The best autograph book ever...
The Mayor's visitors book has been signed by hundreds of people since the tradition was begun in 1875. Royalty (all the reigning monarchs from George V onwards), politicians, philanthropists, musicians, authors, sportsmen and women, celebrities and ordinary visitors from all round the world can be found in its pages.
Here are just a few examples:
Phineas Taylor Barnum was a world famous American showman and manager. Co-founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus - "The Greatest Show on Earth".
James Keir Hardie was the first leader of the Labour Party.
Sir Henry Irving was the leading actor-manager of his time and the first actor ever to be knighted.
Bram Stoker was Irving's manager and later became world-famous as the author of 'Dracula' (the title character being supposedly based on Irving). They visited Bolton to lay the cornerstone of the Theatre Royal on Churchgate.
Andrew Carnegie was a US steel magnate who spent his later years and considerable fortune trying to make the world a better place. He donated (and opened) three branch libraries in Bolton on the same day - 29 September 1910. He also paid for Farnworth and Westhoughton Libraries!
Lalbahadur Thapa was serving as a Subedar in the 2nd Gurkha Rifles when he led a successful attack on enemy positions in Tunisia in April 1943, for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Groups of Allied troops were often welcomed as honoured guests of the Mayors of Bolton during the Second World War.
George Tomlinson was Labour MP for Farnworth and Minister of Education.
Clement Attlee was deputy Prime Minister during the Second World War and became Prime Minister in the first post-war government.
Wilfred Pickles was an enormously popular radio presenter and performer. His radio show '"Have A Go" - co-starring his wife Mabel Pickles - ran for over 20 years. Among his acting credits was a role in the film "The Family Way" set and filmed in Bolton.
Vera Brittain was a novelist, pioneer feminist and a lifelong pacifist. Her best known work is the semi-autobiographical novel "Testament of Youth", chronicling her experiences as a volunteer nurse during the First World War. She was the mother of politician Shirley Williams.
Sir Charles Barnard Groves was an internationally respected classical musician and conductor with the Bournmouth Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.