Places of Worship



Public Weighing Machine

Travel By Horse

Horse & Cart

Travel By Canal




Motor Bus

Leigh Gas Co.
Penny Bank Opened
Progress On The New Railway
Fatal Accident On The New Railway
Another Fatal Accident Constructing The New Railway
Further Accidents On The New Railway
First Locomotive Crossing The New Arches
Report Of The Chief Engineer
Opening Of The New Railway
A New Goods Station For Leigh Bedford
John Speakman's Mineral Line
New Pavement For Bradshawgate
Pipes, Ditches And Typhoid Fever
Removal Of The Pennington Toll Bar
Removal Of The Kirkhall Lane Toll Bar
Control Of Leigh Market Changes Hands
Library For Leigh
Leigh Volunteer Fire Service
Enteric Fever Epidemic
Leigh Post Office Services
Dissolution Of The Local Boards
New Police Station For Leigh
Standard Measures At The New Court
Leigh Town Hall For Sale
Public Baths For Leigh
Public Health Acts In Leigh
Public Health Report to the Guardians 1910
The Completion Of Railway Road
A Park For Leigh
Leigh  is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, in Greater Manchester, England. It is 7.7 miles (12 km) southeast of Wigan, and 9.5 miles (15.3 km) west of Manchester city centre. Leigh is situated on low lying land to the north west of Chat Moss.

Historically a part of Lancashire, Leigh was originally the centre of a large ecclesiastical parish covering six vills or townships. When the three townships of Pennington, Westleigh and Bedford merged in 1875 forming the Leigh Local Board District, Leigh became the official name for the town although it had been applied to the area of Pennington and Westleigh around the parish church for many centuries. The town became an urban district in 1894 when part of Atherton was added. In 1899 Leigh became a municipal borough. The first town hall was built in King Street and replaced by the present building in 1907.

Originally an agricultural area noted for dairy farming, domestic spinning and weaving led to a considerable silk and, in the 20th century, cotton industry. Leigh also exploited the underlying coal measures particularly after the town was connected to the canals and railways. Leigh had an important engineering base. The legacy of Leigh's industrial past can be seen in the remaining red brick mills – some of which are listed buildings – although it is now a mainly residential town, with Edwardian and Victorian terraced housing packed around the town centre. Leigh's present-day economy is based largely on the retail sector.



St. Mary the Virgin

Probably in existence before 1264 when the aid of the King was enlisted by the Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry against people who had seized the church. It was originally dedicated to St. Peter and stood on the borders of both Westleigh and Pennington. The interior of the church underwent extensive restoration around 1616, and in 1777 an organ was installed and a gallery added above the north aisle. By 1870 both the interior and exterior was in a state of disrepair and a decision was made to demolish and rebuild the body of the church and restore the church tower.In 1919 a new vestry was added and the remains on the north side of the church were removed

Bedford Roman Catholic Chapel

Built in 1776 in Chapel Street on the corner of Dick Mathers Lane, there was no graveyard so burials would have been at the St. Mary's Church of England burial ground. Additional land was acquired and a burial ground opened in 1816. Marriages had to be performed legally in a C of E parish church but a duplicate ceremony was held at the R C Chapel

Christ Church Pennington

The consecration of Christ Church Pennington was performed 1 June 1854

St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church

In 1855 the old Chapel in Chapel Street was demolished and a new church dedicated to St. Joseph built in its place, this was opened on the 3rd May 1855. The church was badly damaged in a storm in 1865. it was repaired and a tower was added. An act of parliament in 1856 forced all the old burial grounds to close and land for a municipal cemetery to be purchased on the North side of Manchester Road with separate areas for Roman Catholic, Church of England and Dissenters burials.

Bedford Wesleyan Methodist Chapel

This was the first Methodist Chapel in Leigh, it was opened in 1794 fronting the north side of Chapel Street and on the corner of what was later North Street.

Bethesda Chapel

The original Collecting Book used before the erection of the first Congregational Chapel in Leigh that in Newton Street gives on the first pages an interesting sketch of the position of Congregational Nonconformity in Leigh, which is printed below.

Leigh is a small town in Lancashire, situated in a populous neighbourhood. The deplorable ignorance and profligacy which prevail here need only to he known in order to excite the compassion and benevolence of every true Christian. In the year 1805 a small cottage was .opened for preaching "by the Rev. W. Roby, of Manchester. A Spirit of hearing has been excited, and there is now the most pleasing evidence that many have been savingly converted. In 1810, the County Union took this place under their patronage, and at the earnest request of the people, appointed Mr. Alexander, late of Prescott, to be the stated minister. Here he preaches three times on the Lord's Day and four or five times a week, as an itinerant in the neighbourhood. A church has been formed in Leigh upon-,the congregational plan.; and at .present-it consists of 26 members. There is the pleasant prospect of an increase. Such has been, the success of the present laborious minister, that the room will no longer contain the number of people disposed to attend. their Sunday School of near 200 scholars, is hereby .prevented the privilege of hearing, the Word of Life; and a much larger number could be obtained if there were accommodation. Under all the circumstances it is of the greatest importance that a suitable chapel school should be erected, for this purpose a plot of land has "been purchased. It is thought the expense of the whole will be about £900.The people engage to raise one-fourth, which 'is more than could be expected, considering their humble circumstances, and the severity of the times. It is, therefore, hoped that the present will not be considered as an improper appeal to the benevolence of the religious public, and this case is cordially and respectfully recommended to their, kind attention of he following ministers

May, 1812.

W. ROBY, Manchester, P. S. CHARRIER Liverpool, Robert Jack Scot’s Chapel Manchester

The foundation stone of the old Bethesda Chapel was laid 23rd August, 1813, and the building was opened for 'divine worship 21st July, 1814 The cost of erection was about £1,150

Bedford Wesleyan Chapel

The foundation stone of the Bedford Wesleyan Chapel was laid on the 20 March 1872 by James Hayes

 Leigh Congregational Chapel

The foundation stone of the new Congregational Chapel, Union Street, Leigh was laid by Henry Lee J P on the 20th May 1876


Leigh Free Grammar School situated in the church yard of St. Mary on the west side of Bridge Street (Leigh Road) was founded and endowed in 1655 by  Piers Ranicars, who left the sum of £5 per annum, chargeable on certain lands in the parish of Pennington; this sum was later increased by certain other benevolent individuals to £25 a year, and the master had a house free.

New Baptist day school near Dangerous Corner Westleigh opened “ The British School” 1871

Church Street School Church of England built in 1841 and enlarged in 1878 for 696 children, boys, girls and infants

Kirkhall Lane School Church of England infants built in 1888 and since enlarged for 155 children

St. Peters School Church of England, Firs Lane, Westleigh mixed and infants built in 1862 and since enlarged for 928 children

St. Thomas Bedford School Church of England, Chapel Street boys, girls and infants, built in 1868 for 730 children

Westleigh School, Westleigh Lane, Church of England, mixed, built in 1846, rebuilt in 1872 and since enlarged for 802 children; infants erected in 1900 for 163 children

Butts Bridge Mission Ragged School Green Lane Ends Bedford -1868-1873-

 Primitive New Methodist Chapel and School erected on the site of an older chapel in Bradshawgate the foundation stone was laid 17 April 1869 and cost £1,700

 Mission School, Church of England, Wilkinson Street, infants built in 1902 for 170 children

Pennington School, Church of England, West Bridgewater Street, off St. Helens Road, Pennington, mixed and infants built in 1861 and since enlarged for 435 children

Butts School, Wesleyan, Forth Street, Bedford infants for 450 children

King Street School, Wesleyan, Pennington, mixed and infants built in 1815 and rebuilt in 1896 for 359 children

Plank Lane School undenominational, Westleigh, built in 1860 and since enlarged for 318 children

Wesleyan day school Westleigh -1871-

Westleigh School, Wesleyan, Westleigh Lane, mixed and infants built in 1871 for 345 children

St. Joseph School, R.C..., Mather Lane Bedford, boys girls and infants built in 1871 and twice enlarged for 980 children

Bedford School, Wesleyan, Chapel Street, mixed built in 1784 for 631 children, later also infants

Our Lady of the Rosary School, R.C.... Plank Lane, Westleigh, built in 1879 for 269 children

Butts School Clarence Street Bedford Church of England (mixed and infants) built in built in 1891 by W. C. & W Jones of Bedford New Mills to the memory of their father, the late W.C. Jones for 508 children.

Twelve Apostles School, R. C. Nel Pan Lane, Westleigh, built in 1899 and since enlarged for 318 children

Sacred Heart School, R. C. Windermere Road, mixed and infants built in 1904 for 400 children

Council School located in Windermere Road (boys, girls and Infants) built in 1908 for for 940 children

Boys Grammar School removed to a new school in Manchester Road date not known

Manchester Road Secondary Modern School, Bedford, opened 29 September 1832 for boys and girls

Bedford High School was established in 1976 when the Grammar schools were abolished by the 1976 Education Act and was formed by the merger of Manchester Road Secondary School and Leigh Boys Grammar School which were next to each other.



From earliest times it was quite common for the great and the good to establish a charity for the church, or the poor of the parish. This was not always just a philanthropic gesture, it was regarded by some as an atonement for past sins and perhaps  the entrance fee to pass through the gates of heaven. These charities were usually administered by trustees and distributed by the church on feast day. A good example was the Francis Charity of Westleigh. An annual distribution of this charity consisting of blankets, calicos, drills and white flannel to the value of £40 took place according to ancient custom in the Parish Church at the close of the morning service on Christmas Day. The recipients consisted of upwards of 200 families residing in Westleigh. The acting trustees of this charity were Richard Guest and T. T Hayes.To give some idea of the value of these charities a pound in  1700 would have the purchasing power of around £121 today

1626 - Henry Travis Charity was carried out as his last will and testament to 40 poor people on the 7th April Thursday of Passion Week from a seat near his grave and namely 7 each from Westleigh, Pennington, Bedford, Tyldesley and six each from Atherton and Astley this charity was still being carried out at the latter end of the 19 C. The following inscription was on a brass plate placed in one of the seats in the north aisle. "Mr Henry Travis late of Light Oaks who departed this life Anno Doi 1626 aged 64 years and gave by his last will unto 40 poor people of this parish 5/- apiece yearly, to be delivered them near his grave on Thursday in the Passion Week forever"

1679 - Richard and Catarrene Speakman gave to the poor of Bedford and Tyldesley the yearly interest of £30

1680 - Richard Hilton gentleman gave to the poor of Bedford, Pennington, Atherton and Westleigh land of the yearly value of £15

1680 - Jeffery Lythgoe gave to the poor of Bedford the yearly interest of £20

1680 - Daniel Whittle gave to the poor of Bedford the yearly interest of £10

1687 - Randle Wright  gave to the poor of Pennington the interest on £40 given in linen cloth yearly and the interest of £10 for the trustees. And   James his son gave for the teaching of four poor children the yearly interest of £40

1699 - Jane Heywood to give to the poor of Westleigh distributed in cloth the interest of £20

1699 - Robert Pennington gave to the church the yearly sum of £5

1709 - William France the yearly profit of land lying in Westleigh and Lowton

1709 - Thomas Stockton gave to the poor of Astley the yearly interest of £5

1709 - William Guest gave to the poor of Astley and Tyldesley the yearly interest of £10 to buy bibles

1709 - William Sanderson gave to the poor of Astley the yearly interest of £20

1709 - Miss Mort of Wharton gave to the minister of Atherton the yearly sum of £2. 15s

1709 - Peter Yates gave for a sermon on the Feast of St. Peter the interest of £10

1716 - William Hart gave to the poor of Westleigh the yearly interest of £20

1716 - Thomas Guest gave the yearly interest of £20 to the school at Astley

1716 - Adam Mort gentleman gave to the poor of Astley, Bolton, Little Hulton, Tyldesley and Bedford out of the tithes of Astley £10

1716 - Thomas Mort gave to the ministers of Leigh and Astley, to the clerk and schoolmaster of Astley, and to the poor of Astley and Bolton the yearly interest of £10

1716 - Jonathan Meanley gentleman gave to the poor of Astley the interest of £40

1716 - Oliver Whalley gave to the the minister and poor of Astley the yearly interest of £20

1718 - Ralph Pilling gentleman for an annual sermon on New Years Day the interest of £10

1723 - Henry Bolton gentleman gave £100 to buy plate for the church, but this was not given until the following year. Also for an annual sermon on the Feast of St. Bartholomew the interest of £10. Also to 20 poor persons attending church on that day the yearly interest of £100. Also to a school master teaching three boys to read the yearly interest of £20

1726 - R. Ashurst to the poor of Westleigh the yearly interest of £5, and also gave to the church certain lands in Westleigh called Pickley Hayes

1726 - Thomas Naylor gave to the church a croft in Westleigh for an annual sermon on Easter Tuesday

1726 - Samuel Hilton gentleman gave to 20 poor people of Bedford the yearly interest of £10, also communion plate for the use of the Atherton Chapel

Hiltons Charity gives to the poor of Bedford 4 or 5 shillings which comes from the rent of three cottages in Trafalgar Street. Joseph Kerfoot one of the trustees for the last 26 years gave 50 people 4/- each in Bedford School on New Years Day

1726 - Edward Burron gave to the poor of Astley the yearly interest on £4, and of Westleigh the yearly interest of £3. 10s

1726 - John Parr gave to the poor of Tyldesley the sum of 40/- charged upon a field called The Riding in the said township to be paid on the 2nd of February

1824 - Rachel Prescott died 6 December 1824 and left to the poor of Leigh the interest on £1120 to be paid on St. Stephens Day to take effect on the death of her cousin Richard Pickering Higginson of Bedford who died 16 November 1838


Public Weighing Machine

A public weigh bridge had been available outside the Bulls Head in Windy Mill Lane (Bradshawgate) from early times, where the tare weight and load weight were calculated, as traffic through the town increased and due to the narrowness of the street it had become somewhat of a public nuisance it was still operating in 1867 and perhaps up to 1872 when a new public weighing machine was erected in front of the Bridgewater Hotel in King Street with a 12 foot by 6 foot 6 inch plate capable of weighing a horse and cart together


Travel by Horse

Up to the mid 18th century all travel in England was by horse, mule or foot, many people had never ventured far from their village, and it was not uncommon for travellers to loose their way in winter, and freeze to death in the forests and moorlands of Lancashire. Almost all hotels and inns provided some form of accommodation, stables and an Ostler to look after the horses, food and accommodation, which would mean sleeping two or three to a bed or tick mattress, with complete strangers, the beds more often than not infested with bugs and fleas. The Bulls Head in Windy Mill Lane, The George And Dragon King Street, The Kings Arms Inn Market place and the Boars Head which had a twenty stall walk up stable all provided these facilities, as did many of the smaller inns. Portable items of trade, would be transported around the country by a train of pack horses, conveying goods produced in the country villages to the larger towns and cities. The return journey would  then carry products only available in the industrial areas back for sale in the village shop or market place


Horse and Cart

The movement of larger goods necessitated the use of a cart and a team of horses, this method of transport had been used since early times, but it was not until the the later part of the 18th century that it started to evolve evolved into a business. These were called either carters, carriers or removers. The earliest carriers in Leigh were James Crompton farmer and carrier 1791, Robert Cornish carrier to Bolton Monday and Thursday 1818, From the Lord Nelson Bradshawgate Leigh Peter Nelson to Bolton every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 1820,  Peter Caldwell Newton Square 1841 and John Battersby from Back Salford, Leigh to Bolton -1848. From around 1861 the main carrier in the town was William Hesford who's sons carried on the business into the following century pioneering the use of steam then petrol driven vehicles.


Travel by Canal

Francis Edgerton 3rd Duke of Bridgewater owned coal mines, with large deposits of coal in Worsley, and needed to provide a cheap method of transporting it from his mines to industrial sites in Manchester. The first canal or cut as it was known was opened on 17 July 1761 at a cost of £168,000. His 5th Canal Act of 1795 was to extend the cut from Worsley to Leigh, the Bridgewater Canal, to link up with The Wigan branch of the Leeds and Liverpool canal which would provide a through navigation between Lancashire and Cheshire and beyond. This was the first true canal in Britain as it was cut out, and not constructed from an existing waterway.

Packet Boats

The development of the canal system created a more comfortable and leisurely method of transport which would connect with other modes of transport to convey passengers to destinations not on the waterway system. During the 1820s from the Wharf King Street, Leigh a boat to and from Manchester, through Worsley to Wigan, Newborough, Burscough Bridge, Scarisbrick, Halsall, Ormskirk and Liverpool. A packet boat from Manchester at 9 o'clock every morning through Worsley, Leigh, Wigan to Scarisbrick; from where passengers are conveyed to Southport at 6 o'clock the same evening; leaves Southport every morning at 9 o'clock and arrives in Manchester every evening at 6 o'clock. By the 1840s the packet boat to Manchester from Scarisbrick would stop at the Leigh Canal Wharf every alternate day after noon at two. The packet boat from Manchester to Scarisbrick would stop at the Leigh Canal Wharf every alternate day at half past eleven, noon. Goods were transported to Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester daily by Edward & James Green

Fly Boats

A fly boat travels to and from Blackburn every day. A fly boat from Wigan to Manchester, through Leigh every day - Thomas Boothman was agent



Stagecoaches as we may recognise them today evolved from around the mid 17C in the capitol but did not reach the provinces until much later. By 1820 their was a regular service; from the White Horse Market Street to Manchester every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning at 7 o'clock, and arrives back in Leigh about 7 o'clock. To other destinations from the Kings Head Market Place Atherton a coach to Liverpool every day at 12 o'clock noon; to Bolton every morning at quarter past ten o'clock - A coach to Liverpool every morning at 6 o'clock; a coach to Bolton every evening at seven o'clock, - A market coach to Manchester, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning at quarter past seven o'clock, and arrives in Chowbent the same evening about half past six o'clock. - Two market coaches from Wigan to Manchester every Tuesday morning at seven o'clock in the summer, and eight o'clock in the winter, and arrives in Atherton the same evening about seven o'clock. A market coach from Wigan to Manchester every Saturday morning at seven o'clock in the summer and eight o'clock in winter, and arrives in Atherton about seven o'clock



An omnibus which would have been a horse drawn conveyance carrying multiple passengers ran from the White Horse Hotel Leigh to Warrington every Wednesday morning at nine during the 1840s



The tramway extension from Leigh Boundary to St. Mary’s Station was almost complete in April 1906


Motor Buses

On the 10th and 12th of January 1906 the South Lancashire Tramway Co. tried tests on motor buses with the object of seeing if these would be useful for improving communication between Leigh and the outer districts

A motor bus service is now being run 1906 from the tramway terminus at Lowton to Newton. The fare from Lowton to Lane Head is 1p, from Leigh boundary to Newton 3p, the buses run every half hour from 1:00pm to 10:00pm weekdays and 10:00am to 10:00pm Sundays.

Motor Bus Service – On the 16th March 1906 the South Lancashire Transport Co. started a half hourly service from Leigh Market to Westleigh St. Pauls Church and back, and on Sunday an hourly service from St. Paul's Church and Leigh Market Place to the cemetery

The Leigh Gas Co.

The Leigh Gas. Co. was formed in 1834 by Peter Boardman from a capitol of £2,000 on land that had formerly been Mansley's Rope Works and was known as The Rope Walk, but was renames Gas Street. Many complaints about the quality of the gas led the Local Board to try an acquire the company, but the gas works refused to comply. This led to the Local Board petitioning the Government who gave consent to a compulsory purchase of the Gas Works by the three Local Boards. The Gas Works remained under the authority until nationalisation in 1947.

Gas Lighting Extended in the Town

The main streets of Bedford were lighted with gas for the first time Thursday 14th August 1861, the lamps were placed closer together than in Leigh and the advantage was plainly obvious. The inhabitants of Bedford were generally pleased with the illumination.

Gas lamps had been installed in Kirkhall Lane by January 1867 and supply pipes laid, but not connected to the mains as incorrect burners had been supplied.A further eight lamps had been installed on the Turnpike Road from Platt Bridge to the Union Workhouse, the glass in these lamps had already been broken by boys throwing stones or by playing piggy. This area came under Atherton Board who suggested that the dangerous sport of piggy be banned in the streets.

Compulsory Purchase of The Leigh Gas Co.

The directors of the Leigh & District Gas Co. in 1873 were Henry Calland, Richard Greenough and James Brideoak. After many complaints regarding the service and poor quality of the gas, several attempts had been made by the Local Board to purchase the Leigh Gas Co. which had been strongly resisted by the directors. In 1874 Leigh Local Board made a compulsory purchase of that company under an Act passed that year

Under the Westleigh, Pennington and Bedford Local Boards (Gas Act) 1874, the three Boards were empowered to purchase the Leigh & District Gas Co, that had been formed under the Leigh District Gas Act of 1861 and who supplied gas within the three districts.

And for the execution of the act a Gas Joint Committee of the three Boards was formed with the power to take hold of lands and other property for the purpose of the act.


Penny Bank Opened

A Penny Bank was opened in Bury Lane, Culcheth in May 1865, deposits to be made at the Mechanics Institute every Friday evening. The trustees were Francis James Gill, Joseph Hartley (mill owners), Rev. William Fansett Black and Rev. Meyer Menson.


Progress of The New Railway 19 April 1862

 The works on various portions of the main line are now rapidly progressing. This week the branch or loop line from Tyldesley through Leigh to Bradshaw Leach has been commenced, the starting point being in Bedford, a short distance from Atherton Woods. In Atherton the navvies are actively engages in lowering the turnpike road near Howe Bridge, and have already removed a large quantity of ballast.

Fatal Accident on the New Railway

On Friday 1 May 1863 Thomas Sterling a single man living in Tyldesley and about 40 years of age, was working on the viaduct of the new railway at the top of Bradshawgate. He was a carpenter and had been seen at times to step between the waggons when they were in motion, and it is believed that on this occasion, he attempted to cross the moving waggons when he was caught between the buffers.His body was crushed and his right hip bone completely smashed and crushed in, besides receiving other injuries. He was at once removed to the Shoulder of Mutton Inn where every exertion was made to save his life, but he died about 5:00 am.

Another Fatal Accident Constructing the New Railway

A fatal accident occurred May 1863 on the new line of railway at Bradshaw Leach. The man was named as Richard Ellis, a single man about 25 year old from Patley Bridge, Yorkshire who was employed on the line as a driver. He was running at the side of some full waggons for the purpose of tipping them when his foot caught against something which threw him down, and the wheels of the waggon passed over his breast and head killing him instantly

Further Accidents on the New Railway

An accident occurred on the 17th June at the new cutting on the new railway ay Wood End. Martin Grainy age 29 years arrived from Ireland He arrived in Leigh by the last train on Wednesday the 16th, and applied for work to Mr. Hopkins the following morning, who employed him filling waggons at the cutting. At 9:00am workmen could see the embankment was about to fall, they warned him of the danger and he had ample time to escape but he continued filling waggons. A heavy fall of earth then came on him and when extricated he was found to be seriously injured, a doctor was sent for and he was removed to his lodgings at Bridgett Riley's in Diamond Street. His injuries included a scalp wound 4-5" long and  a half inch wide, a broken collar bone, hand and arm lacerated and a broken thigh bone. He Was Removed to Manchester hospital

On the Following day John Mills of Brown Street, who was at work on the new line at Dangerous Corner, while wheeling dirt up a plank to a waggon overbalanced and fell with the barrow. His arm was broken.

First Locomotive Crossing The New Arches July 1863

This week a novelty was witnessed in Bedford, a locomotive engine crossing over the new arches over Queen Street and Chapel Street. The work of the new railway is progressing with great rapidity, nearly all of the bridges 80 in number are completed, and the heaviest portions of the other work are approaching completion.

Report of the Chief Engineer August 1863

The chief engineer of the London and North West Railway Co. in a recent report to the directors, states that the work on the Eccles, Tyldesley, Leigh, Wigan branch  railway are in a forward state 1,000,4000 cubic yards of earthwork out of a total of 1,000,6000 yards have been removed, and 81 bridges out of a total of 85 are finished. The viaduct at Leigh is nearly completed, a portion of line is ballasted, and the permanent way being laid at the present rate of progress, he fully expected that the branch railway will be opening in the following spring.


 Opening Of the New Railway 1864

The total length of the line including a branch from Tyldesley to Bradshawleach is a little over 16 miles and its cost exclusive of the land is £250,000 or over £15,000 a mile, its line did not present any engineering difficulties, but there are under it or over it 88 bridges. At Bedford Leigh there is a viaduct 350 yards in length consisting of 22 arches of from 25-30 foot span, and 4 larger spaces spanned by iron girders. About 2,000,000 cubic yards of earth have been excavated in the construction of the line. Near Tyldesley there is a long, but not too deep, cutting through the upper red sandstone; but as a rule the rail runs on embankments, at a considerable elevation giving passengers a commanding view of the scenery. There are no serious gradients, the ruling gradient being 1 in 100, though there is an incline of 1 in 80 between Tyldesley and Hindley Green. The new line was laid out by William Baker engineer and constructed by Mr. Treadwell contractor. The first sod was cut on Wednesday September 11th 1861 by the Earl of Ellesmere at Worsley. The line consists of two portions one 12 ½ miles in length and the other 3 ½ miles in length. The longer portion leaves the Manchester Liverpool Railway between Eccles and Patricroft station and joins the North Union Railway at Spring Branch a mile and a half from Wigan station; the shorter portion (branch) leaves the main line at Tyldesley; and terminates at a junction with the Bolton and Kenyon Railway at Bradshaw Leach. The new stations and the distance between them Worsley 1½ miles from Eccles; Ellenbrook 2½ miles from Worsley; Tyldesley 2½ miles from Ellenbrook; Tyldesley 1¼ miles from Chowbent; Hindley Green 1¾ miles from Chowbent; Platt Bridge 2½ miles from Hindley Green; the distance between Platt Bridge and Spring Branch being ¾ of a mile. On the branch the stations are Bedford Leigh 2 miles from Tyldesley; and Bradshaw Leach 1½ miles from Bedford Leigh; between Chowbent and Hindley Green the main line crosses the Kenyon and Bolton line, of course some distance northward of where the branch joins it at Bradshaw Leach. There are goods stations at Tyldesley and Bedford Leigh. The Worsley station is situated in the cutting near the main road, and is built of white bricks, the heads of windows and doors are arched over in alternate white, red and blue bricks. The angles are neatly moulded in brickwork. The accommodation consists of two first and second class waiting rooms, a spacious booking office etc. There is a large waiting shed on the down side built in the same style as the station. The platforms are upward of 800 feet in length with red and blue tiles, with stone borders and are roofed over with a light glass roof affording protection to the passengers. The approach from the main road is a gentle descent and the Bridgewater Trustees are opening a new road leading to the railway road, which will doubtless at no distant period lead to the erection of villa residences. Ellenbrook, Hindley and Platt Bridge have each a small neat timber station, with commodious platforms affording ample accommodation. Tyldesley possesses a very pretty station with the same conveniences and arrangement as Worsley, but constructed of timber. The station at Leigh (called Bedford Leigh) as a distinction from the old station consists of a spacious and convenient booking office under one of the arches, with waiting rooms adjoining the platform. There are separate staircases for the up and down trains. Bradshaw Leach station has been remodelled and improved. The various stations have been erected by Mr. Parnell of Rugby under the able superintendence of Mr. W. Smith.

     A special train was in readiness at Manchester 12: 30, engine, luggage van and 18 carriages all tastefully decorated. A saloon carriage was set apart for the company chairman Richard Moor and the company directors. Another carriage was set aside for the band of the 60th (Atherton) Rifle Volunteer Band whose services had been retained for the day. The train started to the inspiring strains of the band and a percussive Feu de Joie from the fog signals exploded by the engine driver, and the bells of the Salford church pealed. At 12:48 the pioneer train made its first entrance upon the new line at Monton Green junction. The next station after leaving Worsley was Ellenbrook reached at 1:02. The train reached Tyldesley at 1:09 where multitudes gathered with bells sounding joyfully, banners and flags fluttered over the sound of the Ellenbrook Yeomanry Band and a battery of three field guns gave an intermittent salute. The view from Tyldesley station is magnificent, with open country stretching as far as the eye can see. The train reached Leigh station at 1:21 but there were few signs of rejoicing. The junction at Bradshaw Leach was reached at 1:33. The train halted between the points, and an engine in waiting attached itself and the train then left at 1:38 and arrived at Tyldesley at 1:49. The amateur field gun battery had been strengthened by two mortars with the men running hastily backward after lighting the fuses. The train left for Wigan at 1:53 arriving at Chowbent in 4 minutes with flags that announced “Welcome to Great Britain” inspiring misgivings of the geographical position of Atherton. The line crosses the Bolton Kenyon; which is connected by a short branch opening up a communication with Bolton, Hindley Green station. Platt Bridge is the next station. After passing, that line terminates at Spring Branch where a junction is affected with the North Union Line to Wigan where the party arrived at 2:20. Visitors from Preston joined here and returned to Tyldesley which was reached at 2:40.

New Goods Station For Leigh Bedford

On the 1st November a new goods station in connection with the new railway opened and the old one closed. The Company has not yet made a single approach to either passenger or goods station, and the roads in the vicinity are scarcely passable. Some of the owners of private streets have placed chains across them to protect the destruction of their property. A carter was killed in Princess Street leading to the goods station when he was thrown from his horse due to the bad condition of the road. The area around the old station is in an even worse condition, with no proper road and the dirt track full of pot holes. The wheel of a horse and cart recently ran into one of these holes, shedding its load and driver, luckily no damage was done to the horse.

New Railway Line 1885

A new railway line at Pennington Station to Hindley Green that commenced June 1883 was opened on Monday 11th March 1885 for mineral traffic. The line begins opposite the new cabin and across the flat land to Plank Lane behind Mr. Massey’s bowling green, thence across the Leeds Liverpool canal, over the extensive Bickershaw, Abram and Hindley coal fields and on to the main line, one of the principal objects is to take the minerals from their collieries. The entire length is about three and a half miles. The work has been done by Messrs. Edwards & Son railway contractors.


John Speakman's Mineral Line 1891

John Speakman & Sons laid down a broad guage mineral line from their Bedford Colliery to their coal depot in Guest Street it was completed in October 1891

New Pavement for Bradshawgate

At a meeting of the rate payer on 23rd April 1862 it was resolved that Mr. Limon surveyor of the highways be empowered to flag Bradshawgate and that the highway rate for the present year should not exceed the present one. Improvements have long been needed and the thoroughfare was an important one, and more so when the new railway is completed.

Paving setting, side stones and flagging was to be started in 1867


Pipes Ditches and Typhoid Fever

Through the mid 1860s Pennington Board had made vast improvements to the paving and fitting of sewer pipes in the town. Between September 1861 and April 1865 drains and sewer pipes had been installed in Bradshawgate, King Street, Ellesmere Street, Ducie Street and Canal Street. Tenders had been put out to contractors for paving, drains and sewer to be fitted and completed in Railway Road, Back Salford Street, Newton Street and Sugar Street. Stock Platt ditch was still an area of complaint, and was deemed a hazard to public health. It was proposed that the effluence that had backed up there should be diverted into the brook which itself was nothing more than an open sewer. Typhus fever was raging in London, Manchester, Liverpool and more locally an outbreak in Wigan was causing concern. Bedford and Westleigh having separate local Boards were not as well provided for as Pennington and by the latter end of 1866 the inevitable happened! - Typhoid fever of a very malodious character has broken out near Butts Bridge, one or two deaths have already taken place there being no less than ten persons suffering from it at the present time. The dregs of the ditches there have been much neglected, there being no proper house drains, the sewage matter finding its way as best it can into the open ditches. There are also some cases of typhoid at Barlows Factory in Westleigh.

In an extract from the returns of the Registrar General for the last three months of 1866 we find that at West Derby out of 432 deaths in the quarter, 86 were from scarlatina. The town of Wigan had been very unhealthy; typhoid, typhus and other fevers were prevalent. At Warrington the prevalence of fever was in a great measure owing to the filthy habits of the people; some of the houses were badly ventilated and overcrowded, and are not fit for the habitation of human beings. At Westleigh in Leigh were measles, scarlatina, whooping cough, typhus, diarrhoea and bronchitis have prevailed, out of 90 deaths in the quarter 60 were those of children under 10 years of age. In the eastern sub district of Bolton, the death from the quarter were 105 above the average; attributed to the unusual number of cases of scarlatina, diarrhoea and other diseases peculiar to children; the number of deaths from scarlatina alone was 76. There were 50 deaths from scarlatina in the western sub district of Bolton.

By February 1867 in spite of the recorded number of deaths the local boards were still debating the cost and who should pay what with the regard to the Stock Platt ditch. At this point in time Stock Platt still came under the jurisdiction of the Atherton Board, but the effluence from a part of Westleigh also needed to feed in this direction. Westleigh Board offered to contribute a third to the cost and future maintenance of a sewage tank but the Pennington Board refused to pay anything. A tank had been installed at the northern side of Bedford, but this was causing problems as the effluence was being filtered into the brook and the slurry was spread over the farm land without treatment or disinfectant. The London and North West Railway Co.had constructed a culvert for conveying the sewage from Princess Street and East Bond Street to the brook, this did away with taking up the railway goods yard and again came under the umbrella of the Atherton Board.At the furthest extremes of Pennington the houses adjoining Knott Mill then in the occupation of Messrs A& N Buckley were complaining that the stench from the factories ash pits was unbearable, and that effluence was leaching through the brickwork. As the houses were not owned by Knott the owner of the mill, responsibility fell to the Pennington Board who blamed the smell on the warm weather and chose to ignore the problem..

A sewer was to be constructed on the south side of the canal and in Twist Lane in 1867 and drains to be laid in Lord Street East, the latter development by the Atherton Board

In 1868 Scarlet Fever ravaged Bedford, it was reported that for some time past Scarlatina had raged with considerable virulence in the locality an deaths had been numerous. Thomas Pendlebury of Butts Bridge had lost four children in a few weeks. Another complaint had been forwarded to the Bedford Board of the bad sanitary conditions in the area, and it is alleged that a very large and offensive ditch runs past the houses in which the sewage matter is conveyed. Attention was called to this flagrant nuisance some 15 months ago at the time when typhus fever was raging. Local farmers had approached the board and requested that they use the raw sewage from the ditch to spread on their fields, as the ground was suffering since Pennington had diverted their effluence.


Removal of the Pennington Toll Bar 1863.

Abolition of the Pennington toll bar took place on the 5th October. At 4: 20 pm the tolls taken at the toll bar ceased. The first fruits of the Local Government Act in Pennington are are beginning to be realised and will be regarded as a great boon especially by the farmers of Pennington. The Trustees of the Bolton and St. Helens Turnpike Road have taken alarm and a special meeting is to be held next Thursday.

Removal of the Kirkhall Lane Toll Bar 1864

Kirkhall Lane toll bar, this obnoxious structure to one of the principal entrances to Leigh was thrown open on the 1 January 1864 and traffic between Leigh, Atherton and Westleigh proceeded untouched.

The tolls must have been reinstated some time after 1864, as the Leigh Chronicle announced that 12th July 1867 would be the last days that tolls would be collected at the Kirkhall and Pennington Gates. For a very long period these legalised barriers have stood blocking the entrance to Leigh impeding the trade of the district


Control of Leigh Market Changes Hands 1864-1880

The Commissioners of Pennington have entered into arrangements to take for a long lease from Lord Lilford, the Manorial tolls of the township and will thus obtain full control of the Market Place and its appurtances. This arrangement may be made conducive to the prosperity of the town and lead to the establishment of a well regulated and thriving market.

In January 1880 under the provision contained in the Public Health Act of 1875 relating to markets and fairs the Leigh Local Board purchased the manorial rights of the Lord of the Manor of Pennington with respect to the holding of markets and fairs, of posting bills and appointing a town crier in the market town of Leigh and establishing a market for the town of Leigh


Library For Leigh 1865

A series of concerts were held throughout the year at the theatre, and other smaller venues to finance a working men's library for the town, it was thought to be a disgrace that a town of upwards of 10,000 people did not have a public library. Even a small village like Culcheth had a library in the Bury Lane Mechanics Institute.The Working Men's Library was finally opened on the 31st October 1865.


Leigh Volunteer Fire Service March 1866

A practise at the mill of Isherwood and Hayes convinced all present, by their speedy evolutions, discipline and attention, that we now at Leigh have secured a sufficient protection in the event of an outbreak of fire. Their conduct does them great credit and also speaks well for their Superintendent Mr. Pritchard whose services in organising the brigade has been invaluable.The new brigade had an opportunity to demonstrate their skill the following week when the thatched roof of a house situated behind the Lord Nelson Inn caught fire, presumably from the inns chimney.On the 17th July 1866 an inauguration ceremony, with a parade and dinner was held at the White Horse for the new Fire Brigade, this was interrupted by the outbreak of fire in a nearby cotton mill.


Enteric Fever Epidemic 1871

Throughout the Autumn of 1871 an outbreak of enteric fever broke out in Leigh mainly in Bedford and the poorer areas of Pennington a body of inspectors visited the town in 1872 to assess and to advise on the problem to the local boards. Due to it's length an edited version is recorded here, anyone wishing for a time machine to return to "the good old days" read on:-

Leigh Bedford in its oldest parts are closely built with a good many ill ventilated courts, the backs of houses are often shut in by other houses in close proximity, or by outbuildings so close that the circulation of air around them is impossible.Of the streets and footways, most are narrow and are not always well paved or clean. Privies are insufficient in number with one to five or six houses, and their middens are large and usually near to a wall. The houses in the older parts of the town though of good size are generally out of repair, nearly all have windows to the front and rear, those on the ground floor are rarely made to open but those of the bedroom have a sliding sash.Stone floors in the houses are common (many were of house brick) and many have cellars, few of which are drained. In some instances some cellars are inhabited and even used as sleeping rooms e.g. those in Smithy Street. The newer parts of the town are better laid out, streets are wider and well paved, the houses not crowded together and the back premises not shut in. Houses built in the last five years are well ventilated often with five rooms. The regulated common lodging houses under police control are thirty one in number and are for the most part in poorer neighbourhoods. Most have given trouble from time to time with overcrowding, dirty and mixing of the sexes, but now seem to be in good order. The water supply is derived from wells which are sunk into the new sandstone and are tiled with bricks loosely set without cement or mortar                                                                                                   

A well sinker was consulted as to the formation of the wells and he informed the inspectors that in the principal streets of the town (higher ground) first soil and clay 4 foot, second red and sand 3 foot, third red sandstone for four or five yards at this depth water is abundant. In the lower parts of the town near the canal, water is reached sooner at six to seven yards from the surface, the well passing through first soil and clay, second marl, then through a good portion of sand which supplies the water.

Most of the wells are covered and fitted with pumps. They are badly placed being in backyards and in close proximity to drains, privies and middens. there are moreover in the thickly populated parts of the town six disused burial grounds which are generally suspected of having injuriously affected the water in wells of the neighbourhood.

There are very few water closets in the town, and the midden privy is all but universal. A large brick pit four foot square sunk into the ground un-cemented and uncovered receives the contents of two privies one at each end that serves for two, four or even more dwellings.Into these pits ashes, refuse and even household slops, and rainwater from the privy roof are received along with excrement. Every pit is said to be drained into the sewer; but however this may be, many pits that were seen to be nearly empty of ashes were in a sloppy offensive state with excrement and vegetable refuse floating in a foul liquid. The construction of the pit is such that the part under the seat is much separated from the outer part into which ashes are thrown, and hence uncovered, and excrement may be seen at the privy seat, in the very same cases where, on the outside ashes and refuse are seen overflowing the pit and littering the ground in the neighbourhood.

The midden pits are supposed to be emptied when full. This is done by farmers, who in practise suite their own convenience. During the prevalent outbreak of fever, the Bedford board employed a man to empty those in the affected neighbourhood.

The water is reported to be clear and bright, but in one case Tomlins well, after heavy rain was said to have been thick, yellow and offensive to the smell, the wells are covered and could not be inspected; but Mosscrops well situated in the back premises of Derby Street, is said to be a fair sample is a draw well and its interior was seen. It is within fifteen feet of four privies with two large middens, and its loosely bricked side nearest the midden is darkly stained with filth leaking from them through the ground.

Brackley Street contains six houses, with four to five rooms in each, clean well built and ventilated with plenty open space; 34 inhabitants in receipt of good wages. A well paved yard with washhouse a well with pump and four privies with middens which, although recently emptied, contained much fluid, excrement and rubbish. Near the centre of the yard, and within twelve feet of two privies with a large open midden between them, is Tomlins well. The channel for surface and slop water, and the drain from the midden enter the sewer, close to the trough of the pump entrance; trapped as are the grating over which the house and sink pipes terminate. The pump water is reported to have been thick and yellow, an "smelt nasty"after heavy rain towards the end of September apparently from excremental matter furnished from the midden or the drain. All the inhabitants of the street use this water; the first case of fever (Hills) occurred at the upper end of the street in August after the well water became discoloured. In September there was much fever in the street; altogether seventeen cases and two deaths. Of twelve houses adjoining the street eight used Tomlins water more or less frequently and four obtained water from other sources. In seven houses out of eight using Tomlins well there was fever, while in those drinking water from other sources their was none.


Leigh Post Office Services 1875

The Post Office in Bradshawgate is open on weekdays from 7am in the morning and entirely closed at 8pm at night. On Sundays it is open from 7am till 10am. The delivery begins on week days at 7:15am and 5:10pm, and on Sundays 7:15 am only. At 9:35am three bags are made up, one for Manchester and places served by that office; one for Liverpool direct and places served by it and one for the railway travelling Post Offices south, by which all letters en-route for London are sent, being sorted on the railway, and thrown out at different stations.At 1:10pm one bag is made up for Manchester by which all letters then posted are sent, excluding Bolton. At 1:10pm one bag is made up for Bolton and all places served by that office.At 7:30 pm one bag is sent to Manchester.


Dissolution of the Local Boards

An important move made by the Pennington Board in 1874 went a great way into dissolving the Local Boards of Pennington, Bedford and Westleigh. while the Boards were only formed in 1863 it soon became apparent that difficulties would arise in the sharing of costs for water, gas and sanitation, but the Board members were adverse to both change and losing power of control until Pennington forced the issue by appealing to the Government to enable them to apply an act of 1872.

Whereby the 22 section of the Public health Act of 1872, power is given to the Local Government Board by Provisional Order to dissolve any Local Government District or Districts and to declare any portion of a Local Government or a Rural Sanitary District immediately adjoining a Local Government District to be included in a such last mentioned District. And whereas the said Local Government Board propose to issue Provisional Orders to dissolve the Local Government Districts of Westleigh, Bedford and Pennington, and to form the places comprised in such districts when dissolved into an Urban Sanitary District when formed. And whereas any such Provisional Order, may if necessary provide for the settlement of any liabilities between the Districts of the said Local Boards in the consequence of making and such Provisional Order.

By a provisional order of the Local Government Board 14 June 1875 the three Local Government Districts of Pennington, Westleigh and Bedford were dissolved and merged into the Rural Sanitary District of the Leigh Union, and from the 1 October 1875 the three townships constituted an Urban Sanitary District.


New Police Station For Leigh

The Boardman & Bros. tender for the construction of a new police station in Bond Street was accepted. The builders estimate for the work was £4,400 exclusive of fittings.Buildind to commence in Spring 1875

Standard Measure at the New Court

Standard measures at Leigh – In 1880 the imperial measures of an inch, a foot and a yard were placed in the wall of the police courts in Church Street, the measures were marked by gun metal projection inserted on a heavy iron casting and was prepared under the supervision of the Board of Trade. Tradesmen who used yardsticks found the easily accessible standards very convenient


Leigh Town Hall For Sale 1876

The old Town Hall in King Street was virtually redundant after the court and police station had moved out and it was put up for aution in December 1876 by private treaty with its appurtances, or to be let in its present state at the convenience of the tenant or tenants. At a meeting of the Local Board in Newton Street it was decided to purchase the Town hall for the purpose of offices for the transaction of Local Board business.The purchase was completed for the sum of £2.400.


Public Baths For Leigh 1880

Under provisions contained in the 1875 Act the Leigh Local Board on or about the year 1879 adopted the Baths and Wash Houses Act and were to erect Public Baths maintained by the Urban District Council of Leigh

 Following this resolution by Leigh Local Board a loan was taken out in 1880 for £5,500, and a tender by Mr, Winnart building contractor, was accepted to construct the baths for a sum of £4000. No excess beyond that sum was to be paid, and the work was to be started immediately.

Leigh Swimming Baths were opened on the 3rd October 1881 by Richard Greenough of Leigh Local Board. This was followed by a swimming gala.


Public Health Acts in Leigh

Under the provisions of the Dairies, Cowsheds and Milk Shops Order of 1885 the Leigh Board made regulations in respect of the above and adopted the following Acts

  1. Infectious Diseases (Notification) Act 1889
  2. Parts two and three of the of “The Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1890”
  3. Private Street Works Act 1892

These were then put into force


The Completion of Railway Road 1883

The work of making the footpaths in Railway Road only began in October 1883 the kerbstones had been laid on both sides of the road, and flags on one side. This was going to be a great convenience to pedestrians travelling to and from Westleigh Station and for people from Plank Lane and Twist Lane


 Leigh Infirmary 1906

Leigh Infirmary was opened on the 27 October 1906 with a procession starting at the Technical School. It was attended by all the Trade Unions, Friendly Societies and gentlemen of Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley by the invitation of the Lord Mayor who performed the opening ceremony.

The first case at the new Leigh Infirmary was on New Years Eve 1906 James Buckler fractured his arm while working at Fletchers Coal Basin. A second person admitted was suffering from an abscess.


Public Health Report to the Guardians 1910


With few exceptions the slaughterhouses in Leigh are small buildings frequently in disrepair and are situated in the most congested parts of the Borough, in close proximity to the dwellings of the working classes. In fact in many cases the back doors of cottages open into a yard within a few feet of the door of a slaughterhouse. In such yards there are middens for the reception of manure into which other refuse from the slaughterhouse often finds its way, and middens create an abominable stench, and are of course ideal breeding ground for flies and all other attendant ills. The slaughterhouses are generally well lit and ventilated, but otherwise their condition leaves much to be desired, and breaches of the bye laws are almost the rule. In most cases the floors are flagged and nothing can prevent an accumulation of blood and grease in the intersice of the flags. In several cases the flags themselves are broken, and the drainage of the floors unsatisfactory. The walls are usually of brick covered with tar varnish in the lower part and whitewashed above. In most cases the walls are filthy, and only in a few were there any evidence of recent lime washing, although the bye laws prescribe that the walls should be lime washed four times a year. In several cases there are boilers, sausage machines etc. inside the slaughterhouse and in some instances other articles, for instance bins for fodder kept in them. The wooden benches used for stripping fat from the entrails are almost invariably in a filthy condition. The yards are often badly paved and drained. The arrangement for the removal of offal is most unsatisfactory. The bye laws prescribe that vessels for the reception of blood, manure, garbage, filth and other refuse, shall be properly constructed of galvanised iron or other non absorbent material and fitted with close fitting covers and further all such material, shall after slaughtering be forthwith be collected in such receptacles and removed at least once in 24 hours, and such vessels when not in actual use shall be kept thoroughly clean. I may say at once this bye law is practically a dead letter. Where iron vessels are provided they are invariably broken and without lids and always filthy. As a rule wooden tubs are used, and in some cases a wheelbarrow, and in too many cases there was evidence that offal and other refuse had been allowed to remain on the premises for more than 24 hours. From the point of view of public health I am of the opinion that the existence of such places in the middle of crowded areas of cottage property is in its self a danger, the only remedy for which would be the estate of a public abattoir on a scale that would omit the closure of most of the objectionable private slaughterhouses. I have received several complaints arising from a ditch behind a portion of Glebe Street between Chadwick Street and Kirkhall Lane. This ditch has more than once been cleaned out by the owner on request of your sanitary inspector. The owner complained of the habits of the people living in the adjoining cottages which cause a recurrence of the nuisance. I visited the place on the 6th instance and found a succession of pools of stagnant water and a good deal of refuse which should have gone in the ash pit. The ditch is black at intervals with heaps of ashes that are thrown there by the inhabitants of the adjacent cottages, and there poultry which were roaming about everywhere. It is undoubtedly this practise that prevents the water from draining away as it should do to a sewer at the corner of Chadwick Street. The only remedy would be to fill the ditch completely to the level of the back passages and to prevent this acting as a dump for surface water from the field. There is unfortunately no way of preventing poultry from being kept in the centre of the town and in close proximity to dwelling houses. Complaints have also been received of a nuisance arising from stagnant water lying in a field adjoining Leigh Road close to the new gardens. The water here collects in a hollow the surface of which is in a very dirty condition, the owner has been notified but the only solution is to fill it up with suitable material at once.


 A Park for Leigh 1914

The General Purpose Committee of Leigh Town Council ratified the decision in accepting the offer of Lord Lilford to provide the town with 38 acres of land for the purpose of a park. It was proposed to lay out two bowling greens. The cost of fencing and construction of a roadway to the site, Bedford Woods is estimated at £800