What’s it about?
A large mill town north of Manchester, Bolton was granted market status by Henry III. More importantly, weird steeplejack Fred Dibnah grew up there and destroyed chimneys, to the delight of 1970s TV viewers. There wasn’t streaming in those days.
To the east lies the cotton industry town of Bury, to the south the Happy Mondays industry of the City of Salford. Bolton applied to become a city in 2011. It was rejected and remains a very big town. Like a city.
Boltonians participated in the English Civil War and have perpetuated the conflict mentality in more recent times by battling over governance by Greater Manchester or Lancashire.
Any good points?
Pasties. Bolton boasts the two greatest pastie emporia in existence: Ye Olde Pastie Shop and Carrs Pasties. The former has been housed in the same building since the 17th century, while the latter operates an order and pickup establishment which Argos can only dream of.
The Food and Drink Festival over the August bank holiday weekend is popular, as is the festival of physical stupidity known as Ironman.
As populous as it is, you quickly realise everyone knows everyone else in Bolton. It’s one huge family and has spawned many celebrities, such as Vernon Kay, Sara Cox, Amir Khan, Diane Morgan, Damon Gough and Maxine Peake, to name a few. All of whom have left Bolton and are ignored locally to prevent them ‘getting too big for their boots’.
On the edge of the West Pennine Moors, Bolton nestles under under the watchful gaze of the giant transmitter on Winter Hill and pompous middle-class picnickers on Rivington Pike. Walking in the surrounding countryside is popular, and from the high points you can see marvellous year-round vistas of grey cloud.
A short drive from the town centre will take you past the sprawling, picturesque and posh-as-fuck Bolton School, where Sir Ian McKellen bade farewell to his Northern accent.
Hang out at…
The 13th century Man and Scythe Inn on Churchgate, where you can relive the execution of the Earl of Derby. Or undergo your own painful death by visiting more modern hostelries nearby.
The elegant Le Mans Crescent behind the Town Hall has featured in dozens of detective dramas and the North’s main industry these days, Peaky Blinders. It also hosts a historic library and museum to visit when it’s raining. You’ll be glad of that.
Then there’s Bolton Steam Museum, where giant engines are occasionally fired up for enthusiasts to stare at in Britain’s equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider.
Where to buy?
The more desirable areas of Bolton tend to be along the main escape roads towards outlying villages of stone-built houses, hidden behind coloured stone walls and rows of unnecessary vehicles. Or if affordability is your priority, rent a shop space in the town centre, board it up and live there.
Yes, the town centre is a patchwork of fragile grade II buildings sandwiched between shithole apartments and empty office space. Even Bolton Wanderers, hardly a club with the status and glamour of Real Madrid, sold up and moved out of town.
From the streets:
Wayne Hayes, 46, said: “Bolton’s grand, apart from them trying to give every road in town a cycle lane when no fucker rides a bike. They should rename them ‘Ye Olde Cycle Lanes’ then at least Northern history nerds will use them.”