Don Tonge’s Photographs of Bolton in The 1970s

British Culture Archive

Don Tonge’s stunning photographs of Bolton in the 1970s capture the large town in the days when life seemed a lot simpler for many.

Playing out

The images of children playing out in the street, swinging from rope swings in front of derelict buildings. Things that children don’t do these days, many of these activities fallen by way of health and safety regulations. Don would capture these images of everyday life as he wondered the streets of his hometown. For what seemed like the the everyday and mundane has now materialised into something quite special. 

Boys on the rail track. Don Tonge
Children Play on the rail tracks. Photo © Don Tonge.


Don “I worked as a freelance photographer for many years shooting Press PR and Portraits. I spent about eight years as front of house photographer for The Octagon Theatre in my hometown of Bolton, Lancashire (or Greater Manchester if you prefer) I have always been interested in Documentary and Street Photography”.

The Reform Club, Bolton, 1970s.
The Reform Club, 1970s. Photo © Don Tonge.

Northern Life

Don’s archive features the daily life of people in his home town of Bolton. Here at British Culture Archive we believe that Don’s work is up there with the best British documentary photography of the 20th century. Powerful images, some humorous, they all tell a story of life in a northern town. 

Bolton kids 1970s
Bolton Kids, 1970s. Photo © Don Tonge.

As well as Don’s Bolton archive, other bodies of his work include his self-published Seaside series documenting British resorts since the 1970s, and Good day at the races (1980) which was shot in a day at Haydock Races. 

Don’s work has been exhibited in numerous local exhibitions and is now featured as part of The British Culture Archive.


Bolton Market 1970s
Bolton Market, 1970s. Photo © Don Tonge.
Bolton Fair in the 1970s
Bolton Fair in the 1970s. Photo © Don Tonge.
Bolton Fair 1970s Don Tonge
Bolton Fair in the 1970s. Photo © Don Tonge.
Bolton in the 1970s prints Don Tonge
Bolton in the 1970s. Photo © Don Tonge.
Boy School by Don Tonge
Boys School, 1970s. Photo © Don Tonge.
Dial a Pint Print 1970s
Dial-a-Pint. Photo © Don Tonge.
Raleigh Chopper Bolton 1970s
A young girl with her Raleigh Chopper and Horse. Photo © Don Tonge.
Bolton in the 1970s
Bolton Ration Store, 1970s. Photo © Don Tonge.
Piggyback bolton 1970s
Lads in Bolton, 1970s. Photo © Don Tonge.
Children in Bolton 1970s
Children in Bolton, 1970s. Photo © Don Tonge.
Condemed Housing in Bolton 1970s
Condemed Housing. Photo © Don Tonge.
Bolton 1970s Don Tonge
Back Streets of Bolton, 1970s. Photo © Don Tonge.

All images © Don Tonge, all rights reserved. 

Don Tonge | Print Sales

A selection of Don Tonge’s prints are exclusively available to buy from our online shop.

All proceeds from print sales support the photographers we work with and help fund our free online resource and exhibition programmes in the UK.

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British Culture Archive is a non profit independent resource set up to document 20th century culture and social change in the UK. In 2022 we plan to open our permanent gallery and exhibition space where we can showcase our People’s Archive alongside exhibitions from our featured photographers. 

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