Ashton-in-Makerfield has been, since 1974, a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, Greater Manchester. It is situated 4.2 miles (6.8 km) south of Wigan, 7 miles (11.3 km) north-northwest of Warrington, 15.1 miles (24.3 km) east-northeast of Liverpool and 16 miles (26 km) west of the city of Manchester. In 2001 it had a population of 28,505. The place has long been a centre for the manufacture of locks and hinges, but also sits on the Lancashire Coalfield, and so was a coal mining district.
Prior to 1974 Ashton-in Makerfield was located in Lancashire. Until 1894 Ashton-in-Makerfield was a township in the parish of Winwick, part of the West Derby Hundred of Lancashire. By an Act in 1845 the Parish of Winwick was divided and Holy Trinity Church, Downall Green, was made the principal parish church of Winwick. St Thomas's in Ashton-in Makerfield was made a parish church in the same Act; both churches were part of the Diocese of Liverpool. By the Local Government Act 1894 Ashton-in-Makerfield was made an urban district.
In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the district was split administratively with Garswood, Pewfall Colliery and Downall Green, going to the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens in Merseyside, and the remainder of the urban district going to the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan in Greater Manchester. After 1986 its administration came under the Wigan and St Helens Unitary Authorities. However, Ashton in Makerfield is a town in its own right and is regarded as a "standalone urban area" in the Government National Statistics.
The section of Ashton-in-Makerfield within the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan now creates the Bryn & Ashton Township, one of the ten areas into which Wigan Metropolitan Borough has been divided for consultation purposes. Each township has a forum, with some influence over the provision of municipal services.