Houghton, West

HOUGHTON, WEST, a chapelry, in the parish of Deane, union of Bolton, hundred of Salford, S. division of Lancashire, 4 miles (W. S. W.) from Bolton, on the road to Wigan; containing 4527 inhabitants. From the period of the Reformation, when the possessions of the abbey of Cockersand were confiscated, the manor of West Houghton has been in the hands of the king; and Lord Skelmersdale now holds it in fee from the crown, receiving the small chief-rents. The chapelry comprises 4460 acres, of which the surface is level but elevated, and the soil a heavy clay: several collieries are in operation. The population is chiefly engaged in the hand-loom weaving of silk, and muslins and jaconets. The cotton-mill of Peter Ditchfield, Esq., employs 250 hands; it stands on the site of one of the first powerloom factories ever established, built by Messrs. Wroe and Duncuft in 1812, and destroyed by the Luddites in the same year. The fate of this early factory presents a feature somewhat remarkable in the history of the cotton manufacture. The outrages of the Luddites in Nottingham and Yorkshire occurring at that period, rendered it an unpropitious time for the introduction of machinery; and when the attacks upon obnoxious property of this description extended to this neighbourhood, Messrs. Wroe and Duncuft's factory was burnt to the ground. Their violence, however, had not the effect that the incendiaries anticipated. On the contrary, the manufacture, by power-loom process, was transferred to the then almost unknown locality of Stalybridge, where new works continually sprang up, and caused the prosperity of that place. An episcopal chapel, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, existed in West Houghton in 1662, when it had a roof of thatch, and stood in the midst of moors; the edifice was rebuilt in 1731, under the patronage of the vicar of Deane, and is now dedicated to St. Mary. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £150; patron, the Vicar. There are places of worship for Independents, Wesleyans, and the Society of Friends. A school was built by subscription in 1742, and enlarged in 1784; the income is about £20 per annum. In this township, at a place called Drake-Lane brook, is a strong sulphureous spring.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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