Former Burnley Express journalist dies aged 90

Bert Bolton
Bert Bolton

A BURNLEY Express journalist who seemed more at home in the corridors of power at Burnley Town Hall than many of its council members, has died aged 90.

Mr Bert Bolton was one of the most respected journalists in the area and one of the best-known faces across the town during his 32 years at the Express which ended in his retirement in 1987.

He led a quiet, private retirement and died peacefully at his home of nearly 60 years on the Turf Moor estate last week.

During his Express career he was the municipal correspondent covering all the happenings at Burnley Town Hall and attending council and committee meetings which he then reported verbatim in the newspaper in the old style of reporting when council debates were printed in great detail.

When he covered his final meeting councillors unanimously wished him a happy retirement and thanked him for his faithful service to the local press.

He was an expert on local government and his knowledge was respected by councillors and council officials who said he always reported fairly – and Bert himself was proud to say he never made an enemy for the paper.

Being a keen motorist and caravanner he was also the Express’s motoring correspondent for many years, test driving dozens of cars and covering thousands of miles, even carrying out durability tests on Grand Prix circuits at home and abroad. He hated being a passenger and even late in life would not let anyone drive him around. He also enjoyed cycling, photography and working on his computer during his retirement.

A Mancunian by birth, he had joined the Express in 1954 after beginning his career as a copy boy with a national newspaper in Manchester. He worked for many national titles, most no longer existing, before joining local papers and moved to Burnley from the Stockport Advertiser Series.

He and his late wife Barbara and young daughter Jackie soon realised it was the town for them and they never moved away.

Bert was devastated by Barbara’s death in 1996 and a year later his daughter also died. Tragically Bert’s only grandson Sean died from cancer earlier this year leaving him with three great-grandchildren who live in the south of England.

He was a proud ex-Serviceman and D-Day veteran having served in the Army during the Second World War and was a signaller on Gold beach during the D-Day landings in Normandy. He was a member of the Royal British Legion and an ever-present at every Remembrance Day service.

Bert was universally respected in the town and at the Express was something of a legend, regaling young journalists with his tales of past stories and events which he remembered vividly. And he was always ready to help young journalists, myself included, when they first started out. I remember working weekends with Bert and it was always a pleasure as he told you exactly which jobs you each had to cover. Once that was organised he would head off to the bakers and bring back two cream cakes.

Bert’s funeral will take place next Thursday at noon at Burnley Crematorium and anyone who knew him will be very welcome.