Bolton Library and Museum Services

Museum history

Bolton Museum is part of the history of Bolton. The Museums of the town, have been places to visit and a part of the leisure and education of Boltonians for over 120 years.  Many of the people involved in the Museum professionally, as donors, and in other ways, have lived in or originated from Bolton. Also, the buildings that house the collections – Mere Hall, Hall i’ th’ Wood, Le Mans Crescent, Smithills Hall – are part of the local landscape.  The key building missing from this list is the Chadwick Museum, once located in Queen’s Park, and the pride of Bolton’s civic amenities.

In 1852 following the adoption of the Libraries Act, Bolton’s first free public library was established in Victoria Square. The library quickly established a collection of natural science specimens and ethnographic objects, indeed the first item of the Library’s register is not a book but a ‘small collection of fossils’.

This library building still stands in Victoria Square; a stones throw from the present day Library and Museum on Le Mans Crescent.

The Chadwick museum

Like many of the country’s museums, Bolton’s first museum building was created from an act of philanthropy.

Rise and fall of the Chadwick

W. W. Midgely and son

The first professional curators of the Chadwick Museum were the father and son William and Thomas Midgley.

Bolton's first curators

The Crescent

During the late 1930s work on the Le Mans Crescent building began. However, the War interrupted the fitting out of the museum, which did not open to the public until 1947.

The Crescent and the end of the Chadwick