- For other places with the same name, see Bolton (disambiguation).
Bolton is a large town in Greater Manchester in the North-West of England, 17 miles north of Manchester city centre. As well as Bolton itself, the borough includes several small towns, notably Blackrod, Farnworth, Heaton, Horwich, Little Lever and Westhoughton.
Bolton grew rapidly as a textile and metal-bashing town during the 18th & 19th centuries. The Spinning Mule was invented here: it spun yarn into cotton thread faster and more efficiently than earlier processes, to feed the great hungry looms, and in its heyday there were 50 million Mules in Lancashire alone. A few were still in use for specialist fine yarns until the 1980s, but the Lancashire cotton trade collapsed from the 1950s, unable to compete with cheap imports. Bolton and similar towns slumped.
In 1974 Manchester and its surrounding towns, including Bolton, were separated from Lancashire and became Greater Manchester. Bolton is nowadays mainly a commuter town for the big city. With a population in 2011 of 194,189 Bolton may well be "the biggest town in Britain" but its bids to be recognised as a city itself continue to be rebuffed.
The town's traditional dialect is more "Lanky" (Lancashire) than Mancunian. You're unlikely nowadays to hear "thee / tha / thi" for "you / your" unless ironically, but you might hear "owt" (anything), "nowt" (nothing), "summat" (something) and "reeght" (right). Thus, a trivial matter is dismissed as "summat 'n nowt." Residents of Westhoughton are dubbed Keawyeds - cow heads; there's a bovine legend about this but it's probably from their victory banquet after Waterloo in 1815, when they roasted an ox and paraded the skull as "Old Boney".
Trains run to Bolton frequently from Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly, 20 min, with a walk-up single costing less than £5. The train from the airport continues north from Bolton to Horwich Parkway, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Glasgow or Edinburgh. Bolton has two trains per hour from Blackpool via Preston, and two per hour from Wigan.
2 Horwich Parkway is next to Bolton Wanderers football ground and Middlebrook retail park.
There are also small station halts at Lostock, Westhoughton, Hindley, Daisy Hill, Blackrod (for Horwich town) and Hall i' th' Wood.
By bus: National Express runs three times a day direct from London Victoria, taking six hours.
From Manchester, Bus 8 runs from Shudehill Interchange every ten min, taking 50 min (don't use Bus 37, which takes 90 min). There are also frequent but slow buses to Bolton from Salford, Bury, Rochdale, Blackburn, Preston, Chorley and Wigan.
The bus station is on the north side of the railway station.
By car for town centre exit M60 / M61 onto A666. For the football stadium stay on M61 to jcn 6.
Bolton is not on the Greater Manchester tram network, so use the bus for outlying places. Bus 525 runs to Hall i' th' Wood. Buses passing near Bolton Wanderers football ground are the 505, 575, 915, 918 and 996, or you can take the train to Horwich Parkway.
- 1 Bolton Town Hall, opened in 1873, is a confident statement of municipal pride, in neoclassical style with a baroque clock tower. Leeds and Portsmouth city halls were built to the same pattern. The elegant Le Mans Crescent behind was added in the 1930s.
- Museum, Art Gallery and Aquarium, Le Mans Crescent BL1 1SL (by Town Hall). M-Sa 09:00-17:00, Su 10:00-16:00. Visitors particularly enjoy the Ancient Egyptian collection. There's an aquarium in the basement. Free.
- The famous Fish and Veg Market, the newly developed Market Hall and Churchgate are worth visiting.
- Bolton Parish Church is Victorian. Samuel Crompton lies in the graveyard.
- 2 Hall i' th' Wood, Crompton Way BL1 8UH (A mile north of Bolton off A58). Mar-Oct Tu 10:00-16:00, Sa 12:00-16:00. 16th century mansion, timber-framed with stone additions, used not as a single home but as multiple lets for 17th / 18th C cottage industry. One of those occupants was Samuel Compton, who designed his "Spinning Mule" here. This helped textile processes grow bigger and bigger, into "dark satanic mills", and the days of cottage industry were ended. The Hall fell into disrepair but was bought up by Lord Leverhulme the "Sunlight Soap" tycoon, who gifted it to the town.
- 3 Prestolee Aqueduct is a four-arched stone aqueduct built in 1793 to carry the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal over the River Irwell. The canal climbed from Manchester over Pendleton to Prestolee where it branched, to Bolton and to Bury. This section is still in water and you can walk along the towpath but it's not navigable: work is under way to partly restore it.
- 4 Turton Tower, Chapeltown BL7 0HG (On hill 4 miles north of Bolton on B6391). Mar-Oct W-Su 10:00-16:00. Odd-looking building, which started out as a 15th C pele tower, then a stone mansion was added in late Tudor times. It was derelict by the 19th C but restored, with Dutch gables covering the stonework. With extensive gardens. It's nowadays within Blackburn, but is easiest accessed from Bolton, with Bromley Cross rwy station a mile or so south. Adult £6.
- 5 Holy Trinity Church (Anglican) is in Horwich. Consecrated in 1831, it's an example of a "Commissioners' church" (aka a "Waterloo" or "Million Act" church). These were an initiative following the end of the Napoleonic wars to revive the decrepit Church of England, to be a national thank-offering for victory, and by Christian moral teaching to prevent a Jacobin-style revolution in Britain.
- Octagon Theatre next to Town Hall is undergoing a major re-furb in 2019, but remains open with a full theatre programme.
- Parks and countryside: central in town are Queen's Park and Moss Bank Park.
- 1 Moses Gate Country Park, also known as Crompton Lodges, is on the Farnworth & Little Lever road.
- 2 Eatock Lodge in Westhoughton is a small wooded nature reserve on "The Hoskers", a reclaimed colliery site. Also nearby is Cunningham Clough, a bosky gully with lots of scrubs for the dog to fossick in.
- St Gregory's Social Club, 13 Church Street, Farnworth BL4 8AG, ☏ , . M-Th 19:00-23:30, F-Su 17:00-00:00. The one Phoenix Nights was based on. It's variously a function suite eg for weddings and funerals, a TV sports venue for big matches, an event space and has visiting acts.
- Watch football at 3 Bolton Wanderers. They were promoted in 2021 so they now play soccer in League One, the game's third tier. Their home ground, capacity 28,800, is called the "University of Bolton Stadium" but is better known as the Macron or Reebok. It's on Burnden Way BL6 6JW, next to Middlebrook retail park five miles west of town centre.
- Walk in the West Pennine Moors. Their most prominent features Rivington Pike and Winter Hill TV mast are across the boundary with Chorley. Great views across the North West - on a clear day you can make out Blackpool Tower and the mountains of Wales. The scars of the 2019 moorland fires are still evident in early 2020 but will probably disappear under new growth by the end of the year.
- Ironman UK Triathlon is held in Bolton in July. The next event is 12 July 2020.
- Bolton Food & Drink Festival is held over the August bank holiday weekend. The next is expected to be F 28 - M 31 Aug 2020 but tbc.
The town centre retail areas are The Market Place (the former market hall) and Crompton Place (formerly the Arndale Centre). There's also a large Marks & Spencer on Deansgate. The edge-of-town retail park is Middlebrook, near the football stadium towards Horwich.
- Ye Olde Pastie Shoppe, 31 Churchgate BL1 1HU (corner of Bradshawgate). M-F 09:00-14:45. A Bolton tradition, renowned for its pasties, which you can take into the pub across the street, "Ye Olde Man & Scythe Inn".
- A strip of places on Bridge St include Nadii's Diner, Viva La Salsa, Jo's Grill House and Sake Sushi.
- Rice 'n' Three, 80 Bradshawgate BL1 1QQ. M-Sa 11:00-18:00. An independent curry house with good meat dishes and vegetarian options, inexpensive. They've another branch on Deane Road.
- Viva España, 12 Winter Hey Lane BL6 7AA, ☏ . Tu-Su 18:00-23:00. Tapas but the portions are substantial, good value.
- Spice Valley, 171 Lee Lane BL6 7JD, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 12:00-14:00, 17:00-22:30, Sa 16:00-23:00, Su 12:00-21:00. Indian restaurant with consistently good quality, veggie options, buffet and a la carte.
- Thyme, 4-6 Winter Hey Lane BL6 7AA, ☏ . M-Sa shop 09:00-17:00, meals 12:00-15:30. Deli and café for light bites.
- Sokrates Taverna, 80-84 Winter Hey Lane BL6 7NZ, ☏ . M-Th 17:00-23:00, F Sa 18:00-00:00, Su 15:30-22:30. Cheerful place with meze selections and a la carte. They've another branch in Sale.
- Middlebrook retail park by the football stadium has a range of budget chain eateries, including Abacus Chinese, ASK Italian, Frankie & Benny's, and Nando's.
- Bolton is home to an independent brewery, Bank Top. Their ales can be found in many local pubs and off-licences.
- Other ales from the area include Lees (Middleton), Holts (Manchester), Hydes (Manchester) and Robinsons (Stockport).
- 1 House Without A Name (The No-Name), 75-77 Lea Gate, Bolton BL2 3ET (3 miles north of Bolton on B6196), ☏ . M-Th 12:00-00:30, F Sa 12:00-01:30. The area's standout pub with brilliant ales, regulars are Joseph Holt Bitter and Sharp's Doom. Bar food, quiz night Mons.
- Ye Olde Man and Scythe, 6-8 Churchgate Bolton BL1 1HL, ☏ . M-Th 11:00-23:00, F Sa 11:00-00:30, Su 12:00-23:00. Long-established friendly pub, often has live muic. Good beer and try the cider, you can bring in pasties from the shop opposite.
- Barristers, 7 Bradshawgate Bolton BL1 1HJ, ☏ . M-W 10:00-02:00, Th-Su 10:00-04:00. Good selection of cask ales, Saturday night is karaoke.
- The Alma Inn, 152-154 Bradshawgate Bolton BL2 1BA, ☏ . M 18:00-00:00, Tu-Th 12:00-17:00, 18:00-00:00, F 12:00-17:00, 18:00-03:00, Sa Su 18:00-03:00. Friendly place, often has live music.
- The Crown, 1 Chorley New Rd, Horwich BL6 7QJ, ☏ . M-Th 11:00-23:30, F Sa 09:00-00:00, Su 09:00-22:30. Traditional pub, decent food, dog-friendly.
- The Old Original Bay Horse, 206 Lee Lane, Horwich BL6 7JF, ☏ . Su-Th 12:00-23:00, F Sa 12:00-00:00. Friendly staff, dogs welcome, beer garden.
- The Saddle, 55 Lee Lane, Horwich BL6 7AX, ☏ . Su-Th 10:00-23:00, F 10:00-00:00, Sa 12:00-00:00. Good town centre pub, part of Amber Taverns chain.
- Sam's Bar, 28 Lee Lane, Horwich BL6 7BY, ☏ . Daily 11:00-23:00. Calls itself a "wine bar" but really a standard northern boozer, decent prices but mixed reviews for ambiance.
- 2 Blundell Arms, Chorley Old Road, Horwich BL6 6PY (B6226), ☏ . M-F 11:30-23:00, Sa 10:00-23:00, Su 10:00-22:00. Pub on the hill between Bolton and Horwich, does good Sunday roasts.
- Farnworth has the Railway (aka Moses Gate) and Shakespeare.
- Westhoughton has the White Lion, The Victoria, Wheatsheaf, The Robert Shaw (Weatherspoons), Rose & Crown (formerly Howfener) and White Horse.
- Wingates has Waggon & Horses and The Royal Oak.
- Daisy Hill has Rosehill Tavern and Grey Man; and Over Hulton has Red Lion and Hulton Arms.
- Lostock has Beehive Carvery.
Bolton is home to the University of Bolton (formerly Bolton Institute).
- Travelodge Bolton Central, River Street, Bolton BL2 1BX (jcn A579 & A666), ☏ (premium rate number from mobiles). Well-run budget chain hotel, clean and friendly. B&B double £80.
- Holiday Inn Bolton Centre, 1 Higher Bridge Street, Bolton BL1 2EW, ☏ . Clean & comfy place, very central, decor could use a spruce. Double r/o £55.
- 1 Mercury Bolton Hotel, 540 Manchester Rd, Westhoughton BL5 3JP (near M61 jcn 5), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Claims to be Britain's oldest motel, and looks it. Budget place, sometimes clean. B&B double £50.
- Last Drop Village Hotel, Hospital Rd, Bromley Cross BL7 9BZ (4 miles north of Bolton centre), ☏ . Good hotel & spa at north edge of city. Double r/o £80.
- These are clustered around Bolton Wanderers football ground and Middlebrook retail park, with nothing in Horwich itself:
- Bolton Whites, De Havilland Way BL6 6SF (adjoins the football stadium), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Good convenient hotel. Pricey for what you get, but close to stadium, eateries in Middlebrook retail park and M61. Double (room only) £90.
- Premier Inn Bolton Stadium, 3 Arena Approach BL6 6LB (100 yards west of football ground), ☏ . Comfy budget chain between stadium and Horwich Parkway station. Double (room only) £40, breakfast £10 pp.
- Premier Inn Bolton West is quarter of a mile east of the stadium on A673 Chorley New Road, with similar prices and quality.
- 2 Mercure Bolton Georgian House Hotel, Manchester Road, Blackrod BL6 5RU (near jcn 6 of M61), ☏ . Okay-ish franchise hotel, the catering is often substandard and it can get noisy when they have a party in. B&B double £55.
- Rivington Pike M61 service area west of Horwich has accommodation, but there's no direct access to town.
As of June 2021, Bolton has 4G from O2 and Three, and 5G from EE and Vodafone.
In an emergency call 999 for Police, Ambulance, Fire Service or Coastguard. Call 101 to report concerns to the Police that do not require an emergency response.
- Manchester is an unmissable lively city, an easy day trip from Bolton.
|Routes through Bolton|
|Preston ← Chorley ←||NW SE||→ Salford → Manchester|
|Glasgow ← Horwich ←||NW SE||→ Salford → Manchester|
|Wigan ←||W E||→ Bury → Rochdale|