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|OS grid reference|
|• London||173 mi (278 km) SE|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Ashton-in-Makerfield is a market town in Greater Manchester, England. It is part of the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan and is 4.2 miles (6.8 km) south of the town of Wigan. In 2001 it had a population of 28,505, increasing to 28,762 at the 2011 Census.
Historically a part of Lancashire, Ashton-in-Makerfield was anciently a township in the parish of Newton-in-Makerfield (as Newton-le-Willows was once known), Winwick and hundred of West Derby. With neighbouring Haydock, Ashton-in-Makerfield was a chapelry, but the two were split in 1845. The place has long been a centre for the manufacture of locks and hinges, but also sits on the Lancashire Coalfield, and so was a coal mining district.
The name Ashton derives from Old English and means the "farmstead where the ash-trees grow"; it is a common name and is found locally in Ashton-under-Lyne in Tameside and Ashton upon Mersey in Trafford. The town's name was recorded as Eston in 1212. Later, the suffix "in-Makerfield" was added, which relates the name of the old district of Makerfield of which Ashton was a part; Makerfield derives from the Celtic for a wall or ruin and the Old English word feld, meaning "open land".
St Thomas' Church of England parish church on Warrington Road has ancient origins although the present building was completed in 1893. The graveyard is the resting place of many of the 189 victims of the Wood Pit explosion (at Haydock on Friday 7 June 1878), the worst coal-mining disaster in Lancashire at the time.
Hope Church on Heath Road was founded by Protestants from St Thomas' opposed to the High Church ideals brought in by a new Vicar in the 1870. His introduction of Anglo-Catholic worship caused riots on Gerard Street and he was initially evicted from the town by a mob of miners. He returned backed by troops from Liverpool. Banned from worshipping in the form they had previously done, many left and continued a simpler form of worship in a barn off Ashton Heath. Word of their plight reached a Miss Catherine Cave-Browne in London who sent money for a Protestant Mission to be built. The church was built with the official title of Cave-Browne Protestant Institute (Christchurch).
Park Lane Chapel (see Unitarianism), Wigan Road, Bryn, dates back to 1697, although its congregation was founded in 1662. It is the oldest non-conformist chapel and congregation in the district. By the 19th century Park Lane was only one of nine non-conformist chapels in the area. There was a Baptist, Congregational church (Hilton Street), Evangelical (Heath Road), Independent, Independent Methodist (Downall Green Road), Primitive Methodist, Welsh Wesleyan Methodist and English Wesleyan Methodist chapel.
The Catholic Church of St Oswald and St Edmund Arrowsmith, on Liverpool Road was completed in 1930, replacing an earlier Catholic church on the site which was built in 1822. It houses the hand of St Edmund Arrowsmith (1585–1628).
Coal mining and heavy industry
Ashton-in-Makerfield was part of the St. Helens Area of the South Lancashire Coalfield. The St Helens Area lay to the South West of the Wigan area and occupied around 60 square miles (160 km2), skirting Wigan, Warrington, Widnes and to within eight miles (13 km) of Liverpool.
In 1867 there were 13 collieries in the district of Ashton-in-Makerfield. Others followed including Bryn Hall Colliery, owned by Edward Frederick Crippin, the Mains and Park Lane Collieries. Park Colliery and some of those open in 1867 (e.g. Garswood Hall) remained productive until the 1950s.
A number of Ashton's coal miners made a significant impact on modern British history, including: Stephen Walsh M.P.; William Kenealy, V.C. and Lance-Corporal in the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers; and Joe Gormley, President of the National Union of Mineworkers in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the late 19th century, the district was described by one observer as having "extensive collieries, cotton mills and potteries", and famed for the manufacture of "hinges, locks, files and nails". Mills such as the Record Mill (Spinning), situated in York Road, and the Makerfield Mill (the 'Weaving Shed'), in Windsor Road, took over from home-working. Similarly, Thomas Crompton & Sons in Gerard Street, which would eventually employ around 1,200 workers, superseded the subcontracting system that sustained substantial numbers of locally based blacksmiths and other craftsmen.
As recently as the 1970s the district of Ashton-in-Makerfield had one of the highest proportions of derelict land, mainly in the form of spoil tips, left over from coal mining. Major land reclamation schemes have since completely transformed the area.
Before 1894 Ashton-in-Makerfield was a township in the parish of Winwick, part of the West Derby Hundred of Lancashire. By an Act in 1845 and the division of the Parish of Winwick, Holy Trinity Church, Downall Green, was made the principal parish church and St. Thomas' made a parish church in the same Act, both being part of the Diocese of Liverpool. By the Local Government Act 1894 Ashton-in-Makerfield was made an urban district.
In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the district was abolished, with the area split administratively. The Seneley Green Parish, containing Garswood, Pewfall and Downall Green, falling now within the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens in the newly created Merseyside, and the rest now being administered by the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan in the newly created Greater Manchester.
The section of Ashton-in-Makerfield within the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan creates the Bryn & Ashton Township, consisting of the six 'neighbourhoods' of Bryn, Ashton, Ashton Heath, Landgate, Stubshaw Cross and Town Green, and one of the ten areas into which Wigan Metropolitan Borough has been divided for consultation purposes. Each township has a forum, with some influence over the provision of municipal services.
|Population growth in Ashton-in-Makerfield since 1901|
|Source: A Vision of Britain through Time|
A market is held on the market square off Garswood Street on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
The town is the inspiration of the fictional town of Ashton in the TV series and popular children’s books Horrid Henry.
Crompton's, the hinge and fasteners making factory in Ashton-in-Makerfield, has closed and is now demolished. A shopping centre called the Gerard Centre now stands in its place.
The Hingemaker's Arms public house, on Heath Road, is the only one in the world known to carry that name. It was run by the Corless family for decades until Walter Corless' retirement in 2006, however Walter can still be seen pulling pints at the weekend. The Hinge, as it is known by its clientele, is now owned and operated by a consortium of local businessmen.
In November 2008, Wigan council released proposals to merge Cansfield High and Byrchall High into one school.
People either born or brought up in Ashton-in-Makerfield, or have had some significant connection with the town during their life, include:
- June Croft, Ashton-born swimmer, won silver and bronze medals in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics respectively
- Helen Don-Duncan, Attended Cansfield High School and went on to win a Bronze Medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics
- Joe Gormley, president of the National Union of Mineworkers, 1971–1982
- Ian Gregson, Paralympic athlete 1984 & 1988, author
- Les Hart, footballer and football manager, born 1917. Served Bury Football Club in several capacities starting as player and club captain, for 44 years. In 2010 Bury F.C. renamed their south stand at Gigg Lane the Les Hart Stand in his honour.
- William Kenealy, recipient of the Victoria Cross
- Kym Marsh, member of the band Hear'Say and subsequently Coronation Street actress
- Harold Wood, runner at the Olympic Games in 1928
- Wigan Core Strategy 2013 (PDF), Wigan Council, 30 September 2013, retrieved 12 February 2014
- "Town population 2011". Retrieved 9 January 2016.
- Mills, A.D. (2003), A Dictionary of British Place-Names: Ashton, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-852758-6(subscription required)
- source: Coal Mining History Resource Centre
- Bartholomew, John (1887), Gazetteer of the British Isles, ISBN 0-00-448835-0
- source: Longman Atlas of Modern British History (1978)
- "Census 2001 Key Statistics - Urban area results by population size of urban area", ons.gov.uk, Office for National Statistics, KS01 Usual resident population , 22 July 2004, retrieved 22 September 2009
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