Bolton's rich vein of history reflected by array of listed buildings
FROM Smithills Hall to the phone boxes outside the Central Post Office in Deansgate — Bolton boasts a large and unusual collection of listed buildings that reflect the town’s rich heritage and history.
They come in all shapes and sizes and are dotted around the borough, largely unsung and unrecognised. There are handsome churches like St Paul’s in Halliwell Road and St Matthew’s in Market Street, Little Lever and grand old houses like Watermillock in Crompton Way — now a restaurant — and Rock Hall in Hall Lane, Farnworth, which is the Moses Gate Country Park visitor centre.
The Shakespeare pub in Glynne Street, Farnworth, is a Grade II listed building as is another still popular pub, The Brooklyn in Green Lane. And the town centre has plenty of impressive Grade II buildings in the Royal Bank of Scotland building and the National Westminster Bank premises, both in Deansgate, while the Swan Hotel and Ye Olde Pastie Shoppe in Churchgate still reflect daily life in one of Bolton’s most historic parts.
The town’s Market Hall may have changed dramatically inside but the building and all the exteriors of the ground floor shops in Corporation Street remain listed Grade II buildings.
The listed chimney at the junction of Moss Lane and Barrow Bridge Road is one of the few remaining relics of the nearby Halliwell Bleach Works which it used to help power. The works was founded by Peter Ainsworth in 1739 and employed generations of local people.
Memories of a different kind are enshrined in the former public baths building in Lower Bridgeman Street in the town centre. The baths were built in 1845 by a private company and were thought to be the country’s first public swimming baths since the Roman occupation. They were taken over by the council which was forced to close them in 1975 because of soaring running costs, and transformed into a business centre.
Bolton’s textile history is still clearly visible in the mills that remain dotted around the town which are officially Grade II listed buildings.
Grecian Mill in Lever Street, Great Lever, Horrockses Mill in Lorne Street, Farnworth and Croal Mill in Blackshaw Lane are among those that remain high on the local skyline. Their modern reincarnation, however, may be quite different in 2013 to the time of the flying shuttles and little piecers.
Valley Mill, the former Spinning Mill No 2 in Cottonfields, Eagley, for example, now houses smart residential apartments.
Pockets of history are represented by private homes in Barrow Bridge, in St Paul’s Place off Halliwell Road and in Firwood Fold — where No.10 has the borough’s only thatched roof. And its transport history is represented by places like the railway underbridge in Hulme Road, Kearsley, which is Grade II listed.
The importance of the aqueduct carrying the Leeds and Liverpool Canal over the River Douglas at Blackrod is recognised by Grade II listing, as is the aqueduct carrying the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal over the River Irwell at Kearsley. Then there is the towering splendour of the Darcy Lever viaduct, also Grade II listed.
Quite often, the protection afforded by official listing is extended to other important architectural features — like the boundary stone to the west of Ringley Old Bridge, the garden wall to the side of 25 Wood Street in the town centre and the sundial close to St Bartholomew’s Church in School Street, Westhoughton.
Whatever is deemed of importance, at the very least, an official listing means that it may still be here for generations of Boltonians to appreciate in the future.
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