VISITORS to Bolton Sixth Form College should not be alarmed if they are stopped and quizzed by inquisitive students — for they will probably be members of the Sherlock Appreciation Society.

The Sherlock actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, has inspired a new generation of Sherlock Holmes fans, so much so that Bolton Sixth Form College is now home to a society in honour of the fictional sleuth.

Sherlockians, wearing special sweatshirts, meet every Monday afternoon to share their enthusiasm for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, the books, the TV series —and, of course, their crush on Benedict.

Bethany Southern, aged 17, said: “We go to other students, asking what they are doing. We are very suspicious.”

Sharon Marshall, senior tutor and literacy co-ordinator at Bolton Sixth Form College, founded the society, hoping to capitalise on the huge success of the BBC TV series, starring Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Dr John Watson.

Ms Marshall, a children’s author, said: “Benedict is a great champion of literacy and I am a huge fan of Sherlock. Seeing this phenomena makes me feel 16 again. It shows the power of a good story.”

She added: “The society talks about all kinds of things connected to Sherlock — the science, feminism, steam punk. We do of course speak about Benedict too.”

Lucky Courtenay Gray, aged 16, had a chance to meet Benedict at a special convention recently.

She said: “I was really star struck. Societies like this give you a chance to share what you are interested in, with other people who are also interested.

“Sherlock is such an interesting character and the series has introduced him to young people.”

Bethany Southern, aged 17, said her interest in the sleuth was sparked by the series’ special effects and through designing the society mascot — Beneduck Cucumber-batch. She said: “I wanted to be able to create the mascot. I was watching the shows and they were all amazing.”

The society wants to hold a Sherlock Convention at the college — and are hoping it may catch the eye of Benedict himself.

Ms Marshall said: “For him to walk through here would be a validation of everything we as a group are doing.”

Principal Steve Wetton said: “At college we want students to reach their potential and flourish, both academically and personally.

“We encourage them to get involved and complement their academic studies by taking advantage of the wide and diverse enrichment activities, clubs and societies that are available.

“Literacy skills are at the heart of learning and development and the Sherlock Appreciation Society has captured the imagination of students and is gaining momentum and quite a following at college.”

  • The group is also appealing for a Sherlock deerstalker hat. Follow the society on Twitter on @sherlockb6fc


  • Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 -1930).
  • He made his debut in 1887 in the novel, A Study in Scarlet. The character then appeared in three other novels and 56 short stories.
  • Conan Doyle was also a physician and, while studying medicine, started writing stories, including those about Sherlock Holmes.
  • Sherlock Holmes was never described as wearing a deerstalker cap in the books by its author, but he was a keen pipe smoker.
  • Holmes often said “elementary” and “my dear Watson”, but never “elementary my dear Watson”.
  • Conan Doyle once said: “If in 100 years I am known only as the man who invented Sherlock Holmes, then I will have considered my life a failure.”
  • Wanting to devote more time to his historical novels, he killed off Holmes in The Final Problem, but after public demand the author wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles.
  • In the early days of the Bolton Evening News, Conan Doyle sent in a story called The Great Brown-Pericord Motor.
  • He based Sherlock Holmes on Dr Joseph Bell, a surgeon and teacher he had studied with while attending Edinburgh University for his medical studies.
  • Holmes’ name may have been based on American jurist and fellow doctor Oliver Wendell Holmes and his first name may have come from Alfred Sherlock, a prominent violinist of his time.

The Bolton society’s mission statement is:

  • To share an appreciation for Sherlock within an informal but educational setting.
  • To read the full Sherlock canon and support the legacy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • To engage fully with Sherlockian philosophy, based upon the principles of deduction.
  • To promote literacy through engagement with text and through a televisual lens.