Firwood Fold is a small hamlet in Bolton consisting of former farmworkers’ dwellings and outbuildings. It was the town’s first conservation area but is best known for being the birthplace of Samuel Crompton, arguably Bolton’s most famous son.
The Buildings and Area
The earliest buildings here date back to the 16th century, but there was subsequent construction, mainly in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Despite developing over such an extended period, the hamlet’s buildings exhibit a unified appearance owing to their consistent use of local materials, simple style, and similar scale.
15 Firwood Fold is believed to be the oldest inhabited building in Bolton. It was built using the cruck construction method and wattle and daub walls. The house was later clad in stone, but the original oak truss is still clearly visible.
Number 5 originally served as the school. There are two entrances, one for the school and the other for the teacher’s house. Number 6 was built as a pig house but has now been converted into a residential building.
Samuel Crompton was born at 10 Firwood Fold on 3rd December 1753. He lived here until 1758 when his family moved to Hall i’ th’ Wood. In 1779 Crompton invented the Spinning Mule, a revolutionary tool that transformed the country’s textile industry. Today the cottage is the only building in Bolton with a thatched roof. A stone plaque on the wall commemorates Crompton’s birth.
All the houses here are private residences, but visitors can wander the cobbled street and admire them.
An area of mature woodland surrounds the hamlet. To the north is a small reservoir known as The Bunk. It was once part of Firwood Bleachworks, constructed in 1803, but now demolished.
Firwood Fold suffered from neglect during the 20th century. However, in 1969, the Bolton Council purchased the site, recognising its historical significance. It was designated as a conservation area that same year.
In the early 1970s, the council refurbished the site and buildings.
10 Firwood Fold is a Grade I listed building. Most other buildings at the site are Grade II* or Grade II.
A range of planning controls is in effect to protect the site from future development that could compromise its historical value.
Location of Firwood Fold
Firwood Fold is situated in the Tonge area of Bolton, Greater Manchester. It is just off Crompton Way. Its postcode is BL2 3AG.
The closest train station is Hall i’ th’ Wood. The station is around 1/4 mile from Firwood Fold.
Bus 507 travels from Bolton Bus Station to Harwood along Tonge Moor Road. Get off at the stop near the Bolton Castle pub for Firwood Fold.
A trip to Firwood Fold could easily be combined with a visit to nearby Hall i’ th’ Wood Museum.
Samuel Crompton and the Spinning Mule
The spinning mule was a revolutionary invention that changed the textile industry forever.
Samuel Crompton invented the spinning mule in 1779 while living at Hall i’ th’ Wood.
The machine combined features of James Hargreaves’ spinning jenny and Richard Arkwright’s water frame. It vastly increased the amount of cotton that could be spun at once and was the most common type of spinning machine throughout the 19th century.
Despite the spinning mule’s efficiency, the inventor did not patent his design and did not receive any royalties for the invention.
Firwood Fold lies on the Kingfisher Trail, a 14-mile walking route that connects the West Pennine Moors with the urban centres of Bolton, Bury, and Salford.
The route runs from Jumbles Country Park at the southern edge of the West Pennine Moors to Philips Park in Prestwich, Bury.
Places of interest on the route include:
- Longsight Park
- Firwood Fold
- Seven Acres Country Park
- Leverhulme Park
- Moses Gate Country Park
- Nob End Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
- Clifton Country Park
- Clifton Viaduct (13 Arches)
A guide to the Kingfisher Trail can be found on the website of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside.