A Victorian description of Boothstown refers to a 'quaint manufacturing village' of between 60 and 80 cottages, with a Methodist chapel, post office, mill, and two inns, and surrounded by 'charming' fields of wild flowers. However, Stirrup Brook was noted to have been 'seriously polluted to the detriment of property and cattle', and the matter referred to the Barton-upon-Irwell Rural Sanitary Authority. This was on the inspection of the brook at Leigh Road in 1888 with a view to replacing the wooden bridge with a culvert.
The tram line from Milk Street, Tyldesley to Boothstown was opened in April 1905. It was later extended to Swinton, where the Salford trams carried passengers to Manchester. The tramlines were in the centre of the road, and were single track with loop systems to allow passage in both directions. They were replaced by trolley buses and petrol buses in August 1931.
In 1928 Simpson Road was built to shortcut the loop of Leigh Road through the village. The new road was named after a local councillor, Mr. Simpson, who ran the butcher's shop next to the post office. The picture (left) shows Mr. Simpson around 1910.
In 1923 the 4th Earl of Ellesmere sold his Worsley estates to a consortium of local businessmen, and the Bridgewater Estates company was established. (For more on this, click The Lords and the Manor.) The new company had financial obligations to the Earl (and his successor) which were not paid off until 1948. The company raised money by selling some land and property, especially during the building boom of the mid-1930s. In 1933 80 acres of the company's land were purchased by Lancashire County Council for the construction of the East Lancashire Road (A580), joining Manchester and Liverpool. The new road, officially opened by King George V, cut a swathe through the land to the north of the village, and separated Boothstown from Mosley Common and Ellenbrook.
Although post-war planning legislation, which introduced the concept of protected green belts, curtailed urban expansion, suburban development continued, and the village now displays a mix of property styles and ages, reflective of continuous development, and which can be used to build up a picture of the village's growth. The picture on the right, taken in the mid-20th century, shows Yates's mill, with the East Lancashire Road in the background to the north. The mill dominated the centre of the village for around one hundred years. After lying derelict for some years, the site has been developed for housing in the 1990s.
The Bridgewater Estates company established a subsidiary called the Walkden Land Company in 1958 to co-ordinate the preparation of development land, including the construction of new roads and sewers. The company played an increasingly active role in development, its first scheme being in Boothstown in 1963. The success of the 54 bungalow development, and the clear potential for more sales, encouraged further plans, and several additional sites were developed in the village in the 1970s.
In 1971 the new Standfield housing development included a shopping centre and new library in the heart of Boothstown village; the picture on the left shows the construction of Lymefield Drive in 1972. The Walken Land Company was renamed Bridgewater Homes.
After the significant house-building programme in the 1960s and 1970s, there was local protest in the early 1980s at plans to allocate large areas between the village and the canal, and at Ellenbrook, for further housing development.
Against the background of a discrepancy between the housing development plans of the city council, and the suggested designation by the county council of green belt land, a Boothstown residents' group (and groups in neighbouring Worsley and Ellenbrook) campaigned against the allocation of areas of open land for housing development. The development proposals were supported by Bridgewater Estates. Following public inquiries into the plans of the city and county councils, land south of Boothstown village was designated for housing. (For a detailed study of this planning process see the Reference at the bottom of this page).
Following the approval of the housing plans, development has continued steadily throughout the 1990s. No longer do sheep and cattle graze within a few hundred yards of the village centre. Ironically, by 1997 residents of the new housing estate south of Boothstown village were expressing their objections to the proposed development of new shops in the locality. The picture on the right shows new housing on the site of Mosley Common colliery.
The growth of Boothstown has been matched in surrounding areas, and is manifest in the dramatic rise in road traffic congestion each work-day morning. Vehicles regularly stand in queues of over a mile to the motorway junction at Worsley, with delays often stretching back to Chaddock Lane and Mosley Common. It is a problem with no obvious solution, but it is to be hoped that development will be slowed down, and that Boothstown retains a rural fringe, or its transformation from distinctive village to merged suburb will be complete.
On 3rd October 1998 the Manchester Evening News newspaper reported proposals by Peel Estates Ltd to undertake large-scale development of the land south of the canal, especially at Malkins Wood Farm. The proposals include the opening up of the land to wider public access. There would be a series of trails, play areas and visitor centres in Botany Bay Wood and on the present farmland between the wood and the canal. The proposal signalled the end for Malkins Wood Farm, since it was proposed to build a new horse-racing course on the land. It would be a major project that would involve the construction of a new access road to the site from the East Lancashire Road to the north. For more on this proposed development, see the page New Development Plans.
The early 1980s planning process which led to the development of new housing south of Boothstown village during the 1990s is described in detail by Tony Smith in Community Influence in Local Planning Policy, by A.G. Smith, G. Williams and M. Houlder, Progess in Planning, Vol. 25, Part 1, 1986.
The story of the Bridgewater Estates company and its role in suburban development is told in The Bridgewater Heritage by Christopher Grayling, Bridgewater Estates plc, 1983.
Colour photographs by TS copyright (c) 1997, except picture of Lymefield Drive construction which is from collection of Ken Horton, copyright (c) 1997. Black and white photographs were kindly supplied by Walkden Library. All other contents of this page copyright (c) 1997, TS.
This page last updated: 5 March 2005.