A GROUP of people are rediscovering Bolton’s past through their shared experiences.

A reminiscence group based in Astley Bridge has been taking its members back in time as they meet monthly to talk about and remember the town’s past.

Each month, organiser Norman Hindley puts together a ‘reminiscence pack’ for the group.

This acts as a source of inspiration for them, giving a starting point for their discussion.

Mr Hindley said: “I do a bit of research before the meetings and bring some sheets along. In October we did rationing and last month we looked at an area around All Souls.

“I just give a bit of background and then people join in and start talking.”

Any topic or area of Bolton is open for discussion and those present are welcome to make their own suggestions, which are then discussed the following month.

As well as a way of getting the grey cells ticking, the group helps to combat the loneliness that some people who live alone may feel.

The Reminiscence Society is linked with the Greater Manchester Ambition for Ageing Project.

This £10.2 million project aims to create more age-friendly spaces and empower people to live fulfilling lives as they grow older.

Mr Hindley said: “We have some very old members and what they can tell you is amazing. The things they can remember may have been lost to history.

“But we do invite anyone of any age, colour or creed.” A similar group, which Mr Hindley was a part of, used to meet in Astley Bridge Library.

For 17 years the group met to reminisce but numbers dwindled to just four, including Mr Hindley, and the decision was made to end the meetings.

He said: “Our numbers fell to just four so we thought we had better pack it in, it wasn’t worth it.

“Margaret Koppens at All Souls approached me, she said ‘would you like to start one here?’

“We started at All Souls and we have up to 20 people. It stops people being lonely and on their own, that’s one of the things we started this for.

“There’s a lot of history around here and this is just giving people a chance to get back to it, to be nostalgic, which is a big part of life as you get older.”

Those taking part in the meetings are more than welcome to just sit and listen, perhaps a member is not from that area, this can be a chance to learn new things as well as a place, recall a shared memory.

Mr Hindley said: “A lot of people don’t know the history of Crompton Way. We thought we would start looking at it in the first meeting. I gave everybody a drawing of it and it’s amazing what people come up with.”

The length of time the group spends on each subject can also vary wildly. As the sheets are handed out and people begin to talk the memories flow and more than one meeting can be spent covering a topic.

Mr Hindley said the previous group spent months discussing the Astley Bridge area, whereas they might only spend 10 minutes on another subject.

The group is always happy to have new faces come to visit of any faith, background and age.

They meet on the first Wednesday of every month at All Souls’ in Astley Street, Bolton. Meetings are very informal and start at 10am and usually last around an hour