1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Eccles

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ECCLES, a municipal borough in the Eccles parliamentary division of Lancashire, England, 4 m. W. of Manchester, of which it forms practically a suburb. Pop. (1901) 34,369. It is served by the London & North-Western railway and by the Birkenhead railway (North-Western and Great Western joint). The Manchester Ship Canal passes through. The church of St Mary is believed to date from the 12th century, but has been enlarged and wholly restored in modern times. There are several handsome modern churches and chapels, a town hall, and numerous cotton mills, while silk-throwing and the manufacture of fustians and ginghams are also among the industries, and there are also large engine works. A peculiar form of cake is made here, taking name from the town, and has a wide reputation. Eccles was incorporated in 1892, and the corporation consists of a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. The borough maintains the tramway service, &c., but water and gas are supplied from Manchester and Salford respectively. Area, 2057 acres.

Before the Reformation the monks of Whalley Abbey had a grange here at what is still called Monks’ Hall; and in 1864 many thousands of silver pennies of Henry III. and John of England and William I. of Scotland were discovered near the spot. Robert Ainsworth, the author of the Latin and English dictionary so long familiar to English students, was born at Eccles in 1660; and it was at the vicarage that William Huskisson expired on the 15th of September 1830 from injuries received at the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester railway. From early times “wakes” were held at Eccles, and bull-baiting, bear-baiting and cock-fighting were carried on. Under Elizabeth these festivals, which had become notoriously disorderly, were abolished, but were revived under James I., and maintained until late in the 19th century on public ground. The cockpit remained on the site of the present town hall. A celebration on private property still recalls these wakes.