Tales from Victorian Newspapers

The Great and the Good

A state visit organised by Boothstown’s most prominent citizen. From the Farnworth Observer of 18 July 1868:

  • Reception at Worsley of the 3rd Earl of Ellesmere. On his first visit since the attainment of his majority. A committee headed by Mr Robert Lansdale, of Booths Hall arranged the proceedings. The Earl was to arrive at Patricroft station and proceed by the State Barge to Worsley Hall. Arrival at Patricroft was awaited by over 6000 people. It was expected that the Earl would arrive by the London train. 60 detonators were placed on the line, to no little alarm of the train crew and passengers. The Earl did NOT come by that train. The Liverpool train next due, had detonators placed, but the whole company was again disappointed. The next train, from Chester, contained the Earl. And it poured with rain.

Modern Ofsted inspections cannot be as critical as Victorian school inspectors. From the Farnworth Journal of 9 July 1881:

  • Boothstown school inspection report. ‘School in excellent order, attainments much improved since last year. Work on paper very good, however a want of intelligence in reading is shown. The infants are too thick to admit good teaching.

A ‘clerical error’ by a new curate. From the Farnworth Journal of 11 November 1882:

  • Boothstown C of E Temperance Society held their tea party in the schoolroom. The curate in charge, the Rev Hopwood in his opening remarks said the drunkards of Boothstown were chiefly the women.

The wisdom of Solomon by local officials. From the Farnworth Journal of 1 September 1883:

  • Barton Rural Sanitary Authority have a Boothstown dilemma. Mr Stockton wrote to them to say his house has the front in Tyldesley Local Board area and the rear in Barton Authority. Who should take the sewage. Barton decide they can only take their half.

People at Work and Play

Moonshine over Mosley Common. From the Bolton Chronicle of 17 December 1859:

  • Seizures and arrests by the Excise at Mosley Common. Charges heard at Leigh Town Hall against Ellen Brimelow, wife of Samuel. On entering the Court the nature of the case is immediately conjectured from the number of bottles large and great, tin vessels and measures, bladders and other implements here displayed. Above all there is the smell of Spirit. This is a rare seizure in this part of the country. When arrested, the defendant had £13 on her possession. Sentenced to fine of £30, or three months.

An alliterative reporter about a famous local society. From the Farnworth Journal of 23 July 1887:

  • Boothstown Botanical Society had their annual excursion last week. Sixteen members went to Hale Barns Cheshire where they spent the afternoon Botanising on the Banks of the Bollin.

Rugged determination in pursuit of the latest craze. From the Farnworth Journal of 15 August 1891:

  • Boothstown Bicycle Club, six members left for Liverpool on a fine morning, but heavy rain came on and they manfully reached the seaport exhausted and covered in mud. An overnight stay left them penniless. They took all next day to return.

Boothstown was revolting in an outbreak of morality. From the Farnworth Journal of 28 February 1891:

  • Boothstown people on the rampage. Extraordinary scenes and effigy burning. A man, who has a wife and two children, regularly left the Conservative club he having `other business”. Was followed, and seen to enter a house near Stirrup Brook where the husband was known to work nights. Watchers saw the two go upstairs, they listened awhile then secured the doors and windows from outside. They gave notice to the inhabitants that they had secured a tartar, whereon a few hundred gathered, hooting and yelling. The local photographer illuminated inside the bedroom, using flash powder on a pole. The house was stormed by the mob and the man found, hidden under the mattress, he was dragged outside and paraded round the village. Arrival of the Constables prevented further molestation. The following day the man was booed out of the mill, and that evening his effigy was burnt in the street. Local sentiment is, don’t forget how Judge Lynch conducts in Boothstown on those who offend the moral code.

Out with a Bang

Explosives were commonplace in mining towns and could be sold by retailers openly by having an excise licence easily obtained. Their use was often as negligent.

Overstocking with a vengeance. From the Farnworth Observer of 11 May 1872:

  • Boothstown trader summonsed. Thomas Stones, grocer summonsed to Leigh Magistrates for having 260 pounds (120 Kg) of gunpowder which is more than allowed on vendors premises. His licence permitted 56 pounds of powder and he thought he was complying by having 56lb in the shop, and in each other room.

Gone fishing, John Wayne style. From the Farnworth Journal of 4 October 1879:

  • Use of Dynamite. Three men employed in shaft sinking at a nearby coalmine wanted fish for tea and selected the pond owned by Mr Robert Lansdale of Booths Hall. They tossed in several sticks of dynamite, the resulting explosion destroyed several thousand fish and caused great alarm in the district. The men decamped hurriedly and without any fish.


This page was researched and written by Glen Atkinson.