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The Parish of Farnworth with Kearsley
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Farnworth with Kearsley

In volume 5 of ‘A History of the County of Lancaster’ (William Farrer & John Brownbill Eds. 1911: The Victoria history of the counties of England ), Farnworth and Kearsley are described as follows.


“Farnworth, anciently a hamlet in Barton, afterwards became a separate township, and in modern times has grown into a small town, with numerous industries.

It measures about 2 miles from east to west, with a breadth of a little over a mile. The area is 1,502 acres. The surface slopes generally from west to east, the lowest ground being in the north-east corner, where the River Croal forms the boundary; this part is called Darley. Will Hill Brook, part of which has been utilized to form reservoirs, forms the northern boundary. The town has grown chiefly in the eastern half of the area, on both sides of the great road from Manchester to Bolton, and the main road, which here joins the former, leading north from Eccles. A third important road, known as Plodder Lane, goes westward through the centre of the township, the hamlet called Dixon Green lying upon it. Highfield lies in the south-west corner; to the east of it is Blindsill, and the hamlet of New Bury is near the middle of the southern boundary. Presto Street, near the eastern boundary, indicates the position of Prestall, which stood on the boundary of Kearsley, perhaps partly within it. Halshaw Moor is in the same quarter. Birch House is situated on the northeast side of the Manchester and Bolton road, there called Market Street. Moses Gate is the district on the northern boundary, through which the same road passes, and Harper's Green lies to the south-west. The population in 1901 numbered 25,925.

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's line from Manchester to Bolton goes through the north-eastern corner of the township, and has a station called Farnworth and Halshaw Moor and another called Moses Gate on the southern and northern limits respectively. The London and North Western Company's line from Bolton through Eccles to Manchester crosses the centre of the township from north to south, and has a station called Plodder Lane, close to Dixon Green.

There are large paper mills, iron foundries, and cotton mills; brick and tile works, and extensive collieries. A newspaper is published on Fridays.

A local board was formed in 1863. The township is now divided into six wards, denoted by points of the compass, each returning three members to the urban district council, which replaced the local board in 1894.

Gas is now supplied by a company formed in 1854. There are market, park, baths, and cemetery under public control. Monday and Saturday are the market days. There is a fair held on the third Monday in September. The Bolton Workhouse is built in the north-west corner of the township.”


“Kearsley, formerly a part of Farnworth, has become a separate township. Its north-eastern boundary is formed by the Irwell, and the road from Manchester to Bolton passes north-west through the centre, having a length of a mile and a half within the boundaries. The total area of the township is 997 acres. The surface in general slopes from the higher land on the south west border to the steep banks of the Irwell. Lower Kearsley, by the bridge over that river, is often called Ringley, being considered part of Ringley in Pilkington. Kearsley proper clusters along the south-east end of the main road mentioned; but Farnworth is extending over the Kearsley borders in the north, and Stoneclough is a hamlet near the Irwell on the road to Radcliffe. Clammerclough is a district to the north-west of the last - named, and lies between Darley in Farnworth and the Irwell. Kearsley Moss formerly occupied the south-west quarter of the township. The Manchester and Bolton line of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company passes through Kearsley parallel to the high road, and has a station near Stoneclough called Kearsley.

In 1901 the population recorded was 9,218.

The township is a busy industrial place. There are collieries, iron foundries, paper mills, powerloom mills, spindle works, and chemical works; bricks and tiles are made and cotton-spinning carried on.

A local board was formed in 1865; in 1894 this was replaced by an urban district council of twelve members elected by two wards, east and west.

Farnworth with Kearsley Church of England churches

St John the Evangelist

The following information is taken from a summary of church history compiled by Arnold Cragg and presented on the church site at , with kind permission of Carol Pharaoh the Vicar of St John the Evangelist, who also supplied supplementary notes on other Farnworth churches (as at March 2011).

The foundation stone was laid 4 March 1824 by Benjamin Lawson and the church was consecrated on 9 September 1826 by the Lord Bishop of Chester. Curates in Charge were Robert C. Burton and George Marriott till the first vicar, Thomas Alfred Ashworth, was appointed in 1831. The first baptisms and burials were recorded on 15 October 1826 and the first marriage on 2 August 1830.

Vicars over the period for which we have records (1826-1909) were:
1831-1836 Thomas Alfred Ashworth
1836-1866 William Burns
1866-1878 William Henry Taylor
1878-1885 John Worthington
1885-1887 Ward Travers Burges
1887-1894 Thomas Crick
1894-1900 Hercules Scott Butler
1900-1912 Robert Whittaker Gordon

As at March 2011 the Farnworth, Kearsley & Stoneclough Team Ministry comprises St John the Evangelist in the Parish of Farnworth with Kearsley, and Holy Trinity Prestolee & St Saviour Ringley in the Parish of Stoneclough. In time the ministry will also include St. Stephen at Kearsley.

St James at New Bury

The following information comes from ‘Notes on the history of St James’ Church and Parish’ by Canon H.O. Fielding M.A. Vicar published in the Centenary Magazine 1965.

The foundation stone was laid on 9 August 1862 by William Burns Vicar of Farnworth with Kearsley and consecrated in December 1865 by James Prince Lee the Bishop of Manchester. The first baptism was on 29 December 1865, the first burial was on 21 February 1866 and the first marriage was 30 June 1866.

Vicars over the period for which we have some records (1865-1952) were:
1865-1881 Charles James Stewart
1881-1908 George Holden
1909-1927 David Humphrey Pugh
1928-1936 George Hansford
1936-1943 William Henry Townsend
1944-1965 Harold Ormandy Fielding

As at March 2011 St James is in the 'Five Saints Team, New Bury with Great Lever' ( along with St Catherine Highfield (a LEP church with the Methodist Church), St George New Bury, St Michael with St Bartholomew Great Lever. There is a current pastoral scheme to close St James New Bury.

St Thomas at Dixon Green

St Thomas School was opened in December 1869. Almost 9 years later St Thomas church had been built and consecrated on 14 April 1878, though the first entries in the baptism register were on 1 January 1878. The first marriage was on 7 October 1880. There were no burials at St Thomas.

Vicars over the period for which we have some records (1878-1962) were:
1878-1881 Horace P Edge
1881-1886 J Turner Wilkinson
1886-1907 Thomas Austin
1907-1909 R Yates
1909-1915 A Jones Phillips
1915-1943 J Wilcockson
1943-1953 Thomas Billington
1953-1957 Arthur T J Mackrell
1957-1961 D S Sams
1961- ? Jack Talbot

St Thomas was closed in 1996 and deconsecrated in 2000 but the church still stands and is used by another Christian denomination.

St Stephen at Kearsley

Founded in 1870 and consecrated by the Bishop of Manchester on 1 July 1871. The first baptism was on 13 November 1870, the first burial on 4 December 1874 and the first marriage on 18 March 1872. The church is still in use.

St Peter

Built in 1885 and consecrated in 1886, the church was closed in 2007 and is scheduled for demolition in 2011. First marriage was on 9 February 1888. Vicars over the period for which we have some records (1888-1935) were:
1888-1891 A W Taylor
1891-1914 Thomas woodhouse
1914-1922 Charles S Jackson
1923-1928 R D Underwood
1928-? J Lenehan

All Saints

Started as a mission chapel in 1880 the church was built and consecrated in 1909 with the first marriage taking place on 29 May 1909. The church was closed c.2007 and demolished.

Bolton Union Workhouse

On 26 September 1861 the Bolton Poor Law Union opened a new workhouse at Fishpool Farm just north of Plodder Lane on the west side of Farnworth. In 1896 Townley's Hospital was erected just north of the workhouse. In 1930 when the Bolton Union was abolished the workhouse became known as Fishpool Institution, and in 1948 under the National Health Service, became part of the Townley's Hospital complex, now the Royal Bolton Hospital. Details and maps of the Bolton Union Workhouse can be found at The Workhouse ( The church of St James was opened in 1864 at New Bury about 1 mile SE of Fishpool. Many baptisms of children born in the workhouse, and funerals/burials of inmates who died there were performed at St James.

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