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Westhoughton Town Hall, built 1903
Westhoughton is located in Greater Manchester
 Westhoughton shown within Greater Manchester
Population 23,056 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference
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

Westhoughton 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 Band), White Horse, Over Hulton, Four Gates (or Fourgates), Chequerbent, which was all but destroyed by the building of the M61 motorway, Hunger Hill, Snydale, Hart Common, Marsh Brook, Daisy Hill and Dobb Brow.[4]


  • History 1
    • Toponymy 1.1
    • Banastre Rebellion 1.2
    • Civil War 1.3
    • Industrial Revolution 1.4
  • Governance 2
    • Parliamentary representation 2.1
  • Geography 3
  • Demography 4
  • Education 5
  • Religion 6
  • Landmarks 7
  • Transport 8
  • Media 9
  • Notable residents 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13



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] The Village of Tideswell in Derbyshire shares this same legend.

Banastre Rebellion

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

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.

Industrial Revolution

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 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

  • Westhoughton Community Network
  • SWAN (Save Westhoughton Act Now)
  • Parish of Westhoughton
  • More information and photos of Westhoughton
  • Pretoria Disaster grave photos
  • Westhoughton Online

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^ AA Route Planner. URL accessed 29 May 2007.
  3. ^ Neighbourhood Statistics - Westhoughton CP (Parish). URL accessed 22 May 2007.
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b c d
  6. ^ Billington, W.D. (1982). From Affetside to Yarrow : Bolton place names and their history, Ross Anderson Publications (ISBN 0-86360-003-4).
  7. ^
  8. ^
  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. ^
  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. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Westhoughton UD: Historical Boundaries. Vision of Britain. URL accessed 26 February 2008.
  22. ^ "Places of interest" at
  23. ^
  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. ^
  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.
  31. ^ Westhoughton UD: Total Population. Vision of Britain.URL accessed 26 February 2008.
  32. ^ National Registration Act, 1939. URL accessed 8 June 2007.
  33. ^ St Bartholomew's Church, Westhoughton (Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project). URL accessed 26 October 2006.
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ Bradshaw Gass & Hope website. URL accessed 26 October 2007.
  37. ^
  38. ^ Nicholsons of Malvern – portfolio. URL accessed 26 October 2006.
  39. ^
  40. ^ "Places of interest - John Wesley in Wingates" at
  41. ^ "Westhoughton Methodist Church, Bolton Methodist Circuit" at
  42. ^
  43. ^ "Westhoughton Pentecostal Church" at
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ Subterranea Britannica: SB-Sites: Chequerbent Station (2nd site).
  47. ^
  48. ^ Network Rail
  49. ^
  50. ^ "Westhoughton Library" at
  51. ^ [1]
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^ Internet Movie Database – Robert Shaw. URL accessed 27 May 2007.


See also

Notable residents

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 and a large, encased model, of the original St. Bartholomew's Parish Church, built from match-sticks.

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]

Westhoughton Library, Library Street


Westhoughton is served by bus services to Bolton, Wigan and Leigh. The most frequent service between Bolton and Wigan is operated by Stagecoach Manchester. Other services between Leigh and Horwich are operated by South Lancs Travel and First/Maytree Travel, the Blackrod – Little Lever service is operated by (SLT), Bolton to Aspull is operated by Maytree) and Bolton to Wigan by Arriva North West/Maytree.

Electric trams to Bolton served Westhoughton until 1947 after 23 years of service. On 19 December 1924, the Bolton to Deane service was extended to Westhoughton).

In the late-1980s a railway station planned for Dobb Brow was not built.[47] Lostock and Horwich Parkway stations, to the north, also serve the town. The annual usage of Daisy Hill and Westhoughton stations was more than 500,000 passengers in 2013/14, greater than many major UK towns.[48]

Westhoughton railway station and Daisy Hill railway station 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.

The M61 motorway passes the north of the town which is served by junctions 5 and 6. The A58 and the A6 cross the town as do the B5236, the B5235, and the B5239.


The Church of England School built in 1861, opposite St Bartholomew's church, is a Grade II listed building[44] as are houses at 110 and 112, Market Street.[45] The school, which was known as Westhoughton Parochial School, has been renamed St Bartholomew's Church of England, Primary School.

Snydle water tower was built by Westhoughton Council in 1914 and lay derelict for many years with its tank removed and the tower open to the sky. It has been restored and converted into a private dwelling that is visible from the M61 motorway.

Snydle water tower


The industrial north west was a focus for non-conformism, and until the 1990s the Church of the Nazarene stood in Church Street. The Quaker Meeting House is now a Christian fellowship,[42] and a tin tabernacle was situated off Bolton Road. There is a Pentecostal church, a United Reformed Church, 'The Bethel' and an independent church on Tithbarn Street.[43]

John Wesley preached a sermon at Barnaby's Farm in Wingates in April 1784. Services were held in cottages opposite the farm which became known as 'Methody Row' before the first Methodist church was built in 1835. Another Methodist Church was built in Dixon Street in 1871. Houses occupy the site of Westhoughton Independent Methodist Church, where Wesley once stood, but the stone, from which he preached, was moved to Grove Lane Chapel, now Westhoughton Methodist Church's church hall. The final service was held 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 new, Methodist church was built adjacent to Grove Lane Chapel, which now serves as church hall.[41]

Stone from which John Wesley is said to have preached
Other Anglican churches include St John the Evangelist in Wingates, and

Westhoughton's old chapel of 1552 was replaced by a brick-built church in 1731 and a third church, the tin, spotted metal and hammered lead.[38]

The parish church of St. Bartholomew


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 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.


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.

Census population of the urban district of Westhoughton
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 † 1951 1961 1971
Source: Westhoughton UD: Total Population.[31]
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]


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

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] The town incorporates several former villages and hamlets including railway stations including Wingates, White Horse, Over Hulton, Four Gates (or Fourgates), Chequerbent, Hunger Hill, Snydale, Hart Common, Marsh Brook, Daisy Hill and Dobb Brow.[4]


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]

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.

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."

Parliamentary representation

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.

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]

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]


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]

[18] A memorial erected in 1910 is grade II listed.[17]

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