STUDENTS, trade unionists, anti-frackers, teachers, councillors and dozens of other environmental activists gathered to take part in what was believed to be the largest global climate protest in history.

‘Climate strikers’ marched on Victoria Square yesterday to call for action to fight an ‘eco emergency’, in solidarity with millions of others in towns and cities around the world.

There they heard speeches, including from members of the Bolton branches of Extinction Rebellion, Stand Up To Racism and Friends of the Earth, as well as Councillor Martin McMulkin and teacher Bernie Jordan.

A spokesperson from Friends of the Earth told the crowd: "This time last year I was in a state of despair about getting anything done about climate change.

"Then in these last few months the youth strikers and Extinction Rebellion have just come along and changed everything.

"I am just so excited, I have hope now, and it is just wonderful to see it happening all over the world and people in Bolton caring about what happens to our world."

Cllr McMulkin added: "What you are doing today and what is happing all over the world sends a beacon of hope to people that we are finally waking up and are going to do something.

"It is clear now that what we do between now and 2040 will determine whether we face extinction."

Following the speeches the strikers set off alarm bells at 1pm to “raise the alarm” for the planet.

They also staged a “die-in” where protesters lay on the ground to illustrate the rate and extent to which species are going extinct.

At the new the junction with Newport Street the campaigners set up stalls for protest groups and offering food as well as holding music, poetry, crafts and face painting.

The strike came just weeks after Bolton Council declared a climate emergency in support of a motion tabled by Cllr McMulkin.

More than 200 similar events were planned around the UK yesterday with thousands of people joining the demonstrations. For the first time adults were also encouraged to join younger protesters on strike.

The latest rallies come after a series of strikes by school pupils inspired by activist Greta Thurnberg and ahead of a day of action in New York convened by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres urging countries to step up their efforts to tackle climate change, which will also be attended by the teenage Swedish campaigner.