University teams up with local residents to dig up the remains of Bolton’s Halliwell Bleachworks

Friday 5 April 2013
Pictures from Dig Bolton
Volunteers get digging in Bolton.

More than 60 volunteers toughed out the coldest March in over 50 years to find out what life was like at a Bolton industrial works during the 18th Century.

In the first of four community excavations this year across Greater Manchester, the University’s Centre for Applied Archaeology completed its dig at Moss Bank Park in Bolton this weekend (29 March). Local residents joined forces with professionals to find the remains of the Halliwell Bleachworks, which was founded by Peter Ainsworth back in 1739.

The team uncovered the partial remains of the family wing of Moss Bank House and found that there had been three building phases within the overall structure. The Ainsworth family built the house in the 18th Century, along with accommodation for the bleach and dye workers, which volunteers also managed to unearth in part. Other findings included a stained glass window and a 19th Century washhouse.

The project, known as ‘Dig Greater Manchester’, began in 2012 with a total of 11 sites to excavate. Its main aim is to engage with local communities and provide insights into the region’s history and heritage. The team holds a public open day at the end of each excavation and offers guided tours, along with family activities and crafts stalls.

Volunteers can take part free of charge and have an opportunity to learn various techniques, including artefact analysis and building surveys.

Vicky Nash, a Senior Archaeologist at the University, said: “Despite six inches of snow falling in just two days, this dig has been a great success. We’ve had some brilliant findings and are looking forward to the next three community digs.”

Members of the team will be offering guided tours of the Moss Bank Park site on Saturday 6 April at 10.00am and 12 noon.

Get more information on the Dig Greater Manchester project here.

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