A principally agricultural and rural area, part of the parish of Eccles,  until well into the eighteenth century, much of the land farmed was leased from the Bridgewater Estate.

The Bridgewater canal reached Walkden in 1770 and ushered in the industrial age with the development of mining as the area was sitting on rich coal seams, and the opening of a boatyard while the collection of the up to then hamlets in the area began to form the town.

One coal mine Ellesmere Colliery, sunk in the 1860’s, was almost in the centre of the Town, it ceased production in the 1920’s while Walkden Yard nearby and opened in 1898 became a central works depot providing services for the collieries and the railways. It closed in 1886 and is now the site of a housing estate.

Textiles¬†also came to the Walkden, at the turn of the 1900’s there were eight mills in the town, the biggest the Walkden New Mill opened in 1907, it ran eighty six thousand spindles. The mill closed in 1959 and Tesco now stands on the site.

Today Walkden is primarily a commuter town