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Rivington Village Green and stocks.JPG
Village green and stocks
Rivington is located in the Borough of Chorley
Shown within Chorley Borough
Rivington is located in Lancashire
Location within Lancashire
Area3.97 sq mi (10.3 km2)
Population109 (2011 Census)
• Density27/sq mi (10/km2)
OS grid referenceSD626144
Civil parish
  • Rivington
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBOLTON
Postcode districtBL6
Dialling code01204
AmbulanceNorth West
UK Parliament
List of places
53°37′32″N 2°33′59″W / 53.6255°N 2.5664°W / 53.6255; -2.5664Coordinates: 53°37′32″N 2°33′59″W / 53.6255°N 2.5664°W / 53.6255; -2.5664

Rivington is a village and civil parish of the Borough of Chorley, Lancashire, England, occupying 2,538 acres (4.0 sq mi; 10.3 km2). It is about 6 miles (9.7 km) southeast of Chorley and about 8+12 miles (13.7 km) northwest of Bolton.[1] Rivington is a rural area consisting primarily of agricultural grazing land, moorland, with hill summits including Rivington Pike and Winter Hill within the West Pennine Moors. The area has a thriving tourist industry centred around reservoirs created to serve Liverpool in the Victorian era and Lever Park created as a public park by William Lever at the turn of the 20th century, with two converted barns, a replica of Liverpool Castle and open countryside. Rivington and its village had a population of 109 at the 2011 Census.[2][3]




The name Rivington is made up of three elements: riv is from the Old English hrēof meaning rough or rugged; ing is a place name forming suffix that seems to have crept in over the years; the last is the Old English tūn meaning a farmstead, estate or settlement.[4][5] Together they indicate a farmstead or settlement at the rough or rugged place. Another suggestion is a place at the rowan trees.[6]

Rivington was recorded in many ways in earlier centuries, Rowinton, Rawinton, and Revington were used in 1202; Ruhwinton in 1212, Riuiton in 1226, Rowynton and Rouynton in 1278, Roynton in 1332, Rouyngton in 1400, Revyngton although rare, and Rovington and Ryvington from the 16th century.[4][6][7]

Early history[edit]

A Neolithic or Bronze Age stone, with a cup and ring mark dating from between 2000 and 3000 BC, was found near the Lower Rivington Reservoir in 1999.[8] It is possible that settlements have existed in the area around Rivington since the Bronze Age.[9] Arrowheads, a flint knife, scrapers and the remains of cremations were excavated from a Bronze Age cairn at Noon Hill in 1958 and 1963–64.[10] It is possible that the name Coblowe on the eastern bank of the Lower Rivington Reservoir derives from the Old English hlaw, a hill, which denoted an ancient barrow or burial place.[11] Evidence for the existence of a settlement here in Anglo-Saxon times is found in the Rivington and Coblowe names.[12]


Rivington Hall

Although the manor is not registered at the land registry, the manor has a long history with the majority share of seven-eights originally held by the Pilkington family of Lancashire is recorded as early as 1212[13] This share had reduced to five-eights when they sold Rivington Hall in 1611 to their relations Robert Lever and Thomas Breres. A quarter was owned by the Lathoms and an eighth by the Shaws. In 1765 the Shaws and their relations the Roscoes inherited the one-eight share.[14]

The Pilkington share had passed through the female line to the Crompton family after the purchase in 1729 by John Andrews of Little Lever of the Breres' share of the manor.[7] The Cromptons remained resident until 1910 as part of an agreement of sale to W. H. Lever in 1900. In 1900 William Hesketh Lever purchased the Hall from the Crompton family and then later sold to Liverpool Corporation by agreement and terms set out in the Liverpool Corporation Act 1902, the transfers completed between 1902 and 1905, the act makes no mention of the manor but does refer to shooting rights to be retained by Leverhulme, he retained an interest over all of his former land which is recorded at the Land Registry preventing development.[15]

Leverhulmes heirs retain a perpetual interest over all his former land preventing any buildings being erected except for farms and the supply of water. He retained a residence on the hillside, shooting rights and use of Rivington Hall as a Museum of Lever Park until his death in 1925. Although freehold in his remaining was land was sold after his death, the manorial rights were a separate saleable asset, there are no records of any sale by Leverhulme or his heirs of his rights in the manor.[16]


From 1850 until the completion of the Rivington Reservoir Scheme inhabitants formed businesses providing for its large number of workers. As the Lower Rivington Reservoir was completed the tourist industry was born and has since been dominant alongside farming. Prior to this Rivington was a rural village built around what is now the village green. Its inhabitants were employed in agriculture on scattered local farms. The textile industry was a secondary form of income until the industrial revolution, alongside farming. Textile bleaching took place on the River Douglas at Knoll Wood contaminating the water supply; this was closed and demolished in 1868 by Liverpool Corporation though the remnants of its dam still remain. The Cottage Industry of Handloom weaving and use of the Putting-out system was common in the 18th to early 19th century, Samuel Oldknow was a prominent local figure, his family grave being at the Unitarian Chapel. Income was also generated from the quarries, coal mining was on a small scale at Rivington Moor.[12][7] Rivington Moor Colliery employed two workers mining coal for local use.[17]

A water mill and kiln was mentioned in a deed of 1544 and sale agreement of Rivington Hall in 1611, use of a kiln would have been part of the agricultural milling process.[18] This confirms use of land for arable farming in combination with grazing, the latter is now dominant. A commercial slaughter house was located at the New Hall Barn until its demolition along with the house in 1905, its remains are still present.[12]

The area of the Rivington Unitarian Chapel is named Mill Hill on the 1848 OS map and extended to Croft Bridge, crossing Hall Brook. The Victorian 'School Houses' became known as Mill Hill cottages.[12] Mill Dam wood is at the rear of the Vicarage, a pond existed there prior to the reservoir construction, on the water course is a ruin that could be a past water wheel house and dam, a short distance down stream was a smithy located in the area of what is now the village hall.[19][20]


Upper Rivington Reservoir with Winter Hill and Rivington Pike

Rivington was dramatically changed by the construction of the Rivington Reservoir Chain through the contentious 'Rivington Pike Scheme' to supply clean drinking water to the city of Liverpool by flooding the valley creating what is now the 10,000 acre Rivington watershed,[21] Nine properties in the valley were demolished before construction work began. The Scheme was undertaken by Thomas Hawksley between 1850 and 1857, requiring Liverpool Corporation to purchase large areas of occupied land and to construct five reservoirs and a water treatment works at the south end of Lower Rivington with a 17-mile (27 km) pipeline to storage reservoirs at Prescot. Water from two higher level reservoirs, Rake Brook and Lower Roddlesworth, was carried south in the Goit, a man-made channel connecting them to the lower reservoirs. In 1900 Liverpool Corporation attempted to acquire the entire area of Rivington to safeguard its water supply, and proposed demolishing the entire village.

The Act of Parliament known as the Liverpool Corporation Act 1902 protected some buildings but others were left vulnerable.[22] The Act allowed the corporation to acquire subject to compensation properties in the west of the village, including the Black-a-Moors Head public house (known locally as the 'Black Lad') and New Hall, which were demolished between 1902 and 1905. The result was the small settlement that has remained largely unchanged since then.


Rivington was a township in the ecclesiastical parish of Bolton le Moors, in the Salford hundred in Lancashire.[23] It became part of the Chorley Poor Law Union, formed in 1837, and took responsibility for the administration and funding of the Poor Law in that area.[24] The parish had an unusual method of deciding their Mayor until the mid 19th century. The person was selected according to how quickly they got drunk on the eve of the annual event known as 'Club Day' when a day of heavy drinking commenced and villagers dressed in fancy dress, going from house to house banging on doors till the early hours of the morning to collect funds for the 'dignity of the office'.[12] In 1866 Rivington became a civil parish. It was part of the Chorley Rural Sanitary District from 1875 to 1894, and part of Chorley Rural District from 1894 to 1974.[25]

Since 1974 Rivington has been a civil parish of the Borough of Chorley, which comprises 47 councillors each elected for four-year terms to represent wards in the borough. Rivington is part of the Heath Charnock and Rivington ward.[26] Chorley is part of the Lancashire County Council created in 1889 under the Local Government Act 1888 and reconstituted under the Local Government Act 1972. Rivington is part of the Chorley Rural East ward.[27] Rivington has its own parish council.[28]

Rivington is part of the Chorley parliamentary constituency, which elected Lindsay Hoyle as Member of Parliament for the Labour party at the 2010 General Election.[29]


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [30]

Rivington is situated on the moorland fringe between the high moorland of the West Pennine Moors and the fields below. The landscape is characterised by marginal pastures with isolated farmsteads, reservoirs and disused mines and quarries scattered across the hillsides. There is an extensive network of footpaths providing public access.[31] The reservoir valleys are dominated by expanses of water and the Victorian gothic architecture of the dams and embankments surrounded by woodland.[32]

To the east of Rivington is Rivington Pike and to the west the flatter land of the Lancashire Plain. Rivington is north of Horwich and Bolton and to the south of Anglezarke Moor and Yarrow Reservoir. To the west of the village is the wide shallow valley containing the Anglezarke, Upper and Lower Rivington reservoirs. The village is accessed from the west by a road on top of the 876-foot (267 m) long Horrobin Embankment, a dam that separates the Upper and Lower Rivington reservoirs.[33] The River Douglas has its source on Winter Hill, and flows in a southwest direction forming part of the southern boundary. The River Yarrow has its source on Anglezarke Moor and forms the northern boundary.[7] The area of the township is 2,768 acres (4.3 sq mi; 11 km2), the reservoirs and filter beds occupy 275 acres (111 ha).[34]

The underlying geology is Millstone Grit overlaid with coal measures. Gritstone was quarried for building stone in the area. Around Rivington are chalybeate springs and in Dean Wood is a waterfall with a descent of 32 feet (9.8 m).[35]


In 2001, 144 people lived in Rivington, 63 males and 81 females.[36] There were 48 households, of which 34 lived in detached houses and 14 in terraced or semi-detached properties. Most households, 60%, were owner-occupied; the remainder were privately rented.[37] The mean age of the population was 53.4 years.[38] In 2001 most of those employed, 47, worked in the service industries. Ten worked in extractive and manufacturing industries, and three males were unemployed. The average distance travelled to work by employed persons was 12.7 miles (20.5 km).[39]

Population change[edit]

Population changes in Rivington since 1801
1801 519—    
1811 526+1.3%
1821 583+10.8%
1831 537−7.9%
1841 471−12.3%
1851 412−12.5%
1861 369−10.4%
1871 531+43.9%
1881 330−37.9%
1891 373+13.0%
1901 421+12.9%
1911 250−40.6%
1921 228−8.8%
1931 236+3.5%
1951 148−37.3%
1961 148+0.0%
1971 128−13.5%
1991 130+1.6%
2001 144+10.8%
2011 109−24.3%


Tourist Information Centre

In the 19th century, farming was reduced with the construction of the reservoirs. The Industrial Revolution ended the viability of cottage industries such as weaving, small mines closed and the long term population decreased as the Water Authority cleared land in the Rivington Pike Scheme catchment area, being the name of the plans for the building of the chain of reservoirs to supply Liverpool with clean water.

Prior to the reservoirs the valley of Rivington was mostly farmland, sat in natural woodland, with some cottages and a pub with a stream flowing through, crossed by pack horse bridges. A mill was located near the upper reservoir. The scheme was at first met with significant opposition but with government backing pressed ahead. The building of the chain of reservoirs required a large labour force, boosting the local economy. However the Pike Scheme construction required the demolition of existing properties and flooding of farm land, the original proposal was to demolish all buildings in the village, which was stopped by local opposition, Leverhulme was instrumental in saving the village. The period of the build and after completion resulted in an unexpected influx of tourists.[12]

In the early 20th century century tourism had led to two Hotels, busy public houses, Tea Rooms and many offshoot businesses including a wash house at Rivington Hall, supplied by Leverhulmes father, James Lever. The tourist industry was further increased with the opening of Lever Park in 1904. Although the areas hay day has since passed it has remained a popular site with visitors seeking the freedom of the outdoors. [12] Agriculture, mainly sheep farming, continues.[12][44] Provision of facilities for Special events, including weddings and parties with catering alongside tourism now provide most of the employment in the area, the hotels have long since closed, other attractions have formed, including a GoApe, the Anderton center at the Lower Reservoir offers boating, which is very popular.[9]


Rivington is to the east to the M61 motorway, which connects the M6 and Preston to the north with the M60 and the Greater Manchester conurbation to the south. The nearest access is at Junction 6. The village is accessed by minor roads from Horwich to the south and Adlington to the west. A winding road to the north passes through Anglezarke and a road over the moors to the east leads to Belmont. The nearest places with regular bus services are Horwich to the south and Adlington to the west, which are served by buses between Bolton and Chorley or Preston.

The arrival of the Manchester and Bolton Railway's extension to Preston and opening of Blackrod railway station in 1841 brought visitors to the area. The line remains open with stations at Blackrod and Horwich Parkway giving access to Bolton, Manchester, Chorley and Preston.[45]


Rivington Primary School

Rivington Grammar School's charter was granted to Bishop James Pilkington by Queen Elizabeth I in 1566. The school opened in 1575 and was rebuilt in 1714. Blackrod Grammar School, founded in 1568, merged with it in 1875. In 1882 Rivington & Blackrod Grammar School opened on a site at the south of the township, close to the boundary with Horwich. The school is now Rivington and Blackrod High School, a specialist technology college, focusing on design and technology, mathematics and science. Year Seven pupils occupy the former Horwich County Secondary School.[46]

The old grammar school building in the village centre is now occupied by Rivington Foundation Primary School.[47]


Rivington Church

Rivington was a chapelry in the ancient ecclesiastical parish of Bolton le Moors until it became a parish in its own right. Rivington Church is an active Anglican place of worship holding service each Sunday.[48]

The Church is built on the site of an earlier chapel that was named in a deed by Margaret Pilkington and her son Robert in 1476. The chapelry covered Rivington and the surrounding areas of Anglezarke, Hemshaws and Foulds and was recognised in the Royal patent founding Rivington School in 1566. In 1628 a chapel was built "upon a little toft and quillet of land" by the local population and divine service was celebrated "for many years of antiquity".[7]

The early-16th-century chapel was rebuilt in 1666 and altered and restored in 1861.[12] The church is a small plain building built in sandstone with a bell turret. It is an Anglican church and unusual in that it is not dedicated to a saint or martyr, but referred to as Rivington Church.[48]

Rivington Unitarian Chapel is an active place of worship holding regular services on the first and third Sunday of each month in addition to baptisms, weddings and blessings. The Chapel was built with a bellcote of local stone in 1703. Founded as a Presbyterian church and became Unitarian in the late 18th century. The chapel, which retains its box pews, was restored in 1990.[49]


The most prominent of all buildings in Rivington is on the skyline at the summit of Rivington Pike, the tower. There are twenty eight listed buildings within Rivington.[50][51] Outside the village centre landmarks include Rivington Hall and its adjacent Hall Barn. At Lever Park on the bank of the Lower Rivington Reservoir is a replica of Liverpool Castle, Great House Barn, serving Tea's and snacks and Great House Farm information centre providing information on the area.[52] On the hillside the former Bungalow Grounds contain eleven listed structures, being remains of its garden features, its most prominent feature visible on the skyline being the Pigeon Tower.[53][54] Within the village buildings with listed status are Wilkinson's and cottage attached to right, Rivington School, Rivington Church and the Unitarian Chapel, the two latter being active places of worship. Fisher house operated as a Temperance Hotel in the Victorian era, it is now a secluded private residence.[12][9][55] The village stocks are a feature on Rivington village green, inscribed "T W 1719" on the stone base.

New Hall Barn, opposite the Chapel received planning consent in 2015 to be converted to a four bedroom house. New Hall was a former dwelling and named in deeds of the Pilkington family in 1544[56] on their land named Ferneley in their possession from at least 1336[57][58] and was retained by them at the sale of Rivington Hall in 1611. The house had a date stone of 1642 and was demolished in the early 20th century after being purchased by Liverpool Corporation, an adjoining barn had been left standing and its site and this barn became part of Bradleys Farm. The barn became obsolete after the 1980s and had been left to go to a ruin by its owners United Utilities.[59]

Near Horrobin Embankment, Horrobin Lane which passes between the Lower and Upper Rivington reservoirs is a car park, this was the former site of the Black O'Moors Hotel and Bowling Green Public House, adjacent is Rivington Bowling Club, Bowling Green and Club House, operating as a Tea Room from 11am.[60][61]

Little Lake District[edit]

Rivington Lakes, by Frederick William Hulme 1872

'The Little Lake District' became the name for the chain of reservoirs created by the Victorian era Rivington Pike Scheme and had attracted tourists, with increasing visitor numbers, aided by a new railway at Blackrod in 1841, close to Horwich Vale and a rapid increase in population at Horwich with the arrival of the Horwich Railway Works and railway station, within walking distance. The area attracted well known landscape artists.

The open countryside and moorland had, by the Victorian era become a public asset the working classes especially wanted to preserve access to and was the site of the Winter Hill mass trespass in 1896.[62] Leverhulme who in 1902 bought a significant amount of land at Rivington also supported open access to the fields and moorland.[63]

Leverhulme was prompted to intervene in 1900 on learning the Cromptons, owners of Rivington Hall were to sell. He was fond of the area that he got to know well as a boy and a place he and his wife frequently visited whilst courting, he had a keen interest in its history, he sponsored and contributed to the book titled 'A Short History of Rivington' published in 1904. [64]

Lever Park[edit]

A replica of Liverpool Castle in Lever Park
A plan of Liverpool Castle made by 19th century historian Edward Cox.

Leverhulme had donated 364 acres (147 ha)[65] of land for the creation of a public park at Rivington in a proposal to Bolton in 1901, he had bought the land in 1900.[65] The map of the proposed park is included in the book he sponsored, titled "A short history of the township of Rivington in the county of Lancaster with some account of the church and grammar school".[66] The park became formally created and protected in law within the Liverpool Corporation Act 1902, enshrining in law that the corporation and its successors shall manage Lever Park, named after Leverhulme[67] and keep open the park for the "free and uninterrupted enjoyment of the people of his native town of Bolton".[68][15] The present owner and successor to the corporation of Liverpool is United Utilities. The main area of the park is adjacent to the Lower Rivington Reservoir and behind Rivington and Blackrod High School toward Rivington Hall Barn, Rivington Pike, although a distance from the reservoirs and now owned by Chorley Council is part of Lever Park, it is mentioned as such in the Lever park Act 1969 and protected under the wider 1902 Act.[69][64] Access to Lever Park very briefly stopped during the great war and was met with significant public objection. The park land was formerly farmland belonging to The Crosses, Great House Farm and Rivington Hall.[12][70][65] Leverhulme sold the remaining areas outside the park to Liverpool Corporation in 1905 and retained an interest by a covenant on the land preventing building without his or his heirs consent, other than by farms and for operation of the water works.[70]

Two pillars commemorating the gift of Leverhulme mark the entry to the area named Lever park and are located at the junction of Scholes Bank and Lever Park Avenue, Horwich, inscribed with the words “William Hesketh Lever 1st Viscount Leverhulme. Lever Park the gift of William Hesketh Lever 1st Viscount Leverhulme born at 6 Wood Street, Bolton, September 19, 1851 died at Hampstead, London, May 7, 1925. For the benefit of the citizens of his native town and neighbourhood by act of parliament in 1902 the ownership and care of the park were vested in the Corporation of the City of Liverpool”. The park opened in 1904 and retains its tree-lined avenues and a network of footpaths. A dedication ceremony took place to dedicate the park to the people of Bolton on 10 October 1911.

The park was at its peak until Leverhulmes death in 1925, after which everything including buildings, Rivington Hall Museum contents, Leverhulmes Bungalow and contents including fine art, furniture, antiques, Rivington Hall Zoo animals and even the ducks and pigeons were sold by auction. The work on the replica castle stopped.[71] The park was a staging post for troops in the second world war and its barns and adjacent land used to store and produce foods. The park suffered significant neglect in this period, the hall became a derelict building with broken windows, it was saved and remains an attraction after Salmon catering agreed a lease.[12]

Today Lever Park consists of avenues of woodland with bridleways and footpaths converging on a replica castle, the routes are former roads which are in disrepair, the main access route for vehicles is Rivington Lane and has limited car parking. There are two converted barns which trade as tearooms serving food and drinks and Rivington Pike Tower is a landmark on the hill. The valley area gives good vantage points to enjoy the lower Rivington reservoir, the hill is popular with hikers and mountain bike enthusiasts. There are boating facilities at the Anderton Center, a Go Ape operates adjacent to the Great House Barn where there is also an information center and public toilets. The area is popular with a variety of user groups including ramblers, cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists, young and old and families wishing to enjoy the countryside.


The public was prevented from access to the Pike during Easter by the landowners agent, Rivington Heritage Trust alongside Police for first time in its history in 2020 and 2021 during the Covid pandemic.[72] In June 2020[73] Police stepped up patrols on rumours of a gathering, also in May 2021 Police, United Utilities / Rivington Heritage Trust and North West 4x4 Response went patrolling with a view to arrests for offences of "gathering and proceeding to a gathering under the Criminal Justice and Public order act".[74] In June 2021 Police officers are reported to have 'swooped' on Rivington to prevent a rumoured gathering.[75]

Rivington Castle[edit]

Leverhulme commenced the build of a folly, named Rivington Castle in 1911, a scale replica of Liverpool Castle at Coblowe Hillock near the Lower Rivington Reservoir, grade 2 listed since 1967 and is one of the most important features of Lever Park. The build commenced 1912 with clearance of the land and digging foundations, with the first foundation stone laid in 1913[12] and ended on Leverhulmes death in 1925, after which the one tonne crane, stone bogie and other equipment used for the building project including barrows and the workers shed were sold by auction and cleared from the site.[71]

Access to the interior had been blocked by steel bars in the post war decades after World War Two, it is now open to the public. The structure has been altered a number of times by the landowner, before and after listed building status, with the demolition of a stone spiral staircase leading to the 'Great Hall' and stone steps that led to the keep, known as 'The Great Tower', a ledge remains. The castle walls were altered by rebuilding to an angular style at the north wall and near the Keep, stonework was also removed from the wall of the Prison tower as it joins the ante-chapel, the work was undertaken in 2012 as part of safety work in an effort to stop visitors climbing.[76][77]

Blue Planet Scheme[edit]

Rivington Heritage Trust, a body set up in 1997 by United Utilities in order to obtain £15 million in funding for 'Blue Planet Park' had its plans rejected for funding by the Millennium Commission which would have seen them take over all of Lever Park and Rivington Pike, plans were opposed by six regional MPs and were met with huge local opposition. Among issues raised by the public were fears that Music festivals would be held and visitors charged admission, the water company assured the public that would never happen.[78][79][80][81] Den Dover was the Constituency Member of parliament serving for the Conservatives, then in government and raised concerns that the bill presented to parliament would give the water company too much power, he feared public access could be restricted and fee's for entry charged. He opposed the plans and the Water company were forced to withdraw their bill in parliament in July 1997, known as the Lever Park Act, where it met with opposition.[82][83] The trust abandoned the plans by 1998 after considerable local opposition.[84] The trust was an arm of the water company in all but name and decided to change tactics and invited local representation.[85]

Leverhulmes Former Gardens[edit]

The Pigeon Tower, Rivington

On the hillside of Rivington Pike was an area created as gardens to serve a former Bungalow demolished in 1948 belonging to Leverhulme. The site has surviving stone structures that formed part of the Italian style gardens designed by Thomas Mawson between 1905 and 1922, its design features in his book 'The Art and Craft of Garden Making', published 1912.[86][34] The area is now woodland with remains including foundations of the bungalow, a number of stone summer houses, footpaths, steps, bridges, three ponds, streams and the restored Pigeon Tower. A Japanese style gardens was added in 1923, its features have since been lost, its pond remains. Further down the hillside a section was built as a man made ravine and woodland.[67][87] Roynton Cottage built on the hillside by 1902 was a prefabricated wooden structure, destroyed 1913 in an arson attack by suffragette, Edith Rigby.[88] Its replacement was built of york stone in 1914 and named 'The Bungalow' by 1923 Leverhulme who had constantly altered the building added a second story by 1923.[12] After Lever's death in 1925 the entire contents of the Bungalow and the grounds were sold off, the building and land was purchased by the Bolton brewer, John Magee.

After John Magees death in 1939 his executor then offered the property to Bolton Council who declined fearing the effect of increased local rates needed to cover maintenance costs. Liverpool Corporation then purchased the property in late 1939 in turbulent times just prior to the Second World War. During the war the building and grounds were requisitioned by the military, there was a significant decoy site nearby. After the end of the war in 1945 no use could be found of the site due to a clause in the Liverpool Corporation Act restricting use of the site by law to only be used as a private dwelling, this prevented charities and voluntary groups also coming forward. With no buyers and with a great level of neglect and repairs needed by 1948 the bungalow was demolished. The site was then left for many decades to grow wild and neglected, the gardens structures slowly collapsed.[12] By 1974 the park and gardens had passed to the North West Water Authority from Liverpool Corporation, and to United Utilities on privatisation. In the mid 1970's the landowner planned to demolish the remaining garden structures, this was prevented by intervention with listed building status by Chorley Council.[12] From 1976 a local voluntary group, the Bolton Conservation Volunteers stepped in and cleared overgrowth and worked to maintain what had by then become an important public asset.[89] The site was used for unofficial Music festivals in 1976 and 1977. With measures proposed by a group of employees of the water company in 1997 as a part of the Blue Planet Scheme being rejected and opposed by locals it was not until 2012 that the owners through the Rivington Heritage Trust commenced saving the former gardens from ruin. All Rhododendron was removed from the gardens in 2006 after Ramorum Disease was found at the site.[90] By 2016 the trust had obtained funding through public grants and started to clear the former gardens, repair paths and preserve the woodland and remaining structures, the ownership of the site transferred to the trust by way of lease in the same year, the site is managed woodland and the grade 2 listed gardens structures repaired.

Rivington Heritage Trust[edit]

The Rivington Heritage Trust, previously known as United Utilities Heritage Foundation, based at the United Utilities Head Quarters[91] abandoned much of the original Blue Planet Scheme and formed a plan to proceed gradually whilst lobbying and obtaining public support from 1998. By 2013 they had succeeded in obtaining £60,000 in grant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund the Big Lottery Fund and presented new plans for the Rivington Terraced Gardens.[92][93] By 2016 the trust and Groundwork Cheshire Lancashire and Merseyside were successful in obtaining a grant of £3.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to conserve and repair the Rivington Terraced Gardens and remaining Grade II listed structures. The trust is well funded with an income in 2020 of over £1.4 million.[94] A lease of 50 years was also agreed by United Utilities to the Rivington Heritage Trust in the same year.[95] Clearance work has been undertaken by unpaid volunteers.[96] The former gardens held a variety of events in 2018 and 2019, including a two-day music festival and also sell Gin. Public events and access to the former gardens and Pike was stopped during the Covid pandemic[97] and the 2018 moorland fires.[96][98] The Rivington Heritage Trust official aims are to "To consult with stakeholders on the use and development of Rivington Terraced Gardens for the benefit of the public and the environment. The objects of the Trust shall be to:- (i) conserve, preserve, maintain, protect and enhance for the benefit of the public all beneficial aspects and features of the environment of land and structures of outstanding natural beauty or of historic or architecture"[94]

Notable Campaigns[edit]

Rivington Moor was the site of a mass trespass of 12,000 people who descended on the area toward Winter Hill in 1896 after the Smithills Hall land owner blocked off the route from Halliwell to Winter Hill and onto Rivington Moor using a locked gate and stationed his men as guards to stop access, the gate was smashed down by the demonstrators. The event was a forerunner of the Kinder Scout Mass Tresspass and an early battleground of the right to roam, Winter Hill was the biggest rights-of-way battle in British history. Over time people were able to use the disputed route without hindrance.[99] The demonstration is commemorated by a memorial stone on Coal Pit Lane, below Smithills Moor.[62] Leverhulme was also concerned that access to the fields and moorland of Rivington was becoming more restricted.[63]

Lever Park came under threat after water supplies and land forming the catchment area had been moved out of public ownership and were transferred to private corporations in the Water privatisation in England and Wales, this was followed by a significant increase in use of gates and fences with stiles on footpaths and bridleways appearing from 1989, in response at Rivington 3000 local campaigners demonstrated and took a pledge to protect the area from then on after attending a meeting of opponents to the bill, organised as a rally at Rivington, led by the Ramblers Association in association with the Open Spaces Society and attended by Ann Taylor MP; mountaineer Chris Bonington; Ramblers’ chairman Chris Hall; the leader of Lancashire County Council, Louise Ellman, and Kinder Scout trespass veteran Benny Rothman,[100][101][102][12]

Lever Park was again under threat in a further attempt by the water company supported by Horwich Town Council who attempted to remove statutory protection through a parliamentary act in 1997, they were met with considerable local opposition and the act of parliament was blocked by a cross party group of six regional Conservative and Labour MPs Terry Lewis, Tom Sackville, Peter Thurnham, Andrew Bennett and Gerald Kaufman and was opposed by the local MP, Den Dover.[103][78][82]

Roynton Road

Rights of Way[edit]

Lever Park is protected under statutory powers within the Liverpool Corporation Act 1902 ensuring "free and uninterrupted enjoyment". The area is popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders with footpaths , bridleways and roads providing access to the park, hillside and surrounding moorland.[104] Rivington moor, Winter Hill, Rivington Pike, Brown Hill and the former Japanese and Kitchen Gardens within the Bungalow Grounds are part of an extensive area of open access land recorded at Lancashire County Council and has a right to roam protected by the statutory powers in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.[105][106]

There is a public footpath and a bridleway from Lever Park to Rivington Pike and Terraced Gardens. The public footpath number 82 runs through the gardens from the Ravine via the former Japanese and Kitchen Gardens, which is also an area of open access land with a right to roam.[107][108]

There are a network of roads that provide access to Rivington recorded on the National Street Gazetteer. Access to Lever Park by vehicle is via Rivington Lane, (USRN 7401372) many former roads in Lever park are gated and are now bridleways along with a network of public footpaths. Toward Rivington Pike the old coach road is Belmont Road (USRN 7400767) and is an open public road from Horwich, the road becomes rougher and less maintained the further up the hill it climbs in the direction of the Pigeon Tower, where it splits. The descending road there leads to Lower House car park but the roads surface is washed away and not maintained, the route leading to Rivington Rd and the moorland is gated.[109][110][106]


The Rivington Pike Fell Race has been held on Easter Saturday since 1892. The fell race originally started from the Horwich railway works, but since 1930 from the park entrance at Lever Park Avenue. It attracts around 400 runners. The course is 3+14 miles (5.2 km) long and has a 700-foot (213 m) ascent.[111][112]

The area around Rivington and Anglezarke was the location for the 2002 Commonwealth Games mountain biking competition.[113] The area is well used by hikers and hillwalkers. The Holcombe Hunt meets each year at Rivington Hall Barn.[114]


Phoebe Hesketh, lived at Fisher House in the village where she wrote several volumes of poetry and two partly autobiographical books Rivington: the story of a village and Rivington: village of the mountain ash. She also wrote a biography, My Aunt Edith about Edith Rigby the suffragette.[115][116]

The artist Alfred East stayed at Roynton Cottage in summer 1909. Lever commissioned a series of paintings of the surrounding landscape, the reservoirs, country park, village and the pike.[117] Lever gave 15 of them to Bolton Art Gallery[118] and others to Bolton School, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and the Lady Lever Art Gallery[119] at Port Sunlight. East gave two water colours, A glimpse of Rivington Water and In Rivington Park to Kettering Museum and Art Gallery. The gallery acquired an oil painting [From] Rivington Pike that East exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1913 in the 1960s.[117]

The Bolton Museum and Masonic Lodge, Ridgmont House, Horwich hold a painting titled "Rivington Lakes" dated 1872 and with a variation titled Rivington Valley (1857) held at Walker Art Gallery, by Frederick William Hulme.[120]



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  • Billington, W. D. (1982), From Affetside to Yarrow, Ross Anderson Publications, ISBN 0-86360-003-4
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  • Lane, Dave (2008), Winter Hill Scrapbook, Lulu, ISBN 978-1-4092-2068-8
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  • Smith, M. D. (1984), Leverhulme's Rivington: the story of the Rivington 'Bungalow', Chorley: Nelson Brothers Printers, ISBN 0-9508772-1-2
  • Smith, M. D. (1989), Rivington, Lancashire, Nelson Brothers Printers Limited, ISBN 0-9508772-8-X
  • Waymark, Janet (2009), Thomas Mawson: Life, Gardens and Landscapes, Frances Lincoln, ISBN 978-0-7112-2595-4
  • Mawson, Thomas (1912), The art & craft of garden making (Third ed.), London: B.T Batsford

Further reading

External links[edit]