Pilkington is a township in the parish of Prestwich-cum-Oldham, containing the districts called Stand and Outwood, and the hamlets of Ringley, Unsworth, and Whitefield. These are localities in which manufactures are flourishing, and which maintain collectively a large population. Pilkington lies between six and seven miles N.W. from Manchester, and contained 12,861 inhabitants in 1851; the number of persons in the township in 1841 was 11,186. The number of statute acres in the township is 5,475a. 2r. 12p.; the gross valuation for 1851 was £36,406. 10s.  9d., and the rateable value £33,940. 15s.  6d. Bishop James Pilkington, B.D. who was the first Protestant prelate of the see of Durham, was the third son of Richard Pilkington, of Rivington Hall; he was born in the year 1518, and died at Aukland on the 23rd of Jan. 1575, in the 55th year of his age. The names and families of Rivington and Pilkington are so mixed up in their genealogy and pedigrees, that we may here, without trespass, introduce a notice of the remarkable eminence called “Rivington Pike.” In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when England was threatened with invasion by the “Invincible Armada” of Spain, the beacon upon Rivington Pike, standing at an elevation of 1,543 feet from the level of the sea, was kept for several months in a state of readiness, to apprise the inhabitants of the approach of the invaders(!) During the Napoleon dynasty, on the alarm of invasion by the French, the beacon was replaced, - but in the nineteenth as in the sixteenth century, it has never yet been required to spread alarm within the breasts of England’s matrons, or its illumination over a peaceful country.

All Saints’ Church, commonly called Stand Church, is situated at Whitefield. The site was given by the late Earl of Derby, and the first stone was laid by the Earl of Wilton on the 3rd of August, 1822. The building, which was consecrated by Dr. Bloomfield, Bishop of Chester, on September 8th, 1826, is a handsome structure in the Gothic style of the fourteenth century, having a lofty tower 186 feet in height, enriched with turrets and pinnacles. The interior consists of side aisles, with spacious galleries round three of its sides, and a nave, at the west end of which is an open arcade, with fine arched entrances. It will afford sitting accommodation to 1,836 worshippers, of whom nearly 1,000 have free sittings. The cost of the building was £14,987.  4s., exclusive of £400, the cost of new east windows of stained glass, well executed by Mr. D. Evans, of Shrewsbury, in 1843, and representing Saint Peter, James, and John. Mrs. E. Ramsbotham, of Wallfield, Pilkington, was sole contributor to these beautiful windows. The living, which was raised to the dignity of a rectory in 1848, is enjoyed by the Rev. Thomas Corser, M.A.

St. George’s Church, Unsworth, was rebuilt in 1843, on the site of one erected in 1729. It is a beautiful Gothic structure, to which a handsome parsonage is attached. The exterior of the church has a light and elegant appearance, and the altar is a beautiful piece of workmanship. The sum of £2,000 was expended in the re-erection of the church. These funds were raised by subscription, aided by a grant of £300 from the Church Building Society; and the parsonage house and gardens, near the church, were erected and enclosed in 1848, at an expenditure of upwards of £1,200. The Rev. Benjamin Crompton is the incumbent of the curacy.  St. Saviour’s Church, Ringley, erected in 1851, is a neat edifice of stone, of which the Rev. James R. Lyon, M.A. is incumbent.

There is a Congregational Chapel at Scarr Brow, of which the Rev. John Hopkins is the minister. The Independents have a neat place of worship at Chapelfield, under the pastoral care of the Rev. Alexander Anderson, B.A. The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel at Unsworth is a handsome ediface in the Roman Ionic style, built in 1846, at a cost of £3,000. The Unitarian Chapel at Stand, and the New Jerusalem Chapel situated in Stand lane, are both commodious edifices.

Sunday Schools are attached to all the places of worship, and in addition to which there are several excellent Day Schools, both public and private, in different parts of the township. These beneficial institutions are liberally supported and highly appreciated by all classes. The most important educational institution, perhaps, in the township, is the British School and Mechanics’ Institution, situated in Park lane. It was erected in 1847, at the sole expense of  Robert Needham Philips, Esq., at a cost of £1,000 and was opened in January, 1848. The building is a very handsome structure of brick, in the modern Gothic style of architecture. The average daily number of pupils in attendance is 212. The subjects taught are reading, writing, arithmetic, English grammar, history, composition, natural philosophy, vocal and instrumental music, and drawing. The school is under government inspection, and presided over by Mr. Edward Gregory. The Mechanics’ Instution, established in connection with the school, consists of a library of 300 volumes, a news room, and evening classes; and the inhabitants are mainly indebted for the formation and support of this useful institution to R. N. Philips, Esq. the president.

(1) Whellan & Co.’s Directory 1853