Bolton Branch Programme

Bolton Branch Programme 2023-24




Bolton Branch warmly welcomes everyone to join us for the upcoming lecture series

Branch contact All enquiries to Mrs Melissa Wright 07912369060

Venue: All talks start at 6.30pm on (mostly) the first Monday of the month, and take place in the Leverhulme Suite @ Bolton School Girls’ Division, Chorley New Road, Bolton, BL1 4PA. Parking is free in the Girls’ Division Quad.

Associate membership £20 per year. Talks free to national HA members and students, visitors £5.

Branch website:

Twitter: @BoltonHistory

Facebook: Bolton Historical Association


Monday 11th September 2023

John Balshaw’s Jigge: Revelry and Royalism in Restoration Lancashire

Dr Jenni Hyde. Lancaster University

John Balshaw’s Jigge, a little-known manuscript held by the British Library, was created in the small village of Brindle, Lancashire, at the time of the Restoration. This exciting document is one of the latest known examples of a stage ‘jig’, a form of musical entertainment which had been particularly popular during the Elizabethan period.

Dr Jenni Hyde works in the history department at Lancaster University. A former music teacher, folk singer and trained soprano, her research investigates Tudor and Stuart popular song as evidence for social, political and religious change.


Monday 2nd October 2023

America’s Civil War 1861-1865: End to slavery, arrival of modern war?

Emeritus Prof. Martin S. Alexander, University of Aberystwyth

America's Civil War -- or "the war between the states" -- may be best known for President Abraham Lincoln's emancipation of slavery across the union. But other aspects of the conflict retain importance. These will be explored in this talk: the question of "states' rights", the federal character of the United States, and the war's unveiling of a horrific new warfare -- one of mass armies, industrialized killing and economic power; one no longer reflecting the faith of Robert E. Lee and Confederate leaders in a now defunct 19th Century military romanticism.


Monday 6th November 2023  

A Fallen Eagle: The Mystery of the 9th Legion

Dr Andy Fear, DPhil, MA (Oxon)

The mysterious disappearance of the Ninth legion remains a mystery. It has provoked much debate, produced one famous and several not so famous novels, and two films in recent years. This talk looks at what we know about the end of the ninth and asks the question ‘was Rosemary Sutcliffe right?’

One theory was that the legion was wiped out in action in northern Britain soon after 108, the date of the last inscription of the Ninth found in Britain, perhaps during a rising of northern tribes. This view was popularised by the 1954 novel The Eagle of the Ninth in which the legion is said to have marched into Caledonia after which it was never heard of again. Other scholars have put forward alternative theories which could place their demise to a later date.

Dr Andy Fear, DPhil, MA (Oxon) was born in Morecambe and educated at Lancaster RGS and New College Oxford where he obtained his BA and D Phil (on Roman Spain). After a brief spell at Jesus, Oxford he went on to teach Classics at the Universities of Keele and Manchester. An ardent Hispanophile, his academic interests and publications cover the provinces of the Western Roman Empire (especially Britain and Spain), ancient and medieval Warfare, and the Iberian Peninsula. He also has a strong interest in transport history. He spends his spare time wargaming and watching Morecambe FC.


Monday 4th December 2023

Bolton School Girls’ Division will host a heat of The Great Debate followed by:

The Class of ‘37

Professor Hester Barron of Modern History - University of Sussex & Professor Claire Langhamer - University of London and Director of the Institute of Historical Research

It is 1937 and a class of 12- & 13-year-old girls are writing about their lives: cobbled streets and crowded homes; the Coronation festivities and holidays to Blackpool; laughter and fun alongside poverty and hardship. They are destined for the cotton mill but they dream of being film stars. Their essays are collected by their teacher and sent to the social research organisation Mass Observation. Eighty-odd years later, we became fascinated with their stories and pieced together their lives for our book Class of ’37. In this lecture we will talk about the process of writing during lockdowns, the discoveries we made, and read some extracts from the book. 

Hester Barron is Professor of Modern History at the University of Sussex. She writes about working-class life, childhood, schooling and education.

Claire Langhamer is Professor of Modern History at the University of London and Director of the Institute of Historical Research. Her work is about ordinary people’s feelings and experiences.


Monday 8th January 2024

‘He didn’t really talk about it: Reconstructing a Free French past in Liverpool’.

Dr Chris Millington, Manchester Metropolitan University

This lecture investigates the wartime experience of Hilaire Marteau, a teenage member of Charles de Gaulle’s Free French who settled in Liverpool after the war. Marteau’s tale has all the ingredients of a Hollywood adventure: courageous resistance, a daring escape from Nazi Germany, and a perilous crossing of the Pyrenees to join the fight against Hitler and Vichy France. That, at least, is the story according to Marteau’s rough notebooks and conversations with his relatives, for he died before authoring a planned memoir. This lecture presents my efforts to reconstruct his story through these writings and through interviews with his surviving family members. It reveals not only how Marteau represented his own past but also the ways in which he passed his story on to his wife and children. In doing so, the lecture suggests ways in which historians might explore ‘second-generation’ memory of French resistance.


Monday 5th February 2024

Artful Dodgers: Young Offenders and Youth Justice in Victorian Britain

Professor Heather Shore, Manchester Metropolitan University

This presentation will focus on the ‘invention’ of the juvenile delinquent in the nineteenth century. Of course, juvenile crime was far from a new concern in this period. In the early modern and even medieval eras, contemporaries bemoaned the disorderly activities of young apprentices and their ‘wenches’. However, from the late eighteenth century a preoccupation with young offenders (those aged up to 16) emerged, intensifying in the period after the end of the French Wars from 1815. During the nineteenth century (and into the early twentieth century) the young offender became a significant subject of concern for criminal justice reformers and philanthropists. This period would see the gradual separation of justice for children and youths from the adult criminal justice system, and the establishment of new types of institution, culminating in the Industrial and Reformatory Schools Act passed in 1854 and 1857. As this presentation will show, the Victorians were particularly concerned with those more ‘hardened’ juveniles, the Artful Dodgers (Dickens’ serialised novel appeared from 1837), who might grow into the adult, Bill Sykes. This presentation will explore the contemporary concerns about young offenders and the responses of reformers and the state to what was regarded as a significant social problem of the Victorian era.

Heather Shore is Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. She has published widely on crime and justice history. Her most recent book was the co-authored (with Godfrey, Cox and Alker), Young Criminal Lives: Life Course and Life Changes from 1850 (OUP, 2017). She is also the author of London’s Criminal Underworlds, c. 1720 – c. 1930: A Social and Cultural History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015); Artful Dodgers: Youth and Crime in Early Nineteenth Century London (1999) and has co-edited two books, with Pamela Cox, Becoming Delinquent: British and European Youth, 1650–1950 (2002) and with Tim Hitchcock, The Streets of London: From the Great Fire to the Great Exhibition (2003). Her next book will be out in late 2023, and is co-written with Pamela Cox and Bob Shoemaker, Victims and Criminal Justice: A History (OUP). Shore is currently working on a project about the history of English and Welsh Borstal prisons (c 1902 to 1982) for young adult offenders.


Monday 4th March 2024

Local History Lecture

Walking Historical Tour – Treasures of Bolton School

Bolton School Archivist - Mr Eric Fairweather

The Historical Association has met in Bolton School Girls’ Division since 2014. This will provide an opportunity to learn more about the history of the School since the Boys Grammar School was founded in 1516 and the Bolton High School for Girls in 1877. This will include the first re-founding of the Grammar School in 1644 by Robert Lever and the latest rebounding in 1915 by William Hesketh Lever, later Lord Leverhulme. It was Lord Leverhulme who had the vision to bring both Schools together in one Foundation and he is the school’s greatest benefactor. There will also be the opportunity to view the school’s greatest treasures, including the 17th century Chained Library, the Nuremberg Chest and the Headmaster’s Chair from the 17th century school, as well as the school’s copy of the Book of Martyrs dated 1698 and the 17th century Ainsworth Latin Dictionary, the standard Latin Dictionary until Victorian times.

A former corporate banker, who also spent two years on secondment to the Department of Trade and Industry during the time of Margaret Thatcher, Eric has been a Governor of the School since 2006 and was responsible for establishing the archive in advance of the Schools’ Quincentenary in 2016.