Ashton-in-Makerfield Town Hall
 Ashton-in-Makerfield shown within Greater Manchester
Population 24,000 [1]
OS grid referenceSJ574992
    London  173 mi (278 km) SE 
Metropolitan boroughWigan
Metropolitan county Greater Manchester
RegionNorth West
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town WIGAN
Postcode district WN4
Dialling code 01942
Police Greater Manchester
Fire Greater Manchester
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK ParliamentMakerfield
List of places
Greater Manchester

Coordinates: 53°29′13″N 2°38′28″W / 53.487°N 2.641°W / 53.487; -2.641

Ashton-in-Makerfield is a town located in Greater Manchester, England. Part of the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan it is 4.2 miles (6.8 km) south of the town of Wigan. In 2001 it had a population of 28,505, increasing to 28,762 at the 2011 Census.[2]

Historically a part of Lancashire, Ashton-in-Makerfield was anciently a township in the parish of Newton-in-Makerfield (as Newton-le-Willows was once known), Winwick and hundred of West Derby. With neighbouring Haydock, Ashton-in-Makerfield was a chapelry, but the two were split in 1845. The place has long been a centre for the manufacture of locks and hinges, but also sits on the Lancashire Coalfield, and so was a coal mining district.



The name Ashton derives from Old English and means the "farmstead where the ash-trees grow"; it is a common name and is found locally in Ashton-under-Lyne in Tameside and Ashton upon Mersey in Trafford. The town's name was recorded as Eston in 1212. Later, the suffix "in-Makerfield" was added, which relates the name of the old district of Makerfield of which Ashton was a part; Makerfield derives from the Celtic for a wall or ruin and the Old English word feld, meaning "open land".[3]

Religious history

St Thomas' Church of England parish church on Warrington Road has ancient origins although the present building is barely over 120 years old. The graveyard is the resting place of many of the 189 victims of the Wood Pit explosion (at Haydock on Friday 7 June 1878), the worst coal-mining disaster in Lancashire at the time.

Hope Church on Heath Road was founded by Protestants from St Thomas' opposed to the High Church ideals brought in by a new Vicar in the 1880s. His introduction of Anglo-Catholic worship caused riots on Gerard Street and he was initially evicted from the town by a mob of miners. He returned backed by troops from Liverpool. Banned from worshipping in the form they had always done, many left and continued a simpler form of worship in a barn off Ashton Heath. Word of their plight reached a Miss Catherine Cave-Browne in London who sent money for a Protestant Mission to be built. The church was built with the official title of Cave-Browne Protestant Institute (Christchurch).

The Park Lane Chapel (see Unitarianism), Wigan Road, Bryn, dates back to 1697, although its congregation was founded in 1662. It is the oldest non-conformist chapel and congregation in the district. By the 19th century Park Lane was only one of nine non-conformist chapels in the area. There was a Baptist, Congregational church (Hilton St), Evangelical (Heath Road), Independent, Independent Methodist (Downall Green Road), Primitive Methodist, Welsh Wesleyan Methodist, and English Wesleyan Methodist chapel.

The Catholic Church of St Oswald and St Edmund Arrowsmith, constructed in 1935, houses the hand of St Edmund Arrowsmith (1585–1628).

Coal mining and heavy industry

Ashton-in-Makerfield was part of the St. Helens Area of the South Lancashire Coalfield. The St Helens Area lay to the South West of the Wigan area and occupied around 60 square miles (160 km2), skirting Wigan, Warrington, Widnes and to within eight miles (13 km) of Liverpool.

In 1867 there were 13 collieries in the district of Ashton-in-Makerfield. Others followed including Bryn Hall Colliery, owned by Edward Frederick Crippin, the Mains and Park Lane Collieries. Park Colliery and some of those open in 1867 (e.g. Garswood Hall) remained productive until the 1950s.[4]

A number of Ashton's coal miners made a significant impact on modern British history, including: Stephen Walsh M.P.; William Kenealy, V.C. and Lance-Corporal in the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers; and Joe Gormley, President of the National Union of Mineworkers in the 1970s and 1980s.

In the late 19th century, the district was described by one observer as having "extensive collieries, cotton mills and potteries", and famed for the manufacture of "hinges, locks, files and nails".[5] Mills such as the Record Mill (Spinning), situated in York Road, and the Makerfield Mill (the 'Weaving Shed'), in Windsor Road, took over from home-working. Similarly, Thomas Crompton & Sons in Gerard Street, which would eventually employ around 1,200 workers, superseded the subcontracting system that sustained substantial numbers of locally based blacksmiths and other craftsmen.

As recently as the 1970s the district of Ashton-in-Makerfield had one of the highest proportions of derelict land, mainly in the form of spoil tips, left over from coal mining.[6] Major land reclamation schemes have since completely transformed the area.


Before 1894 Ashton-in-Makerfield was a township in the parish of Winwick, part of the West Derby Hundred of Lancashire. By an Act in 1845 and the division of the Parish of Winwick, Holy Trinity Church, Downall Green, was made the principal parish church and St. Thomas' made a parish church in the same Act, both being part of the Diocese of Liverpool. By the Local Government Act 1894 Ashton-in-Makerfield was made an urban district.

In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the district was split administratively with Seneley Green Parish, containing Garswood, Pewfall and Downall Green, going to the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens in Merseyside, and the rest going to the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan in Greater Manchester. After 1986 its administration comes under the Wigan and St. Helens Unitary Authorities. However, Ashton-in-Makerfield is a town in its own right and is part of the "Liverpool Urban Area" in the Government National Statistics.

The section of Ashton-in-Makerfield within the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan creates the Bryn & Ashton Township, consisting of the six 'neighbourhoods' of Bryn, Ashton, Ashton Heath, Landgate, Stubshaw Cross and Town Green, and one of the ten areas into which Wigan Metropolitan Borough has been divided for consultation purposes. Each township has a forum, with some influence over the provision of municipal services.


Ashton-in-Makerfield consists of the following sections. Town Green, Stubshaw Cross and Bryn, with Garswood and Downall Green in the Parish of Seneley Green.

The west of Ashton-in-Makerfield is part of St Helens, in Merseyside. The east section lies in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, in Greater Manchester. It is wholly included in the Liverpool Urban Area.

Railway transport

Ashton-in-Makerfield railway station, which was situated off Lodge Lane in neighbouring Haydock, opened in 1900 as part of the Great Central Railway and closed in 1952. The town is now served by two stations, Bryn railway station and Garswood railway station, both on the line between Wigan North Western railway station and Liverpool Lime Street railway station. Bryn station is closer to Ashton than other stations in the United Kingdom which have been (and are) "labelled" as serving their towns, such as Tring railway station which is between one-and-a half and two miles from the centre of Tring.


Population change

Population growth in Ashton-in-Makerfield since 1901
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 2001
Population 18,687 21,543 22,475 20,546 18,736 19,057 19,262 28,505
Source: A Vision of Britain through Time[7]

Present day

Ashton Market, Ashton-in-Makerfield

A market is held on the market square off Garswood Street on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Ashton's local semi-pro football clubs are Ashton Athletic F.C. and Ashton Town A.F.C.. Garswood United F.C. is also nearby.

Crompton's, the hinge and fasteners making factory in Ashton-in-Makerfield, has closed and is now demolished. A shopping centre called the Gerard Centre now stands in its place.

The Hingemaker's Arms public house, on Heath Road, is the only one in the world known to carry that name. It was run by the Corless family for decades until Walter Corless' retirement in 2006. The Hinge, as it is known by its clientele, is now owned and operated by a consortium of local businessmen.

The site now occupied by Byrchall and St Edmund Arrowsmith high schools was the location of a Second World War P.O.W. camp, Camp 50.


Ashton-in-Makerfield has three secondary schools: Cansfield High School; Byrchall High School and St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School.

In November 2008, Wigan council released proposals to merge Cansfield High and Byrchall High into one school.

Notable people

People either born or brought up in Ashton-in-Makerfield, or have had some significant connection with the town during their life, include:



  1. Wigan Core Strategy 2013 (PDF), Wigan Council, 30 September 2013, retrieved 12 February 2014
  2. "Town population 2011". Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  3. Mills, A.D. (2003), A Dictionary of British Place-Names: Ashton, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-852758-6(subscription required)
  4. source: Coal Mining History Resource Centre
  5. Bartholomew, John (1887), Gazetteer of the British Isles, ISBN 0-00-448835-0
  6. source: Longman Atlas of Modern British History (1978)
  7. "Census 2001 Key Statistics - Urban area results by population size of urban area",, Office for National Statistics, KS01 Usual resident population , 22 July 2004, retrieved 22 September 2009


  • James, Gary (2005), The Official Manchester City Hall of Fame, Hamlyn, ISBN 0-600-61282-1 

John Leslie Hart, Heath Road, 44 years service at Bury FC. 1936–1980 Player, Captain, Trainer, Physiopherapist, Manager. Exhibition of Les's service with one Club at the Football Museum Preston.

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