Local places of historical interest
A more detailed account of the historical section is available at Westhoughton Library.
Manchester / Chorley Road A6
Although some believe this to have been a Roman Road, it is unlikely to have been more than a trackway in those far off days. However if, as has been suggested, the Romans had an encampment at Blackrod (a distinct possibility) then their cavalry would have certainly followed the same line of today’s heavy traffic as they advanced from their station at Manchester. In any event, we may be sure that the road has been the scene of great events in the past.
We know, for example, that Jacobite soldiers, fleeing from their defeat at Preston in 1715 and hoping to find shelter with sympathisers in Manchester, made their way along it. It is recorded that one of their number was flogged for insubordination in the yard of The Red Lion at Four Lane Ends.
At the time of the later Jacobite rebellion in 1745, when the dispirited army of Charles Edward, the Young Pretender, decided to retreat to Scotland, they marched along Manchester Road, in a surprisingly orderly fashion it seems. A certain Richard Kay, who was a doctor living in Bury, tells in his diary how he and a party of his friends walked to Four Lane Ends in Hulton, to see them. He writes “The rebels marched from one o’clock till betwixt four and five o’clock in the afternoon as throng as the road could well receive them”. The party from Bury were mightily impressed never before having seen “the rebels or any in highland dress”. To see a great army in retreat must have been, even by today’s standards, a wonderful spectacle. One supposes the landlords of The Hulton Arms and The Red Lion did record business.
Doghole(s) Farm, Hilton House, Chorley Road
The earliest recorded reference to this house is dated 1592 and is of “Isabella Laythwaite, late of Doghole”. It was then part of a farm in the possession of the Laythwaite family who farmed the Borsdane/Brinsop area as tenants of Cockersand Abbey from the late 1400s when the first house was probably built. It was then a “wattle and daub” construction on a solid stone base. It was “modernised” in 1689 by Oliver Peake who replaced the wattle and daub with pink brick and put up the 1689 date stone. It was again modernised in the late 1980s by Mr Philip Smith, who has retained the date stone which may be seen from the road.
Brinsop Hall Farm
The farm was described in the Listed Buildings Schedule as 18th century with a remodelled front. It occupies the site of a very much older building. From the early 1200s until the mid 1500s Brinsop was the estate farm or grange of Cockersand Abbey. (The Abbey was situated between Pilling and Glasson Dock. It acquired property in Lancashire and Cheshire but after the Reformation, fell into ruin and today only the Chapter House remains to be seen.) According to the record of Abbey Rentals, 1451 – 1537, Brinsop was farmed by the Laythwaite family who also farmed Borsdane, Doghole and another “next to Brinsop.” After the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry V111, the Abbey’s property in the town was bought in 1545 by James Browne, a master clothier, who made Brinsop his home. James’ great grandson was Captain Risley Browne, who was taken prisoner at the battle of Westhoughton Common. A later Rilsley Browne is mentioned in the Enclosure Award of 1726. Brinsop Hall and property passed to the Milnes Gaskell family by the 1700s and then became the home of a colliery owner. In the 1841 Census it is recorded that the farmer was Mr Gregory. His family still farm there.
Toll bar at Dicconson Lane
Chorley/Manchester Road was Turnpiked in 1753 as part of the Manchester to Duxbury Stocks (near Chorley) Turnpike. There was a gate at the junction with Dicconson Lane where travellers had to pay a toll.
John Wesley in Wingates
John Wesley preached in April, 1784 to a crowd at Barnaby’s Farm. Houses now cover the site but the stone from which he preached stands outside Grove Lane Chapel. The row of cottages opposite the farm was known as “Methody Row”. Services were held there before the building of the “Old Church” in 1835 and the Methodist Church in Dixon Street in 1871. The Westhoughton Carol was composed by James Winward (a Methodist) in 1820 and the Wingates Band began as the Church’s drum and fife band, part of the temperance movement. Sadly, the final service was held at the Methodist Church, Dixon Street on Sunday, 6th May, 2001 and the church has been demolished.
St John’s Church, Wingates
The church was designed by the noted architect George Shaw of Saddleworth in the gothic revival style. Financed mainly by private subscriptions it was consecrated on 30th June, 1859. The world - wide renowned hymn “Angel Voices ever Singing” was specially composed for the dedication of the first pipe organ on 10th February, 1861.
St John’s Church, Wingates was listed in 1966. The church appears to have been the result of a break-away group who objected to the vicar of St Bartholomew’s High Church practices.
The name “le Werkokhull” on the earliest records comes from the old name for the grouse or capercailzie. It was mentioned in documents of the early 1200s. Warcock was the site of the battle of 1642.
The Battle of Westhoughton Common
The outbreak of Civil War in 1642 between King Charles 1’s supporters (Royalists) and the Parliamentarians provided an opportunity for settling old scores, religious and otherwise. One contemporary account reports that in December 1642 a “Plundering Array” issued out of Wigan (the Royalist garrison) “to stir up the courage of the neighbourhood.” About this time James Browne’s house at Brinsop was plundered, so that was probably their objective. As a result the local Parliamentary commander sought help from the Manchester garrison and two companies under Captains Venables and Bradshaw were sent to reinforce Captain Risley Browne’s company and “to plunder another Papist’s house” (possibly the home of Anderton of Lostock). However, as Venables and Bradshaw approached Houghton Common in December 15th or 16th (different accounts give different dates), they found a thousand horse and foot of the Wigan forces drawn up “on close of ground on the side of the Common,” that is on Warcock Hill. During the fight which ensued “God fired their magazine” so the Parliamentarians decided to surrender. There is no report of the dead but the three companies were taken prisoner, the three Captains to Lord Derby’s home at Lathom, the rest to Wigan where they lodged at the homes of Royalist gentry.
The list of prisoners and letters of exchange are in the papers of Mr Hugh Anderton in Wigan Record Office. The exchange began in early January 1643 and was concluded by the beginning of March. The correspondence between Mr Anderton and Major General Bradshaw of Bolton is most gentlemanly and shows concern for the sick and wounded. One of the contemporary accounts reports “This disaster was a great grief and discouragement to the Parliament party” another refers to it as “the first and foulest blow God gave us.”
The Bolton and Leigh Railway
This was the FIRST PUBLIC RAILWAY in Lancashire. The textile inventions of the 1700s and Bolton’s rapid expansion demanded a more efficient transport system than was provided by turnpike roads or canals. So the businessmen of Bolton saw the answer to their problems in the railway which would provide easier, cheaper and speedier access to markets in Manchester and Liverpool. To that end plans were drawn up, under the supervision of George Stephenson, for the Bolton and Leigh and the Liverpool and Manchester railways; and Bills were brought before Parliament in 1824. The Bolton Bill was passed and the Bolton and Leigh Railway Company was incorporated in 1825. The Liverpool Bill was defeated but passed on the second attempt in 1826.
Mr Hulton of the Park was Chairman of the railway committee, which comprised textile manufacturers, iron founders, lawyers, merchants and a “gentleman of property,” which does rather prove wrong those who say it was “only a colliery line.” Estimates of tonnage and costs include iron, timber, stone, cattle, sheep, grain – and passengers.
The gate house: the line crossed the A6 at the point now fenced: ran into back Brancker Street and down the inclined plane towards Leigh. The railway was opened, with some ceremony, as far as Mr Hulton’s collieries on 1st August, 1828. Mrs Hulton christened the engine “the Lancashire Witch,” The original line from Crook Street, Bolton, ran parallel with St Helen’s Road to Adelaide Street (the site of the first Daubhill Station), in front of Sunnyside Mill (now demolished). It then crossed St Helen’s Road and ran across fields on an embankment to Chequerbent where it crossed Manchester Road at Hope Cottage; then down to Chequerbent Bank (1 in 30 gradient) to the canal in Leigh. It was impossible to go further until it was known which route the Liverpool line would take and where the junction would be. The embankment which carried the line to Chequerbent (now cut by the M61) may be seen from Snydle Way. In 1885 the line was altered because of the steep gradients. It now ran under St Helen’s Road and under Manchester Road at Chequerbent Station. The 1828 line was kept in use to serve the Hulton Collieries.
In March, 1954, passenger traffic ceased except for “holiday specials” to North Wales. The removal of the track began in 1964, since when it has been landscaped.
Dame School (1835)
This school was established by the Hulton family for the education of the children of their colliers, “at an almost nominal rate.” There were, on an average, 70 children attending the school. Mr Hulton commented in 1855 that early pupils were then parents, “rendering incalculable benefit....by their moral, orderly and respectful demeaner.”
The Hulton family were established at the Park since time immemorial. It is from the Hulton Muniments deposited in the County Record Office that we know so much about the town’s past, especially material relating to the Common Land and the Bolton-Leigh Railway. In the 1200s, the family were Lords of Ordsall and Hulton. In 1521 Adam was deputy steward of the Lordship of Westhoughton (for the Abbey of Cockersand). In the 1580s Lord Burghley’s map of Lancashire (for Queen Elizabeth 1) shows Hulton de Park. In 1684 Henry served on the Grand Jury which tried those members of the Lancashire gentry accused of plotting against the King and Queen (William and Mary). In the 1820s William Hulton was Chairman of the Bolton-Leigh Railway Company. He had seven collieries, viz. Hulton Arley mine (th’ Owd Arley), Deep Arley, School Pits, Park Pits, Chequerbent Pits, Klondike and Pretoria. All were to be closed in 1934.
In 1835 he established the Dame School for the children of his miners.
The Hulton family used to open the Park for the Scout Movement to hold meetings and have camps. The Hall was demolished in 1958.
The Hulton Estate was purchased by The Peel Group in 2010. In 2014, the Westhoughton History Group sited a Blue Plaque on Hulton Cottage, the property that the Hultons moved into when Hulton Hall was demolished in 1958. It stands approximately on the kitchen wall, right on the A6 elevation. The Blue Plaque is to commemorate the Hultons who were prominent in the area since 1167.
The 1849 Ordnance Survey Map shows a moted site on the south side of Park Road, east of the brook. All traces of the moat have gone, as have the remains of the Hall and Lee Hall Farm. It is suggested that this was the site of the “Abbey’s Grange by Conware” (ie: Corner or Hall Lee Brook).
It is certain that this was an ancient site and a house of some importance the home of the Leigh family (spelt variously Lee, Leghe, Lighe) who owned considerable land in that area. Captain William Leigh was High Constable of the County in 1731. His shield may be seen in Lancaster Castle. He died in 1733. His daughter and heiress, Mary, married William Hulton in 1735 when much of the estate became Hulton property. The areas known as Captain Lee’s and Lee Common were, or course part of his estate.
No. 76 Park Road
This house, built in 1752, was demolished when Cricketers’ Way was constructed. The house stood where the road now joins Park Road. The property was the last of Wade Lane Fold. It had been a silk handloom weaver’s cottage and loom shop. The complete records of the property deeds from 1752 to 1959 (when the late Dick Pollard, County and Test cricketer, took up residence there) are now in Bolton Archives Department.
The church is known to one and all as “The Bethel” but lost that name officially in 1972 when the English Presbyterians and the Congregational churches joined forces.
The present church community originates from the preaching of William Alexander, a Scot who was sent to Lancashire to preach the doctrine of Congregationalism – much in the way that John Wesley had with the Methodist Church.
Alexander met with several groups around the Leigh area. One was an impoverished group who met at a cottage at Old Sirs, Daisy Hill and was so successful that by 1815 the congregation had outgrown Old Sirs and moved first to Mill Lane then to a property on Leigh Road, approximately opposite Washacre in an area known as “Little Ireland.” Another move was necessitated in 1835 and this was to 24-26 Park Road where the congregation grew to 220 worshippers.
The present church was built by public subscription at a cost of £1600. The church was named “Bethel” which translated from Hebrew means “House of God”. The Sunday School at 20-22 Park Road was added in 1870 costing £1400. The Bethel also hosted a successful day school until 1915 when the pupils transferred to a new school on Bolton Road. The Bethel is now the oldest church building in Westhoughton.
George Street and Howarth Street were originally named Landedmans Lane. Higher Landedmans is near the junction. (Lower Landedmans is on the other side of Leigh Road.) Higher Landedmans was once a farmhouse with outbuildings set in 10 acres. The properties are reputed to be the oldest surviving in Westhoughton, being built approximately 1609-13.
Over the years the buildings have been occupied by many families with many occupations, notably farmers, silk weavers, nail-makers and coal miners. Some of the buildings have been extended and some demolished over time. By the early nineteenth century the buildings were divided into three separate properties. Number 1 Higher Landedmans (once number 3) is believed to be very near to the original style of the buildings. Numbers 2 and 3 have now been converted into one building. A thatched roof was added to number 2 in 1968 by the then owner, Francis Lee, the footballer. The original buildings were never thatched.
A blue plaque was installed at number 1 in 2016 by Westhoughton Local History Group to commemorate the historic significance of the building.
The burning of Westhoughton factory (Factory Nook)
The burning of Westhoughton Mill is one of the most important events in Westhoughton’s history. During 1811 and 1812 Luddites, impoverished by the consequences of steam-driven machinery had attacked powered mills throughout the North and Midlands. To deter violence The Government passed tough new laws making such damage punishable by death. By 1812 unrest throughout the north was rife and punishment was harsh.
On 28th April 1812 a large crowd gathered at the site of the Westhoughton mill which boasted the most up to date machinery in the area. The Scots Guards were summoned from Bolton and the incident was temporarily quelled. However soon after the Scots Guards left, the mill was set on fire using straw from the White Lion and fire from one of the cottages on Mill Street. The machinery and much of the mill was destroyed. In the following days dozens of men and women were rounded up and sent for trial at Lancaster Assizes. Some were discharged but Job Fletcher, James Smith, Thomas Kerfoot and Abraham Charlson who was only 16 were found guilty and were hanged. Nine other men were transported to Australia.
For many years employers refused to invest in Westhoughton and poverty hung over the town. None of the perpetrators had come from Westhoughton but mainly came from Bolton and the neighbouring Chowbent.
The mill was rebuilt and used at various times as a corn mill, for cotton spinning and was empty for some time before being demolished in 1912. In later years the site was used as a privately-owned car park but currently the land is empty.
A commemorative plaque was placed on one of the houses in Mill Street in 1991 by the Local History Workshop and another one with updated information was placed on the White Lion in 2012 to commemorate the bi-centenary of the event.
Market Street, White Lion Inn
The White Lion is situated at the junction of Market Street and Bolton Road. It is said to be the oldest building on Market Street. It dates from at least 1758 and became Grade 2 listed by Historic England in 2016.
In the nineteenth century the room to the left of the front door acted as a post office with letters being brought by mail coach three times a week. The letters were placed on racks in the window so that addresses could be read and recipients could collect them.
In 1812 straw from the stables of the White Lion was used by Luddites to fuel the fire which burned down Westhoughton Mill. In 2012 to commemorate the bi-centenary of the event, a commemorative plaque was placed on the front elevation of the building by Westhoughton Local History Group. Michael Portillo visited the White Lion in 2014 during one of his Great British Rail Journeys following the nineteenth century Bradshaw Guide to Railways which mentioned the White Lion as a place of interest.
In 2016 the White Lion was listed as one of 21 fascinating places in Historic England’s “guide to the unusual or surprising places” It said that the pub was one of a small number of pubs nationally which has remained substantially unaltered since 1945. One of the features which remain inside the building is the bell pushes in all rooms which Historic England suggests “that efficient table service was the order of the day.”
Westhoughton Town Hall
Westhoughton Town Hall was built at a cost of £4922 and the foundation stones were laid in 1903. The architects of the building were the Bolton firm of Bradshaw and Gass. The imposing building was built using Ruabon terracotta bricks which were said to withstand the effects of smoke and dirt of an industrial town. This has proved to be the case.
The original entrance to the Town Hall is located to the left of the Town Council noticeboard. Above this is a balcony from which election results used to be announced. The building boasts a clock tower and above the clock face there is an octagonal bell turret. The bell used to chime every hour but in 1947 it was removed when it was found that vibrations from the bell were causing the terracotta brickwork to be damaged.
Above the turret is a copper dome on which was fixed a copper globe surmounted by the cross of St George.
The council chamber has large windows with leaded lights embossed with symbols of St George. Each chair in the chamber has the monogram WUDC stamped on it in gold. In 1974 Westhoughton Urban District Council ceased to exist and it became part of Bolton Metropolitan Borough. However in 1985 following pressure from local people a Town Council was set up. Currently there are 18 town councillors who attend meetings regularly in the Council Chamber.
In 1992 the building was extended using the same Ruabon terra cotta brick and designed by the original architectural firm of Bradshaw and Gass. Two plaques are attached to the outside of the building, one dedicated to the actor Robert Shaw who was born in Westhoughton and the second a tribute to the 15 cricketers who died in the Pretoria Pit disaster. The building is currently used as offices for Bolton Council with one room set aside for Westhoughton’s Town Clerk.
Local Board Offices
The Local Board was formed on 2nd December, 1872, and became the District Council on 17th December, 1894. The original offices stood at the bottom of Market Street (at the traffic lights). A surviving letter written on the Board’s stationery shows the offices with the Toll Gate across Market Street.
The Toll Bar
Park Road and Market Street were part of the Manchester and Wigan Turnpike. The Toll Gates stood at the bottom of Market Street and Church Street. The Toll House stood on the bend of the road, roughly in front of where the War Memorial now stands. We have, in the Library, the Westhoughton Bar Accounts for 1823.
Sunny Bank and South View
These houses were listed for preservation in 1986. They were built in 1853 and were the homes of Mr and Mrs Ditchfield and Mrs Ditchfield’s aunts.
This was erected in 1885 in memory of two sons of Mr Chadwick who owned the silk mill in Church Street. Frank aged 24, was drowned off the Isle of Staffa. Wyndham died of fever at the age of 11.
The Pretoria Pit Disaster Centenary Memorial is situated in Ditchfield Garden, Market Street, Westhoughton and is a permanent tribute to the 344 men and boys who lost their lives in an explosion at the Pretoria Pit, on 21st December, 1910, at 7.50 a.m..
The Memorial comprises of a bronze statue of a kneeling miner, which was designed and sculpted by the sculptress, Jane Robbins and a backdrop of three granite walls, upon which are inscribed the names of the victims, which was supplied and fitted by Always in Our Thoughts Memorials.
The Memorial was commissioned and funded by the Westhoughton Town Council (2007-2011), along with other donations, and was unveiled on 19th December, 2010 by the Town Mayor of Westhoughton, Councillor Brian J Clare, who was serving his fourth term of office as Town Mayor.
The Red Lion, Wigan Road
The Red Lion, now demolished, was a listed building until 1986. The south room retained its ancient beams and was a part, in 1600, of a farm belonging to Adam Pendlebury. His will and inventory, dated 1608, refers to “cotton wool and yarne” in his son Adam’s hands. This is a remarkably early reference to cotton weaving instead of the usual linen and/or wool. At the Enclosure of the Commons in 1725/6 the Commissioners met at the house of James Pendlebury (the Red Lion). The Common land comprised Chapel Common, Higher Moor, Chequerbent, Lee, Robinson, Green and Hart Commons, also “Daisy Hillock”. All of this considerable area was measured and divided amongst those who could prove their right to a share. The building was demolished in 2015 and a Dementia Care Home was built on the site.
Greenfield Farm, School Street
This was originally “Pendlebury’s” later “Grundy’s “ farm. The datestone ‘1723’ indicates that James Pendlebury built it , almost certainly to replace the house slightly to the West of the Red Lion, where Adam Pendlebury lived in 1608. At ‘Enclosure’, only three years later than the date stone, the house was referred to as “James Pendlebury’s old house,” which seems to confirm the existence of an older building on the site. It became “Grundy’s Farm” when Thomas Grundy took it over in 1843.
Westhoughton Golf Club
The club at Long Island was formed from the British Legion Golf Club in May 1934, Mr. St. Clair Jackson was Captain and Mr. E. Dickinson was Hon. Secretary.
The 9 hole course was constructed on 38 acres of farmland, the farmhouse being adapted for the current clubhouse. The Captain opened the course on 29th September 1934 with Mr W.R. Gregson Captain of Hesketh Golf Club and Mr. A. Critchley President of The English Golf Union in attendance.
The local paper reported “the greens made putting a speculation”.
In 2001 a decision was made to extend the course to 18 holes. A development team headed by Mr. A. Slaven supervised the construction of the new 9 holes. On 2nd April 2005 the Captain, Mr. K. Walsh opened the extended course.
The course retains much of the character of the original nine holes insofar that it is a flat parkland course of just under 6000 yards accurate driving is at a premium. The new greens are to USGA specification making putting less of a speculation.
Membership has risen from 230 to over 350 playing members demonstrating the success of the extension to the course.
Grove Lane Methodist Chapel
Grove Lane was the old name for Wigan Road. The old chapel was founded in 1871. It has been rebuilt and the Wesley Stone re-sited.
Holden Stoops (Church Street)
James Holden farmed “Lee Wyndzates” as tenant of Cockersand Abbey in 1451. In 1726 Richard Holden had a cottage and two crofts on Higher Moor at Wingates. Holden House (or Holden Stoops), now demolished, was on the site of the group of houses opposite Seddon Street.
Chadwick’s Silk Mill
The mill stood on the corner of Peel Street and Church Street and was built by Mr Chadwick in the early 1850’s. At that time both cotton and silk were woven in the town. Later, the company known as Wigglesworth’s occupied the mill for many years. They were well known for pharmaceutical products. Eventually the mill was demolished and the site used for housing.
St Bartholomew’s Church
The Church was listed in 1986. There is a mention in the Charters of Cockersand Abbey of “Priest’s Croft” about 1200. This was situated in what is now the Churchyard and the Cemetery and suggests that there was a chapel on the site. There was, according to Baines’ History, a Church dedicated to St Bartholomew in 1557. It was rebuilt in 1731 and replaced by the present building in 1869. The new Church was a gift of John Seddon of the Mortons in Church Street. Sadly, it was gutted by fire in November of 1990. Only the tower remained intact. A new church was consecrated on October 28th, 1995.
The Pretoria Monument
This was listed in 1986. In memory of 344 men and boys killed in the explosion at the Pretoria Colliery on 21st December, 1910. It was erected in St Bartholomew’s churchyard. A memorial service is held each year on that date.
The name “Snydale” comes from two words’ – snipe and hill. Bolton Road which ran over Snydale without a break until the M61 was constructed, was turnpiked as far as the White Lion in 1800. Snydale Hall Farm is what remains of the ancient Manor of Snydale, which by 1212, was held by Ellis de Pendlebury. Snydale did not pass into the possession of the Abbey of Cockersand but remained Pendlebury property until the late 1500s when Anne, sole heiress of Roger Pendlebury, married James Worthington who, at the time of the Enclosure of Commons of 1726 was “Lord of the Manor”. In 1744 the Worthington estate was bought by Starkie of Huntroyd, hence Starkie Colliery on Manchester Road and the Starkie Arms in Church Street/Tithebarn Street.
Higher and Lower Damshead Fold
The land now occupied by Central Park was , in 1726 the dam for a corn mill belonging to George Allanson who had acquired it from Captain Leigh along with Leigh Common and Tithebarn Street which were originally part of the Leigh family’s lands. The brook which supplied the dam was culverted when the park was made and now flows underground to join corner Corner/Cow Lee/Hall Lee Brook. Higher Dam’s Head Fold was between the ‘Cross Guns’ and Central Park. Lower Dam’s Head was between Park Terrace and Bolton Road.
The Workhouse stood approximately where the Rose Hill Tavern stands today. The fields behind the Workhouse were marked as Poor House fields on the 1850 Tithe Map. The Library has a copy of the Workhouse rules dating from it’s re-opening in 1828.
Hall Lee Brook, as it flowed through Daisy Hill, was known as “Blazing Brook” because it used to ignite from time to time due to methane gas but it is now culverted. The same dramatic phenomenon sometimes occurred at a field of Gillibrands Farm which used to ignite.
St James’ Church, Daisy Hill
This Church was listed for preservation in 1986 because of its architectural interest. It was designed by Paley and Austin and is said by Pevsner to be “one of their most masterly performances”. It was consecrated in 1881 and was a gift to the village from Miss Haddock and her sister Mrs Makant.
This property was named after John and Richard le Sire, who are recorded as having paid tax in 1332.
Westhoughton Hall (France Street)
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, Lancashire’s textile industry may be said to have had its true beginnings. Spinning and weaving were then part time occupations for people who found it difficult to make a livelihood from poor farming land. Shrewd men turned what was a cottage industry to their advantage by introducing organisation to the system.These men, known as “haberdashers” or “clothiers,” supplied the cottages with wool (later cotton) to be spun and yarn to be woven, paying for their work on completion of the cloth, which they, the clothiers, then marketed.
The man who built Westhoughton Hall in the early 1600s was a very prosperous clothier. He was Henry Molyneux. His son Nathaniel, also a master clothier, was assessed for the 1678 Poll Tax at the same rate as Mr Worthington (Lord of the Manor of Snydale), Mr Brown of Brinsop, and Mr William Leigh. This indicates his standing in the community. Nathaniel married Margaret Bootle, whose family became Bootle-Wilbraham, later to be Earls of Lathom, Lords Skelmersdale. The family names account for Molyneux Road and Wilbraham Street. From 1792 to 1812 the Hall was tenanted by another master clothier, Mr R. J. Lockett. He built, in 1803/4, at the junction of Park Road and Mill Street, the steam powered factory which was destroyed by the Luddite rioters. Although the factory no longer belonged to Mr Locket, the rioters continued their violent campaign by running across the fields to set fire to his home the Hall. Sometime after the fire the Bootle-Wilbraham family removed the fine old panelling and plaster work, almost certainly to be installed at Lathom House. The Old Hall was converted into dwellings and, by the 1940s. was a ruin, to be finally demolished in the 1950s. Its memory survives in the names “Old Hall Lane”, “Daisy Hall Drive” and “Hallgate”.
John Drake was a sub-tenant of Cockersand Abbey in 1451. In the 1841 Census there is a Drake Hall mentioned. Drake Hall was at that time inhabited by a coal miner.
Daisy Hill Corn Mill – Mill Lane
This was listed in 1963, de-listed in 1986. The Corn Mill, an 18th century building is on the site of a water mill belonging to William Platt, according to the 1451 Rental of Cockersand Abbey. This is a safe assumption since it appears on a list of Daisy Hill names and there was a stream assuring an ample water supply. The Miller in the 1700s was Mr Haddock. After it ceased to be used as a Corn Mill it was first a bleach works, then a cloth waste works, a pickle factory and a waste paper storage. The mill has been demolished and houses built on the site. The Haddock family were local benefactors – Miss Haddock and her sister, Mrs Makand gave the money to build St James’ Church in Daisy Hill. An interesting little sideline, according to the Abbey Rental of 1537 – Mrs Makand’s husband had an ancestor, Nicholaus who had a windmill at that time.
This house, still in perfect condition, was the home of Mr James Haddock – Corn Miller, who owned the corn mill. His will (of 1820) refers to the orchard alongside the Duke of Bridgewater’s land. His son Richard inherited the house and lived there in 1841. At the time of the 1861 census, Richard was still at Woodbine House and built Vale House for his sisters. A seat in the garden of Woodbine House bears the date 1756 which suggests the date of the house itself.
Rodger’s Farm, Mill Lane, Daisy Hill
This was once called “Rylands House.” According to Mr John Rylands (Rylands Library, Manchester) the family took its name from the stream (Rye or Rheel), viz. Cunningham Brook. In the 1200s the Rylands granted lands to the Abbey of Cockersands. The last of the family to live in Westhoughton was Peter Rylands, who built the house in 1637. Peter fought against the King in the Civil War and was Lieutenant to Captain Rilsey Browne of Brinsop. Both were taken prisoner at the Battle of Westhoughton (December 1642). The following January he was released being exchanged for a Royalist Lieutenant, Philip Norris.
After the war Peter held the important post of “Parliamentary Sequestrator” which meant that he was responsible for the seizure of such Royalist property and money which Parliament had decided was to be taken from those on the losing side.
Between 1665 and 1714 (or thereabouts) the house was inhabited by Roger Lowe and was still known as “Lowe’s House” at the time of the enclosure of 1726 although James Rodgers had owned it since 1714. James was son-in-law to Nathaniel Molyneux of Westhoughton Hall. The Rodgers family farmed here for many years. The land eventually became part of the Bridgewater Estates and was taken over by the Urban District Council in 1920 who sold it to the North West Water Authority in 1975. The original house was demolished and a new house built on the site.
When this area first became known as Pungle is unknown. It is recorded as Pungle in the 1841 census but on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1849 it is shown as “Pingle Closes.”
Richard Hosker was alive in 1641. He is recorded as paying tax in 1664 and he and Nicholas Hosker paid Poll Tax in 1678. The 1841 census refers to a farm called “Hoscars Nook.”
Keaw Yed Legend
A person who hails from Westhoughton is known as a “Keaw Yed” which is Lancashire dialect for “Cow Head”. According to local legend, a farmer found one of his cows with it’s head stuck in a five bar gate and in order to free it, he sawed off the cow’s head instead of sawing the gate. Hence the term “Keaw Yed”. This of course is nonsense and the term “Keaw Yed” refers to the town’s strong link with the Cotton Industry. There were many hand weavers in Westhoughton prior to the era of weaving cotton in local mills and a weaver carrying a roll of cloth across his/her shoulders gave the impression of a cow’s head silhouetted against the sky line. We are proud that poets and performers preserve the Keaw Yed Legend, Lancashire Dialect and local traditions.
Over the years there has been a decline in the traditional local industries of mining and weaving. These have been replaced by modern industries and many local people are employed on the industrial estates and in small units throughout the town.
We are proud that the following famous celebrities come from Westhoughton:
Robert Shaw, actor and author; Tommy Woodward and Jack Bruton, footballers; Francis Lee, World Cup footballer; Billy Farrimond, Dick Pollard, Dick Tyldesley and Michael Watkinson, cricketers; Ethel Johnson, Olympic Athlete; The Houghton Weavers Folk Group and Wingates Band.
In 2009, the Westhoughton Town Council sited special “Welcome to Wingates” boundary signs in honour of Wingates Band.
In 2014, the Westhoughton History Group sited a Blue Plaque at the entrance to Wingates Square, which was the birthplace of Wingates Band in 1873 and is still the home of the band today.