Blackrod Community Walking Group

On a grey but so far dry morning 14 of us gathered to walk. We met at Pine Tree Farm pub at Over Hulton. This location is Logistics North, a huge distribution park with the Whistl warehouse on one side, Aldi on the other and the gargantuan Amazon distribution warehouse in the distance. We set off past Whistl before turning into the Cutacre park with new gravel paths leading away from the industry and into the countryside. Drainage channels had been dug since our last visit making it a much better experience walking through to Newbrook Road. Crossing the road we entered the Hulton Park estate. We stopped for a few minutes at the Pretoria Pit memorial. The memorial was built there in 2010 to commemorate 100 years since the disaster, from funds raised by a local ex-miner.

One of the main sources of the Hulton family’s wealth came from the rich coal seams under their estate. Mining first started in the 1550s, and there is evidence of mining in the area since 16th century. By the 1800s the amount of coal being extracted from the estate required the new technology of the railway to transport it from the collieries. This led to the visit at Hulton Hall of the railway pioneer George Stephenson who, in August 1828, completed the first section of a railway line that connected Bolton to the collieries. This was two years before Stephenson completed his link between Manchester and Liverpool.

The estate was the site of a great tragedy when on 21 December 1910 an underground explosion at the Pretoria Pit claimed the lives of 344 men and boys. Memorials on the edge of the Park and in Westhoughton mark their lives. There have been a number of Halls built on the site, the earliest known dating from the 14th century. In the early 19th century, a landscape designed by John Webb was created along with a much grander Hulton Hall. The landscape included new plantations, pasture, pleasure gardens and lakes. By the 1950s the Hall had fallen into disrepair and had been damaged by vandalism. It was demolished in 1958. The gardens and wider Park also became neglected and the family dynasty came to an end with the death of Sir Geoffrey Hulton, who had no heir, in 1993.

Walking through the estate became increasingly difficult as the muddy fields and broken styles hindered progress. Eventually we arrived at Mary Seacole House on the A6 at Chequerbent. We crossed the road and under the M61 before joining a footpath off Pendlebury Fold. This led us across the fields back to Four Lane Ends. By now it was raining quite hard and the muddy fields were getting waterlogged. We emerged by the Red Lion and walked along the A6 for a short distance before again entering Cutacre and finding our way back to Whistl and the Pine Tree Farm pub.

After shedding our wet outer walking gear we enjoyed refreshments and a very good lunch in the warm and dry pub.   Vic and Brian

Next walk – Tuesday 11th February – Rivington Twa’ Lads and around. Start at the Bridge Hotel, 121 Church St, Horwich, Bolton, BL6 7BR (parking available at Horwich Leisure Centre across the road). Meet at 9:45 to start walking at 10am. Lunch in the Bridge Hotel afterwards.

Leader: Eddie 07779585190