Atherton  is a town within theMetropolitan Borough of Wigan, in Greater Manchester, England and historically a part of Lancashire. It is 5 miles (8.0 km) east of Wigan, 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Leigh, and 10.7 miles (17.2 km) northwest of Manchester. For about 300 years from the 17th century Atherton was referred to as Chowbent, which was frequently shortened to Bent, the town's old nickname.

Along with neighbouring Shakerley, Atherton has been associated with coal mining and nail manufacture since the 14th century, encouraged by its outcrops of coal. At the beginning of the 20th century the town was described as "the centre of a district of collieries, cotton mills and iron-works, which cover the surface of the country with their inartistic buildings and surroundings, and are linked together by the equally unlovely dwellings of the people". Atherton's last deep coal mine closed in 1966, and the last working cotton mills closed in 1999. Today the town is the third largest retail centre in the Borough of Wigan; almost 20% of those employed in the area work in the wholesale and retail trade, although there is still some significant manufacturing industry in the town.

Evidence has been discovered of a Roman road passing through the area, on the ancient route between Coccium (Wigan) and Mamucium (Manchester). Following the Anglow Saxon invasion of England, Atherton, which is built on and around seven brooks, became part of the manor of Warrington until the Norman conquest, when it became a township or vill in the ancient parish of Leigh. Since 1974 the town has been part of the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, a local government district of the Metropolitan County of Greater Manchester.

Howe Bridge is a suberb of Atherton, Greater Manchester, England. Historically within Lancashire, it is situated to the south west of Atherton town centre on the B5215, the old turnpike road from Bolton to Leigh. The settlement was built as a modedel village by the Fletcher family owners of Atherton Collierie

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Churches

St. Michael of the All Angels Howe Bridge foundation stone laid 5 July 1875

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Schools

New Baptist day school in Dan Lane Atherton “The British School” opened 19th December 1870

Unitarian school Chowbent -1871-

A Public Fountain in Atherton November 1858

The inhabitants of Bag Lane Atherton, have constructed a well for the purpose of facilitating the supply of water for domestic purposes in that district. The mouth of the well is protected by plain but suitable masonry, and measures have been taken to provide an abundant supply of the indispensable necessary to which all persons in the neighbourhood have access. Thus the scarcity of water which has been seriously felt there is remedied, and at the same time those spirited persons who had carried out this undertaking have not been unmindful of the wants of the wayfarer and the stranger, for an iron ladle attached to a chain, is affixed to the wall by means of which passers by may refresh themselves.

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A Public Hall For Atherton 1861

The want of a public room at Atherton had long been felt. At last this object had been obtained and the large building that had recently been occupied by Messrs. Carr & Nichols manufacturers on Bolton Road had been purchased. A meeting was held for the purpose of taking preliminary steps in making the necessary alterations the building required for public use. It was understood that there were to be compartments for the Atherton Sessions, 60th Volunteer Rifles drill and store room a Penny Bank; also a reading and a news room

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The Toll Bar at Atherton

At a meeting of the trustees of the Bolton & St.Helens Turnpike Road on the 4th March 1862, it was decided to immediately place a chain across the road in the Market Place and tolls taken at the same condition as the present side chain - that viz. Payment at Chowbent toll to the free Kirkhall Lane and Daubhill gates. This additional chain was to protect against the evasion of tolls, by passing over the road opened by Mr. Selby across "Parlour Field."

A meeting of the rate payers was quickly convened as the toll bars had been a thorn in the side of the people of Atherton for many years. A financial agreement was to be made, and at a further meeting of the trustees of the Bolton and St. Helens Turnpike Road at the Kings Head Hotel, it was agreed that one of the bars nearest the church (the one installed less than four weeks ago) be removed immediately, and the others shortly after.

Atherton toll bar was finally removed at 12: 00 on New years Day 1 January 1863. The toll bar that had for so long disgraced the Market Place was removed amidst amidst the general rejoicing of the inhabitants. The nuisance, including the chains and cabin, have now we trust, been removed forever. The event was signalised by the ringing of the church bell

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The Early Closing Movement 1864

The Early Closing Movement formed by a number of tradesmen and shopkeepers met at the Bears Paw Inn on Monday 13 November 1864 and partook of a supper to celebrate the inauguration of the movement.An agreement was made to close shops at 8 o'clock each evening, Saturday excepted from 14 November to 10 March and at 9 o'clock each evening fro 10 March to 10 October and close at 11 o'clock on Saturday evenings throughout the year.

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Improvements to the Town 1864

The change in the tenure of the land held in Atherton by Lord Lilford is being the means of gradual improvement in the township. A number of old buildings are being taken down to be replaced by newer ones, and a great deal of land has also been leased for the erection of new houses and works.

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Public Library & Reading Room 1867

An event was held on the 7 February 1867 to celebrate the opening of the new public library in connection with the reading room, comprising of speeches, recitations and music. The new library consisting of 1100 books would be open to the public on Friday evening.

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Road Improvement 1867

The London and North Western Railway Co. proposed to the Atherton Board that Lovers Lane be diverted so the road would pass under the railway and do away with the crossing.The Board liked the idea, and further suggested that the same should be done in Bag Lane; the scene of several accidents if the company was willing.

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Water Supply 1868

Houses in Atherton are to be serviced by pipes and fittings. Owners of property and rate payers who are likely to require water are requested to make applications at once for the necessary fittings for such a supply to George Dickinson clerk to Atherton Local Board Public Hall Atherton 10 December 1868

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Numbering of Houses 1868

 At a meeting in October 1868 it was suggested by a member of the Atherton Board, to keep up with the township of Leigh that all houses throughout the district should be numbered.

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New Fever Hospital 1881

A new fever hospital was completed in Atherton 1881 by the Local Board, it boasted six beds and six sets of clothing it was hoped that this would stamp out infectious diseases in the town.

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Railway

A new railway line from Bolton to Atherton was completed and inspected by the Board of Trade and was made available for passenger traffic on Sunday the 1st February. The building of the line commenced early 1882 is about 41/2 miles long and was constructed for the London North West to supplement the existing single line which formed part of the Bolton/Leigh railway which was opened in 1828. The new line had a double set of rails and possessed various advantages over the old one. New stations had been constructed on St. Helens Road, Daubhill and Manchester Road Checkerbent each easily accessed from various points and vastly more convenient, and displaced the inconvenience which had up to then experienced delays in working that old line

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