1point is based in one of the most fascinating, but relatively unknown historical buildings in Bolton town centre.  The former inhabitants of Silverwell House were key players in the industrial revolution, activists who campaigned for the town to become a borough, philanthropists improving the health and well being of local townspeople and campaigners for the education of women. 

The building has been a Regency mansion, a lodging house, a Victorian surgery, a girls'school, a drill hall, a sports and exhibition centre, council offices, narrowly avoided being a car park and is now home to 1point - giving us the opportunity to carry on its wonderful legacy.

What we know so far ... A basic timeline

The mists of time! - Victorian historians believed that there was a pre-historic settlement on the escarpment standing above the River Croal.  Its height meant it was a safe location, but probably what convinced our ancient ancestors to stake a claim to the area was the well supplying pure silver water.

1790 - Silverwell House was built in this year by John Pilkington, an early cotton manufacturer on or incorporating the site of an earlier dwelling known as Irwell House.  At the time it was the grandest residence in the town centre with substantial grounds and extensive views across the moors.  We know that Pilkington had links with Samuel Crompton one of the fathers of the industrial revolution (left), is a distant relative of the family who founded Pilkington's Glass and ran his own private militia to help protect his businesses from Bolton Luddites!

1838 - local magistrate John Dean is resident in the house with his wife Jane.  Dean appears to have a strong sense of altruism towards his fellow Boltonians.  Along with colleagues of the Bench, Dean supports the Anti Corn Law League and reform of parliament.  Silverwell House is used as a meeting place to discuss reform leading to the Charter of Incorporation for Bolton signed by Queen Victoria the same year.  

1841 - listed as a resident of Silverwell alongside Mr and Mrs Dean in the UK's first official census is 14 year old Hannah Fray (depicted left).  She is most likely a servant and potentially a survivor of a massive hurricane that swept through Britain in 1839, blowing the roof off the house and throwing two maids who were asleep in the attic out of their beds, according to local newspaper reports.

1871 - possibly the last private resident of Silverwell House, Dr George Mallett, dies at home.  He's a prominent local doctor and has been the medical officer for the new Bolton Royal Infirmary.  The Malletts are a family of medics, and at some point George (who could be the man in the top hat in the photograph right), and his son Frederick may have converted the house into a surgery. Apparently Frederick becomes a surgeon to Queen Victoria later in his career.

1878 - Sarah Corbett (fourth from the left in this photograph), one of the first female graduates from Cambridge University becomes the headmistress of Bolton High School for Girls, which is Silverwell House's new role.  There has been limited education for women in the town at the technical college on Mawdsley Street, but growing demand has led to this new venture.  Within two years the school moves out to Chorley New Road to eventually become Bolton School (Girls' Division).

1887 - Local Architect Captain Marshall Robinson designs and builds what is thought to be the largest covered drill shed in Britain (below). This structure is attached to the front facade of Silverwell House and covers the garden area.  In 1919 returning Bolton prisoners of war are treated to a Tea Party in the hall.  For the next 50 years the Drill Hall becomes a centre for exhibitions and entertainment, hiding the house under its massive canopy.

in 1969 the Drill Hall converts to Bolton Sports Hall and is used by over 500 people a week for a variety of activities (left), until the centre is closed in 1995.  After more than a 100 years the house is revealed again and thanks to a public backlash avoids demolition.

1999 - Silverwell House becomes Bolton Council's housing advice centre for the next 17 years, until this department moves back to the town Hall.

2016 - 1point moves into the ground floor and are both honoured and delighted to help continue Silverwell's legacy of providing support and inspiration for the people of Bolton.

Do you know more or would you like to help us discover more about Silverwell House?

We are hoping to start a 'Friends of Silverwell' group to help us build on the existing limited knowledge we have by hosting local history meetings, exhibitions and creating mixed media presentations.  The group will facilitate projects with organisations (such as educational bodies, resident group, local history societies etc), to source information, pictures and artefacts linked to the house and area.  To help us tell the story of Silverwell we are hoping to constitute the 'friends' group and share our knowledge with as wider audience as possible.  If you would like to donate or join this scheme click here

Thanks to Mark Byrne Photography for recent photographs of Silverwell House and Bolton artist Jo Parker for her textile picture of Hannah Fray now on display in Hannah's room.  Also thanks to Bolton Archive Library for granting permission to display from top to bottom - Banner picutre - 1824 map of central Bolton, painting of Samuel Crompton, Bolton Centenary Celebration Booklet, photograph of possibly George Mallett in the lost garden, an architect's drawing of the Drill Hall (house just visible at the back of the picture) and a photograph of Bolton Netball Team when the building was being used as a Sports Hall.