WESTHOUGHTON is a little town close to Bolton but do not dare call people from Westhoughton Boltonians.

Families living here are from Westhoughton not Bolton and fiercely proud of their heritage.

The name Westhoughton is derived from the Old English words “halh” (dialectal “haugh”) for a nook or corner of land, and “tun” for a farmstead or settlement - meaning a “westerly settlement in a corner of land”.

The town has been spelt various ways, often the “West” bit was not used.

In 1210 it was spelt as Halcton, 1240 as Westhalcton, 1292 as Westhalghton, 1302 as Westhalton, and in the 16th century as Westhaughton and Westhoughton.

The people of Westhoughton are known as “Keawyeds” (cow heads) and the town is known as “Keawyed City”. There are two local stories how this name came about, explains a spokesman for Westhoughton Local History group.

“One tells that in 1815, a celebration was held to mark the end of the Napoleonic Wars and that an ox was roasted. This was mounted on a pole and was fought over by two opposing factions in the town. The victors were dubbed “Keaw-Yeds”.

“Another story tells that a farmer in Westhoughton found his cow had got its head stuck in a five barred gate (or fence), and rather than cut the gate, the farmer cut the cow’s head off, since the cow cost less than the gate.”

There is no evidence to substantiate the story that has circulated for around 200 years but it is a popular one and one we think people who live in Westhoughton rather enjoy telling.

Westhoughton was, and still is, a large area made up of small outlying districts — Brinsop, Chequerbent, Chew Moor, Daisy Hill, Dobb Brow, Fourgates, Hart Common, White Horse and Wingates with part of Over Hulton being added in 1898.

All these places had their own customs and there was quite a marked rivalry between the people of the districts, who congregated periodically in the centre of the area where the Westhoughton Chapel and cattle market were situated and the Annual Wakes (Howfen Fair) was held.

“During these assemblies, the Wingates-ers would challenge the Hart Common-ers and the Daisy Hill folk would challenge the Chequerbent-ers to various games which included football and no doubt, some clog fighting (although there would be clog dancing too).

“In 1815 — to celebrate the victory of the Battle of Waterloo — an Ox or bullock, was roasted on the old mill site (this was where the first steam- powered weaving factory was built, and subsequently burned down by Luddites from neighbouring towns, in 1812).

“After they had all had their fill of roast-beef, they decided to have a game of football.

A Trophy had to be given to the winners, so they decided that the champions would win the head of the Ox.” More in next week’s Looking Back.