LIFE has come full circle for the new Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Martin Walsh.

In 1977 Judge Walsh began his legal career as an articled clerk with Bolton solicitors' firm Cyril Morris Arkwright.

Now the 63-year-old has returned to the town as the local Crown Court's most senior judge following the recent retirement of Judge Timothy Clayson.

It is a welcome homecoming for the married father-of-one, who has fond memories of the 14 years he spent in Bolton before becoming a barrister.

"It's a closing of a circle really, I am really glad to be back" he said.

After two years as an articled clerk Judge Walsh qualified as a solicitor, becoming a partner the following year before deciding to become a barrister in 1990.

"I wanted to specialise in advocacy. I just wanted to progress really," he said.

Although born in Upminster, Essex, Judge Walsh grew up in the North West, attending St Bede's College, Manchester before studying law at Manchester University. He was the first in his family to go to university.

Becoming a barrister he remained in the city, joining Manchester-based Peel Court chambers.

Just over 10 years later he became a recorder, sitting as a part-time judge, mainly in Liverpool before being appointed a circuit judge at Wolverhampton Crown Court in 2009 where he spent six and a half years.

But after six and a half years of commuting to the Midlands from his home in South Manchester Judge Walsh transferred to Crown Square, Manchester, before learning about the post becoming available in Bolton.

"It just seemed like perhaps a suitable and fitting end to my legal career really," he said.

Bolton has become a family destination as Anna, Judge Walsh's daughter with his wife, Anne, is an orthopaedic registrar at the Royal Bolton Hospital.

He believes his previous experience in Bolton, where he previously played rugby, will stand him in good stead in his new role.

"I have got quite a lot of local knowledge. I know the town well, although it has changed a lot since 1990," he said.

"In some ways the people are the same as those of Wolverhampton - they are absolutely rock solid and great people to work with."

Like his predecessor Judge Clayson, Judge Walsh has a Class I ticket meaning he can try murder cases.

"I think it is important to have a Class I centre here. It is important for the prestige of the town also," he said.

"And it is important that justice is dispensed locally so that people feel they have access to local justice.

"This court has been in very good hands for many years. I don't see any significant changes although I am always open to suggestions."

Outside work Judge Walsh enjoys travelling, including visiting his cottage in Ireland, where his family originally comes from, and supporting the Irish national rugby team.