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Atherton Family History Resources


Church registers held at Manchester Central Library, and in the LDS Film Library are listed on the pages dealing with each church or chapel. The library resources listed here are at the two main repositaries of data pertaining to Atherton: Wigan History Shop and Leigh Library. Atherton Library has a selection of local-interest books and some old maps, but does not keep church registers or census records.

A handy index to the resources held at Wigan and Leigh
A handy index to the resources held at Wigan and Leigh


Wigan Local Studies at the Museum of Wigan Life is on Library Street, Wigan, WN11NU; Tel: (01942)828128. It's a fascinating place crammed full with a wide range of books, volumes and maps dealing with local and general Lancashire history. The film reader area is rather cramped, but the staff are friendly and helpful, and there is a welcome lack of officious bureaucracy often found in such places (Barnsley springs to mind). It's best to book a film reader in advance, and if your eyes get tired of staring at a screen, go rest them on the Coal Measures fossils in the cabinets just down the hall. There's a convenient parking building a couple of minutes walk away past the swimming baths, but if you're coming from Atherton, the quick way in to it must be Wigan's best kept secret. At lunch break, try strolling down Wallgate eating a Wigan pie.


Leigh Local History service is at Leigh Library, Leigh, WN71EB; Tel: (01942) 404559 or email. It's at the Turnpike Centre just opposite the Parish Church. Leigh Local Studies offers extensive local and family history collections including books, pamphlets, electoral registers, local newspapers, maps, census, parish registers and free access to Try looking for a free car park in one of the terraced streets at the back of the church, but don't get lost - they all look the same.

A Handy Guide

Wigan Heritage Service have a "Guide to Genealogical Sources" which lists the main resource material for all the Wigan MBC townships and parishes (plus many others nearby but not in WMBC), held at the History Shop and Leigh Library. The guide costs £2-50 (as January 2004) on sale at the History Shop or by mail order. There is also a separate guide to material held by the Wigan Archives Services at Leigh Town Hall.

CHURCH REGISTERS (W= at Wigan History Shop, L=at Leigh Library)

St Anne, Hindsford, CoE
Baptisms: 1873-1962 (W,L); 1963 (L)
Marriages: 1901-1964 (W,L)

St John the Baptist, Atherton, CoE
Baptisms: 1778-1970 (W,L)
Marriages: 1853-1976 (W,L)
Burials: 1778-1857 (W,L)

St Michael and All Angels, Howe Bridge, CoE
Baptisms: 187-1993 (W,L)
Banns: 1916-1922 (W,L)
Marriages: 1878-1995 (W,L)
Godparents: 1916-1922 (W,L)
Confirmations: 1879-1918 (W,L)

St James Free Church of England, Atherton
Baptisms: 1871-1889 (W) (also at Manchester Central Library and LDS film library)

Sacred Heart, Hindsford, RC
Baptisms: 1865-1900 (W,L)
Marriages: 1869-1900 (W,L)

Independent Methodist, Atherton
Baptisms: 1883-1946 (W)
Marriages: 1933-1979 (W)

Primitive Methodist, Alma Street, Atherton
Marriages: 1912-1964 (W)

Chowbent Unitarian Chapel (a.k.a. Chowbent Presbyterian)
Baptisms: 1758-1888
Marriages: 1901-1924
Burials: 1785-1837

CEMETERY REGISTERS (W= at Wigan History Shop, L=at Leigh Library)

Atherton Urban District Cemetery Register: 1857-1966 (W,L)

Note: Information about burials and location of plots in Atherton Cemetery can be obtained by email from Cemeteries at The staff are extremely helpful, and if you want to locate a grave on the ground, give them a call; if it is convenient someone may meet you at the cemetery and show you the site, whether there is a monument there or not!


Keith Openshaw of Astley has obtained the Atherton Cemetery burial registers from Wigan MBC Cemeteries Section, and has transcribed them from the start in 1857 through about 1913. He kindly gave me a copy of his transcripts and I offer a look-up service for specific requests. Contact me by email through this site.

If you are looking for burial records of your Athertonian ancestors, it is worth noting that the final resting place for many Atherton people is in Tyldesley (and vice versa). For example, my great grandfather James Charlson was a Chowbent man born and bred, but in his 50s the family moved to the Tyldesley side of Hindsford Brook when he was a spinner in the Barnfield Mills. James & Sarah kept the faith at Chowbent Chapel, but when they died were buried in Tyldesley Cemetery.

ELECTORAL RECORDS (W= at Wigan History Shop, L=at Leigh Library)

Atherton 1890-1900 (L), 1974-present (W,L)


Atherton has not had its own newspaper, but local news was reported in the following papers published in

Leigh (available only at Leigh Library)
Leigh Advertiser: April-December 1848
Leigh Chronicle: January 1852-December 1963
Leigh Courier: January 1904-March 1906
Leigh Herald: September 1859-June 1869
Leigh Journal: March 1874-May 1997
Leigh Observer: December 1886-December 1899


Leigh: 1876 and 1885 (L). The Postal Directory of Bedford-Leigh, Astley, Atherton, Culcheth, Kenyon, Lowton, Pennington, Westleigh 1885. Republished by Wigan Heritage Service.

CENSUS RETURNS FOR ATHERTON (W= at Wigan History Shop, L=at Leigh Library)

1831 (L), 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 (W,L)

Indexes are available for each national census, but of variable quality.


Atherton History

Ashcroft, Tony (2003) Images of England, Atherton and Tyldesley. Tempus Publishing Limited, Stroud.
Atherton Historical Society (2000) Atherton: a brief history. Lumen Press.
Lunn, John (1971) History of Atherton. Atherton District Council, Atherton.
Wright, J.J. (1921) The story of Chowbent Chapel. Reprinted 2001 by Read Publications Ltd., Leigh.

Coal Mining

The following books are specifically about, or contain significant chapters on the Atherton collieries and miners.

Griffiths, Arthur (1990) Memories of an Atherton pitman. Leigh Local History Society Publication No.18; 122 pages.
Wood, Kenneth (1984) The coal pits of Chowbent. K. Wood, Bolton. 116 pages.
Hayes, Geoffrey (1986) Collieries in the Manchester Coalfield. Die Archaeologische Pers, Eindhoven. 211 pages.
Davies, Alan & Hudson, Len (1999) Images of England The Wigan Coalfield. Tempus Publishing Ltd., Stroud. 128 pages.

Not specifically about Atherton, but worth a look

Gillies, A.D (1981) Those dark satanic mills. The Archivist Wigan Record Office, Wigan MBC. 110 pages.
Lane, J. & Anderson, D. (1980) Mines and miners of South Lancashire 1870-1950. Donald Anderson & Phyllis Lane, Parbold. 76 pages.


The "official" Wigan MBC township site for Atherton.

Dave Dutton's Atherton site - lot's of history, photos, poems, memories & chat.

Alan Davies is an Atherton man with extensive knowledge of coal mining. His site is a good place to go if you want to know more about the life and times of your collier ancestors from Atherton area. Alan can be contacted at (as at February 2004 - note this is not the address given on his site, which Alan tells me is out of date).

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