THE HISTORY OF COMMERCE HOUSE
Our building was originally constructed as the central offices for the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners’ Federation in 1913. The local architects were Bradshaw, Gass and Hope of Silverwell Street, Bolton. They are still operating today in Bolton and are valued Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce members.
Interestingly, the building was designed for use by a membership organisation, as we, the present owners, are today. In 1913, the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners’ Federation was incredible in its reach, with over 70,000 members. Likewise, we have a substantial reach, as we are the largest Chamber in the UK, with a membership base of around 5,000 members.
Upstairs is the Miners’ Hall, where federation members met and rallied about working conditions and pay. In 1984, Arthur Scargill, President of the National Union of Mineworkers, delivered a speech from the 1st floor balcony to 1000s of striking miners, calling for the government to have a better relationship with the industry. The ground floor housed offices for federation managers and staff. And the large basement was used as storage and the power house for the building.
In the 1990s, along with the decline of mining across the UK, the Federation sold the property to private investors. Since then, it has been an enterprise centre for business start-ups, a school, Bolton & Bury Chamber of Commerce and more recently known in the Bolton area simply as ‘Commerce House’. In 2013, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce took ownership of the building.
The Chamber is now developing Commerce House as a ‘Social Enterprise Centre’ for the town and the northern crescent areas of Greater Manchester. Through our new charity, the ‘GM Chamber Communities Foundation’, we will work with charities to help move them towards trading in goods or services which benefit the wider community. Our ‘Social Enterprise Centre’ provides a centre for these organisations to thrive and grow. All activities which take place here provide valuable financial support for the sustainability and development of our centre.
Our ‘Social Enterprise Centre’ has flexible spaces for hire.