In my last post here I announced the planned resurrection of the “Around-England” sites after a year’s unavoidable hiatus. Today, then, we start an “East Lancashire season” by referring briefly to a few of the area’s many interesting places in which a visitor (or for that matter a local) can spend enjoyable hours.
“East Lancashire”. This area, from Blackburn, Darwen and the Rosssendale Valley to Accrington, Burnley, Nelson and Colne used to be a textile production powerhouse. There were pits producing coal for the mills, tall smoking mill chimneys, and weavers’ shuttles by the tens of thousands clattering away from morning to night. At the same time on the outskirts of the towns and up into the hills and along the river valleys was splendid scenery, and dotted here and there historic country houses, some open to the public.
East Lancashire Industrial Heritage
Today the mill chimneys have gone but newer industries have emerged, especially in the area of aerospace engineering. There are also some excellent industrial museums determined not to lose the memory of the town’s past industrial greatness.
The Lancashire textile industry differed considerably from town to town. In particular there was a marked distinction between a spinning town and a weaving town. At Helmshore Mills they spun cotton into thread that then was woven in weaving mills such as Queens Mill, Burnley.
Towneley Hall, Burnley, East Lancashire – April 2012
Two East Lancashire Country Houses
I’ve mentioned Towneley Hall several times in the past and am currently planning a further much longer article with additional photographs. Gawthorpe Hall, now in the care of the National Trust, also provides a most interesting half-day visit especially if you’re interested in textile arts.
These two houses, on opposite sides of Burnley, are full of history relating not only to the immediate area but also on a national scale.
Ancient History – Romans in Lancashire
Go a few miles out of the industrial towns to the banks of the River Ribble and you reach a centre of ancient Roman history. There was a fort at Ribchester which is now remembered in a museum of Roman times.
… and there’s more …
There’s plenty to keep you interestingly occupied in East Lancashire. The places listed above are given only for starters. Outdoors there’s good walking as well as picnic spots around the river valleys and up into the hills. You can wander round historic abbey ruins and sit in the sun at Whalley and Sawley. Wycollar Country Park includes the quaint old village, beautiful on a sunny day. Indoors there are excellent museums in Accrington and Blackburn, there’s the Pendle Heritage visitor centre at Barrowford, and the castle at Clitheroe. We’ll look in greater detail at more of these over coming weeks.