Westhoughton Community Network

group for and run by community groups in Westhoughton

Westhoughton Local History Group

A thriving group, Westhoughton Local History Group was formed in June 2005 by local historian Pam Clarke, now counting over 100 members, it is one of the largest, most innovative, and most successful heritage societies in the region. Meetings and workshops are held in Westhoughton Library the first and third Thursdays of every month, from 10am to 12 noon; some 70 people attending to hear talks or update progress on the various projects undertaken including their regular exhibitions, as well as taking part in local history walks, quizzes and trips.

The Group's exhibitions have been extremely successful in profiling the town's industrial and social history, and have attracted large audiences, from within the town itself, but also many from much further afield. Its work has had a big impact on Westhoughton, marking the major contributions to the town's rich social, cultural and industrial heritage; notably working on the 100-year Remembrance Events for the Pretoria Disaster (21 December 1910), the Luddites bi-centenary and the 'Burning of Westhoughton Mill' (2012), several exhibitions held at the local library including 'Westhoughton and World War I', Westhoughton Under Siege (Development & Planning), 'Aspects of Howfen'… with a new exhibition 'Westhoughton in the Wake of World War One' launched in November 2018.

The group were behind the installation in September 2017 of the 'Westhoughton Historic Timeline', a project breaking down the history of the town across categories of interest with a series of visuals and text.

Eatock Lodge - the new information board (2014) tells the story of the Eatock CollieryKeen to promote their work they can be relied upon to give talks and slide shows to groups and interested parties. They have supported other groups, such as Senior Solutions, Women of Westhoughton (WOW) and Friends of Eatock Lodge supplying information on local events and past history - at Eatock Lodge Nature Reserve their work contributed to an historic noticeboard commissioned by Bolton Council detailing the life, trials and history of the former Eatock Colliery, now a local leisure destination.

The History Group is frequently in attendance at local community events where items such as books, guides and DVDs produced by the group can be purchased, or you can simply ask about local history - all part of its mission to 'Bring Howfen's History to Life'.

Group Aims and Objectives

  • To stimulate public interest in, and appreciation of the heritage in the area.
  • To provide suitable premises for the display and study of the social and industrial history of the area.
  • To secure the preservation, conservation, development & improvement of features of general public amenity or historical or public interest in the area.
  • To develop tourism in the area through the preservation and promotion of its heritage.
  • To encourage appropriate use of the countryside in the area as part of the heritage framework.
  • To develop a sense of community in the area.


  • Bi-centenary of the Luddite attack on Westhoughton mill (22nd April 2012).
  • 'Town Trail' guide for Westhoughton.
  • We are assisting schools in finding out the heritage of the town.
  • Westhoughton's Industrial Heritage.
  • Working with David Kaye of Wingates Band to produce a definitive history of Westhoughton's world-renowned brass band - 'From Bible Class To World Class.'
  • World War One project to record and portray the war from a Westhoughton perspective (2014). Download information/book details.
  • The Development of Westhoughton - 'Westhoughton and the Threat of Siege' (2015) - a look at the growth of the town since the 1950s (2015). Download information sheet.
  • 'Aspects of Howfen' (2017) - exhibition profiling many facets of the town's rich industrial, social, cultural, educational and sporting history. Download information sheet.
  • 'Westhoughton History Timeline 1066 to Present Day - a definitive chronological presentation of key Westhoughton Historical Dates and Events.
  • 'Keawyed Characters' - a series of folio profiles of local people who have served and contributed to the community of Westhoughton.
  • 'Westhoughton in the Wake of World War One'(2018) - marking the 100th anniversary if the Armistice, an expansive exhibition featuring life in the town after the Great War (those who died, those who survived and a town picking up the pieces.


For some years, group president Pam Clark (who died in January 2017) cherished the hope that one day the walls of the library could be adorned with a comprehensive 'Town Timeline', profiling in graphic fashion all the key events in Westhoughton's history, which could be viewed in perpetuity by all visitors to the library, and in this respect she especially had the town's schoolchildren in mind.

'Aspects of Howfen' - Westhoughton Historic Timeline commissioned by Westhoughton Local History Group

Whilst having conceived the idea, and been responsible for much of the embryonic work, sadly she was destined not to see her vision implemented. Now, however, working in close collaboration with key members of staff at Bolton Library and Museum Services, and aided by a generous grant from Westhoughton Town Council, the Group has brought the project to fruition, the result being a most impressive and colourful graphic display, comprising a series of themed information panels, 4 feet high, and with an overall length spanning 65 feet. One of these panels carries a caption informing that the Timeline is dedicated to the memory of Pam Clarke, a lady whose contribution to the town's history has been incomparable.

The official unveiling and dedication of the permanent Timeline feature was an integral part of the 'Aspects of Howfen' exhibition (2017), which also saw the launch of two new WLHG publications linked to the Timeline project.

Westhoughton Local History Group Exhibition 2018

'Westhoughton in the Wake of World War One':

Launched at the Carnegie Hall over the Remembrance Weekend on Saturday and Sunday 10th/11th November, this new History Group exhibition is now set up in Westhoughton Library (upper floor) and will run from Monday, 12th November until the end of year. It is a free exhibition, and with so much to take in is well worth a few visits. Viewable during Library opening hours.

The latest project commemorates the 1918 Armistice, which brought to an end to the horrors and carnage of World War I, but in addition to renewing our tribute to the 221 Westhoughton men known to have given their lives, the exhibition features several additional segments, including:

  • Those Who Served but Survived (remembering those who saw active service, but survived the conflict to contribute to the life of post—war Westhoughton)
  • Westhoughton's Prisoners-of-War
  • Market Street a Century Ago - a profile of the town’s main shopping thoroughfare as it appeared 100 years ago
  • A Portrait of the Past - fascinating glimpses of life in the town during the challenging post-war years (from 1918 to the start of the 1926 General Strike) including aspects of industry, employment, religion, education, housing, culture, and sports and leisure-time activities.
'Remembering the Armistice 1918' - Westhoughton Local History Group Exhibition 2018 (Tom Newton). Over a four-year period, innumerable organisations (official and voluntary) throughout the length and breadth of Britain have continuously commemorated the many and diverse aspects and events of the centenary of World War I, from the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, concluding with the Armistice of November 1918.

Westhoughton Local History Group has striven earnestly to profile the events of The Great War from a local perspective, with manifold activities in 2014, comprising a comprehensive tribute to the 221 men who paid the ultimate price, a successful exhibition, and several sell-out publications. As Armistice Day 2018 approaches, the Group has again been 'on active duty', with a major project which bookends that of 2014 - 'Westhoughton in the Wake of World war One'

A fascinating, detailed and immersive journey into the past; an exhibition co-ordinated by the group's vice-chairman, Garth Ratcliffe, but very much a team effort. Well worth a visit or two!

Pam Clarke - 'Prolific Pam' (1945-2017)

Pam Clarke Pamela Clarke died 31 Jan 2017 aged 71 after a very brave battle against cancer (Tribute - Bolton News). Westhoughton has lost one of its best-known and much-loved citizens, who has made an incomparable contribution to the life of the town – especially the chronicling of its fascinating history.

In 2005, Pam was a founder member of Westhoughton Local History Group (WLHG) – latterly its president – and, as leader and principal researcher of the group. Enthusiastic, devoted to her subject. The group has grown to become one of the largest and most vibrant heritage societies in the region, regularly attracting 60–70 people to its fortnightly meetings programme of speakers and presentations, the activities of WLHG also embrace publishing, DVDs, exhibitions, excursions, quizzes and local guided walks.

Born and bred Howfener, it was at school that she was inspired to engross herself in local history. For the best part of four decades, Pam Clarke has devoted a huge proportion of her time, talents and energies to researching all aspects of the town’s history, embracing industry, agriculture, transport, education, religion, military, and diverse aspects of Westhoughton’s rich social and cultural heritage.

Through WLHG and with the support of her friends and colleges, Pam was able to her work and passion to a much wider audience… From 2010, she authored a series of books published under the WLHG banner - commemorating the centenary of The Pretoria Pit Disaster (2010); The Burning of Westhoughton Mill (2012); The Coal Mines of Westhoughton (2013); The Railway Stations of Westhoughton (2013); and Westhoughton and The Great War (2014).

She wrote essays and research notes, gave talks at meetings and in schools; was present at the History stall at Community Fayres… her contributions can be seen in the Library, on the group’s website and her work helped with the production of Andy Smith’s large-scale painting depicting the Pretoria Disaster at Westhoughton Library. There are cards, artefacts, and a series of blue plaques marking sites of historic significance around Westhoughton; a work in progress is an historical timeline chronicling numerous key dates in the town’s history from the 13th century to the present day.

Pam Clarke was the 'go to' person for anyone – locally and much further afield – having any questions about Westhoughton’s past. In 2011, Westhoughton Town Council acknowledged her incomparable role in the life of the town by awarding her the Westhoughton Civic Medal. In 2014, she was interviewed by Michael Portillo (in front of the group’s first blue plaque, commemorating the Luddite-inspired Burning of Westhoughton Mill in 1812) for one of his Great Railway Journeys programmes.

Pam will be greatly missed within the WCN family, and particularly amongst her friends at Westhoughton Local History Group. He legacy and work will live on; her final project a Westhoughton Historical Timeline - 1066 to Present Day is in the works for installation soon in Westhoughton Library.

Pam's Walk in the Park

More info

Westhoughton History Group

Local film-maker Ted Wisedale has produced a number of videos celebrating Westhoughton and some of the many community events around the town.
YouTube Channel or History Group (YouTube videos).

Participating Groups

Local Amenities

Photos & Videos


Useful Links

Community Events

  • George Formby Society
    Wed 26 June (from 7:30pm)
    Mercury Bolton, Manchester Road (BL5 3JP)
    Fans of George Formby and the ukulele gather to talk, play and be entertained. Last Wed every month.
  • Hoodwinked
    Fri/Sat 21/22 28/29 June
    The Bethel, Leigh Rd (BL5 2LW)
    Latest Bethel Crowd show from the Junior workshop is a musical take on Robin Hood story. Performances 7:15pm, with 2:15pm matinees on Saturday. Tkts £4.
  • St. James DH Concert
    Fri 28 June 7:30pm
    Latest in St. James (Daisy Hill) Concert Series - a virtuoso Guitar & Cello Duo performance by Ithoni Duo. Tkts £8 (U16 free) inc refreshments. Pay on door.
  • Murder Mystery
    Fri/Sat 5/6 July (7:15pm) |
    Westhoughton Methodist Church Hall, Wigan Road (BL5 3QD)
    Special send-off for Rev. Lesley Dinham as she heads for pastures new. A Murder Mystery: 'Who Killed The Vicar?' Can you solve the case? Fun, entertaining evening. Tkts £7 inc supper/refreshments.
  • Wingates Band Concerts
    Fri 5 July (7:30pm)
    Blackrod Community Centre (BL6 5TG)
    Friday Night is Music Night! Last of 4 monthly themed music concerts at Blackrod Community Centre July is Audience Favourites. Tickets £10 with pie supper.
    News and information about the brass band and upcoming concerts, and details of Supporters Club - info.
  • Hope Community Centre
    Central Drive
    Programme. Group activities and events; available for hire for community groups - also parties. 'Grub tub' available for Foodbank donations - 9:30am to 3pm on Mondays.
  • WOW! Women of Westhoughton
    Thursdays from 7:30pm
    Hope Centre (Central Drive) BL5 3DS
    Est. 2013, women's group for shared interests, talks, outings & social networking. Updated programme.
  • Bolton College Survey
    Adult Learning Provision in Westhoughton
    Bolton Council and Bolton College consulting with WCN and other partners to reintroduce Adult Learning Provision to Westhoughton. A survey is launched, with follow-up events planned.
  • Barking Berry's Fun Dog Show
    Took place at Central Park, Westhoughton on Sat 22 June. 7th year for this popular event raising money for animal charities. £1,561 raised on day.
  • Community Police
    Informal, confidential drop-ins held by Pcsos, chance to discuss local issues, seek advice on security & crime prevention.
    WH Market: Thurs 11 July (12-1pm)
    John Holt: Tues 16 July (9:30-11:00am)
    Information about
Westhoughton Community Network @wcn_ on Twitter