LEIGH, a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Lancashire. The town stands on the Leigh and Wigan canal, on a loop-line of railway, from Tyldesley to Bradshaw-Leach, and near the Bolton and Kenyon branch of the Northwestern railway, 7¼ miles SW by S of Bolton; comprises portions of West Leigh, Pennington, Bedford, and Atherton townships; has undergone much improvement, under the Local Government act of 1858, and under the Public Works Manufacturing Districts act of 1863; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, and a polling place; publishes a weekly newspaper; and has a post office under Manchester, two railway stations with telegraph, a bankingoffice, a market-place, a town hall, gas-works, three churches, four dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, a grammar school, two national schools, a British school, a public cemetery, and charities £339. The town hall was built in 1840; contains a large room for public meetings and for the courts; and has adjoining it offices and lock-ups for the Warrington division of the county constabulary. The parish church, or St. Mary's, belonged to Eardisbury; is debased perpendicular or early Tudor; comprises nave, aisles, and chancel; and lias two mortuary chapels. The church of West Leigh is a stone edifice of 1855. The Roman Catholic chapel stands in Bedford township; is large and handsome; and was built in 1855, at a cost of about £4,000. The grammar school has an endowed income of £25. The cemetery was formed at the expense of West Leigh, Pennington, Bedford, and Astley townships; and was opened in 1856. A weekly market is held on Saturday; and fairs are held on 24 and 25 April, and on 7 and 8 December. The silk manufacture was formerly extensive, but became very depressed during the five years ending in 1866. There are large cotton factories, foundries, malting establishments, two breweries, and three corn mills. Pop. of the town in 1851, 5,206; in 1861, 10,621. Houses, 2,098. Pop. in 1851, of the West Leigh portion, 838; of the Pennington portion, 4,496; of the Bedford portion, 4,885. Highs, the inventor of the spinning-jenny and waterframe, was a native.
The township of West Leigh comprises 1,894 acres. Real property, £15,387; of which £5,020 are in mines. Pop. in 1851, 3,750; in 1861, 4,434. Houses, 863. The increase of pop. arose from the erection of cotton mills, the opening of collieries, and the establishing of glass-works. The parish contains also the townships of Pennington, Bedford, Astley, Atherton, and Tyldesleywith-Shackerley. Acres, 13,194. Real property, £104,472; of which £27,840 are in mines, £229 in iron-works, and £181 in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 25,996; in 1861, 30,052. Houses, 6,099. The manors of West Leigh and Atherton belong to Lord Lilford. The living is a vicarage, united with the chapelry of West Leigh, in the diocese of Manchester. Value, £270. Patron, Lord Lilford. The p. curacies of Pennington, Astley, Atherton, Bedford, and Tyldesley-with-Shackerley, are separate benefices. The sub-district bears the name of West Leigh, and contains the townships of West Leigh and Pennington. Acres, 3,331. Pop., 9,449. Houses, 1,863. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Atherton, containing the townships of Atherton and Tyldesley-with-Shackerley; the sub-district of Culcheth, containing the townships of Astley and Bedford, and the Culcheth township of Newchurch-Kenyon; and the subdistrict of Lowton, containing the parishes of Lowton and Golborne, and the township of Kenyon. Acres, 23,610. Poor rates in 1863, £11,424. Pop. in 1851, 32,734; in 1861, 37,700. Houses, 7,603. Marriages in 1863, 334; births, 1,616, of which 151 were illegitimate; deaths, 1,006, of which 483 were at ages under 5 years, and 15 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 3,047; births, 13,433; deaths, 8,853. The places of worship, in 1851, were 9 of the Church of England, with 6,416 sittings; 1 of the Presbyterian Church in England, with 120 s.; 3 of Independents, with 881 s.; 1 of Baptists, with 373 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 727 s.; 5 of Wesleyans, with 1,546 s.; 5 of Primitive Methodists, with 974 s.; 1 of the Wesleyan Association, with 150 s.; 1 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 563 s.; 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 50 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 525 s. The schools were 23 public day schools, with 1,965 scholars; 22 private day schools, with 743 s.; 30 Sunday schools, with 6,547 s.; and 4 evening schools for adults, with 108 s. The workhouse is in Atherton township; and, at the census of 1861, had 171 inmates.
John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)