Halliwell was originally a township in the parish of Deane. In medieval times, Dean Brook divided the area into two manors, Halliwell and Smithills.
From the Bolton Journal and Guardian, Friday September 10 1937, reproduced here by kind permission of the Bolton News.
On a recent afternoon, writes a "Journal and Guardian" representative, I was given a drink from the holy well from which Halliwell is said to derive its name. Although the afternoon was warm, the water was cool as ice and sparklingly clear.
Indeed many old Halliwell residents told me the well is cooler in the summer than in the winter.
A recent paragraph about the well brought to light the fact that it lies in the grounds of Prospect Bleachworks - no longer in use - off Croft Rd.. So I went to look for it.
What I found was a steady stream of water over which had been built an archway with the inscription "Holy-Well spring recovered, August 18, 1849."
Prior to that it was lost sight of for a time. Some old Halliwell residents remember being told by their parents and grandparents that the original well was somewhere near Croft Cottages on Barrow Bridge Rd.. There is also a tradition that this was one of the old type of draw wells.
Whittle, in his history of Bolton, has this reference to the well: Tradition true to her trust has still retained the name of "Well-house" as applied to a very old building situated in a valley contiguous to the entrance to the bleaching-works of Mr. J. H. Ainsworth. Here was the holy well so much frequented by the good old folks in the 15th century, on their way to visit the chapel at Smithills. The well was dedicated to St Catherine of Sienna.
People in the area speak very highly of the properties of the water. A Halliwell resident to whom I spoke was an old footballer, who in his younger days had played for Halliwell North End. On one occasion he sprained his ankle. He bathed it at the well "And it did it a world of good" was his remark to me.
Others, too, found that the water had healing properties, and it is said that one doctor regularly told patients to go to the well and bathe affected limbs in the water. This was used in bleaching, and at one time there was a "Holy Well bleach" turned out at Prospect.
But now there is no access to the well, and it is forgotten except by those who worked at Prospect Bleachworks or who come of old Halliwell families.
The above article names two possible sites for the well. Reference to the site of a Holy Well can be found on many older maps in the back corner of Moss Bank Park close to the Barrow Bridge Chimney, this is not consistent with the suggestion that the Holy Well was within the Prospect Bleachworks, though it is consistent with a location close to Barrow Bridge Road. There is no visible evidence of the existence of the well at this time and its exact location is considered to be unknown.