Muslims Arrive In Bolton
In the late 1950’s, mostly after 1957, Muslims began to arrive in Bolton. Singles and individuals resided in lodging homes together.
The first property known to be purchased was 140 Deane Rd. in 1959 by Ishaq (who arrived in Bolton in 1958) and Yakub Bemat.
Families Settle Together
By the early sixties the individuals who had settled in Bolton began to call their families over to settle in family homes, yet the majority were still individuals living in lodging homes. Gradually families became more common and areas of settlement started to increase and become more widespread.
Main Areas of Settlement
Ellesmere, Oak, Nuttel, Parliament, Gibraltar and Walter Streets and Ramwell Gardens were the main streets where Muslim families initially resided. A few had also spread out of the Deane and Derby area towards Swan Lane in Great Lever. Salaah timetables were delivered to homes by volunteers.
Nearly all of the members of this small, but steadily increasing community were working in textile mills. The majority of them originated from India, who came either via Pakistan or another country.
The Blackburn Road area became the second main area for settlement after Deane and Derby. As the community expanded in the early sixties, with the arrival of more families, the need for educational facilities arose for the children of the newly arrived families. In 1962 the first committee was established, the Islamic Cultural Centre.
The First Islamic Classes
A house in Rothwell St. became the base, temporarily, for the first Islamic classes. In 1963 a group of families came together to think and plan about providing Religious and educational facilities for the whole of the Muslim community of the Borough.
The First Madrassah
As a direct result of this thought and concern, a house was purchased on the corner of Walter Street in 1965/66. Ali Bhai Seth and Yakub Bhai Dalal lived there, but, unfortunately, the local Police authority stepped in and caused the Madrassah to be shut down. Yakub Bhai Dheyghami and Mohammed Patel were past secretaries.
In the Blackburn Road area, the first Mosque was on Latham St. This was also prevented from establishment by the Police authorities.
Yet despite all the difficulties, the Muslim community persevered and their patience and strife was finally rewarded with success.
The First Jummah
The first Jumuah was offered at 13 Derby Street, which was Musa Bhai Zramis house, who was from Naroli. Qari Bobat Sahib led this first Jumuah and around 20 to 25 people attended. The attendance increased as more people learned of this arrangement, and the increasing number called for bigger provisions.
The First Eid
The First Collective Eid was lead by Hafiz Matadar R.A in Spinners Hall in 1964 and continued at this venue up until the late 1990’s.
To accommodate the increasing number of musalli's on Friday (Jumuah) further arrangements were made. The Aspinal located in front of Loyds bank at the town centre was hired for weekly Jumuah prayers. This was a bar and a nightclub, which was cleaned out every Friday by volunteers to facilitate Jumuah prayers.
People from around Bolton and Blackburn started to attend Jumuah prayers, and the attendance continuously increased until the community felt the need of a permanently big place of worship. The search started in order to purchase a building for the establishment of the Zakaria Mosque & Islamic Cultural Centre in 1967.
By the late 1960’s the Muslim community had increased substantially, to the extent that the local council had placed tremendeous pressure on both places of worship (Walter St & Latham St) to close down as they were not capable to accommodate for the ever increasing community, hence not suitable for their purpose. The community requested the council for bigger premises and were offered various sites. However these had to be turned down due to there unsuitability in terms of location. To the surprise and fortune of the community, the Methodist Church & School, on Peace St, was forced to put the premises up for sale due to the extensive damage caused by a fire.
The initial asking price was £2500, however, due to additional interest by another party the final agreed price paid for the building was £2750. This money was raised by donations from the local Muslim community. The former Methodist Church building now became Zakaria Mosque.