The Bolton Evening News was founded by John Tillotson and his son William Frederick Tillotson and was published for the first time on March 19, 1867.

It was the first halfpenny evening newspaper in England, unconnected with a morning or weekly paper, with the exception of a daily Shipping Gazette published in South Shields.

The Tillotson family were founder members of the Press Association in 1868 and towards the end of the century the Bolton Evening News became the first paper in the country to act as a syndication agency supplying fiction to newspapers throughout the country. Conan Doyle was one of the famous authors who wrote for the Tillotson Newspaper Syndicate and through it many authors who would otherwise have remained obscure, rose to fame.

On August 1, 1890 in its 24th year of publication the burgeoning paper moved to new purpose-built headquarters in Mealhouse Lane in the centre of Bolton which was to be its home for almost a century and a further 30,001 editions.

In 1894 it was the first daily newspaper in Britain to produce a photograph by the half tone process.

On January 16, 1962 it made history again when for the first time in a British paper all editions carried a full page printed in Hi-Fi colour.

In 1971 the paper pioneered newspapers in the Classroom project demonstrating how newspapers could be used for educational purposes. Later that year the Tillotson Group was acquired by the St. Regis Paper Company of New York and it was under this management in 1976 that the old hot metal process of production was replaced by computerised photo-setting.

In 1982 the company was sold to Reed International and the Bolton Evening News became the largest of its daily titles.

The newspaper achieved another historic breakthrough in newspaper production when in April 1985 it signed a single-keying agreement with its National Graphical Association tele-ad staff, the first of its kind in the U.K. provincial newspaper industry.

In 1987 the company relocated a few hundred yards away to its present headquarters in Newspaper House, Churchgate, Bolton. At the same time the paper opened an out-of-town publishing centre at nearby Lostock and converted from letterpress printing to web-offset.

In 1989 the company began to phase out the manual cut-and-paste make-up of the BEN and its sister weekly titles and introduced full electronic page make-up, becoming the first in the world to achieve the complete electronic newspaper where stories, photographs and advertisements are processed by computer from the moment of compilation almost to the point when the paper is printed.

In 1992 the paper celebrated is 125th anniversary. Remarkably during that time it has had only eight editors. It appears to have functioned without anyone officially designated as Editor until William Brimelow was confirmed in the post in 1871. He edited the paper until 1913. He was succeeded by: Frederick L. Tillotson (1913-27); Issac Edwards (1927-41); Frederick Tillotson (1941-45); Frank Singleton (1945-65); Tom Cooke (1965-79); Leslie Gent (1979-87); Chris Walder (1987-92). They were followed by: Andrew Smith (1992-97); Mark Rossiter (1997-2001); Stephen Hughes (2001-07); Ian Savage (2008-present).

In 1996 the newspaper became part of Newsquest Media Group and in 2006 the title of the paper was changed to The Bolton News.

The Bolton News moved to new premises on the ground floor of The Wellsprings in Victoria Square, Bolton, at the beginning of October, 2012.