A LOCAL historian described as one of Westhoughton’s “best known and much-loved citizens” has died.

Pam Clarke, aged 71, died peacefully at her home on Tuesday, January 31 following a battle with cancer.

She was a founding member of the Westhoughton Local History Group in 2005 and, as its principal researcher and latterly its president, oversaw its growth to become one of the largest heritage societies in the North West.

A statement from the history group said: “Westhoughton has lost one of its best-known and much-loved citizens who has made an incomparable contribution to the life of the town — especially the chronicling of its fascinating history.

“Pam Clarke was the go-to person for anyone — locally and much further afield — having any questions about Westhoughton’s past. If the answers weren’t already in her head, a few clicks on her computer would invariably provide them. Apart from Pam the presenter and researcher, Pam the person was very special indeed. She would readily help anyone, friends and strangers alike, and was ever willing to share her encyclopaedic knowledge of Howfen with anyone who asked.

“Many will remember her most for her charming personality, and ever-present smile, which remained with her, even throughout her grave illness.

“To say that she will be massively missed is hopelessly inadequate. She is simply irreplaceable.”

Born in the Water’s Nook district of Westhoughton, Mrs Clarke was educated at Chequerbent Junior School and then at Westhoughton Girls’ Secondary School, now Westhoughton High School.

Mrs Clarke joined the Westhoughton Local History Workshop in the 1980s before forming the Westhoughton Local History Group in 2005 when the workshop ended.

Mrs Clarke, who lived in Wingates for the past 35 years, devoted much of her time to researching local history focusing on industry, agriculture, transport, education, religion, military and the town’s social and cultural heritage.

She wrote five books, including Westhoughton and The Great War, featuring the names and details of all the local men who lost their lives in the First World War.

The amount of work that Mrs Clarke put into her research ultimately led to her being given the nickname 'Prolific Pam'. She was awarded the Westhoughton Civic Medal by the town council in 2011, the same year the history group amended its constitution to make Mrs Clarke its first president. In 2014, she enjoyed her 15 minutes of fame in the national spotlight when she was interviewed by Michael Portillo for Great British Railway Journeys on the BBC.

The Mayor of Westhoughton, Cllr Anne Graham said: “She was a very well-respected figure of the local history group and the work she has done with them has been absolutely amazing.“It’s a very, very sad day for Westhoughton and the local history group.”

Mrs Clarke is survived by husband Mike, son Lee, daughter and son-in-law Suzie and Simon, and her grandchildren, Poppy and Finlay. Her funeral will be at Howe Bridge Crematorium, Atherton on Thursday at 3.15pm. Donations in Mrs Clarke’s memory will go to the Salvation Army and Bolton District Nurses.