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)… with a new exhibition and 'Timeline' feature coming in September 2017.

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.

Projects

  • 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' - a look at the growth of the town since the 1950s (2015). Download information sheet.
  • Westhoughton History Timeline 1066 to Present Day - a definitive chronological presentation of key Westhoughton Historical Dates and Events.

Westhoughton Local History Group Exhibition 2017

'Aspects of Howfen':

Westhoughton’s heritage profiled in major new exhibition and creation of the town’s first permanent 'Timeline'.

Westhoughton Library - from Saturday, 23rd September until Tuesday, 31st October.

September sees the launch of a major new exhibition staged by Westhoughton Local History Group, which will profile many facets of the town's rich industrial, social, cultural, educational and sporting history. 'Aspects of Howfen', is a free exhibition, held on the upper floor and viewable during Library opening hours.

Several key factors have combined to provide the catalyst for the new exhibition, the most significant of which came in January this year, with the sad news of the untimely death of Pamela Clarke, president and founder-member of the flourishing heritage organisation. (Tribute below.)

For some years, Pam 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 latest event will combine the official dedication of the permanent Timeline feature with the opening of the temporary exhibition, and also the launch of two new WLHG publications, all being intrinsically-linked to the Timeline project.

'Aspects of Howfen' - specially commissioned images by local artist Tom Newton - Westhoughton Street Scene The exhibition will have two major segments, one comprising material which expands upon that featured on the wall-mounted panels, and the second a most colourful and impressive display of superb water-colour paintings illustrating the Westhoughton of yesteryear. These are all the work of one of Westhoughton's best-known and much-loved sons, Tom Newton MBE, whose artistic talents have augmented many of the Group's activities over the years, including a number of the images which feature in the Timeline.

One of the two new publications is a collation of 37 of Mr. Newton’s evocative images of Westhoughton past, whilst the second documents the many facets of the Timeline, and provides an ideal permanent souvenir of this latest major project implemented by the heritage group.

The exhibition has been coordinated by Garth Ratcliffe, the group's vice-chairman, who was also responsible for many of the organisation's previous successful major exhibitions listed above.

Further information about all aspects of the exhibition and the Timeline project can be obtained from 01204 696984.

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
e-mail

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

Music

Useful Links

Community Events

  • St. James Christmas Spectacular!
    Fri 8 Dec (7:30pm)
    St. James Church, Daisy Hill (BL5 2HE)
    Brass Quintet 'Salutation Brass' perform. "An evening of your favourites mixed with a large dose of festive cheer" Includes Complimentary Seasonal Refreshments… Tkts £8 (under 18 Free) - Bob 01942 811691. Proceeds for Church Funds.
  • Christmas with Wingates Band
    Sat 9 Dec (7:30pm)
    Victoria Hall, Bolton (BL1 2AS)
    Traditional festive concert from Westhoughton's renowned brass band, supported by Warrington Male Voice Choir. Tkts £10 (U16 free). Supporters Club Members free. Box Office 01204 522569.
    Flyer.
    News and information about the brass band and upcoming concerts, and details of Supporters Club - info.
  • Community Police
    Informal, confidential drop-ins held by Pcsos, chance to discuss local issues, seek advice on security & crime prevention.
    Info.
    John Holt Centre: Tues 19 Dec (9:30-11:30am)
    WH Market: Thurs 28 Dec (12-1pm)
  • Friends of Westhoughton Station
    Now meet every Sunday from 10am
    Volunteer group cleaning up and improving Westhoughton Station for local commuters. Excellent progress. All welcome.
    More...
    . Finalists 'Community Rail Awards' 2015. Town Council 'Certificate of Achievement'. Recent clean-up
  • Hope Community Centre
    Central Drive
    Updated 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.
    More...
  • Westhoughton Poetry Group
    Thurs 25 Jan (from 2pm)
    Get poetic - budding Wordsworth or Pam Ayres? - monthly mtg of creative writing group. Newcomers welcome. Contribute or just listen. Free.
  • George Formby Society
    Wed 31 Jan (from 7:30pm)
    Mercury Bolton, Manchester Road (BL5 3JP)
    Free. Fans of George Formby and the ukulele gather to talk, play and be entertained. Last Wed every month.
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