Local Quaker History

It is on record that Quakers have held Meetings for Worship in Bolton since 1668. We do not know if George Fox ever visited Bolton but a number of his friends did. The first record of Quakers in the Bolton area refers to James Harrison who came to the town in 1668, having been drawn to Friends by George Fox. In 1672 Phineas Pemberton came to Bolton and married James Harrison’s daughter, Phoebe, the same year.

These two families formed the nucleus of a regular Meeting held in the Harrison home and it was there, two years later, that Harrison was arrested and charged ‘that he did preach to the people that they should repent and fear God not man and seek the way of light and truth’. For this, he was fined and distraint was made upon his goods to the value of £10.19.6. Following further persecution, a small party of Friends decided to emigrate to Pennsylvania and those left in Bolton linked with groups in Blackrod, Coppull, Langtree and Westhoughton, a delegate from Bolton being sent to the Hardsahw Monthly meeting.

A regular meeting place in Bolton was obtained in 1721; a two storey building in Acresfield, roughly on the site of the present (2011) Lloyds TSB bank in the town centre. In 1794 the Bolton Quaker Meeting was established as a Particular Meeting, which meant that Friends could have their own meeting for business, known as a Preparative Meeting.

In 1820 a new Meeting House was built on Tipping Street, off Folds Road, and in 1844 a Sunday School was started in some adjoining cottages. These cottages were later demolished and in their place Sunday School classrooms and a caretakers house were added to the Meeting House buildings.

The Meeting House at Tipping Street
The Meeting House at Tipping Street

Meetings continued at Tipping Street until the premises had to be demolished to make way for a new road, St Peter’s Way. The new Bolton Quaker Meeting House was built on its present site in Silverwell Street in 1971.