Links in a Chain - the Mayors of Bolton
Links in a Chain - The Mayors of Bolton
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The Honorary Freedom of Bolton

The Honorary Freedom of Bolton is the highest honour that the town can bestow and is reserved for those individuals who have given exceptional service to the borough or to the nation.

It has also been awarded to those units of the armed forces who have had a long-standing connection with Bolton, in recognition of their service and many sacrifices.

The presentation takes the form of a unique silver casket containing an illuminated scroll.


Freedom of the County Borough of Bolton:

William Nicholson (1825-1915) - Mayor of Bolton: 1891-94, 1898, 1898-99, 1901.

Admitted: 6 September 1899

William Walter Cannon (1822-1903) - Mayor of Bolton: 1871-73.

Admitted: 6 September 1899

The Right Honourable Viscount Leverhulme (1851-1925) - Mayor of Bolton: 1918-19.

Admitted: 10 November 1902

John Pennington Thomasson (1841-1904) - Philanthropist, MP for Bolton 1880-85, gave Mere Hall and park (now Bolton Register Office) to town.

Admitted: 10 November 1902

Thomas Wilkinson (1826-1916) - Philanthropist, gave his house on Belmont Road to be used as Wilkinson Sanatorium.

Admitted: 6 July 1910

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) - US indusrialist and philanthropist, donated five library buildings in the current borough.

Admitted: 29 September 1910

Edmund Aspinall (1858-1940) - Mayor of Bolton: 1923-24.

Admitted: 21 October 1925

Colonel George Hesketh (1852-1930) - Mayor of Bolton: 1905-06.

Admitted: 25 July 1927

John Percy Taylor (1868 - 1945) - Mayor of Bolton: 1934-35.

Admitted: 11 October 1938

Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (1887-1976) - British soldier.

Admitted: 5 November 1949

James William Wigglesworth (1875-1966) - Chemist, generous local benefactor and donor of the Mayoral Jewel.

Admitted: 7 November 1963

Edwin Stowell Gawne (1896-1969) - Long-serving consultant surgeon, Bolton Hospitals 1926-1969.

Admitted: 18 February 1964

253rd Regiment Royal Artillery (The Bolton Artillery) TA

Admitted: 18 April 1964

5th Battalion The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) TA

Admitted: 18 April 1964

James Vickers (1895-1972) - Mayor of Bolton: 1952-53.

Admitted: 22 March 1966

Stanley Entwistle (1895-1978) - Mayor of Bolton: 1955-56.

Admitted: 8 October 1969

The Officers and Crew of Her Majesty's Ship 'Dido' - HMS Dido was adopted by Bolton during the Second World War.

Admitted: 14 April 1973

Charles Henry Lucas (1901-1987) - Mayor of Bolton: 1965-66

Admitted: 5 June 1973

Thomas Parry Dunning (1893-1973) - Mayor of Bolton: 1951-52

Admitted: 5 June 1973


Freedom of the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton:

Nat Lofthouse (1925-2011) - Much loved professional footballer for Bolton Wanderers and England.

Admitted: 2 December 1989

216 (The Bolton Artillery) Battery, Royal Artillery Volunteers

Admitted: 18 May 1994

Robert Lever Howarth (1927- ) - Politician, long-serving Councillor and MP for Bolton East 1964-70.

Admitted: 16 June 2001

1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment

Admitted: 14 March 2009


The one that got away...

Lloyd George Freedom CasketDavid Lloyd George, British Prime Minister 1916-1922 and Liberal politician, was invited to be admitted as a Freeman of Bolton in 1919, alongside the Conservative politician (later Prime Minister), Andrew Bonar Law. Bonar Law politely declined the invitation but Lloyd George accepted. The traditional silver Freedom Casket (pictured left) was prepared and his name and citation entered into the book of Freemen. The then Mayor, Lord Leverhulme and the Town Clerk both signed their names to the citation.

Come the appointed day and Lloyd George was 'indisposed'. Attempts to reschedule all fell through and as months passed into years Lloyd George moved from being 'the man who won the War' to a much more controversial and divisive figure, tainted by corruption and scandal. He never received the honour. The unused casket was finally delivered to Bolton by the amazingly patient silversmiths (who stored it for over 25 years) in late 1945, several months after its intended recipient's death. It is now displayed outside the Mayor's Parlour.


Fredom of the Municipal Borough of Farnworth

Victor St Clair Lucas (1893-1963) - Enormously popular and respected family doctor in Farnworth.

Admitted: 21 September 1961

James Stevenson (1887-1963) - Chairman of Farnworth Urban District Council: 1934-36 and Mayor of Farnworth: 1940-41.

Admitted: 21 September 1961

James Alfred Dean (1882-1973) - Mayor of Farnworth: 1947-49.

Admitted: 25 April 1968


The Loyal Regiment

The Loyal Regiment

While Boltonians have served in every regiment and corps of the British Army, the town has particularly close associations with its ‘home’ units. The 5th Battalion, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (later The Loyal Regiment) recruited and was based in Bolton and operated as a Territorial Army unit in peacetime.

The Battalion served in France In the First World War from 1915 and suffered appalling losses in the carnage of the Western Front.

In May 1941 5th Bn. The Loyal Regiment became 18th Bn. Reconnaissance Corps.

Tragically, the men of the Battalion found themselves approaching Singapore on the morning of 8 February 1942, just as the Japanese attacked the city. Their transport ships were bombed relentlessly as they arrived in the harbour and although casualties were relatively light, almost all of the Battalion’s weapons and equipment were lost when RMS Empress of Asia was sunk. After making their way ashore, they were kitted out with whatever small arms were available and fought courageously alongside the garrison forces until ordered to surrender a week later.

The survivors spent the next three and a half years as prisoners of war, enduring extremes of disease, starvation, forced labour and brutal mistreatment at the hands of their captors. Over 250 of them never returned home.

Artillery badge

The Bolton Artillery

The Bolton Artillery served with distinction in the First World War: first in Egypt, then through the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, to the deserts of the middle east and later on the Western Front.

In the Second World War they fought in Belgium and France in 1940 before being evacuated at Dunkirk. They went on to see extensive action in North Africa, Italy and the Balkans.

Among the many names of the fallen recorded on the Bolton Artillery Memorial in Nelson Square is that of Lt Harry Goslin, Captain of the legendary Wartime Wanderers football team, who led the entire Bolton Wanderers squad in volunteering to join the Bolton Artillery at the start of the Second World War.

He was the only member of his team not to return home, dying shortly after being wounded in action in Italy in 1943.

HMS Dido

HMS Dido

During the Second World War, in October 1941, Bolton held one of the country’s first “Warship Week” savings campaigns and raised almost £1,200,000. As part of the week’s events the town adopted the light cruiser HMS Dido, thereby establishing a bond of friendship that has lasted over 70 years.

Dido had an eventful - and mostly lucky - War, seeing off hundreds of enemy attacks but suffering serious damage and casualties on only a couple of occasions.

She served briefly in the Atlantic before moving to the Mediterranean, taking part in the defence of Crete and Malta, and scoring a major victory at the Battle of Sirte against a less than enthusiastic Italian fleet.

She went on to support land forces at El Alamein and Tobruk in North Africa before taking a leading role in the invasion of Italy and the later Allied landings in southern France.

In May 1945, after a spell of escort duties to Russia, HMS Dido was ordered to Copenhagen where the remnants of the defeated German Fleet - including the cruisers Prinz Eugen and Nürnberg - lay anchored. En route, Dido fired the last shot of the War in Europe when a stray enemy aircraft got too close! The formal surrender of the fleet was accepted on board Dido by its commanding officer, Captain R F Elkins, who was also a fluent German speaker.

A new HMS Dido - a Leander class frigate - was commissioned in 1961 and saw service in the Far East, including during the Indonesian-Malaysian Confrontation of the early 1960s, and later carried out fleet duties in the Atlantic.

Bolton’s Sea Cadets - as TS Dido - have maintained the proud tradition linking town and ship since 1942.

Bolton also adopted the Type 22 frigate HMS Beaver from 1984 to her decommissioning in 1999.



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