BOLTON gathered to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One with a civic service tonight.

The service, which was the first of three to take place in the town over the next couple of days, was held at Bolton Parish Church and was attended by the borough’s residents, councillors and Mayor.

Beaver, cub and scout groups from across Bolton also paid their respects.

It featured stories of people who served during the war, along with hymns, prayers, a blessing from the Bishop of Bolton and a rendition of the national anthem.

Visitors were given a 100th anniversary edition of The Gospel According to St. John, which was printed in the form of a soldiers’ pocket book.

After the service, poppies were laid down under trees in the church ground, which are symbolic of peace and reconciliation. 

The Vicar of Bolton Parish Church Canon Matt Thompson said: "We're very pleased with the support we have had from across the town and the borough.

"It's so important to get that message of remembrance through to all generations. 

"I have been particularly encouraged by how many young people I've seen here tonight. Hopefully this service will have given them a greater understanding of the sacrifices people have made for them."

Service organiser Cllr John Walsh, who is a church warden at Bolton Parish Church and president of the United Veterans, said: "It was a very moving service and a fitting tribute to the men of Bolton who gave their lives for so many.

"To see the whole range of Bolton life here this evening was fantastic. 

"Our youngsters have demonstrated a great depth of understanding and will hopefully realise that war is not a good idea."

There will be a candle-lit vigil at the church on Monday night to mark the exact date of the outbreak of World War One.