PAUPERS buried in unmarked graves at a former workhouse in Bolton will finally get their own memorial following a campaign by the Mayor of Bolton.

The Bishop of Bolton will perform a service on Sunday at the Royal Bolton Hospital — site of the Bolton Poor Law Union workhouse — and a plaque will be unveiled in memory of workers who died there in abject poverty.

Mayor of Bolton Cllr Martin Donaghy, whose grandmother died in an Irish workhouse, said: "It is important because they were citizens of our town, just like anyone else, but unfortunately they fell on hard times.

"They were poor and in those times being poor was a crime.

“I am trying to put right a wrong, that they were disrespected and in many instances forgotten about.

“This is a fitting tribute to them, to remember them as citizens of our borough and pray for the repose of their souls.”

The Bolton Poor Law Union workhouse was originally situated in Fletcher Street in 1837, but was replaced in September 1861 by a second building in the area of Fishpool in Farnworth.

It is thought at least 1,000 people are buried close to the site of the old workhouse, off Minerva Road close to Mount St Joseph school.

While there was no mass grave like other towns, Bolton's Board of Guardians would buy common graves with space for six bodies if people died without any family.

When a headstone was used, if at all, it would be made of cheap limestone and deteriorate as years went by.

The workhouse, which was designed by architect George Woodhouse, who also designed Bolton Town Hall, later became part of the Townley’s Hospital site when the workhouses closed in 1929. But the main buildings — which formed part of the Royal Bolton Hospital after the NHS was created — were not demolished until 2011.

Cllr Donaghy travelled to Newry in County Down, Northern Ireland, last year for a similar commemoration service, marking the ground where the body of his grandmother Annie Kelly was buried after she died in the workhouse.

She was just 30 when she entered the workhouse on Christmas Eve in 1924 with Cllr Donaghy’s mother Alice, aged three at the time. She died just six days later.

Cllr Donaghy said following that visit, he wanted to lay a plaque in memory of "inmates" who had died after going into Bolton's workhouse, having suffered harsh conditions.

The Bishop of Bolton will perform the service on Sunday, March 1, at 2pm at the Royal Bolton Hospital in Minerva Road, and will be attended by members of various faiths and the town’s dignitaries.

Cllr Donaghy said he hoped the event would be a fitting tribute to people who suffered during their time in the workhouse.

He said: “It will be a moving service. There will be people from Bolton at the service who may well have know people who were in the workhouse or had family members in that workhouse.

“This is any opportunity for them to say a prayer for them and remember them in some way.

“People regarded the entry to the workhouse with a certain amount of shame, because it wasn’t something that was talked about in everyday conversation.

“It was brushed under the carpet, but of course there was no shame.”

Bolton Libraries and Museums Service holds the records for people who were inmates at the workhouse.

They can be accessed by visiting the central library in Le Mans Crescent.