Bollington Discovery Centre

A new experience in Heritage Discovery!

Over 5,000 historic pictures of the Bollington area!

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Historic picture collection

Now available online!

Bollington Civic Society's Discovery Centre houses our unique collection of historic pictures taken in and around Bollington since the 1860s!

The picture collection is an archive of more than 5,000 photographs, mostly black & white, covering many aspects of Bollington life from 1860 to the present day. The collection has been built up by the Civic Society mainly by copying images from prints and albums lent by local people and organisations. Recent events are covered too and additions are always welcome. For example, we now have a collection of images of the October 1998 floods, for which Bollington featured in the national news.

During 2005 the entire collection is being digitised in order to make it available to everyone through the medium of the PC. Fiona Swailes, our picture collection curator, is managing the project and categorising and indexing each of the thousands of pictures. Roger Fielding is scanning the pictures and has developed a database to make it easy to find the pictures you want to see. Printed copies of favourite pictures are available to purchase in a choice of two sizes.

To see the archive see the online libraryExternal link or visit the Discovery Centre at Clarence Mill.

After the completion of this project there will, of course, be many pictures, particularly of people, where we just don't know who they are or where it was taken. We are always keen to hear from members of the public who may recognise someone from their own family and be able to fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge. So, especially if you belong to an old established Bollington family, come and have a look and see who you can find!

Fiona Swailes can be contacted by email.

Many of the better known pictures are included in various books about Bollington. Some of these can be obtained at the Discovery Centre - checkout the books page for details.


This project has been most generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cheshire Rural Recovery and the North West Development Agency, Clarence Mill Properties Limited, Macclesfield Borough Council, Bollington Town Council, Macclesfield Canal Society and private contributions.


White Nancy, about 1925 (see the poem written about Nancy in 1919 by James Chatterton).

More pictures ...

The Civic Society was formed in the 1960s by the late Dr John Coope MBE, and one of the early activities was to try and preserve some of the history and heritage of the town.

It was realised that old photographs would provide a tremendous insight into the period from the late 1800s to the present day and so they put the word out and asked people to trawl their old photo albums!

This produced thousands of pictures, many of the people who lived and worked here, and also of the town itself – before the age of cars and lorries – and of their places of work, the mills, railway, churches, in fact everything that constituted the community of the day.

This collection was recorded and studied by a sub-group, the Civic Society History Group. The five key individuals in this were George Longden, Molly Spink, Joyce Hough, Christabel Burgess and Bob Alexander. They went on to publish a number of fascinating books about the town and local area which remain popular today. Indeed, steps are being taken to reprint some of those books to be enjoyed by a new generation.

Family history research

The collection is invaluable for researching your Bollington ancestry. We recommend that you pay us a visit and carry out simple searches using the PCs and indexed database provided. Access is free for as long as you need! Check the opening times on the Discovery Centre home page.

For those who live too far away to make a visit, our picture collection curator, Fiona Swailes, will be pleased to carry out simple searches for you via an email request. Please indicate the names of relevant people, as fully as possible and with any supporting information you may have please (such as trade, address, etc.), because some family names were very common in Bollington in times past. But please note ...

Apart from a few success stories we have often had to disappoint enquirers because it is not that clear when our photographs date from and to. Many family history researchers are looking for relatives living in Bollington in the mid 19th century. The photographic records are no help to these researchers as the earliest 'people' pictures in our collection date from around 1890 (eg. a few of Bollington Cross School and Lowerhouse School) and most of the school and family photos are from 1900 on.

Beginning in March 2006 a new section of the Happy Valley web site is being developed for Bollington family history. It will concentrate on the old families that have been in Bollington many many decades, in some case for many centuries, and have inter-married resulting in a very large proportion of old Bollingtonians being related to each other. Have a look now!