RESIDENTS of Horwich turned out in force to learn more about their heritage at the opening on a new year-long exhibition.

The Horwich Through the Ages is a collection of artefacts, records, books, photographs and artwork chronicling 4,500 years of the town's history.

The display, at Horwich Heritage Centre, covers every aspect of past life in the town, from the discovery of Bronze Age burial mounds, the first settlers in Horwich, the beginnings of industry in the town, and the development of Horwich Loco Works.

The history of education is also covered, complete with a life-size model of George Atherton, headmaster of the British School in Horwich from 1882 to 1923.

A collection of exercise books and school registers collected as far back as the early 1900s are also on display.

There are also sections on the First and Second World Wars and their effect on people in the town, with artefacts such as ration books, gas masks and military helmets.

A section covering modern times includes the development of new housing in and around Horwich and the success of the Middlebrook Retail Park and Bolton Wanderers move to the town.

The exhibition is the brainchild of Horwich Heritage chairman Stuart Whittle and the groups events co-ordinator Norman Pendlebury.

Mr Whittle said: "We have covered most periods from Horwichs beginnings to present day. The exhibition will serve as a valuable learning tool to school trips from around Horwich, and it is also important for local residents to be able to learn more about the town they live in."

Many of the display items have been loaned to the heritage centre by Bolton Museum and its School Loans Service. Other material is owned by the heritage centre after being donated by residents of the town.

Horwich Through The Ages will run until the end of the year, and is open on Saturday and Wednesday mornings. The Heritage Centre is in Beaumont Road, off Longworth Road.