THIS year sees a very important anniversary for the town of Kearsley.

It is 150 years since the Kearsley Local Board was formed — the forerunner of Kearsley Urban District Council.

The Board was created under the authority of the 1858 Local Government Act giving it various powers including authority over things such as public health.

Farnworth had adopted the Act two years previously and it would seem that some prominent Kearsley residents had become concerned that Farnworth was scheming to take responsibility for at least some part of Kearsley, explains reader Tom Wolstencroft, who has lived in Kearsley all his life and is now aged 83.

In his "History of Farnworth and Kearsley" B T Barton, who was published in 1887, said "a strong feeling was manifested in Kearsley to maintain the integrity of the township against any scheme which might be propounded at Farnworth Local absorb any portion of the township".

He went on to tell us, explains Thomas, who lives in Kearsley, that a meeting of principal Kearsley ratepayers was held on August 24, 1865 "to meet the requirements of the township" where it was stated that the churchwarden had already convened a meeting for the purpose of adopting the Local Government Act.

That meeting was held on August 30, 1865 at the Grapes Inn at which 29 prominent people were present.

The chairman proposed that the Local Government Act 1858 be adopted for Kearsley and Mr James Fletcher seconded. The proposal was carried unanimously. It was also agreed there should be 12 members of the Board.

Barton also explains that on October 30, 1865 a further meeting of ratepayers was held to agree, if possible, on a list of the names of 12 Board members.

It was pointed out by Mr James Warburton of Kearsley Chemical Works and chairman of that meeting that "if they could prevent a contest it would be a saving to the township of £20 to £30". Mr John Fletcher of Clifton and Mr Harrison Blair said they would serve and were accepted among 12 names.

The first meeting of the Board was held in the High Stile Schoolroom on November 15, 1865 when Mr Harrison Blair was appointed chairman. A Bolton solicitor, Mr Thomas Holden was also there.

"Clearly determined to proceed quickly, at their next meeting, the following Wednesday, they created three committees," says Thomas and these were Streets and Lighting, Sanitary and Finance and General Purposes.

From a final list of eight applicants they appointed Mr Joseph Cooke as clerk, earning £40 a year.

Tom has enjoyed a long interest in local and family history which has revealed a succession of paternal forebears back to the 1700s, he explains.

He became a Liberal Urban District Councillor of Kearsley in 1966. He completed two, three-year terms before being defeated in 1972. Local Government reorganisation in 1974 saw Kearsley become part of Bolton.

"For me and I suspect many more Kearsleyites, it was a blak day when Kearsley was forced into Bolton.