Darcy Lever is today a peaceful and green area to live in. Surrounded on two sides by parks- Leverhulme Park and Moses Gate Country Park, and grazing land on the other side. But it wasnt always like that as this piece form Lancashire Telegraph explains.
APPARENTLY, in 1938, Darcy Lever was a place of fun.
A feature on the area in the Bolton Journal and Guardian in 1938 began: “The mere mention of Darcy Lever can usually be relied upon to raise a smile. It may be that the appearance of the village strikes visitors as funny, or the characters who live there, or perhaps it is the combination of the two.”
Unfortunately, the feature, the twelfth in a series in the paper generally entitled “Some Old Suburbs”, does not go on to give us any concrete reason why Darcy Lever should raise that smile — wry or otherwise. Quite the contrary in fact.
The article did tell us that “a considerable part of old Darcy Lever is just now in the process of being demolished. Numbers of tiny cottages standing back from Radcliffe Road on the Bolton side of the bridge have been condemned as unfit for human habitation and consequently have had to go.”
No, there is nothing amusing about that.
After pointing out that the river running through Darcy Lever was, in fact, the Tonge, not the Croal as many people believed at that time, our writer of the day pointed out that the two mills standing either side of the road belonged to William Gray and Son, but were no longer working.
And so we move on to unemployment in the village, which, again, was hardly something to smile about.
The article said: “There was a time when three cotton-spinning and weaving mills, two crofts, and three or four collieries, all within the immediate vicinity, were employing local labour. Now all of them are closed, and what is worse, no new industry has been introduced to stop the rot.
“The factories consisted of Gray’s and Wardles in Hacken Lane, an eyesore if ever there was one, and Seddon’s, part of which stood on what is now the bowling green attached to the Farmer’s Arms.”
The writer went on to give us more bad news with the information that a local child had recently died after falling down a disused mine shaft.
He then moved on to tell us that Darcy Lever Cricket Club had been the first to win the Bolton and District Cricket League in 1889 — good news at last — but: “About a dozen years ago the ground was flooded by an overflow from the pit.
“This, together with the serious financial position of the club, resulted in the abandonment of the organisation.”
And, still, I cannot find any evidence of “a place of fun”.
In 1938, we were told that the Methodist church was an “admirable” building, but the local Methodists were also in financial difficulties.
And so to the Hacken Sewage Works: “They have always been a sore point with local residents and no wonder. Who can blame them for complaining?
“Almost on the doorstep of a small community in the Cinder Hill district, Bolton’s rubbish is tipped. These people are living under conditions that are a disgrace.
After a short detour in the story to tell us about the terrible circumstances when a local man had recently murdered his lover by pushing her in the canal, and a few paragraphs about local “characters”, our 1938 writer signs off with: “There is no doubt that Darcy Lever is the Cinderella suburb of the town. For too long it has been neglected by the town council; a walk through the district suffices to convince one that many improvements ought to be made.”
I have glanced back at that opening paragraph a few times and about the only conclusion I can come to is that the only people to “raise a smile” at the mention of Darcy Lever in 1938 would have been the folk who were lucky enough not to live there.