Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire, lies in the Historic Hundred of Makerfield, 5 miles south of Wigan, 7 miles NW of Warrington. In 2001 it had a population of 28,505.
Historically, Ashton-le Willows, as it was once known, was a township in the parish of Winwick, and within the Hundred of West Derby. With neighbouring Haydock, Ashton-in-Makerfield was chapelry, but the two were split in 1845. The town has long been a centre for the manufacture of locks and hinges and sits on the Lancashire coal field and so was a coal mining district.
Coal mining flourished in the 19th century and into the middle of the 20th century. It brought in many Welsh and Irish people whose descendents still live locally but the last coal mine closed in the 1950s and the town has since developed into a residential area with new housing bringing young families and new blood into the area.
The name Ashton derives from Old English and means the ‘farmstead where the ash-trees grow’. The suffix ‘in Makerfield’ comes from the Celtic for a wall or ruin and the Old English word feld meaning ‘open land’.
St Thomas’ Church of England.
The present church is just over one hundred years old and is the third and possibly the fourth to be built on the site. Certainly there was a church there in 1559 but there is some tradition of a chapel standing there in 1483.
St Oswalds Roman Catholic.
The first church was built in 1828 on land donated by Lord Gerard, who owned much of Ashton. The present church replaced the earlier one in 1930.
Park Lane Chapel
dates back to 1697, although its congregation was founded in 1662. It is the oldest non-conformist chapel and congregation in the whole area.
Cave Brown Church in Heath Road
was founded by Protestants from St Thomas’s opposed to High Church ideals. It is named after a Mrs Cave Brown who sent money to fund the building in the 1880s.
The present church was built in the 1970s to replace the earlier imposing building on Gerard Street.
Queens Road Methodist church.
One of a number of non-conformist churches in the town.
ST Wilfrid’s Roman Catholic Church.
The Parish of St Wilfrid in (Archdiocese of Liverpool). St Wilfrid Church, Bolton Road, Ashton-in-makerfield.
A festival is held every year consisting of concerts, talks, demonstrations and various other activities. The varied programme last two weeks every autumn and is well supported.
There are five primary schools in the town – St Thomas’s, St Oswalds’, R. L. Hughes, Nicol Mere and St Wilfrids’.
The three high schools serving the district are Bychall, St Edmund Arrowsmith and Cansfield.
Ashton-in-Makerfield U3A - About Ashton-in-Makerfield