22nd July 2016

Heritage

John Wesley opened Ridgway Gates Chapel on 16 April 1777, where The Walker building now stands.

Influenced by a visit to the Manchester Mission Thomas Walker proposed a similar Mission Hall be built in Bolton.

In 1897 Bradshaw Gass (architects) were commissioned to build the finest hall in England, based on the design of the popular Music Halls. It was felt that non- church people would feel more comfortable in such surroundings.

The new Mission Hall was built on land belonging to Ridgway Gates Chapel.  Terrace of eight shops were bought with the middle four being demolished so that an entrance to the main hall could be created from the main street. The other shops were let to provide an income for the Mission.

Victoria Hall Methodist Mission was opened on 14 March 1900.

Penny concerts and silent films were held on Saturday nights and the audience were invited to return on Sunday for worship.

Sunday School continued in Ridgway Gates Chapel until in 1932 when it was found to be unsafe and therefore, demolished. The widow of Colonel W.E. Walker generously donated funds to enable the build of The Walker School as a memorial to her late husband.  On October 1 1932 the new school was opened.

During both World Wars The Victoria Hall played a vital role in keeping the people of the town safe as it was one of Bolton’s Fire Wardens Post. When the evacuees from the Channel Islands came to Bolton, The Walker School served as their reception centre before being placed with families.

Today the Victoria Hall remains primarily a place of worship on Sundays, but on other days it plays host to a variety of musical events, lectures, meetings, graduation ceremonies etc. The many ancillary rooms can also be booked for many different events.