Bolton is a large town situated in Lancashire, in the north west of England, with a population of about 261,000. The current Metropolitan Borough of Bolton was created in 1974 and encompasses the townships of Bolton, Farnworth, Kearsley, Horwich, Westhoughton, Little Lever, Blackrod and South Turton, all of which retain their own unique characters, identity and history.
Bolton itself boasts a magnificent Town Hall, pedestrian-friendly shopping streets, an acclaimed theatre and a new University. The beauty of the moorland countryside within (and surrounding) the Borough may come as a pleasant surprise to those still expecting factory chimneys and clogs...
Bolton has always been a town that made things. In the famous and pioneering Mass Observation study carried out between 1937 and 1940 it was known as Worktown. In its heyday as an industrial manufacturing town the skyline was indeed a forest of chimneys, most of which served the textile industry, of which Bolton was a world-famous centre. Heavy engineering, foundries, bleaching, tanning and coal mining were also major employers. Very few of the chimneys - or old industries - now remain.
Elephants on parade
Visitors to Bolton are often struck by the number of elephants adorning buildings and street furniture in the town centre and beyond. The true origin of Bolton's curious association with elephants is not known. The Elephant crest appeared on Bolton's unofficial coat of arms from at least 1799.
According to the official description of the Armorial Bearings for the County Borough of Bolton, designed by Major Ottley Perry and registered with the College of Arms in 1890, the Elephant and castle represent Bolton's connection with the old County of Coventry which was founded by the Lancastrian King Henry VI. An Elephant and castle appear on the arms of that City. Bolton's elephant device then also displayed a gold Bishop's Mitre which "was in memory of the long connection of Bolton-le moors with the ancient Diocese of Mercia (which had it's seat in Coventry) and is supposed to have included Bolton.
The current Arms of Bolton Metropolitan Borough, designed in 1974, incorporated the elephant and castle crest but replaced the Bishop's Mitre with the Red Rose of Lancaster. Bolton's Coat of Arms shows a shield with an arrow (or a bolt) through a crown. A "bolt" is a mediaeval word for an arrow and the crown represents the wooden stockade around a Saxon village called a "tun" -thus "bolt-tun." The town's motto - "Supera Moras" - overcoming difficulties (or delays) is also a terrible pun on Bolton's original name of Bolton-le-Moors! The eight roses on the shield represent the eight townships of Bolton.
Numerous Bolton companies and organisations have adopted an elephant as part of their trademarks or logos over the last two centuries.
Many of Bolton's native elephants can be spotted in the wild throughout the town - and beyond - if you look hard enough!