THE NEWS that Bolton’s mills and millworkers will be honoured this weekend may leave many thinking it's about time.

A Millworkers Thanksgiving Service will be held at Bolton Parish Church at 3pm on Sunday. The day before, the church will host an open day and exhibition from 10am to 3pm.

Bolton has a long history of textile production and innovation, including Samuel Crompton’s invention of the spinning mule which helped revolutionise cotton production.

After an industrial boom in the mid Nineteenth Century, the textile industry in Bolton employed 36,000 people by 1911.

But as the textile industry declined, the last of the mills began to close in the late 1970s.

Executive Cabinet Member for Strategic Housing, Cllr Martin Donaghy, who will be speaking at this weekend's event, said: “The work of the mills also supported the coal mining and engineering industries which are such important aspects of our local heritage.

“While mill owners and industrialists are often remembered with portraits and statues, the endeavours of ordinary workers are often overlooked."

He said the exhibition and service is "a long overdue recognition of working men and women who helped build this town.”

Cllr Donaghy added: “The mill workers of Bolton built this town through sheer hard graft and sweat. Life in the mills was hard and whilst we acknowledge some mill owners were considerate towards their employees, for example Eagley Mills had creche facilities as well as canteens as early as the mid nineteenth century, the majority of employers were not as enlightened as the Eagley Masters, who recognised their greatest asset was not their buildings or machinery but their workers.

“Mill life was hard but any mill workers will tell you there was a great sense of camaraderie and friendship among the mill workers. The economic benefits to Bolton were huge with the ancillary industries of coal, leather and engineering flourishing as a result of the textile trade, providing thousands of jobs for the towns folk of Bolton and District.”

He added: “The spinners were known in the early years as the barefoot aristocrats and they had some of the best wages and woe betide anyone who used swear words in front of a weaver even across a crowded room, as all weavers learned to lip read to be heard above the roar of the looms.