In 2001 the town had a population of 28,505. Ashton straddles the local government boundary between the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan and St.Helens.
The wider district of Ashton-in-Makerfield consists of Town Green, Stubshaw Cross, Bryn, Tithe Barn Hillock, Downall Green, Landgate, Bryn Gates, and Garswood. It is split between the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan and the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens. Historically part of Lancashire, the district is situated in a former coal mining area.
The Park Lane Chapel (see Unitarianism), Wigan Road, Bryn (part of Ashton-in-Makerfield until recent times), dates back to 1697, although its congregation was founded was founded in 1662. It is the oldest non-conformist chapel and congregation in the whole district. By the 19th century Park Lane was only one of nine non-conformist chapels in the area. There was a Baptist, Congregational church (Hilton St), Evangelical (Heath Road), Independent, Independent Methodist (Downall Green Road), Primitive Methodist (see Primitive Methodism), Welsh Wesleyan Methodist, and English Wesleyan Methodist chapel. St Thomas' Church of England parish church on Warrington Road has ancient origins although the present building is barely over 100 years old. The graveyard is the final resting place of many of the 189 victims of the Wood Pit explosion (at Haydock on Friday 7 June 1878), the worst coal-mining disaster in Lancashire at the time.
A number of Ashton’s coal miners made a significant impact on modern British history, including: Stephen Walsh M.P.; William Keneally, V.C. and Lance-Corporal in the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers; and Joe Gormley, President of the National Union of Mineworkers in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the late nineteenth century, the district was described by one observer as having "extensive collieries, cotton-mills, and potteries", and famed for the manufacture of "hinges, locks, files, and nails". Mills such as the Record Mill (Spinning), situated in York Road, and the Makerfield Mill (the 'Weaving Shed'), in Windsor Road, took over from home-working. Similarly, Thomas Crompton & Sons in Gerard Street, which would eventually employ around 1,200 workers, superseded the subcontracting system that sustained substantial numbers of locally-based blacksmiths and other craftsmen.
As recently as the 1970s the district of Ashton-in-Makerfield had one of the highest proportions of derelict land, mainly in the form of slag heaps left over from coal mining. Major land reclamation schemes have since completely transformed the area.
Ashton-in-Makerfield is partnered with Bryn in the Bryn & Ashton Township, consisting of the six neighbourhoods of Bryn, Ashton, Ashton Heath, Landgate, Stubshaw Cross and Town Green, and one of the ten areas into which Wigan Metropolitan Borough has been divided for consultation purposes. Each township has a forum, with some influence over the provision of municipal services.
Ashton's local semi-pro football club is Ashton Town A.F.C..
Cromptons, the hinge and fasteners making factory in Ashton-in-Makerfield, has closed and is now demolished. A shopping centre called The Gerard Centre now stands in its place.
The Hingemakers Arms public house, on Heath Road, is the only one in the world known to carry that name. It was run by the Corless family for decades until Walter Corless' retirement in 2006. The Hinge, as it is known by its clientele, is now operated by a local consortium called Hingemakers 08.
10 Questions; Lianne Tracey, 26, Is an Account Manager at Active PR, in Liverpool, and Lives in Ashton-in-Makerfield This Week
Apr 21, 2007; Philosophy of Life: Just to stay positive, and behave to others how I would expect them to treat me. I believe in karma. Idea of...