Golborne (go:[l]bə:n) is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, in Greater Manchester, England. It lies south-southeast of Wigan, northeast of Warrington and to the west of the city of Manchester. It has a population of 23,119.
Historically in Lancashire, Golborne owes most of its growth to the mining and textile industry. There was also significant agricultural activity in the village, and many farms still belong to the families who originally owned them.
The name Golborne derives from the Old English golde and burna, and means "stream where marsh marigolds grow". The earliest settlements in the village were on banks of the Millingford Brook- hence the name of the village being taken from a water course where calendula grew. Golborne has been recorded in ancient documents as Goldeburn in 1187, Goldburc in 1201, Goseburn and Goldburn in 1212 and Golburne in 1242. Golborne and Gowborne were 16th-century spellings.
A settlement at Golborne has existed since at least the time of the Domesday book. The manor was held in two moieties, half by the Lords of Lowton, and the half by the Golbornes up to the reign of Henry III, and later by various families including the Fleetwoods and Leghs.
The old Manor of Golborne stood to the north side of the village, giving its name to a public house on Church Street (now demolished). The manor and its lands extended as far as St Luke's Church in Lowton, and also gives its name to Manor Avenue and Manor Court.
The Venerable Bede wrote in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum of a well near Golborne sacred to St. Oswald's memory. This well had been suggested as the site where Penda, the pagan king of Mercia, slew the Christian King Oswald, later St Oswald, in the Battle of Maserfield, in 642. It is more generally accepted though that the site of that battle was some considerable distance to the southwest, near Oswestry.
Holcroft Hall, now a farm, was the home of Colonel Blood, who, during the reign of Charles II, attempted to steal the Crown Jewels. King Charles was amused by Blood's audacity and pardoned him. Blood married Maria Holcroft of Holcroft Hall at Newhurch Church against the will of her father.
In 1648 the Battle of Red Gap was fought by the old road south from Golborne (probably the Red Bank area of Newton le Willows) during the 2nd Civil War. The Scots on the side of Charles I had advanced into England. Oliver Cromwell, leader of the Roundhead Army intercepted the Scots at Preston and, in a series of running battles between Preston, Wigan and Warrington, of which Red Gap was one, he defeated the Scots even though his army was outnumbered by ten to one.
A local legend speaks of a knight who slayed a dragon and was granted land and a manor, supposedly Goulbourne. There is a tumulus in fields near the golf known as Castle Hill, where tradition says Alfred buried his treasure although to date it has never been found.
The town grew from the Industrial Revolution due to the mining industry.
On 18 March 1979 there was a methane explosion at the town's colliery caused by an electrical spark, which took the lives of 10 of the miners. Of the 11 present, only one survived. The colliery closed around 10 years later in 1989. The location of the former colliery is known locally as the 'Bonk' or 'bonkin' (dialect for bank, as in railway embankment), and is now used as a business park. The closure of the colliery led to the loss of employment for a large proportion of Golborne's population as well as people from nearby towns such as Abram, Lowton and Ashton-in-Makerfield. These unemployment problems have been mostly eradicated in recent years with the introduction of new industries to the area which have created new jobs, for example, the creation of Stone Cross Industrial Park.
There is a campaign to reopen the town's railway station. As part of Greater Manchester's Transport Initiative Fund package, a station at Golborne would be reinstated, likely to be relocated on the site of the former (closed in 1961) main line station off the A573 in the centre of town. Golborne's other station was closed in 1952.
Like many places, Golborne's town centre has declined over recent years due to people preferring to travel to larger towns such as St. Helens, Warrington or Wigan and also preferring to use supermarkets instead of shopping in their own local shops. This has also meant that a once weekly market held on the town centre car park no longer takes place.