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Bolton is a large town in Greater Manchester in the North-West of England, 17 miles north of Manchester city centre. As well as Bolton itself, the borough includes several small towns, notably Blackrod, Farnworth, Heaton, Horwich, Little Lever and Westhoughton.

Bolton grew rapidly as a textile and metal-bashing town during the 18th & 19th centuries. The Spinning Mule was invented here: it spun yarn into cotton thread faster and more efficiently than earlier processes, to feed the great hungry looms, and in its heyday there were 50 million Mules in Lancashire alone. A few were still in use for specialist fine yarns until the 1980s, but the Lancashire cotton trade collapsed from the 1950s, unable to compete with cheap imports. Bolton and similar towns slumped.

In 1974 Manchester and its surrounding towns, including Bolton, were separated from Lancashire and became Greater Manchester. Bolton is nowadays mainly a commuter town for the big city. With a population of 128,000, Bolton may well be "the biggest town in Britain" but its bids to be recognised as a city itself continue to be rebuffed.

The town's traditional dialect is more "Lanky" (Lancashire) than Mancunian. You're unlikely nowadays to hear "thee / tha / thi" for "you / your" unless ironically, but you might hear "owt" (anything), "nowt" (nothing), "summat" (something) and "reeght" (right). Thus, a trivial matter is dismissed as "summat 'n nowt." Residents of Westhoughton are dubbed Keawyeds - cow heads; there's a bovine legend about this but it's probably from their victory banquet after Waterloo in 1815, when they roasted an ox and paraded the skull as "Old Boney".

Get in

By plane

Manchester Airport (MAN IATA) has a huge range of flights and is less than an hour away from Bolton.

By train

Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.

1 Bolton Interchange (formerly Bolton Trinity Street) is central, near the Town Hall. Trains run to Bolton frequently from Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly, 20 mins, with a walk-up single costing £4.40. There are direct trains from the airport hourly taking 40 mins (more with a change at Oxford Road); these continue north from Bolton to Preston,  LancasterCarlisle and Glasgow or Edinburgh. Bolton has two trains per hour from Blackpool via Preston, and two per hour from Wigan.

There are also small station halts at LostockWesthoughton, Hindley, Daisy Hill, HorwichBlackrod and Hall i' th' Wood.

By coach

Coaches from London and other major UK cities stop at the coach station on Moor Lane in Bolton. You can also catch other coaches from Manchester. Westhoughton is served by a high frequency bus route, line 540, connecting the town to Bolton Moor Lane and Wigan. Line 516/615 connects Westhoughton to Leigh, Middlebrook (Reebok Stadium) and Horwich.

By car

The M61 connects with the M60, Manchester's outer ring road, and the M6 at Preston, Lancashire.

Get around

A common joke amongst the people of Bolton is that the best thing about the town is the ease with which one can escape it. Flippant though this may be, Bolton's transport links are excellent, allowing for easy travel around the whole of North West England.

Bolton is an ideal town for walking and cycling in. Most major roads in the borough have cycle lanes and large swathes of the town centre are pedestrianised. The West Pennine Moors are on Bolton's doorstep and perfect for recreational walking and cycling with many public footpaths and cycle-tracks.

Bolton has very good local bus and rail links. There are high frequency buses from Bolton to ManchesterWigan, Bury & Salford as well as covering all areas within the Bolton borough. There are frequent rail services from Bolton to WiganManchester Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport as well as less frequent services to PrestonBlackpoolBlackburn and other regional locations.

Below are some examples of frequent bus services in the Bolton area

  • 8 Bolton - Manchester via Farnworth, Kearsley, Pendlebury & Pendleton (First Manchester) 65 minutes
  • 22 Bolton - Stockport via Farnworth, Kearsley, SwintonEccles, Trafford, UrmstonStretford, Chorlton & Burnage (First Manchester/Stagecoach in Manchester) 136 minutes
  • 36 Bolton - Manchester via New Bury, Little Hulton, Walkden, Swinton & Pendleton 70 minutes
  • 37 Bolton - Manchester via Farnworth, Walkden, Swinton, Irlam o'th Heights, Pendleton & Salford Shopping City (First Manchester) 70 minutes
  • 68 Bolton - Trafford Centre via Farnworth, Little Hulton, Walkden, Worsley, Monton, Eccles & Patricroft (First Manchester) 79 minutes
  • 126 Bolton - Preston via Doffcocker, HorwichAdlingtonChorley, Clayton Green & Bamber Bridge (Stagecoach in Lancashire) 90 minutes
  • 471 Bolton - Rochdale via Breightmet, Bury, Heap Bridge, Heywood & Sudden (First Manchester) 25 minutes
  • 501 Moss Bank way - Farnworth Via Bolton,Royal Bolton Hospital,Hollins (FirstManchester) 19 minutes
  • 505 Bolton - Horwich Via Markland Hill, Middlebrook (Maytree) 20 minutes
  • 507 Bolton - Harwood Via Tonge Moor (FirstManchester) 15 minutes
  • 510 Bolton - Bury Via Breightmet, Ainsworth (FirstManchester, Arriva) 52 minutes
  • 512 Bolton - Bury Via Moses Gate, Farnworth, Kearsley, Radcliffe (Maytree) 50 minutes
  • 513 Bolton - Bury Via Moses Gate, Farnworth, Kearsley, Whitefield, Radcliffe (Maytree) 50 minutes
  • 515 Bolton - Ladybridge (SouthLancsTravel) 10 minutes
  • 524 Bolton - Bury via Moses Gate, Little Lever & Radcliffe (First Manchester) 45 minutes
  • 540 Bolton - Wigan via Deane, Westhoughton, Hindley & Ince (First Manchester) 60 minutes
  • 575 Bolton - Wigan via LostockHorwich, Aspull & Scholes (Arriva North West/Maytree Travel) 63 minutes
  • 582 Bolton - Leigh via Daubhill, Over Hulton, Four Lane Ends & Atherton (First Manchester) 50 minutes

Bolton's bus station at Bolton Interchange connects directly with the railway station.


  • 1 Bolton Town Hall, opened in 1873, is a confident statement of municipal pride, in neoclassical style with a baroque clock tower. Leeds and Portsmouth city halls were built to the same pattern. The elegant Le Mans Crescent behind was added in the 1930s.
  • Museum, Art Gallery and Aquarium, Le Mans Crescent BL1 1SL (by Town Hall). M-Sa 09:00-17:00, Su 10:00-16:00. Visitors particularly enjoy the Ancient Egyptian collection. There's an aquarium in the basement. Free.
  • The famous Fish and Veg Market, the newly developed Market Hall and Churchgate are worth visiting.
  • Bolton Parish Church is Victorian. Samuel Crompton lies in the graveyard.
  • 2 Hall i' th' Wood, Crompton Way BL1 8UH (A mile north of Bolton off A58). Mar-Oct Tu 10:00-16:00, Sa 12:00-16:00. 16th century mansion, timber-framed with stone additions, used not as a single home but as multiple lets for 17th / 18th C cottage industry. One of those occupants was Samuel Compton, who designed his "Spinning Mule" here. This helped textile processes grow bigger and bigger, into "dark satanic mills", and the days of cottage industry were ended. The Hall fell into disrepair but was bought up by Lord Leverhulme the "Sunlight Soap" tycoon, who gifted it to the town.
  • 3 Prestolee Aqueduct is a four-arched stone aqueduct built in 1793 to carry the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal over the River Irwell. The canal climbed from Manchester over Pendleton to Prestolee where it branched, to Bolton and to Bury. This section is still in water and you can walk along the towpath but it's not navigable: work is under way to partly restore it.
  • 4 Turton Tower, Chapeltown BL7 0HG (On hill 4 miles north of Bolton on B6391). Mar-Oct W-Su 10:00-16:00. Odd-looking building, which started out as a 15th C pele tower, then a stone mansion was added in late Tudor times. It was derelict by the 19th C but restored, with Dutch gables covering the stonework. With extensive gardens. It's nowadays within Blackburn, but is easiest accessed from Bolton, with Bromley Cross rwy station a mile or so south. Adult £6.


  • Octagon Theatre next to Town Hall is undergoing a major re-furb in 2019, but remains open with a full theatre programme.
  • Parks and countryside: central in town are Queen's Park and Moss Bank Park.
1 Moses Gate Country Park, also known as Crompton Lodges, is on the Farnworth & Little Lever road. 2 Eatock Lodge in Westhoughton is a small wooded nature reserve on "The Hoskers", a reclaimed colliery site. Also nearby is Cunningham Clough, a bosky gully with lots of scrubs for the dog to fossick in.
  • St Gregory's Social Club, 13 Church Street, Farnworth BL4 8AG, ☏ +44 1204 573168, +44 7513 897949. M-Th 19:00-23:30, F-Su 17:00-00:00. The one Phoenix Nights was based on. It's variously a function suite eg for weddings and funerals, a TV sports venue for big matches, an event space and has visiting acts.
  • Watch football (soccer) at Bolton Wanderers. They were relegated in 2019 so they now play in League One, the third tier of English football. Their home ground, capacity 28,800, is called the "University of Bolton Stadium" but is better known as the Macron or Reebok. It's on Burnden Way, Horwich BL6 6 JW, five miles west of town, off M6 jcn 6.
  • Ironman UK Triathlon is held in Bolton in July. The next event is 12 July 2020.
  • Bolton Food & Drink Festival is held over the August bank holiday weekend. The next is expected to be F 28 - M 31 Aug 2020 but tbc.


The town centre retail areas are The Market Place (the former market hall) and Crompton Place (formerly the Arndale Centre). There's also a large Marks & Spencer on Deansgate. The edge-of-town retail park is Middlebrook, near the football stadium towards Horwich.


  • Ye Olde Pastie Shoppe, 31 Churchgate BL1 1HU (corner of Bradshawgate). M-F 09:00-14:45. A Bolton tradition, renowned for its pasties, which you can take into the pub across the street, "Ye Olde Man & Scythe Inn".
  • A strip of places on Bridge St include Nadii's Diner, Viva La Salsa, Jo's Grill House and Sake Sushi.
  • Rice 'n' Three, 80 Bradshawgate BL1 1QQ. M-Sa 11:00-18:00. An independent curry house with good meat dishes and vegetarian options, inexpensive. They've another branch on Deane Road.


  • Bolton is home to an independent brewery, Bank Top. Their ales can be found in many local pubs and off-licences.
  • Other ales from the area include Lees (Middleton), Holts (Manchester), Hydes (Manchester) and Robinsons (Stockport).
  • 1 House Without A Name (The No-Name), 75-77 Lea Gate, Bolton BL2 3ET (3 miles north of Bolton on B6196), ☏ +44 1204 433568. M-Th 12:00-00:30, F Sa 12:00-01:30. The area's standout pub with brilliant ales, regulars are Joseph Holt Bitter and Sharp's Doom. Bar food, quiz night Mons.
  • Ye Olde Man and Scythe, 6-8 Churchgate Bolton BL1 1HL, ☏ +44 1204 451237. M-Th 11:00-23:00, F Sa 11:00-00:30, Su 12:00-23:00. Long-established friendly pub, often has live muic. Good beer and try the cider, you can bring in pasties from the shop opposite.
  • Barristers, 7 Bradshawgate Bolton BL1 1HJ, ☏ +44 1204 365174.
  • The Alma, 152-154 Bradshawgate Bolton BL2 1BA, ☏ +44 1204 364113.
  • Out of town: Farnworth has the Railway (aka Moses Gate) and Shakespeare.
Westhoughton has the White Lion, The Victoria, Wheatsheaf, The Robert Shaw (Weatherspoons), Rose & Crown (formerly Howfener) and White Horse. Wingates has Waggon & Horses and The Royal Oak. Daisy Hill has Rosehill Tavern and Grey Man; and Over Hulton has Red Lion and Hulton Arms.


Bolton is home to the University of Bolton (formerly Bolton Institute).


  • Travelodge Bolton Central, River Street, Bolton BL2 1BX (jcn A579 & A666), ☏ +44 871 984 6520 (premium rate number from mobiles). Well-run budget chain hotel, clean and friendly. B&B double £80.
  • Holiday Inn Bolton Centre, 1 Higher Bridge Street, Bolton BL1 2EW, ☏ +44 1204 879988. Clean & comfy place, very central, decor could use a spruce. Double r/o £55.
  • 1 Mercure Bolton Georgian House Hotel, Manchester Road, Blackrod BL6 5RU (near jcn 6 of M61), ☏ +44 1942 330012. Okay-ish franchise hotel, the catering is often substandard and it can get noisy when they have a party in. B&B double £55.
  • 2 Mercury Bolton Hotel, 540 Manchester Rd, Westhoughton BL5 3JP (near M61 jcn 5), ☏ +44 1942 810904. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Claims to be Britain's oldest motel, and looks it. Budget place, sometimes clean. B&B double £50.
  • Last Drop Village Hotel, Hospital Rd, Bromley Cross BL7 9BZ (4 miles north of Bolton centre), ☏ +44 1204 873500. Good hotel & spa at north edge of city. Double r/o £80.


The local dialling code for Bolton is 01204. The country code for the United Kingdom is +44.

Stay safe

In an emergency call 999 for Police, Ambulance, Fire Service or Coastguard. Call 101 to report concerns to the Police that do not require an emergency response.

Go next

  • Manchester - Manchester is a major centre for culture and commerce in the North of England and a great (and easy!) place to visit from Bolton. The city formerly known as 'Cottonopolis' has hung up its clogs and welcomed in a world of culture, business, music, art, shopping and fine dining. This exciting, evolving city is a must-see for visitors to the area and an excellent place to go for some retail therapy when Bolton's outlets have been exhausted.

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