Bolton before 1890

Bolton used an unofficial coat of arms of two gold bendlets on a red field for many years prior to 1873. It can be seen displayed in several locations inside the Town Hall and around the town centre. The shape of the shield and the position and width of the bendlets appears to have been freely interpreted at the time.

The elephant and castle was used as both a crest and as an alternate coat of arms, as on the tympanum sculpture above the main entrance to the Town Hall.


County Borough of Bolton 1890-1958

The first legitimate grant of arms was made in 1890. These were designed by ex-Bolton Councillor Major Ottley Lane Perry (1845-1924) who added the red rose of Lancaster, an arrow (for the Bolton archers who fought with distinction against the invading Scots at the battle of Flodden in 1513), a shuttle (for weaving) and a spindle (to represent Samuel Crompton's revolutionary Spinning Mule).

By adding new red and green trappings (and an extra tower) to Bolton's elephant, Perry was also responsible for making a somewhat fanciful connection between it and the elephant and castle (with three towers) used by the City of Coventry. The gold bishop's mitre was intended to represent the ancient diocese of Mercia (later Coventry) which once included Bolton.

Bolton's motto, "Supera Moras", first introduced in the 1890 arms, translates as "Overcome Delays" but is also a 'dog Latin' pun on Bolton being "on the moors"!


County Borough of Bolton 1958-1974

The second grant of arms in 1958 added supporters in the form of two black lions of Flanders (Flemish weavers having allegedly founded Bolton's textile industry - and introduced clogs! - a much repeated bit of folk history that also seems to have originated with Major Perry).

The supporters in turn wear black and white collars (the heraldic colours of many historic Lancashire families) and bear the banners of the Ferrers and Stanley Earls of Derby, who had a long (well documented) connection with the town.

The elephant and the supporters are depicted as standing on a 'rocky moor'.


Bolton Metropolitan Borough 1974

The current arms were granted in 1974. They were designed by H Ellis Tomlinson and Mike Cresswell.

The shield has at its centre a crown palisado - representing a tun (a settlement within a stockade) pierced by an arrow or bolt, making a visual pun on the town's name - bolt-tun. This symbol had also been used as part of the town badge in the 1958 grant of arms.

The eight red Lancastrian roses around the edge of the shield represent the eight townships that joined together to create the present borough on 1 April 1974: the boroughs of Bolton and Farnworth along with the urban districts of BlackrodKearsleyHorwich, Little LeverSouth Turton and Westhoughton.

The elephant's previous green and red Coventry trappings and bishop's mitre are replaced by a red Lancastrian rose on gold.

The left hand supporter is a black 'Flanders' lion representing Bolton, its collar in the old borough's red and gold colours and bearing a green pennon that retains the spindle and shuttle emblems of the textile industry from the previous arms.

The right hand supporter is the red lion of the Hulton family, representing Farnworth, its collar in the blue and gold colours of the old Borough of Bolton and its pennon bearing a hornet from the arms of the Borough of Farnworth.


Farnworth Urban District 1899-1939

The Urban District Council appropriated the red lion on a white field of the Farnworth branch of the Hulton family as its unofficial coat of arms.

The design features on the facade of Farnworth Town Hall and on a stained glass window on the main staircase.


Farnworth Municipal Borough 1939-74

The 1939 grant of arms for the new Borough of Farnworth transformed the red lion of the Hultons to blue as a supporter, partnered with a blue stag.

The shield features three hornets (symbolic of paper manufacturing in the town), two cotton cops (for the textile industry) while several red roses (for Lancashire) are incorporated into the coronet of the crest and the collars of the supporters.

The Latin motto "Juste Nec Timide" is a direct translation of the earlier "Be Just and Fear Naught".