BOLTON’S historic place in the county of Lancashire could soon be resurrected — on the town’s road signs.

Council bosses will soon be able to put the traditional county names on boundary road signs, including those bordering Chorley and Darwen, under new government plans.

The current rules prevent unitary councils like Bolton from having a road sign saying "Lancashire", for fear it will confuse residents.

The plan is part of reforms announced by Eric Pickles, the MP in charge of local government, who has already announced changes to planning rules to allow councils to put up boundary signs marking traditional English counties.

The secretary of state said the new rules free local authorities from "Whitehall red tape" and help mark out England’s traditional county boundaries, which date back hundreds of years.

He said: “The tapestry of England’s counties binds our nation together, and is interwoven with our cultural fabric — from our cricket to our ales.

“Previous governments have tried to wipe the counties off the map, imposing bland administrative structures or alien euro-regions.

“But I believe we are stronger as a nation when we cherish and champion our local and traditional ties.


“This government is proud to wave the flag of St George alongside both our county flags.

“Whatever one’s class, colour or creed, we should have pride in our English identities within the United Kingdom’s Union that binds us together.”

Bolton was made part of Greater Manchester under the Local Government Act in 1974, where previously it had been considered a part of Lancashire — a county thought to have been founded in the 12th century.

Astley Bridge councillor John Walsh has been a firm campaigner for Bolton’s place in Lancashire, and every year presents the county’s symbol — a red rose — to the Mayor in a special Town Hall ceremony.

Welcoming the announcement, Cllr Walsh said: “As a member of Friends of Real Lancashire, I think we should be proud of our tradition.

“As last week the council supported the flying of the Union flag, I think we should also be proud of our more local connections and Lancashire is certainly part of our heritage.

“Greater Manchester was set up as an administrative county, and we must never forget that fact.

“I would commend this entirely and think we should promote it in any way we can — let’s remind people of our historic traditions in every way possible.”

A council spokesman said they would wait for more details of the plans before deciding whether to change the road signs.

  • Do you know the history of Lancashire? Find out here.