Bill Naughton and the Mass Observation project

Almost forgotten today Bill Naughton was, in the 1960s and 1970s, one of the most successful authors in Britain, writing the films Alfie, The Family Way and Spring and Port Wine, scores of radio plays, novels and children’s stories. Huge success, yet he was brought up on Derby Street, Bolton working as a lorry driver until he was 35. The Bill Naughton’s Bolton project is trying to raise Bill Naughton’s local profile and broaden the knowledge of:

– The Bill Naughton Collection which includes all of his manuscripts and much more in Bolton Central Library’s History Centre.

– Mass Observation Survey records which includes thousands of records of the three-year survey of Bolton life undertaken between 1937 and 1940, by professional investigators and many local volunteers, including Bill Naughton himself.

These unique archives offer a matchless opportunity to Boltonians to follow the story of the town and people in more detail than in anywhere else in the UK. There is help to use the archives in the Bolton History Centre – see Other features of Bill Naughton’s Bolton project include:

– The Bill Naughton Information Centre – an exhibition on the upper floor of Bolton Market Hall, on the right, twenty yards from the entrance to Debenhams: open Thur, Fri, Sat and Sun between 10 and 4 until the end of June.

– Bill Naughton’s Bolton Life – a biography, commissioned for this project. – a website created for this project, which has a range of resources about the writer’s life and times.

– A Mobile Display telling Naughton’s life story using 65 pictures and relevant text. Get in touch and borrow it for a week at a time.

– A 40 minute talk about Mass Observation and/or a 40 minute talk about Naughton.

– Bill Naughton: the Bolton Years – an 18-minute documentary made with University of Bolton students – watch the film above or on

– A Guided Walk around the area where Bill Naughton was brought up.

To use any of these facilities get in touch with or Our volunteers are happy to talk about what service you might need: an hour’s talk, a longer session, or use of the mobile display