WHEN the former Communist party headquarters in Warsaw became a stock exchange it illustrated a universal truth — things change.

It was perhaps not on the same scale as the Polish capitalist revolution, but there was something equally striking about the way the former home of the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners Federation in Bridgeman Place, Bolton was later transformed in to magnificent offices for the Bolton and Bury Chamber of Commerce.

The miners’ President and Secretary, Thomas Greenall and Thomas Ashton, laid foundation stones for the imposing stone and brick building (architects Bradshaw, Gass & Hope) on August 23, 1913.

At one point in my career on the Bolton Evening News — not that far back, I hasten to say — I would spend Saturday mornings hanging about on the impressive staircase waiting for words of wisdom from officials of the National Union of Mineworkers.

Later on, after the business representatives moved in, I found myself recording the activities of the town’s movers and shakers.

The Chamber, whose first President was Joseph Musgrave in 1887, went through a bewildering number of changes during my time covering business.

These included absorption of the town’s long-standing Chamber of Trade and a merger with the chamber of commerce in Bury.

Several years later there was another significant move — Bolton became part of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, an organisation based in Oxford Street, Manchester that currently has more than 5,000 members and is the largest of its kind in the UK.

The grand old Bolton building, which has echoed with the voices of both employees and employers over the decades, has been up for sale or lease for around two years now and so far there are no takers.

Anybody interested might like to know that repairs to the roof, basement and windows are included in maintenance work planned over the next few months.

It is crying out for a new chapter in its history.

Meanwhile, the Greater Manchester Chamber continues to serve the interests of nearly 400 Bolton members ranging from well-known businesses to one-man bands.

Michelle Geoghegan, Local Policy Manager for Bolton, Bury, Oldham and Rochdale, told me the other day that networking events are organised regularly and that the chamber is working to encourage new members.

Firms of different sizes pay between £150 and £1,112 a year (plus VAT) for a range of services and advice from a body that is a major player in the city region with an influence that is wider than any of its predecessors.

There are cost savings and opportunities to grow business.

Bolton still has a Chamber President — Jonathan Shorrock of local solicitors KBL — and there is a Bolton council currently made up of 11 members.

But these are more outward-looking times and the chamber does not seem to have the same social clout locally that it had not that long ago.

It is for others to judge whether this is a good or bad thing.

Michelle (anybody interested in joining can contact her on 0161-237- 4106) detects a spirit of “continued optimism” in the Bolton business community and notes that some local members are looking to recruit workers.

Mr Musgrave, a member of the famous local family that helped to pioneer the cotton trade in Bolton, probably said much the same sort of thing back in 1887.

Maybe some things do not change so much after all.