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    More of Bolton's Elephants    

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It is just a hop skip and a jump from there to the Ashburner Street Market.


On the corners are well carved coats of arms with the elephant and castle.





There used to be 14 stumps around the market and bus station with elephants on top. There seems to be just one remaining, alongside the car park.


Also on the car park is an elephant welcome bench which for over 20 years was outside "Age Concern" which occupied the old Market Offices until these were sadly demolished to allow a new vehicle access to the car park.

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There used to be a very fine elephant on the bus station on the lowest, W X Y Z stands. One picture looks out towards St Paul's Church, one, taken from outside has a reflection of the Crown Court.

There used to be a bus station.

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In 2015 a new elephant appeared in a window of the Market Hall on Corporation Street! I expected to be able to read the plaque from my photograph but that was not the case. When I went back to check some time later the elephant had disappeared.


The elephant is called Milly. The plaque also refers to Sithami which is the name of an elephant at Chester Zoo (which died in September 2018).


Its purpose was fund raising and to commemorate the year 2000. Sculptor: Tamsin Burns

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So we progress along Deansgate to the Nat West Bank. Built about 1880 this was the Bolton Bank and it was only half the width. It is one of three buildings which were extended early in the 20th century and you simply can’t see the join. It has a coat of arms with a well-preserved elephant on the roof.

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A few steps more along Deansgate to what used to be Whiteheads. The Elephant and Castle and rather new sign.

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We detour at this point, down Bank Street and up Kay Street to its junction with St George’s Street where we find the statue of Atlas (from the Atlas Forge on Bridgeman Street) and the subway under St Peter’s Way whose walls are tiled with various motifs referring to the town, one of which is an elephant.

Then back to Preston's Corner (as it will always be known). Our walk will not include Churchgate as there are no elephants there at the moment but there used to be in the early years of the twentieth century.

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Along Deansgate to Market Street and the Market Hall.


Market Street was not so named because it ran down to the Market Hall, but long before that because it ran up to the new market on the corner of the Town Hall Square.


Bolton Market Hall was designed by architect G. T. Robinson, and opened on 19 December 1855. Measuring 294 feet in length and covering an area of 7000 square yards it was said to be 'the largest covered market in the kingdom'. It cost £50000.


The square, roofed stalls that we remember were installed in 1938. The stalls were updated again around 1980(?)

It reopened as “The Market Place” in 1988.


Over the door we see the Bolton badge with its elephant.


These are found over the Corporation Street, Rushton Street and Knowsley Street entrances.

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The older picture c1890 has Booth's Music Shop and the Golden Lion Hotel and to the right of that the shop that had been Richard Arkwright's Barber's Shop. But at the left of the picture is a fine building with ornate pillars and balconies with fancy cast-iron railings. The sign board at gutter level proclaims "Taylor, Builder” and in the centre depicts the elephant and castle which has been for many years a symbol of Bolton.


The later picture extends to Preston’s corner. The Umbrella shop is still next door so it dates between 1905 and 1909. Churchgate.  At the right of the picture we have our fine building with ornate balconies whose sign board now indicates “Derby Building” (or builder). In the centre of the sign board we see a little more clearly the elephant and castle  which is enlarged in our third picture. Sad that this building is now completely changed in appearance though the basic structure of the four buildings to the end of the block is probably very old.

A little  way along Bradshawgate from Prestons we come to Nelson Square with its statue of Samuel Crompton.

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There are plaques either side of the pedestal featuring Hall i’ th’ Wood and the Spinning Mule.



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Either side of the main statue are pillars.

23 March 1888

Alderman William Nicholson, Mayor; Councillor J T Brooks, Chairman;

Councillor A Lomax, Vice Chairman.


And there is our elephant.

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We continue further along Bradshawgate and up Great Moor Street to find Bolton County Grammar School, previously the Municipal School and before that Bolton Higher Grade School – but frequently called “The Elephant School”. Look at the main door, and above and to the right is an oriel window - above which is our next elephant which sadly seems to have lost its trunk.

This picture comes from some literature for County Grammar Old Boys and Girls. The badge on the blazer and on the boys’ caps was fairly similar to this.

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We cross the road into Mawdesley Street and on the corner of Bold Street we find what was built as the County Borough of Bolton Technical School in 1891. The coat of arms and the elephant are quite badly eroded.

Up Great Moor Street from the school is St Patrick's Church then the new Bus Station. Within this complex on the corner of Newport Street is the Bolton University Institute of Management. The University coat-of-arms includes an elephant, though not strictly a Bolton one.

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On the Bold Street side of this building is a leaded window with a stained glass coat of arms. You may notice that the coat of arms is the wrong way round and the elephant is facing the wrong way. This is of course because the stained glass is intended to be seen from the inside of the building when also the colours would be brighter. Picture four has flipped it round.

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Further up Bold Street is a new building, The Bolton Hub, which houses eleven community and voluntary organisations including Bolton CVS (Community and Voluntary Services) which has adopted the elephant (in triplicate) as its logo - though it is not quite strictly a traditional Bolton elephant.

From there we go onto Newport Street and along to the Town Hall Square where we see more elephants.

The interior of Bolton's Town Hall is home to a plethora of pachyderms but viewing from the outside we must be content with merely two, one in the tympanum, the figures in the pediment almost invisible unless you know where to take a very careful look and the other at the very top of the front door which is even more difficult to see.


Apparently a number of other elephants were included in the original drawings for the exterior of the building but were struck out at the design stage.


More notes at the foot of this page.

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This picture is of the main front door of the Town Hall. The second elephant surmounts the coat of arms at the  very top of the high window. More pictures hopefully where you can actually SEE the elephant after the corona virus lockdown.

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The Cenotaph was unveiled in 1928 without its sculptures which were installed in 1931. Either side we have a fairly simple coat of arms with the elephant.

At the entrance to Victoria Square are posts intended to stop unauthorised vehicles from entering the square. These can of course be removed when necessary. Each post has the Borough coat-of-arms  with the elephant.

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We pay a visit to the Museum.


In the Egyptology gallery we have an invitation to a Dinner held to mark the visit to Bolton of the King of Egypt.


There is also a commemorative fabric woven by and for the firm of Barlow and Jones, Spinners and Manufacturers for the Jubilee Exhibition of 1887. It is a Manchester firm but four of the five pictures are of Bolton mills and as a trade mark they have a slightly sad looking elephant.

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In the main gallery we discover that there used to be an elephant on every main road as you came into Bolton.


And we find the biggest of the elephants in Bolton and it is a real one (Is, was, had been).

We leave the museum and make our way down Exchange Street to that entrance to the Crompton Centre. We look at that entrance from Acresfield. There is an elephant there which is very hard to find. We need to look at the top right corner.


There have been a number of elephant walks over the years. It seems that this was the final elephant for one of them. It is also the last one on our walk round town.

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Well Done for completing the elephant walk

There are other elephants, old and new in Bolton and many that used to exist but have long disappeared. There seems to have been something of an upsurge of use by local clubs and societies in recent years. You can see some of these elephants on the next page.

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More notes on the tympanum above the front entrance of the Town Hall


The tympanum was commissioned from the Scottish sculptor William Calder Marshall (1813-1894), best known for his contribution to the Albert Memorial in London. His own contemporary description of the work is as follows:


The central figure represents Bolton with a mural crown and holding a shield on which is emblazoned the borough arms. The figures to the right and left of the principal figure represent "Manufactures" and "Commerce"; the former holds a distaff and leans upon a bale of goods, whilst near her are a cylinder and a wheel, symbolic of machinery; a negro boy (sic) bears a basket of cotton and "Earth" in the corner pours her gifts from a cornucopia. On the left of the principle figure is "Commerce" holding the caduceus and a helm; a boy holds a boat by the bow, and in the angle is "Ocean", typical of the wide extent over which the manufactures of the town have spread. The figures are of Portland Stone and upon a scale of eight feet if standing.


A mural crown - it looks like a castellated or battlemented wall which presumably represents the ton of Bolton.

The shield is under her left hand and the "borough arms" are the ELEPHANT which is our focus of interest.


To the right and left means on the central figure's right and left and is  left and right as we view things.


Distaff - a rod upon which cotton is held as it is being spun. I cannot see this held by Manufacture. Is the distaff actually in Bolton's right hand? Dis derives from Old Norse for the bunch of flax fastened to this staff.


The wheel is a cog wheel which would be seen more clearly by a viewer further to the left.


Earth is the recumbent figure to the left. The cornucopia is not easily seen but the fruits of the earth can be made out.


Did you notice the sheep?


caduceus is the stick with one or two snakes entwined around it and often with wings at the top carried by Mercury or Hermes, the messenger of the gods. I cannot see this and I presume the item in the left hand of Commerce is the helm or rudder. There are a number of caducei at either side of the main door. I begin to wonder if the sculptor's description was based on an early stage of the design and not on the finished work.


The male figure is Ocean.

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