The Ridgway Gates Chapel was built on a garden that stretched from the Ridgway Gates to the River Croal. It was opened by John Wesley on 16th April 1777 on one of his many visits to Bolton.
In the late 19th century, to further the Methodist cause, it was proposed to build a Central Methodist Mission and at the same time to purchase the shops on Knowsley Street to provide an entrance from Knowsley Street into what was named "The Victoria Hall".
In 1932 the Ridgway Gates Chapel was found to be unsafe and was demolished. In its place, due mainly to the generosity of the late Colonel W.E. Walker, the Walker Memorial Hall was built. Mrs W.E. Walker opened it on the 1st October 1935. This part of the building now includes the majority of our conference suites.
A generous donation provided for the addition of a terracotta tower, which stands 90 feet high, at the Knowsley Street entrance to the Victoria Hall. "One of the finest Halls in Methodism rose in form complete."
The year 2000 saw us celebrating the centenary of the Victoria Hall. It was time to acknowledge the forward thinking of our forefathers who had the vision to build a centrally located building to benefit the people of Bolton.
The Victoria Hall was built in the style, not of a church, but rather a music hall or theatre, with a platform at one end and a horseshoe balcony, which, along with the ground floor would accommodate two thousand people.The founders realised the importance of creating somewhere that would attract people off the streets and provide a sanctuary from the alcohol abuse, unemployment and deprivation of the time. So, Victoria Hall became known as the place to go on a Saturday night where all the big names of the music hall would perform and the inclusion of a projection room enabled silent films to be shown. Sundays proved just as popular with people from the previous nights concert coming back for worship.
Today, the Victoria Hall remains primarily a place of worship on Sundays, but on other days of the week it is transformed and plays host to a variety of musical events, lectures, meetings, graduation ceremonies etc. Likewise, the ancillary rooms will take on different guises depending on the event booked.