Ashton's local history

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The Armoury

The Band House at the corner of Wigan Road and Armoury Bank is one of Ashton's oldest buildings and was originally the band house (and armoury?) for the Ashton-in-Makerfield and Garswood troop of the Lancashire Hussar Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry, formed in 1848 as the unofficial successor to the Loyal Ashton Yeomanry Cavalry.

It was quite dilapidated in the seventies and used by the local Oxfam Branch for storing and distributing charity furniture.

- David McKendrick

60s Coffee Bars

"I fondly remember the building as 'Dickies'. During the sixties, it was the local meeting place for the motorbike lot (the Coffee Bar Cowboys) of which I was one. We would meet in Dickies, have a hot Vimto or two then we would be off on the bikes to 'Lill’s Café' on the A6 north of Standish or we would go to the coffee bar in Hindley which was known as 'Mothers' and of course many other places. Although there was no drink drive laws then most of us never touched a drop of alcohol when we were on the bikes and I never heard anyone mention drugs. How times have changed. The other coffee bar, at the top end of Gerard Street, was called 'Rickards'."

- Vic Greenwood

60s Coffee Bars

"I know it was pronounced Rickards, but was it not spelt 'Richards'? Maybe not. It was a bit upmarket for us, anyroad.

As teenagers, we used to meet in the El Toro ('int thElt') which was a real 60s classic coffee bar with a great juke box. Then they started letting us in the Eagle & Child, Angel (fluorescent disco lighting) and finally the excellent 'Hinge', with pints and pasties available at the push of a button on the seat back."

- Phil

Ashton Baths

"Ashton Baths was opened in 1910 and only lasted just over six years before the pool was closed and covered. Apparently they couldn't stop the water leaking away. After covering the pool, it held 1,000 as a public hall and was very popular as a dance hall and meeting place up to the 1950s."

- Phil

Ashton pubs

From Baines History of Lancashire 1824, the following pubs are listed. Interesting to see how many survive the centuries. Gives a certain reassurance to us beer drinkers :)


Angel, Timothy Turton
Bay Horse, Richard Occleshaw
Britannia, Thomas Crompton
Fleece, Abel Pennington
Gerard Arms, James Speakman
Goldon Ball, Benj. Lowe, Cross
Golden Lion, Samuel Maskerry
Horse and Jockey, Jas. Woods
King’s Head, James Knowles, Edge green
Lord Nelson, Wm. Birchall, Seneld green
Ram’s Head, Thos. Pennington
Red Lion, Geo. Liptrot, Seneld green
Red Lion, Harry Byrom, Park lane
Red Lion, Hugh Whittle
Robin Hood, Peter Welsby
White Lion, Rebecca Crooks"

- David McKendrick

Ashton Baths

"When I was 11 my Dad became the caretaker of the baths hall and we lived in the flat over the entrance. It was very large. When the bath floor split with mining subsidence and all the water drained out, the council put a wooden floor over the pool. The hall was then used for dances, five-a-side football, badminton, council elections, etc. In 1969-70 a USA soul group had a no. 1 hit with "Something Old, Something New". A nice chap called Mr Carson brought them over and they performed live at the baths. There was a massive space under the floor and the council started to store stuff there. It was a case of "out of sight, out of mind". The councillors came and went over the years, and the stuff was forgotten about. Then a young skally moved there (me)!

Our Glynn and I searched every inch, and after one year the council said "Under the floor needed emptying", so they could store all the ballot boxes and voting booths for all the north west. Empty it we did. They even paid us to do it. I was on the council pay list already, as I helped the pensioners to clean Ashton market and used to pull the plastic skip on wheels for them. BINGO - JACKPOT. It was full of stuff from the Second World War, and before it. Hundreds of gas masks, air raid wardens' metal hats, anti-gas cream, safety posters, loads of solid silver ARP badges. The list was endless. The old hired out swimming costumes as seen in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were there. We took a few samples on the bus to Kay's Army Surplus in King Street, Wigan. They liked the stuff but thought, "How in hell's name does a 12-year old kid get hold of all this lot?" After a long phone call to my dad they agreed to do business with us. We were loaded, so we took the next delivery by taxi as we could get more to them. There were three safes under the floor, and after a lot of hard work we opened the backs like a tin of beans. They were full of silver swimming cups from 1880 to 1903, but my dad gave them to the council on Bryn Street."

- Gareth Hughes

Ashton Baths

"When John Spencer from Bolton was the world champion snooker player he gave an exhibition at the baths. They had to leave his personal slate-bedded table from Saturday night till Monday morning. My dad told them we were closed. It was only so we could get all our mates round to play for 15 hours on it. We played soccer on it in our socks as well. I bought a Honda 50 for 15 quid from Standish (gas mask money again). We hid it under the floor, and when my dad was out we set up obstacle courses and jumps inside. The five-a-side was set up and run by an ex-Scottish International called Jock Dougan, who lived on Wigan Road. He did so much for the youth of Ashton in the 60s and 70s they should put a statue up of him outside the library. It was 6d to come in and watch. After a few years my dad worked out how much cash had been given to the council, and it was 3-4 weeks from the 100,000th spectator. A 100 quid cash prize was given to her. It was a girl I see every time I come to Ashton, and she always reminds me of it. The baths used to get packed out as there was a viewing area all round the pitch and a balcony around three walls. I've seen 500-plus in one night. The walls were wet through with condensation. Every one in Ashton between 42 and 57 will have been to the five-a-side. When Mr Dougan died my dad carried it on. There were hundreds at his funeral."

- Gareth Hughes

Gerard Street

Gerard Street and the Gerard Arms (courtesy of David Brown)

The Gerard Arms on right. Date unknown. The shapes on the top of the building can still be seen today over what is now the Greensway Arcade.

From the following census samples of 1841 and 1851 respectively we see that Gerard Arms was run by James Lyon, then ten years later by Abel Pennington. Interestingly enough, in 1851 James Lyon became the Inn-Keeper of the Ram's Head, which in 1841 was run by the Pennington family. The Lyon's and the Pennington's effectively swapped pubs.

- David Brown

Sample of 19th century census data

1841 Census
Entry No.PlaceNameSurnameAgeOccupationBorn in County

33TownJohnCottom30Handle makerY
Mary14Cotton FactoryY

34Gerard ArmsJamesLyon55Inn KeeperY
John2Cotton FactoryY

Peter20Cotton FactoryY

36Ashton TownBettyHackett?45Y

37Middle GennelJohnInce40Cotton WeaverY
Jane15Cotton PiecerY

38Middle GennelJohnKilshaw35HingemakerY

1851 Census
Entry No.PlaceNameSurnameRelation
to Head
ConditionAgeOccupationWhere born

11Golden LionElizabethPenningtonHeadWidow65InnKeeperAshton
JohnSonU24Tile CutterAshton

12Gerard ArmsAbelPenningtonHeadMarried34InnKeeperAshton
JosephBrimlowServantU44Servant GroomWesthoughton

13TownWilliamRigbyHeadWidow31Hatch?maker FinisherAshton
MaryLoweNurse11Nurse GirlAshton
MaryMangnall?ServantU31Nurse ServantHindley

14TownJohnLongHeadMarried46Boot & Shoemaker. Employs 3 men.Ashton

- David Brown

Ashton Cinemas (courtesy of Mervyn Gould)

HIPPODROME, Heath Road. Opened 9th June 1913. Prop., Ashton Hippodrome Co. Ltd. Generated own power. Pictures & variety. Twice nightly. 800 seats. 1922 - Res. Man., W. Hudson. To Rylance Bros. Mgr. J. Taberner. Closed 1927. Re-built as Scala.

PALACE/ROYAL PICTURE PALACE, Bryn Street. Opened January 1911. Prop. New Era Pictures (Walter & James Rylance). Architect: Ormerod & Pomeroy. Generated own power. 483 seats on one raked floor. 1914: Prop., New Era Animated Pictures. 1922 - Prop., M. Rylance. Res. Man., J. Tabiner. 550 seats. Prices 4d to 1s. To Savoy Pic Hse (St. Helens & M’field) Ltd. Co. bought by ABC 27th February 1936. 499 seats. By 1941 as Palace: (BTP) - Prop., Associated British Cinemas, Ltd., 30/31 Golden Square, W1. Phone Gerrard 7887. 480 seats. Booked at H O. Twice nightly. Phone Ashton-in-Makerfield 7304. Station, Bryn, LMS. CinemaScope. Closed 2nd March OR 2nd April 1966. 464 seats. Now shops and slot machines.

PICTUREDROME/Co-operative Hall. R. Minden exhibited here to c.1912. 1914 as CH: Prop., A. S. Boulton. Cap. 500.

QUEEN’S PICTURE HOUSE, Wigan Road. Opened during WWI. Prop., Ashton-in­-Makerfield Picture House Co., Ltd. 868 seats on two levels. Continuous. Prices, 3d to 1s. 1922 - Prop., Ashton-in­-Makerfield Picture House Co., Ltd. Res. Man., M. McKay. Continuous. Two changes weekly. Prices, 3d. to 1s. Station, Bryn, LNWR. 1937: (WE) Prop., Pavilion (Ashton-under-Lyne) Ltd. 868 seats. Phone 66. By 1941: (WE) - Prop. Ashton-in-Makerfield Picture House Co., Ltd. 868 seats. Twice nightly. Two changes weekly. Phone Ashton-in-Makerfield 7166. Station, Bryn, LMS. Closed to film ?late 50s. Bingo.

SAVOY PICTURE HOUSE. 1922 - Res. Man., W. Rylance.

SCALA CINEMA, Heath Road. Opened 1927 reconstruction of Hipp. Prop., Liverpool Cinema Feature & Film Co. Ltd. Man. dir. Sol Levy. Pros. 22ft., stage 10ft deep, 3 dressing rooms. 550 seats. To M. Aaron & S. P. Halpern, Manchester. November 1937 to Doman Enterprises Ltd. 1941: (WE) Props., Doman Enterprises, Ltd., 11/13 Victoria Street, Liverpool. 552 seats. Twice nightly. Mat., Mon. and Thurs. Prices 6d. to 1s. 2d. Booked by W. J. Speakman, 10 Commutation Row, Liverpool. Proscenium width 22ft. Stage, 10ft. Three dressing-rooms. Phone Ashton 7337. Stations, Ashton-in-Makerfield, LNER., & Bryn, LMS. Closed c.1955. Printer’s workshop. Demolished c.2004 for flats on site.

- Reproduced with permission of 'The Gould Gazetteer'.

If you would like to contribute a personal history of an Ashton cinema, then please email the website.

Congregationalism in Ashton

The beginning of Congregationalism in Ashton-in-Makerfield was due to a Reverend William Alexander who came by horse from Prescot in 1802 to conduct open-air meetings. Subsequently the minister frequently visited this 'immoral village', and in 1824 a church was formed in a barn near Captains Fields, off Bolton Road, by seven men: Henry Jenkin, Thomas Leather, William Lythgoe, Henry Holland, Thomas Sutton, Samuel Pierpoint and William Grundy.

- from "Ashton-in-Makerfield Congregational Church History 1824 - 1980" by JL Arrowsmith


Thomas Crompton founded the company in 1866 when he purchased the bankrupt hinge and builders' hardware company from James Billings. He had worked there as a salesman. In the early days there was no factory - all work was subcontracted to local blacksmiths and locksmiths, who manufactured various products in their own homes in Ashton. Later a factory was opened making hinges, hardware and stock locks by hand methods. In 1899 Thomas started making butt hinges by machinery methods. He died in 1910 and his son Thomas took over the business. The firm continued to expand as improved hinge making machines were added to the factory. In 1933 Thomas died at the age of 69 and the firm passed to his son John, who continued the expansion until they employed over 1200 workers.

During the Second World War the company manufactured ammunition box fittings, ammunition belt clips, Army vehicle fittings and components for aircraft.

On the 12th April 1957 a new, modern factory was opened at Haydock, where most of the hinge making was carried out along with modern Electro plating. John Crompton sold the company in 1963 to Guest Keen and Nettlefold, who already had a hinge making plant of their own, Nettlefold Stenman Hinges Ltd Cardiff, (Stenman being the name of the Swedish lock maker whose trademark was ASSA, which at that time was owned by GKN). Soon after the take over the Crompton family left the business. Thomas Crompton and Sons Ltd merged with Nettlefold Stenman Hinges to form a new company called Crompton Nettlefold Stenman Ltd. The Cardiff factory was closed and it was probably at this time that they ceased to make locks.

They built a new £1 million factory on the Gerard Street site in 1976, which brought all the Crompton activities under one roof. Because the Stenman part of the association became more detached, it was finally decided in 1980 to change the name to GKN Crompton Ltd. During its history GKN Crompton was the largest employer in Ashton in Makerfield.

In the nineties the factory closed and the site lay derelict for several years before being developed as the Gerard Centre shopping centre, which opened in 1999.

Dr Thomas Gerard

"I live in San Jose, California. My ancestor Dr. Thomas Gerard came to Maryland in 1640 and was an important settler of this area:

DR. THOMAS GERARD (JOHN(2), THOMAS(1)) was born December 10, 1608 in New Hall,Lancashire,England, and died Bef. December 1673 in Westmoreland, Virginia. He married (1) ROSE TUCKER. She was born Abt. 1610. He married (2) SUSANNAH SNOWE September 21, 1629 in England, daughter of JOHN SNOWE and UNKNOWN. She was born Abt. 1610, and died 1666 in St. Clement's, Maryland.

BORN: in 1608 at New Hall, Lancashire, England; oldest son.

IMMIGRATED: in 1638 as a free adult; returned to England in 1640, but resettled in the colony with his family soon thereafter. RESIDED: on St. Clement's Manor, St. Mary's County; moved to Virginia, 1664.

FAMILY BACKGROUND. FATHER: John Gerard, of New Hall, England, son of Thomas Gerard and wife Jane, of Garswood, England.

MOTHER: Isabell.
BROTHERS: Marmaduke; William; Francis; and Richard.

His daughter Susannah married Robert Slye who was from the Stratford on Avon area. My descendant Philip Wood married Robert Slye's great granddaughter Mary Slye."

Vicki Wood Mouser


Gravestones in St Thomas's Churchyard of some of the 204 victims of the Wood Pit explosion in June 1878. Many Ashton and other families were affected by these disasters. A relative of the web editor died of injuries sustained in the Queen Pit explosion of December, 1868.
From Ian Winstanley's book "Weep Mothers Weep".

by P Winnington

St Oswald's School, Liverpool Road, by P Winnington.

from material supplied by Ian Winstanley

AiMi - Ashton Community Information The contents of this site contain contributions from local people and due acknowledgements are given where requested. The site is sponsored by AiM.i.