Hindley, Greater Manchester

Hindley, Greater Manchester

infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 53.5355
longitude= -2.5658
official_name= Hindley
population= 23,457 (2001 census)
metropolitan_borough= Wigan
metropolitan_county= Greater Manchester
region= North West England
constituency_westminster= Leigh
post_town= WIGAN
postcode_area= WN
dial_code= 01942
os_grid_reference= SD6204

static_image_caption=Hindley Town Hall

Hindley is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan in Greater Manchester, England. Laying three miles east of Wigan it covers an area of 1044 hectares and is within the historic county boundaries of Lancashire. Hindley borders the towns of Ince-in-Makerfield, Leigh and Westhoughton, and, as of 2001, had a population of 23,457. [ [http://www.wigan.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/D5DA1AA7-B094-45EE-941D-9C11895A643B/0/agetownship23Kb.pdf 2001 Census for the Wigan area - Wigan.gov.uk] ]


The town is first recorded as "Hindele" in 1212 and again as "Hindelegh" in 1260. By 1292 it was commonly being referred to as "Hindeley". It is believed that the name originally meant the Hind near the Lea - or the deer near the stream.

Hindley was one of the fifteen berewicks of the royal manor of Newton before the Norman Conquest in 1066. After the Conquest it continued to form part of the Barony of Makerfield. The area was held by various free tenants until 1330 when Robert Langton, Baron Makerfield, gave the lordship of the whole manor to his younger son. His descendants were lords of the manor until 1765 when it was sold to the Duke of Bridgewater.

For much of the Middle Ages and into the 18th century the land was a mixture of pastoral, farming and woodland with the local farmers being tenants of a variety of lords. Some of this ancient woodland still remains today in Borsdane Wood. This is a fine example of an ancient British woodland and consequently Borsdane Wood is protected as a local nature reserve; the richness of the wildlife, the age of the trees and the beautiful glades making an excellent setting for a visit.

Parish registers from the end of the 17th century reveal that residents described themselves as Yeomen, independent farmers who supplemented their income by spinning and weaving. There are also many references to Blacksmiths, whitesmiths, nailers and wheelwrights demonstrating the essentially rural basis of the local economy.


The Local Government Act of 1858 was adopted by the township in 1867 and under the Local Government Act 1894 an Urban District council of fifteen members was constituted [ [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=41388 A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4 - Hindley] ] . New council offices were opened in 1904 and Hindley Urban District Council ran until local government reorganisation in 1974 when Hindley became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, in the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester.


Hindley town centre is located on the historic route between Wigan and Bolton, approximately three miles to the east of Wigan centre and four miles to the north-west of Leigh centre. The town forms part of the greater south Lancashire conurbation set to the east of the M6 motorway between Wigan, St Helens, Bolton and Manchester. The town is set close to the north of an important junction of the A577 road (Wigan-Atherton road) and the A58 (Westhoughton - Ashton-in-Makerfield road).


The population of Hindley increased during the 19th century from 2,300 in 1811 to 23,000 in 1911 reflecting the transformation of the town from a country village to small, dense industrial town whose wealth was based on cotton mills and coal mining. In 1822, John Pennington constructed his first power-driven mill. He was previously a significant employer of hand-loom weavers in the late 18th and early 19th century.

In 1835 John Leyland provided an insight into the growth of the town when he wrote, "Mr Pennington is extending his works, and a new mill is being built by Mr Walker. When these get completed a large increase in inhabitants must follow. In a small time it will doubtless rank as a small town."

Like many other local towns, the coal mining and cotton spinning have all disappeared and most residents of Hindley work in neighbouring Wigan and Bolton or commute to Manchester or Liverpool.


Cotton manufacturing was carried on extensively from the 17th century until the middle part of the 20th century. By the end of the 18th century the majority of men described themselves as weavers in the parish registers.

The first cotton factory was erected in 1785 by Richard Battersby at Lowe Mill, formerly a water corn-mill. Later hand-loom weaving was one of the chief industries, each cottage having a weaving shop attached and as the Industrial Revolution grew, larger cotton mills were built. Nevertheless, Hindley retained a rural character throughout the century. In 1790 Market Street, known then as Mill Lane, remained unmetalled and predominantly undeveloped.

However, Hindley is built on the Lancashire coalfield and the two great business of the town for over three centuries were coal-mining and cotton manufacture. The first recorded coal mine was in 1528 and by the end of the 19th century there were over 20 pits in the area. At the start of the 20th century profitable coal seams were nearly exhausted and concerns were raised regarding the need to diversify and develop the cotton mills. Peak production of coal was achieved just prior to World War I. The period between the first and second world wars was marked by the closure of most of the collieries and mills including Hindley Field and Swan Lane collieries in 1927, Hindley Green Colliery in 1928; Lowe Hall Colliery in 1931; Lowe Mill closing in 1934 and Worthington Mill was demolished. During the post war period the Hindley workings became part of the large colliery complexes being developed at Bickershaw, Parsonage and Golborne.

The economic depression of the 1920s and 1930s hit Hindley hard and by the time of the Second World War the population had declined to 19,000.


Hindley Churches

The first chapel in Hindley was All Saints Parish Church, built by public subscription in 1641 on land given by George Green. George Street in front of the current church being named after him. The church was built as a "chapel of ease" to Wigan Parish Church and was built with the blessing of the Rector of Wigan, Bishop Bridgeman.

The church was originally regarded as Puritan, and its first regular minister, Thomas Tonge preached an early version of the Presbyterian discipline established a few years later. He was succeeded by William Williamson, and then by James Bradshaw, ejected in 1662 for noncomformity.

The chapel seems to have remained unused for six years, and then a succession of curates followed. The chapel was finally consecrated in 1698 on All Saint's Day. All Saints' Church was rebuilt in 1766 with modifications made in 1863 and remains to this day much the same as then. An attractive, bright church with an upper balcony and wide nave. All Saints' Church is not in the town centre but is the parish church of Hindley, and can be found on Chapel Fields Lane.

St Peter's, near the crossroads in the town centre, was built in 1866 and contained a rare example of an organ by Edmund Schulze until 1908 when two extra stops were added. It is now unused, having been replaced by an electronic organ by a local constructor. The war memorial, outside St Peter's Church at the town's main crossroad, was unveiled on 4th November, 1922; other memorials exist in individual churches.

Hindley has a strong tradition of Methodism and non-conformist churches in their various forms. The Wesleyan Methodists acquired land in 1846, and built a chapel in 1851. The United Methodist Free Church had two chapels at Hindley Green, Brunswick Chapel, built in 1855, and another in 1866. The Primitive Methodists had one at Castle Hill, built in 1856, and another at Platt Bridge, built in 1854. The Independent Methodists had a church at Lowe Green, built in 1867.

The Particular Baptists built Ebenezer Chapel in Mill Lane in 1854, converted to the Mahabarat Indian restaurant in recent years.

The Congregationalists made a first effort in 1794, but no church was formed until 1812; St. Paul's Chapel was built in 1815, meetings for worship having been held some years earlier in cottages.

Presbyterians built a chapel in 1698 and this has been continuously used ever since, the present congregation being Unitarian in doctrine.

St John's Methodist Church at the top of Market Street and St Benedict's RC Church, in the middle of the main street, were both built in 1868.

Nothing is known of the permanence of Catholicism during the 17th century, but mass was probably said at Lowe Hall as Dom John Placid Acton, a Benedictine, was stationed at this place in 1699 and died there in 1727. Succeeding priests, who till 1758 resided chiefly at Park Hall in Charnock Richard, or at Standish Hall, moved the chapel to Strangeways and then to Hindley village. From 1758 there has been a resident Benedictine priest in charge of worship and the present church of St. Benedict in Market Street was built in 1869.

The cemetery on Castle Hill Road was opened in 1879 and is divided into denominational sections and of note is the amount of masonic gravestones to be found throughout. Hindley has a long and proud masonic tradition that still survives today.

Grammar School

Hindley and Abram Grammar School was established in 1632 and survived as a school until the 1980s when it was closed by Wigan Metropolitan Borough. The building still survives as a teachers' centre.

The original school was situated in "Lowe Hall" and the first edition of the Ordnance Survey map (1848) shows that the school was at the end of a short track off Stony Lane, now Liverpool Road. It was known as "The Lowe School". The school was relocated to Park Lane in 1856. [1]

Originally pupils attended without payment but by 1829 the master was at liberty to make charges for instruction on Latin, writing and arithmetic. By 1882 the building consisted of a large school room, a smaller classroom and a headmaster's house. It is interesting to note that in 1882 no boys came to the school from Abram as the condition of the road between Abram and Hindley was so poor.

Between 1900 and it closure in the 1980s Hindley and Abram grew in both size and reputation becoming one of the leading grammar schools in Lancashire Education Authority. The school produced academics, businessmen and women, judges, scientists and teachers of note for over a centrury.

Hindley Junior and Infant School

Hindley J&I school was rebuilt on the existing site on Argyle Street. The new state of the art school, designed by NPS , is a fully inclusive mainstream school, with additional resource rooms, therapy rooms and a hydrotherapy pool. The school was opened by Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Borsdane Wood

The entrance to Borsdane Wood - an ancient broadleaved woodland now protected can be found by leaving the cemetery at its lower gate and turning right. Walking through the large tunnel under the railway allows you to enter a woodland little changed in centuries. Borsdane wood is designated as Ancient Semi Natural Woodland (ASNW.) believed to have been continuous woodland cover since before 1600 AD and is composed of native tree species that have not obviously been planted. Borsdane Wood is also a Local Nature Reserve (LNR).

The wood consists of approximately 2.55 Hectares of mixed broadleaf trees including species such as oak, ash, birch, cherry, hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn and dog rose, as well as 1.54 hectares of open ground. With trees, many hundreds of years old the wood has remained relatively unchanged for centuries and is home to a wide variety of wildlife including wild deer.

Notable people

Among the noted past or current residents of Hindley are:

* George Formby, the writer and singer, who lived on Atherton Road as a boy
* John Crank, famous mathematician. [ [http://turnbull.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Biographies/Crank.html John Crank biography - Turnbull server website] ] [ [http://turnbull.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Biographies/Crank.html John Crank Biography] ]
* Arthur Farrimond, 1924 Olympic runner [ [http://www.boltonrevisited.org.uk/282.html Arthur Farrimond 1924 Olympics - Bolton revisited] ]
* Lily Brayton, Shakespearean actress [ [http://shakespeare.emory.edu/actordisplay.cfm?actorid=8 Lily Brayton - Shakespeare and the Players] ]
* Numerous rugby league players, including Shaun Briscoe of Hull KR and Anthony Stewart of near neighbours Leigh Centurions

John Leyland (1832-1883)

Leyland was an important benefactor of the town. He was born in Mill Lane (Market Street) in 1832 to a well known family of cloth makers and eventually took over the family business.He became a governor of Hindley and Abram Grammar School and published a history of the town "Memorials of Hindley" in 1873. On his death, as a memory to him his estate paid for an extension of the Grammar School and built the Leyland Public Library in Market Street.

Nathaniel Eckersley

Colonel Nathaniel Eckersley, lived at Laurel House on Atherton Road.This can still be seen as the front building at Laurel Nurseries.

Eckersley had a distinguished military career and served with Duke of Wellington in Portugal in the Peninsular Wars. He constructed defences for the town of Peniche and led numerous attacks from the town. He then saw action in the siges of Badajos and later led the Engineers at the siege of Fort Piccurina where he was shot through the lungs and was invalided home. Mentioned in dispatches he returned home a minor hero.

Eckersley was a philanthropist and during the second half of the nineteenth century was inextricably linked with local charitable and educational causes. He was particularly concerned by the living conditions of the mill and colliery workers. He was the life long friend of John Leyland and Eckersley unselfishly devoted funds bequeathed to him by Leyland for the improvement of the well-being of residents and the Park named after his friend remain a testament to his generosity.

The Pennington family

The Penningtons were a well known family of industrialists in Hindley throughout the later eighteenth and mid nineteenth centuries. Their industrial empire began with a single mill in 1822 which John Pennington's expanded to six mills by the middle of the century.

John's son and grandson became powerful figures in the town, employing a high percentage of the population of the time. John Pennington had other children who went on to be well known in public life. Frederick Pennington, became a Liberal MP and supporter of many women's causes; Pennington's daughter Maria married Thomas Thomasson, the philanthropist, and John Pennington's other daughter became the mother of the well known suffragette Ursula Mellor Bright who married Jacob Bright son of the famour orator John Bright.

The Pennington family donated over half of the £9,000 required to build St Peter's Church in 1866 and contributed to other improvements in the town.


Hindley's proximity to the modern motorway network and train lines to Manchester and Wigan (where connections to the West Coast Mainline can be made) and affordable housing mixed with modern small estates make it increasingly attractive for commuters. The town has a modern supermarket which has been the root cause of the slow demise of the independent traders on Market Street. The only type of trader seemingly to thrive is the 'hot and cold food' establishments, of which at the last count - 20th May 2008 - there were fourteen and the main street is slowly being regenerated by shopkeepers and local entrepreneurs. [ [http://www.wigan.gov.uk/Services/Environment/BuiltEnvironment/HindleyTownCentreRegeneration.htm Hindley Town Centre Regeneration - Wigan.gov.uk] ]

port and leisure

The town has a recently refurbished swimming pool, two public parks, supports a growing amateur Rugby League team and a variety of amateur football teams. It also has thriving youth based groups including two scout troops, boys brigade, guides and brownies, Army Training Corps and a local gymnastics club.

Hindley St. Peter's Cricket Club, who participate in the Manchester and District Cricket Association and West Lancashire leagues, won the inaugural inaugural Manchester Association Twenty20 tournament [ [http://www.wigantoday.net/general-sport/History-for-Hindley.3198942.jp History for Hindley - WiganToday.net] ] . The club recently received funding to build a new pavilion and a revamped children's play area.

ocial Regeneration Issues

Despite these efforts there are areas of long term blight that residents would like to see improved - they receive no support from the local authorities.
*Derelict buildings on Bridge Street, some empty for over 20 years, need to be compulsory purchased and demolished as they are unattractive and become a haven for fly posting, which detracts from the efforts to regenerate the town.
*The Borsdane Shopping precinct on the Castle Hill estate has been a blight on the area for over 30 years and despite promises from the local MP and the Labour Council still remains in existence and a danger to the public.
*There a few facilities in the local park compared to other areas of the Borough.
*There remains no integrated transport links with the local station - most travellers faced with a walk of half a mile from the town.
*Travelling through Hindley by car can be a problem with long delays and traffic jams. The local council's recent "improvements" have made the problem worse.


External links

* [http://www.wigan.gov.uk/ Wigan Borough Council]

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