum has exhibits that relate to the Pretoria Pit Disaster.

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Greater Manchester Gazetteer". Greater Manchester County Record Office. Place Names T to W. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2007. 
  2. ^ AA Route Planner. URL accessed 29 May 2007.
  3. ^ Neighbourhood Statistics - Westhoughton CP (Parish). URL accessed 22 May 2007.
  4. ^ Westhoughton Township Boundaries, GenUKI, retrieved 6 January 2012 
  5. ^ a b c d Farrer, William; Brownbill, J, eds. (1911), "Westhoughton", A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5, Victoria County History (British History Online): 20–25, retrieved 31 August 2010 
  6. ^ Billington, W.D. (1982). From Affetside to Yarrow : Bolton place names and their history, Ross Anderson Publications (ISBN 0-86360-003-4).
  7. ^ Bolton Museum & Archive Service. "Westhoughton Keaw Yed (cow head) re-enactment circa 1919". flickr.com. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "Mabs Cross Legend and Reality". Retrieved 24 September 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Spatacus schoolnet – The Luddites. URL accessed 22 May 2007.
  10. ^ a b Cotton Times – Luddites: War against the machines – Page 2. URL accessed 22 May 2007.
  11. ^ Capital Punishment U.K. – Public executions 1800–1827. URL accessed 22 May 2007.
  12. ^ The execution of children and juveniles. URL accessed 22 May 2007.
  13. ^ Westhoughton Calendar of Events. Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerks. URL accessed 22 May 2007.
  14. ^ Westhoughton. 5 miles W.S.W. from Bolton (p73), Grace's Guide, retrieved 22 November 2013 
  15. ^ The Pretoria Pit Disaster. Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerks. URL accessed 22 May 2007.
  16. ^ The Barnsley Oaks Colliery. URL accessed 22 May 2007.
  17. ^ The Senghenydd Coal Mining Disaster. URL accessed 22 May 2007.
  18. ^ Historic England. "Memorial to those killed in the Pretoria Pit Disaster approx. 127m north west of St. Bartholomew's Church (1162905)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  19. ^ Wigan Coal & Iron Co. Ltd., Durham Mining Museum, retrieved 7 February 2011 
  20. ^ Workhouse, workhouses.org.uk, retrieved 28 November 2010 
  21. ^ Westhoughton UD: Historical Boundaries. Vision of Britain. URL accessed 26 February 2008.[dead link]
  22. ^ "Places of interest" at bolton.gov.uk
  23. ^ "Greater Manchester Gazetteer". Greater Manchester County Record Office. Place Names T to W. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2007. 
  24. ^ Bolton Metropolitan Borough Councillors. URL accessed 22 May 2007.
  25. ^ Town Council Election Results 2007 – Blackrod, Horwich, and Westhoughton. URL accessed 22 May 2007.
  26. ^ Westhoughton map Boundary Commission for England
  27. ^ Initial Proposals - Greater Manchester Boundary Commission for England
  28. ^ "Local Nature Reserves". Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  29. ^ Pauline Tatton, Local population statistics 1801–1986, Bolton Central Library Archives, Le Mans Crescent, Bolton, BL1 1SE.
  30. ^ Westhoughton USD: Total Population. Vision of Britain. URL accessed 22 May 2007.[dead link]
  31. ^ Westhoughton UD: Total Population. Vision of Britain.URL accessed 26 February 2008.[dead link]
  32. ^ National Registration Act, 1939. Rootsweb.com. URL accessed 8 June 2007.
  33. ^ St Bartholomew's Church, Westhoughton (Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project). URL accessed 26 October 2006.
  34. ^ Historic England. "Tower of Church of St Bartholomew, School Street (1356786)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  35. ^ Historic England. "Sundial approx 17 m to south of Church of St Bartholomew (1067274)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  36. ^ Bradshaw Gass & Hope website. URL accessed 26 October 2007.
  37. ^ "Blessing for church that's risen from ashes". The Bolton News (Newsquest Media Group). 30 October 1995. 
  38. ^ Nicholsons of Malvern – portfolio. URL accessed 26 October 2006.
  39. ^ Historic England. "Church of St James (1067273)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  40. ^ "Places of interest - John Wesley in Wingates" at bolton.gov.uk
  41. ^ "Westhoughton Methodist Church, Bolton Methodist Circuit" at homepages.tesco.net
  42. ^ Westhoughton, GenUKI, retrieved 6 February 2012 
  43. ^ "Westhoughton Pentecostal Church" at ukchurch.org
  44. ^ Historic England. "Westhoughton Church of England Primary School (1162908)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  45. ^ Historic England. "110 and 112 Market Street (1162880)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  46. ^ Subterranea Britannica: SB-Sites: Chequerbent Station (2nd site).
  47. ^ "BEN OPINION: Top priority on the trains". The Bolton News (Newsquest Media Group). 28 October 2000. 
  48. ^ Network Rail, (see Network Rail figures)
  49. ^ Bolton Newspapers, Bolton Museums, retrieved 28 August 2011 
  50. ^ "Westhoughton Library" at bolton.gov.uk
  51. ^ [1]
  52. ^ "TheCricketer". Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  53. ^ "History of Westhoughton". Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  54. ^ "John Bruton". englandstats.com. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  55. ^ "Obituaries". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (1986 ed.). Wisden. p. 1218. 
  56. ^ Internet Movie Database – Robert Shaw. URL accessed 27 May 2007.

External links[edit]