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'Lock Down' Update

We were fortunate to get the Spring magazine out before the 'lock down' and I hope all our members have received a copy. Amongst the wide rage of contributions, I am sure we were all taken with the story of the 'Dolphins at Horwich Pool', something that took place during December 1977. We would be interested to hear from anyone who remembers it and if you don't believe it happened, here are a couple of photos:

Dolphins At Horwich Pool
Dolphins At Horwich Pool

Before we know it, it will be time for the Autumn magazine so please send in any articles/stories you would like to see published.

It is unfortunate that we are unable to hold our speaker meetings, open our new exhibitions or organise any walks or trips for the foreseeable future. However, there are still things we can do so that we are ready to go when we get the 'all clear'. For example, the national and local celebrations/commemorations of VE Day have now been put back to VJ Day (15th August) which is no bad thing as it puts the 2 events on an equal footing and it gives us all more time to investigate and write down those important family memories of those momentous days. So please send your contributions to the website e-mail address.

To help to get you thinking, here are a couple of photos of Horwich celebrating VE Day in May 1945:

A Street Party in St Ann's Road
A Parade in Winter Street

Keep safe, best regards. Stuart Whittle (Chairman)

Photos From Our Rivington Gardens Exhibition

Rivington Terraced Gardens Rivington Terraced Gardens


Erecting Shop

Whilst it was a sad day, the 'farewell' event at the former Horwich Loco Works on Sat 4th January, to say goodbye to the Erecting Shop, was also a special one with over 200 visitors able to marvel at this impressive structure for the last time.

Some had never been inside before, others reminisced about what it was like to work there. And what they all wanted to know was what will be left to remind the Horwichers of the future of their railway heritage. There was some good news on this front with the Leader of Bolton Council pledging to bring '1008' and 'Wren', 2 of the Horwich-built locos now at York Railway Museum, back to the site. Exactly where they might go and what will surround them is still to be determined and I'm sure it won't be cheap! However, we at Horwich Heritage will be fully supporting this project and doing our best to ensure it happens - so watch this space!


Saturday 18th January saw the opening of our latest exhibition with an impressive array of never-before-seen items from our own collection and from 3 visiting exhibitors.

The exhibition runs until 12th March and is well worth a visit.

Chairman's Message - January 2020

A Happy New Year to you all! Let's hope its another good one for Horwich Heritage and its members and supporters as we embark on our 35th year.

If you look at the programme, you'll see that we have lots of things planned and, as you'll see below, we'll be embarking on a number of projects which require your help - so we very much look forward to hearing from you! Best wishes, Stuart Whittle.

• We start our 2020 Open Day/Exhibition programme earlier than usual with a Models Exhibition on Sat. 18th January (10am - 1.00pm). We will be displaying a range of our own and visiting models, many never seen before - so please join us.

• We have also begun researching this year's major project, '75 Years Since VE & VJ Day', and would welcome any contributions of photo- graphs, items or memories in time for our Open Day/Exhibition on 9th May.

• We have all been impressed with the restoration work that has been taking place at the Rivington Terraced Gardens and are pleased to be able to present an Open Day/Exhibition showcasing the original designs and recent renovations on Sat. 14th March.

• This year's Family History Open Day on Sat. 28th March will once again offer an invitation to other Local History Societies and members of the public to come along and explore their local family connections.

• Since we are celebrating our 35th Anniversary this year, we thought it appropriate to look back on all we have achieved with a presentation at our AGM on Tuesday 9th June and an Open Day/Exhibition on Sat. 13th June.

• And for our final Open Day/Exhibition of the year on Sat. 12th Sept. we intend to display the achievements of the many and varied Sporting Clubs of Horwich and will be inviting as many as possible to take part.

In order to keep our marvellous Heritage Centre going and run our extensive exhibition programme, we are always looking for more Volunteers to join our rota. So if you can spare just a couple of hours a month and are interested in local history, please contact Les Duckworth on 696799 or e-mail:


Arrangements have now been confirmed with the owners, Bluemantle, for local politicians, residents and former employees to visit the Erecting Shop on Saturday 4th January between 10am & 1pm. Anyone who has not registered to visit already should do so by contacting Derek Cartwright of Horwich Heritage on before Monday 30th December.

Visitors should assemble at Rivington House (the former Works Offices) and will be able to look inside and have a tour of the Erecting Shop and the wider site ( including the new Bellway housing development). For those unable to come on the Saturday there are a limited number of places available for visits on Friday afternoon, 3rd January, between 3-5pm.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year For 2020

Stuart Whittle, Pauline Barton, The Mayor & Mayoress Of Horwich

Burnt Edge & Winter Hill Walk

Here are 3 photos of the Burnt Edge Walk on 11th Sept. - an epic 4 hour historical tour of the desolate (and windswept!) moorland above Bolton & Horwich. The walk took in 'Two Lads' also.

Two New Books Available

Horwich In WWII

Horwich In WWII

£8.00 (£5 to members)

Only Three Pence A Brick

Only Three Pence A Brick


80 Years since the Start of WWII

We had a very successful and enjoyable day last Saturday for our full programme of 80 Years since the Start of WWII events. For those who missed it, the exhibition will continue until March 2020 and the book is on sale at the Centre price £8.


Ever since the plans for the redevelopment of the Loco Works site have been announced, Horwich Heritage has been fighting to save some of the historic buildings. Despite being a 'Conservation Area', most of the workshops have been demolished but we were promised that 4 would remain in the 'historic core.' Now even they are under threat.

The most iconic of them all, the Erecting Shop, is now scheduled for demolition as a result of a proposals presented by the developers who say that the proposed £12m link road will affect the building and that it has no viable use anyway and will be too costly to restore. In my professional opinion (as a former Planning Consultant) both of these reasons for demolition are 'contrived' and carefully designed to persuade Bolton Planners & Historic England that there is no alternative to demolition. In reality, this is not the case.

The road line can easily be moved a few metres to miss the building (as I have demonstrated) and the viability of the building should not be judged now, when there is no one living there, but in a few years time when it could become the 'community hub' for c. 5000 who will require a new Primary School, commercial, health, welfare and community facilities. Matters have now come to a head and the planning application goes before Bolton Council this week on Thursday (22nd August 2019). All I can do now is make a 'last ditch' plea to the Planning Committee to get the developers to amend their plans and spare this 'cathedral of railway engineering'. To demolish it now would be a crime and something that people will come increasingly to regret in years to come. It is our heritage that is being destroyed and, sadly, it is out of our hands!

Stuart Whittle (Chairman)


On Saturday 20th July, Horwich Heritage opened its latest exhibition entitled: 'On Your Doorstep: The West Pennine Moors' which offers a fascinating insight into the history of this large and often bleak and desolate area covering some 90 square miles and stretching from Bolton in the south to Blackburn in the north and from Chorley in the west to Darwen in the east.

Today it is a major recreation resource for the people of this region and beyond but in times gone by it has been many things to many people. The aim of this exhibition is to explore the main themes of its history from pre-historic times, through the period when it was a hive of industry and habitation to recent military history and modern leisure pursuits.

There are some well known Neolithic sites such as Noon Hill and the Pike Stones but last year's moorland fires exposed a number of hitherto undiscovered sites and artefacts which will be discussed by our visiting experts including Ian Trumble, Senior Archeologist from Bolton Museum. Maybe you have discovered something on the moors that you would like identifying - if so please bring it along.

It is difficult to imagine today people living and working on those bleak moors but no so long ago there were lots of 'hardy souls'making a living in the many mines and farms that were dotted across the landscape. There is still plenty of evidence of these activities if you know where to look and again we will have experts from the Smithills Woodland Trust and West Pennine Moors Rangers on hand to tell you what is out there.

During living memory, in WWII, Rivington and the surrounding moorland was a 'militarised zone' where public access was prohibited. Army units were stationed there and training activities including the use of live ammunition took place. For many years after the war, munitions that were left behind (some live) were continually being been discovered and removed and even today you may come across something 'unusual'. Again, if you have collected anything that needs to be identified please bring it along.

Today, millions of visitors enjoy the delights of the Rivington Reservoirs, Rivington Barns (Saxon origin), Lever Park , Lord Leverhulme's Terraced Gardens, Rivington Pike, Anglezarke and the wilder moors beyond - and they are right on our doorstep! How fortunate we are - and each one of these areas has its own story to tell. If you come along to our exhibition (which will run until 5th September) you will be able to find out so much more about them.

Photos: The Changing Face Of Horwich Shopping

Happy 130th Birthday 1008

We had an excellent opening day for our 'Happy 130th Birthday 1008'exhibition last Saturday at the Heritage Centre

100 people turned up on an awful day weather -wise to enjoy our display of photos and artefacts including a model of 1008 itself, a splendid large scale model 2-4-2 tank engine (originally built by Norman Lowe) brought along by current owner Richard Prideaux and the Leyland Model Railway Society, film of old Horwich locos, the 1008 song performed by Horwich Folk and of course birthday cake!

Our special guest was 76 year old Jim Unsworth who actually worked on the restoration of 1008 at Horwich Works 60 years ago. If you missed the opening, you can still see the exhibition at the Heritage Centre which runs until May.

Murder On The Moor

It is 180 years this year since the infamous 'Murder on the Moor' took place and Horwich Heritage are commemorating this event with a meal and re-enactment of the trial of the alleged perpetrator, James Whittle, at the Blundell Arms on Wednesday 17th April 2019.

The circumstances surrounding this crime have always remained a mystery but the fact remains that a 20 year old packman, George Henderson, was murdered on his way across the moors above Horwich on 9th November 1838. He had been shot and was found dying in a ditch but he had not been robbed. James Whittle was the prime suspect, since he was spotted with a loaded gun in the vicinity and, following an Inquest at the Moorgate Inn (now the Blundell Arms) on 13th November, he was sent for trial in Liverpool.

At the end of the trial in April 1839, Whittle was acquitted due to the unreliability of the witnesses, who may well have been influenced by the £100 reward on offer (a substantial amount in those days). No one else was ever charged with the murder and the event was commemorated for posterity by the placing of a cast iron column at the site.

That column is still there today and is a well-known local landmark known as the Scotsman's Stump. To mark this year's anniversary, Horwich Heritage has carefully restored the stump so that it can remain as a lasting reminder of this tragic event for many years to come.

Chairman's Message - January 2019

A Happy New Year to you all! Let's hope its another good one for Horwich Heritage and its members and supporters. If you look at the programme, you'll see that we have lots of things planned and, as you'll see below, we have embarked on a number of projects which require your help - so we very much look forward to hearing from you! Best wishes, Stuart Whittle.

• We start our 2019 Open Day/Exhibition programme with a celebration of the 130th birthday of Horwich's first steam locomotive on Sat. 16th March (10am - 1.00pm) - please join us for a piece of birthday cake!

• We have also begun researching our first major project of the year 'The Changing Face of Shopping in Horwich' and would welcome any contributions of photographs, items or memories in time for our Open Day/Exhibition on 11th May.

• This year marks the 60th Anniversary of the opening of the Loco Works Training School (now Alliance Learning) and in April we are planning a re-union of former apprentices/trainees. If you are interested in coming along please ring 847797or contact us via Facebook.

• Our 2nd major research project this year involves the commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of the start of WWII in September and we would love to hear from anyone who was a child in the war or had relatives who served or fought (or maybe served/fought themselves!). We are currently compiling a Roll of Honour for those who died.

• The meal & re-enactment of the infamous 'Murder on the Moor' (180th Anniversary) at the Blundell Arms in November was greatly enjoyed by those who attended - so much so that we are doing it again on Wed. 17th April (the anniversary of the trial). Please book early as there are only 36 tickets available (price £16)

As part of our service to the public of Horwich, we are looking to expand our rota of Volunteers who look after the Horwich Heritage Centre, so if you can spare just a couple of hours a month and are interested in local history, please contact Les Duckworth on 696799.

School's Heritage Saved

"Clock tower from top of old Horwich primary school is preserved."

Originally written by Rosalyn Roden, c/o Bolton News.

DURING the demolition of an old school, a piece of Horwich's heritage has been preserved for future generations to come, in what has been described as 'a remarkable feat'.

The clock tower which sat atop the former Chorley New Road Primary School has been crane-lifted off the old building as part of a meticulous six-hour process which cost contractors more than £15,000.

Willmott Dixon, with the help of Horwich Heritage, has saved the structure and intend to relocate it in the playground area of the new school.

Roy Davies, a member and volunteer of Horwich Heritage Centre, said: "The finial is an historic part of Horwich. You do not see many finials these days - architecturally, they are few and far between. So to have one in such good condition, with the lead preserved, it is quite a remarkable feat to have it saved."

He added: "Saving the finial was a planning requirement after the original application went in for the new school.

"Horwich Heritage have been involved from the start and with excellent cooperation from the builders, managed to remove it successfully with two huge cranes over a six-hour period on September 11.

"In most cases, these important piece of our history are not saved. I doubt there are many builders who would have gone to these lengths. The contractors footed the entire bill."

Willmott Dixon brought Ainscough Crane Hire on board to manoeuvre the historic piece down from atop the roof of the old school building.

The clock tower is currently being stored at the back of the old school and is due to be incorporated into the new site before construction is completed in March 2019.

It is understood the tower will become a feature in the new playground, placed on a new timber base with the clock face reinstated, and a new fence around it.

Mr Davies said: "The finial's original purpose was that of a bell tower. It is made out of timber and lead coating. There are perforations around it for letting sound out. It was converted in about 1989 when the clock was put in it."

A planning document of an heritage assessment reads: "The school is a Renaissance-style building, locally distinctive because of its triple-gabled facade and clock tower.

"The clock tower is attractive and its appearance is curiously reminiscent in miniature of that at Bolton Town Hall of 1866-1873."

Josh Heavens, Willmott Dixon's senior building manager on the project, said: "We are delighted to have been able to help preserve the clock tower for the local community to enjoy and would like to thank Horwich Heritage and our supply chain partners for all their help with the project.

"Leaving a positive legacy in the communities we work in is very important to Willmott Dixon; we believe strongly we have a purpose beyond profit and we will always endeavour to help where we can."

Bolton News Coverage

WATCH: Bolton's 'Munitionettes'

As the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War approaches, we're looking back at the role of those back home.

The conflict wasn't just fought in the trenches on the Western Front, but on the home front too.

Almost a million women worked in munitions factories all over the country, including Horwich near Bolton.

The local heritage centre is paying tribute to the so-called Munitionettes.

Paul Crone reports.

Watch The Video >

Horwich Heritage Summer Walk: 4th July 2018

Our group of 20 spent an excellent 2 hours climbing steadily from the Jolly Crofters up to Wilderswood and as far as Ormston's Farm (shown on the 1620 map of Horwich) before descending down through Wallsuches and back for a welcome pint!

The old farmers and miners would hardly recognise the area now and there are some very historic and desirable properties with splendid views out across the Lancashire Plain as far as North Wales.

We were blessed with a lovely temperature after the heat of the day and there were no signs or smells of the fire that had been raging over the other side of the hill - an altogether memorable event enjoyed by all who came along.

Horwich: Past, Present & Future

Photo of our latest Open Day/Exhibition on 21st July entitled 'Horwich: Past, Present & Future' which not only showcased Horwich's fascinating past but gave our visitors the chance to comment on its future by talking to the Horwich Neighbourhood Plan representatives.

The exhibition runs until November during which time comments will still be welcome.

Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Society Visit

Horwich Heritage was pleased to host a visit of 50 members from the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Society on Sat. 30th June.

The visit comprised a full day's itinarary (10am - 5pm) starting at the Heritage Centre then followed by a walking tour of Old Station Park and the former Loco Works site, lunch at the Bowling Green PH, a 'vintage' bus ride (Bolton Corporation Atlantian) to and from the '50 years since the end of steam celebrations' at Bolton Interchange and concluding with a look at our railway exhibition & films at the Heritage Centre.

The sun shone (of course), a good day was had by all, and we were able to 'unveil' for our visitors the newly-restored (by Roy Davies & Horwich Heritage) RMI Inscription Stone outside the old Training School (now Alliance Learning).

The L&YR members particularly appreciated this visit as it may well be the last time they are able to see the remaining Loco Works buildings before they are demolished!

PHOTOS > (1) Outside the former Works offices (Rivington House) and (2) with the Leyland Atlantean outside the Bowling Green PH on Lee Lane.


Happy New Year to all our members & friends - I hope it is a good one for us all!

The New Year kicks off in style with our first meeting on 10th January. Unfortunately Jonathan Ali is unwell so he can't give his WWI talk but we are pleased to welcome a more than adequate substitute in Roy Davies who will be talking about 'On the Bench' - with lots of interesting tales about his time as a Magistrate.

Our event planning starts right away with meetings of the Craft & Gift Fair & 'Lost Businesses of Horwich' Sub Committees this week and we hope to have the long-awaited Ted Brownlow book out in time for our February meeting. We are already looking for articles for the Spring magazine and are planning new ventures to do with further heritage walks and plaques around Horwich as well as presenting our new programme of speakers & Open Days/Exhibitions (see elsewhere on the web site).

So please join us as we embark on another exciting year at Horwich Heritage.

Best wishes, Stuart Whittle (Chairman)

Dear Members, I was just finishing my report on what has been another busy & successful 6 months of speakers, Open Days/Exhibitions & events when I received the sad news that our dear friend and founder member, Geoff Waine, had died.

Suddenly the images of what we have achieved as a Society over the past 34 years with Geoff as our 'elder stateman' flashed before me - and I felt so very proud to have shared all that with Geoff along the way. No doubt there will be many tributes from other organisations in the town who have benefitted from Geoff's guidance & expertise, but we at Horwich Heritage will always remember his special contribution to our Society. His dream was always to have our own Heritage Centre and thankfully he saw that happen.

Thanks Geoff. Rest in Peace. - Stuart Whittle

'The Founding Fathers of Horwich Heritage' - taken at one of our many appearances in 'period dress' at Horwich Carnival.

At the 30th Anniversary celebrations of Horwich Heritage

80 Years Of Aerospace At Lostock

The 80 Years of Aerospace at Lostock exhibition launch on 19th May was very well attended as you might imagine with lots of 'memory lane' discussions and a healthy sale of the 2 dvds and commemorative (MBDA) book.

We were also very pleased that Bernard Waldron the MD of MBDA was able to 'drop in'. Many thanks must go to David Kaye for all his efforts at organising the exhibition material and producing his own dvd of the History of the Lostock site - with the splendid assistance of cameraman and producer Wisedale and MBDA archivist, Mick Crossley.

The exhibition continues until 20th July and I'm sure it will have a steady stream of visitors.

Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Society Visit

Horwich Heritage was pleased to host a visit of 50 members from the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Society on Sat. 30th June.

The visit comprised a full day's itinarary (10am - 5pm) starting at the Heritage Centre then followed by a walking tour of Old Station Park and the former Loco Works site, lunch at the Bowling Green PH, a 'vintage' bus ride (Bolton Corporation Atlantian) to and from the '50 years since the end of steam celebrations' at Bolton Interchange and concluding with a look at our railway exhibition & films at the Heritage Centre.

The sun shone (of course), a good day was had by all, and we were able to 'unveil' for our visitors the newly-restored (by Roy Davies & Horwich Heritage) RMI Inscription Stone outside the old Training School (now Alliance Learning).

The L&YR members particularly appreciated this visit as it may well be the last time they are able to see the remaining Loco Works buildings before they are demolished!

PHOTOS > (1) Outside the former Works offices (Rivington House) and (2) with the Leyland Atlantean outside the Bowling Green PH on Lee Lane.

80 Years Of Aerospace At Lostock

The 80 Years of Aerospace at Lostock exhibition launch on 19th May was very well attended as you might imagine with lots of 'memory lane' discussions and a healthy sale of the 2 dvds and commemorative (MBDA) book.

We were also very pleased that Bernard Waldron the MD of MBDA was able to 'drop in'. Many thanks must go to David Kaye for all his efforts at organising the exhibition material and producing his own dvd of the History of the Lostock site - with the splendid assistance of cameraman and producer Wisedale and MBDA archivist, Mick Crossley.

The exhibition continues until 20th July and I'm sure it will have a steady stream of visitors.


Having recently received several thousand pounds in donations from individuals & organisations, we have embarked on a programme of upgrading local heritage features which are in need of some TLC.

Thanks to the splendid efforts of our member, Roy Davies, we have now completed the first 2 projects: the refurbishment of the Scotsman's stump and the Church Street stocks (see BN photos) and have several others in the pipeline. The restoration of the pillars at the entrance to Lever Park in honour of its benefactor, Lord Leverhulme, is on our list but this will cost £4,500 because of the necessity for road closures and detailed stone restoration work. This is beyond our current budget and we are therefore appealing to local individuals & businesses to assist us in bringing these important local landmarks back to their original condition.

If you feel you can help with a donation, however small, please contact Stuart Whittle on 01204 847797 or e-mail

Pauline Barton's I'd Die for a Cases Pie - Video By Peter Ravald


It was on Thursday 27th February 1958 when one of the worst air disasters in the region's history happened. Many lost loved ones when the Bristol 170 Wayfarer, which was ferrying passengers on a visit to Manchester from the Isle of Man, careered into Winter Hill in atrocious weather conditions. Seven people survived.

The tragedy claimed the lives of 35 representatives from the Manx motor trade, mechanics, engineers and motor traders, who were on their way to visit the Exide Battery factory in Greater Manchester. 39 members of the Island's Motor Trade had set off from Ronaldsway on a charter flight to Manchester Ringway due to arrive at 10am. The Pilot was Captain Michael Cairns, the First Officer was William Howarth with Jennifer Curtis as Stewardess.

People of Horwich still remember 9.45am on that terrible snowy and foggy day when the aircraft struck the side of Winter Hill. The badly cut first officer was able to free himself and crawl through thick mist and deep snow to the television mast to raise the alarm. It has become part of our local history. One of those involved was John Sanderson, a licensee of the Jolly Crofters, and a member of Horwich Rotary Club. With Jack Speight, sub-postmaster, and John Shawcross, he drove up George's Lane to join a party of men from the quarry to dig through the snowdrifts to enable rescue vehicles to get to the site.

When they reached the wreckage, it presented a scene of devastation and there was little that could be done for many of the passengers. Those still alive were given morphine injections and carried down the hillside on stretchers to waiting ambulances to be taken to the Royal Bolton Infirmary. The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on Victoria Road, now replaced with houses, became a mortuary.

Captain Cairns and First Officer Howarth both survived as did Stewardess Curtis who was found still strapped into her seat.

Fortunately something good did come out of the disaster, the bringing together in friendship of the Rotary Club of Horwich and the Rotary Club of Douglas with the motto of 'service above self as a basis of worthy enterprise' and the four-way test of truth, fairness, goodwill and friendship, benefit for all concerned. Members of the Rotary Clubs have made exchange visits over the years. This year on the 60th anniversary, Tuesday 27th February 2018, people will come from the Isle of Man to share in a short Remembrance Service at the mast including Howard Callow, an active Rotarian, who said:

"I was only four when I lost my father. This date will forever be important to so many in the Isle of Man."

Members of Rotary from Douglas and Horwich and some guests will then gather at the Horwich Heritage Centre to see the plaque and other exhibits and to watch the films that were made to cover the events of that fateful day and the 50th anniversary Memorial Services in Douglas and Horwich in 2008.

Stuart Whittle and Ted Wisedale were responsible for putting together the Horwich Heritage film commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the crash. Their film also included footage and interviews conducted by ITV at around the same time. Stuart and Ted were able to contact and interview quite a few people who remembered the events of 27th February 1958 and helped with the rescue. These included Ken Whittaker, Neil Weaver and Jim Stutchbury, some of the quarrymen who helped to dig a way through to the crash site, Gordon Burton, who as a young police officer was one of the first on the scene, Peter Tonge, a Bolton Evening News journalist who had to immediately report back on the devastation that he witnessed first hand, Dr Sheila McKinley, who attended to the injured and Kath Pyle, who helped out at the Jolly Crofters pub, which became the press HQ.

Ten years on, these interviews and the footage taken have become even more poignant as some of those involved are no longer with us. Fortunately their memories will continue to live on for the benefit of future generations and the Horwich Heritage exhibition '60 Years since the Winter Hill Air Crash' will continue to run until the beginning of May.

Anyone wishing to learn more about the circumstances of the crash and the heroic rescue attempts by the people of Horwich and the emergency services should read 'The Devil Casts His Net' by Steve Morrin.


As part of our Commemoration of 100 years since the End of World War I in November 1918, we are looking to collect and record as many family memories of Horwich men & women who served in the Great War as we can, and to find out what happened to those who survived.

If you can help, please contact:

Stuart Whittle on 01204 847797


Craft & Gift Fair 2017

On Saturday 4th November we enjoyed another successful Craft & Gift Fair at the Horwich Community Centre (10am - 2pm). This year's theme (not surprisingly) was 'Bonfire Night.'

We were pleased to see a number of younger visitors getting involved in the face painting, dressing up, quizzes and 'Penny for the Guy'.

There was also a Bonfire Art display by Horwich Art Society, lots of interesting craft stalls as well as tombola and a raffle and not forgetting Carr's pasties & peas!

This excellent event was enjoyed by over 100 visitors and will be a welcome addition to our funds.


60 Years Since The Last Steam Loco

Our next Horwich Heritage Open Day/Exhibition takes place on Saturday 12th August, 10am - 1.00pm at the Horwich Heritage Centre. It is entitled '60 years since the last Steam Loco' and pays tribute to the 'golden age' of steam locomotive production at Horwich Loco Works between 20th February 1899 (when the first loco, Sir John Aspinall's 1008, rolled out of the erecting shop) and 27th November 1957 (when the last steam loco BR Standard Class 4, No.76099, left the Works). During those 68 years some 1,830 steam locos were constructed and 45,000 repaired.

It might have been the end of an era but it wasn't the end of steam at Horwich or of loco production. For the next 7 years, until 1964, a further 5,000 steam locos were repaired and 169 diesel locomotives were produced. After that, however, it was largely a matter of repairing diesel & electric locos, carriages & wagons before the Works closed on 23rd December 1983 after 97 years of operation. This was a devastating blow to a town which had been so dependant on the Works but fortunately new sources of employment came along shortly afterwards with the Middlebrook development and Horwich is thriving again. Unfortunately, it is about to say goodbye to most of the Railway Works premises, which have been an industrial estate for the past 30 years, as they are gradually being demolished to make way for 1700 new homes on 'Rivington Chase'. We hope sufficient 'heritage' will be retained in the new development to remind future generations of Horwich's wonderful contribution as one of Britains 6 major railway towns.

Time passes... the Works closed 34 years ago, so if you were 30 years old or more when it closed you would be retired by now. If you were an apprentice at the Works during the steam era you would be in your mid 70s. So, as there are fewer and fewer men and women left to remember the age of steam at Horwich, it is all the more important to remember & celebrate it while we can. If you worked on steam locos at Horwich please get in touch and do come along on 12th August to share your memories. Fortunately, Horwich Heritage has a good archive of Works memories, memorabilia & photos for everyone to look at whether you worked at the Loco Works or not, including no less than 10 dvds (all for sale) many of which we will be showing on the day. So young or not so young, please come along. Horwich has a remarkable railway legacy which needs to be preserved and passed on down the generations.

Ridgmont House

The last steam loco to be built leaves the Works 27th Nov. 1957

Top o'th Such cottages

The last steam loco to be repaired leaves the Works 6th May 1964

Harper's Farm

Workers say goodbye to the last steam loco 6th May 1964

Wildersmoor Mine Tramway

The first intake of apprentices at the new Training School 1958

Rockhaven Castle

End of an era - steam gives way to diesel 1958

Crowther Fold Water Mill

Retirement presentation by Works manager AT Garnett to William Bowen 1963

Crowther Fold Water Mill

The Loco Works site from the air 2012


Geoff Waine

The next Horwich Heritage Open Day & Exhibition is on Saturday 15th July at the Horwich Heritage Centre, Longworth Road, Horwich from 10.00am - 1.00pm (admission free, everyone welcome).

It is entitled 'Local Walks & Beauty Spots' and celebrates the many wonderful locations and points of interest that are so easily accessible in the area around Horwich. There will photographs and information on everywhere from Rivington Pike to Red Moss and from Wilderswood to Bottom o'th Moor and the Groundwork Trust and Volunteers will be updating us on progress at the Rivington Terraced Gardens.

As part of this Open Day/Exhibition, Horwich Heritage will be celebrating the considerable contribution of its co-founder, Geoff Waine, to the development of our Society over a period of 34 years. Following his death in September 2017, we wondered how best to commemorate Geoff's contribution and, after some deliberation, we felt the most appropriate way was to create a Memorial Walk around his 'adopted' town of Horwich taking in all the locations he was fond of. A Booklet detailing this walk will be launched at the 15th July event and will be on sale on the day price £1.50. Shortly after the Open Day finishes members and visitors are invited to join with us to undertake a section of this walk from 2.00 - 4.00pm.

Although not originally from Horwich, Geoff had a love of the town like nowhere else. He called it "His beloved Horwich". Railways and railway research were Geoff's main interests - in fact any aspect or even the sniff of a railway would get him excited. But Geoff was also a font of local knowledge and he had the ability to answer most questions he was asked about the town and its surrounding area without having to think twice - a remarkable man who we shall miss greatly.

Geoff Waine

Geoff had a great love of walking, especially around the Horwich area. He loved the hills above the town, but his favourite places were the dozens of well-known paths that made up the area, between the old town and the higher, bleaker moors - that's why this walk takes in many of Geoff's old haunts as a walker and historian.

< Pictured: Geoff with his Horwich Civic Medal.

Appropriately, the walk starts and ends at the Horwich Heritage Centre. Overall, it covers over four miles and could take more than 2 hours if you allow sufficient time to stop and read the descriptions provided, take in the rich history of the area and enjoy the magnificent scenery and panoramic views. Why not take a picnic with you and make a day of it or add in a visit to the Heritage Centre? We hope you have a great day out, combining a highly interesting walk with a detailed insight into local industrial history. And to give you a true flavour of that history in the booklet we have overlain the route on the 1908 Map of Horwich to highlight the historic features, many of which are now lost.

Ridgmont House

Ridgmont House

Top o'th Such cottages

Top o'th Such cottages

Harper's Farm

Harper's Farm

Wildersmoor Mine Tramway

Wildersmoor Mine Tramway

Rockhaven Castle

Rockhaven Castle

Crowther Fold Water Mill

Crowther Fold Water Mill


The next Horwich Heritage Open Day/Exhibition will be on Saturday 17th June, 10am - 1pm, and will be about the 'Lost Businesses of Horwich'.

6 months ago we embarked on a research project to try to find out more about the industries, shops, farms and other enterprises that have operated in the town over the past 240 years of its existence and we will be unveiling our findings at this event.

Many readers will be aware that Horwich as a place hardly existed 240 years ago - it was just a small collection of farmsteads scattered across the moors - but over the years 3 major events have transformed the area into the busy town of 20,000 people it is today:

  • 1. In 1777 John & Thomas Ridgway arrived from Bolton to set up their bleachworks at Wallsuches and in doing so laid the foundations of present day Horwich in the old village next to the Parish Church.
  • 2. Just over 100 years later in 1884 the arrival of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Works transformed a 'sleepy village' of 3000 people into a bustling industrial town of 12,000 in just 10 years.
  • 3. Moving on another 100 years and a major chapter in the town's history ended with the closure of the Loco Works. But within 10 years another one had opened with the building of the Middlebrook office & retail park and the Bolton Wanderers stadium - and Horwich was on the map again.

As a Society we have covered the histories of Wallsuches & the Loco Works quite extensively over the years, so we decided to focus on the stories of other businesses that have come and gone and left their mark on the town. It is difficult to imagine today that Horwich was predominantly an agricultural area until relatively recently with dozens of farms stretching from the slopes of Rivington to the Middlebrook valley all supplying meat and dairy products to a rapidly-growing population in the late C19th/early C20th. Many of these farms, like Ormston's and Hodgkinson Fold have origins going back to Elizabethan times whilst Sefton Fold Farm (demolished to make way for the Middlebrook development) was once a moated settlement dating from the C13th. And it was these humble abodes that gave birth to the early cotton spinning, weaving & bleaching activities particulary in the Wilderswood area in the C17th & C18th. Crowther Fold and Gorton Fold are credited as being the earliest of the area's water-powered textile 'mills' and these in turn gave way to bigger steam-driven mills at Wilderswood & Foxholes and then to the better known textile mills in Horwich itself: Albert Mill, Lee Mill, Telford Mill, Bee Hive Mill and the last to close in 2007, Victoria Mill.

Because of the plentiful water supply from the moorland streams, bleaching was always a popular local activity originally carried out to supplement the meagre farm incomes, but eventually the Ridgways, Longworths & Jolley & Jackson's turned it into a major industry in the town which lasted until the 1960s. And up on the moors, it was the discovery of coal & clay deposits that produced a thriving brick, pipe and sanitary ware industry run by companies like Andrew Peak, Mason's, Crankshaw's, & Pickup's alongside a substantial quarrying business that still continues today. Even on Red Moss, which is today a site of special scientific interest, companies laboured until quite recently to cut peat and dig coal.

The arrival of the Railway Works gave a massive boost to the local economy and hundreds of small shops and businesses sprang up almost overnight - but they were so very different to the ones we see on Lee Lane, Winter Hey Lane and Chorley Old & Chorley New Road today. Did you know that there used to be 17 butchers in Horwich and now there is only one (Greeley's) and most of them slaughtered their animals on the premises! In addition there were several smithies, wheelwrights, clog, boot & shoe makers and a whole variety of grocery, confectionary, clothing and fancy goods shops - the biggest of which was the mighty Horwich Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd. Today, it is difficult to imagine how powerful and all-embracing the Co-op was with its large multi-functional premises on Lee Lane and over a dozen branches around the town. Until its sharp decline in 1960s-70s, the Co-op was able to offer every facility 'from cradle to grave'.

Horwich Town Centre still retains much of the identity created when the Loco Works arrived over 130 years ago and we are all pleased to see so many shops, offices, restaurant & cafes continuing to operate in the town despite difficult modern trading conditions. All the town's present day businesses are standing on some remarkable shoulders when it comes to Horwich's rich & varied commercial past and long may they continue to uphold that tradition.

If you'd like to know more about any lost businesses in Horwich or share some of the stories of businesses where you worked, please come along to our Open Day/Exhibition at Horwich Heritage Centre on Sat. 7th June (10am - 1pm). Admission is free and the exhibition will continue for a month.

Horwich Co-op Central Premises, Lee Lane c.1930

Ferretti's ice cream cart in 1930s

Workers at Victoria Mill c.1960

Rose's Pork Butchers, Winter Hey Lane

Inside Cooke & Nuttall's Paper Mill

Wildersmoor miners 1960s

Open Day

Don't miss our first open day of the year on Saturday 11th March 10am - 1pm.

We will be celebrating a very special occasion: 10 years since we opened Horwich Heritage Centre. Admission is free, everyone welcome!

Christmas Entertainment

The entertainment for this year's Christmas 'special' on Tuesday 13th Dec. at Horwich Community Centre will be provided by 'Young Once' a comedy & music group who will have you 'rolling in the aisles'.

The event starts at 7.30pm, tickets (in advance) are £3 which also includes refreshments. There is a 100 limit so get your tickets as soon as possible from the Heritage Centre.

Download Our 2017 Events Programme

Our 2017 programme has now been finalised, featuring our popular Open Days, Monthly Meetings and Joining Information.

You can download your own PDF copy by clicking here:

Horwich Heritage - Events Programme 2017

Horwich Heritage Annual Craft & Gift Fair

The Horwich Heritage Annual Craft & Gift Fair is on Sat. 5th Nov. 10am - 2pm at Horwich Community Centre, admission 50p.

Now in its 34th year, this is always a good event with lots of stalls with a difference, a raffle, tombola, pasty & peas and our themed exhibition which this year is 'Royal Occasions'.

Are you old enough to remember King George VI coming to Horwich in 1940 or Princess Anne opening Horwich Leisure Centre in 1975?

Did you manage to see the Queen on one of her 5 visits to Bolton?

Many people had street parties for her Silver, Golden & Diamond Jubilees and for her 90th birthday - have you any photos you could lend us for our exhibition?

Do come along to visit the Fair and help us to celebrate these Royal Occasions.


Saturday 17 September 2016 - South Lakes And Beautiful Leven Valley

The trip includes a return steam train journey from Haverthwaite Station with time to visit the Railway Museum before travelling to Lakeside, visit the pier and see the steamer arriving.

Travel by coach to Old Hall Edwardian Working Farm at Bouth for a themed event including a working steam crane and steam saw mill to view old style farming activities, horse-drawn vehicles and butter & ice cream making.

There is an excellent cafe at the station and a lovely tea room at the farm.

The coach will leave Horwich Resource Centre Beaumont Road at 8.45am with pickups on route. Arrive 10.30am at the station for the 11.50am steam train and return 12.30pm.

Leave for Bouth at 2.30pm, return home at 4.45pm, arriving back around 6.30pm. The cost of the Trip, Train and Farm is £23.00 per person.

Download our trip form:

Horwich Locomotiv8ors Project

Horwich Heritage is pleased to have a close association with all the Primary & Secondary Schools in Horwich.

In particular it has for the past 4 years run a successful Schools Programme called 'Locomotiv8ors' in partnership with Bolton Playing for Success (Bpfs) which is supported by the Big Lottery Fund.

This enables every Primary School in Horwich & the surrounding area to bring pupils to our Heritage Centre to learn about the Locomotive history of the town in an imaginative & fun way.

Read More >


Our latest exhibition entitled 'The History of Horwich Churches & Schools' opened on Sat. 13th August - the culmination of a year-long research project delving into the history of every church & school in the town.

If you haven't seen it yet please come along - it will be on display until the end of the year. This should be a must for anyone who attends a church or went to school in Horwich.

Read More >


On 9th March 2016, 'Looking Back' published an article by Horwich Heritage explaining how the Society had embarked on a major project to chronicle the history of every Church & School in Horwich.

Lots of interesting material has been collected during the past 6 months and the project is now moving towards its conclusion with an Open Day & Exhibition launch on Saturday 13th August 10am - 1pm at the Horwich Heritage Centre. The exhibition will then run for the next 3 months with opening hours 2 - 4pm on weekdays and 10am - 12.30pm on Saturdays.

Read More >


Our new books "Horwich in the Great War" (£3), "The History of Horwich in 20 Objects" (£10), "A Horwich Boyhood in the 1940s & 50s" (£4), "Schoolboy Memories of WWII" (£2.50) will make an ideal gift. Or why not try our latest 30 years of Horwich Heritage (£3), Lord Leverhulme & WWI dvds (£5)?

A MEMBERSHIP FEE of just £10 gives free entry to the Society's monthly meetings (renewable in June). Non-members pay £2.00. Contact Betty Ainsworth on 694864. Entry to the Heritage Centre (open weekdays 2-4pm & Saturdays 10-12.30pm) is FREE.


SATURDAYS 10am - 1pm

Until March 2020
80 Years Since The Start Of WWII

March 14th 2020
Rivington Terraced Gardens

March 28th 2020
Family History

May 9th 2020
75 Years Since VE Day

June 13th 2020
35 Years Of Horwich Heritage

September 12th 2020
Sporting Clubs Of Horwich

All Open Days Are



April 14th 2020
Bolton's Railways - Paul Salveson

May 12th 2020
Village Life In The Middle Ages - Stuart Elliott

June 9th 2020
A.G.M. - 35 Years Of Horwich Heritage

Rivington Terraced Gardens

Events Calendar 2019 - Click Here >


Membership: £10 per annum
Non-Members: £2 per meeeting


General Enquiries: 01204 847797
Membership: 01204 695737
Programme: 01204 692930
Family History: 01204 460010

Latest News



This year's programme is turning out to be another good one and the leaflet with the list of speakers & Open Days for 2020 is now available from the Heritage Centre. Please renew your membership now. If you are not a member why not join? Only £10 for 11 talks.

HORWICH HERITAGE CENTRE is open every weekday 2- 4pm & Saturdays 10 - 12.30pm. It has a shop, shows and sells films about Horwich and has a range of professional exhibitions and displays to delight all the family. Help is also available for family history and other research. ADMISSION IS FREE!

The monthly OPEN DAYS provide additional exhibitions on topics of local interest. Special EXHIBITIONS currently running include: Horwich Loco Works, A Victorian Kitchen, The Way We Were, World War II, Winter Hill Mines & the Turnpike Roads. School Parties and other groups welcome. Contact 847797.