Scout Road Impressions 6.11.2021 by Iris J Newton

As I stand here on this blustery November morning, as autumn gives way to winter, Bolton has vanished completely, submerged in a bowl of thick mist.  A town in a bowl - I don’t know if that is how Bolton got its name but as a child I always thought so.

A cotton town, once thriving, it displayed the chimneys of its mills and factories with pride; scattered in their legions, they stood, unassailable symbols of invention and achievement. But times and fortunes change and one by one they started to disappear; the town I knew as a child, already sinking, has vanished along with the industry and wealth.

Here on the moors above my town, looking into the distance, I see a mirage of tall towers, rising like some dream of an imagined future; Cottonopolis, reinventing itself; a brave new world, faintly materializing in the watery shafts of veiled sunlight that slant towards it, pointing the way to the world that will be. Closer at hand and clearly visible, the chimney at Barrow Bridge still standing, restored, resolute, stout monument to the ingenuity and resilience of the world that was.

The bowl below me contains everything that passed between the then and the now; it holds the history of my grandparents and great-grandparents; my history too and somewhere down there, the story of my children and grandchildren is still being written. It is not yet clear how these stories will end, but as the sun tries to break through I feel a surge of optimism.

Looking down and ahead, I think of the enduring chimney and the future- seeking towers, the pride and the imagination of the people of this town

and I dare to hope.