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Chorley is a market town in Lancashiremarker, in North West England. The town's wealth came principally from the cotton industry. As recently as the 1970s the skyline was dominated by numerous factory chimneys, but most are now demolished: remnants of the industrial past include Morrison's chimney and a few other mill buildings, and the streets of terraced houses for mill workers. Chorley is known as the home of the Chorley cake.


The name Chorley came from Anglo-Saxon Ceorla-lēah = "the peasants' clearing". The name of the River Chormarker was back-formed from "Chorley". The principal river in the town is the River Yarrow. The Black Brookmarker is a tributary of the Yarrow. The River Chor runs not far from the centre of the modern town, notably through Astley Park.

A settlement has existed at Chorley since at least the Bronze Age The earliest find came from 3500 BC on Anglezarkemarker as the site known as Round Loafmarker was discovered. A farmer at Astley Hallmarker Farm found a pottery burial urn from this period in 1963. This find was followed up with further excavations, with further artifacts being found. Objects from these excavations are on display at the hall's museum.

During the Roman era Chorley was not a settlement but a Roman road ran near Chorley towards Wiganmarker. It is believed that some Romans did settle at Brindlemarker to the north of the town, as Roman remains were discovered there in the late 1950s.

St George's Street, and St George's church, built by Thomas Rickman in the early 19th century

A market charter was granted to the town in the 1250 and there is evidence from 1498 that the market was actually taking place Nowadays, the town has two markets, the Flat Iron Market and the Covered Market. For one weekend each year, French market traders sell their produce in the town, with Chorley's merchants returning the favour in France. The market has a number of specialist cheesemongers who purvey the local Lancashire cheese in various forms. Also sold is the famous Chorley Cake.

During 1442 a local noble named Sir Rowland Standish (a relative of Myles Standish, Mayflower passenger and military commander of Plymouth Colony), who had fought at Agincourtmarker, brought back to Chorley the skull and bones of Saint Lawrence and interred them at an altar at the parish church. With the bones interned there the church was renamed St. Lawrence's. Records of this are mentioned in the Harleian Manuscripts. The bones were not of the 3rd century saint but are believed to be the bones of Lorcán Ua Tuathail, a saint canonised as St. Laurence from Dublinmarker, who died in Normandy in the 12th century. The bones went missing in the Reformation under the rule of King Henry VIII.

According to the apocryphal story, James I after a good meal, officially knighted Sirloin steak ("Sir" loin) at Hoghton Towermarker, a large stately home on the outskirts of the town, where William Shakespeare once worked. Astley Hallmarker is a more central stately home, set in the middle of the town's largest park, Astley Park. Oliver Cromwell visited here on his trek through the region.

On 27 November 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobites passed through Preston and Wigan on their way south to Manchester and Derby in the hope of taking London and the Crown, Chorley was a mustering point for the Government scouts tracking them. The Prince and his Army marched through Chorley itself on 10 December on the way back to Carlislemarker and Scotland and their dreadful day of destiny on Culloden Moor near Invernessmarker the following 16 April. There was considerable local support in the town for that famous lost cause.

Chorley, like most Lancashire towns, gained its wealth from the industrial revolution of the 19th century which was also responsible for the town's growth. Chorley was a vital cotton town with many mills littering the skyline. Today only three mills still remain working. Also Chorley in its location was vital in coal mining. Several pits existed in Duxbury Woodsmarker with the biggest being located at the end of Grundy's Lane and another located on the current site of Chorley Conference Centre on Carr Lane. The last to close was the Ellerbeck Colliery in 1987 which was located south of Chorley, between Coppullmarker and Adlingtonmarker.

Chorley became incoroprated as a municipal borough in 1881. The town's population remained roughly static in the 20th century, with the 1911 census showing 30,315 people and the 1971 census showing 31,665. Under the Local Government Act 1972, Chorley became the core of a larger non-metropolitan district of Chorleymarker on 1 April 1974.

The town was also vital during World War II as it was home to the Royal Ordnance Factory, a large munitions factory in the village of Euxtonmarker around 2 miles outside the town centre. With a second smaller factory also built near the Blackburn-Wigan railway line in Heapeymarker.

In the 1970s, Chorley was designated as part of Central Lancashiremarker new town, together with Preston and Leyland. The original aim of this project was to combine the three settlements into a single city with a population of around half a million. Although this never came to pass, and the project has since been abandoned, Chorley benefited from the urban renewal commonly associated with new towns. Examples include a bypass of the town centre, and the Market Walk shopping centre.

As the 21st century progresses, Chorley will grow significantly in size as the new Buckshaw Villagemarker gets built on the former explosives area of the ROF Chorleymarker site, the old munitions factory at Euxton.

Chorley saw the completion of the largest Mormon temple in Europe in 1998, known as the Preston England Temple.

Local government

The council wards within Chorley Borough are:

The current mayoress is Councillor Iris Smith and the Member of Parliament (MP) is Lindsay Hoyle.


View of Northern Chorley from Healey Nab
Chorley is located at the foot of the West Pennine Moorsmarker. It is the seat for the Borough of Chorleymarker which is made up of Chorley and its surrounding villages. Chorley had a population of 33,424 as of the 2001 census, with the wider borough of Chorley having a population of 101,991. Chorley forms a conurbation with Preston and Leylandmarker and was once proposed as being designated part of the Central Lancashiremarker New Town under the New Towns Act, a proposal which was eventually scaled back.


The first signs of industry as with many towns in Lancashire was mining, evidence of which can be seen by the various abandoned quarries on the outskirts of the town. One of the most beautiful of these is Anglezarke Quarry, found between Chorley and Horwichmarker. A lot of remnants can be found of mining including the old railway bridge belonging to the Duxbury Mine on Wigan Lane, eventually the mining industry was surpassed by cotton mills which litter the town scape with Chimneys (one of the few remaining examples in the one that stands at the town's Morrisons).

Another industry in Chorley has been the manufacture of trucks which it inherited from Chorley's neighbouring town of Leylandmarker. The large factory on Pilling Lane was used heavily for the production of trucks and during the Second World War' military trucks and Tanks. The factory eventually went on to spares manufacture up until the collapse of Leyland DAF in the 1990s. The works emerged as a central parts depot for the Multipart firm which eventually would come part of the RAC. The plant was closed in 2006 and work was moved to a new smaller site on Buckshaw Villagemarker. As of 2008 the site is being demolished to make way for 400 new homes.

Another major industry was the manufacture of Ammunition and Armaments. During the 1930s one of Britain's biggest such factories to build these products was built at Euxton. The site known as ROF Chorleymarker was vital in the Second World War and during that time over 40,000 people worked at the site. It is also the site where the Bouncing bomb was built. Over the last 50 years production has slowed down due to the governments cut in defence spending and the site has decreased in size to only a foothold of the former site. The current tenants BAE Systemsmarker have sold of the majority of land which is now Europes largest new town named Buckshaw Villagemarker. The last section is due to close in 2008.

Today the town is a satellite town for people working in its largest neighbours: Manchestermarker, Prestonmarker and nearby towns Boltonmarker, Blackburnmarker and Wiganmarker. Leyland Trucks and BAE Systemsmarker remain the area's largest employers at their sites in Leylandmarker and Samlesburymarker respectively.

Companies with a presence in the borough are: Porter Lancastrian is a distinguished manufacturer of Beer Pumps, under the Porta brand.

Chorley covered market
Chorley town centre is the main location of shopping facilities in the town. Shops such as W.H. Smith, Argosmarker, Massa's Ice Cream Parlour, Rebel Cause and The Blue House to name a few have a presence in the town. The town centre in recent years has seen the new Market Walk development and the building a new town centre Booths supermarket.

The town is also famous for its market heritage and is quoted as "Lancashire's market town". The outdoor market which has run for over 200 years, takes place every Tuesday on the Flat Iron. There is also a covered market place in the Market Square.

As well as these, Chorley has seen development out of town including retail parks which have seen the addition of Currys and B&Q to name a few. Chorley is also home to three of the four big supermarkets, including Asda, Morrisons and Tescomarker. Further to this Chorley was the starting point for the Chorley Group with their flagship dealership Chorley Nissan. The motor group now boasts eight dealerships across the North West with the newest addition appearing in the form of Chorley Fiat in Blackpool. The Chorley group are continuing to promote the Chorley name across the Country and beyond.

A £20m development, Market Walk Phase Two, is planned to add four shop units and a multi-storey car park to the existing Market Walk shopping centre. this is on hold until the council finds another developer.


Chorley is served by the local NHS hospital Chorley and South Ribble District General Hospitalmarker which is located on Euxton Lane. As well as this a private hospital at Euxtonmarker. The town also had another major hospital formerly on Eaves Lane before this closed in the 1990s. There was also the Heath Charnockmarker isolation hospital on Hut Lane which dealt with infectious diseases before reverting to use for long term patients before closing in the 1990s.



Chorley is bisected by the A6 Roman road which goes straight through the town centre. The town is also near to the M61 of which Junction 6 and 8 serving the town. Also the M6 motorway serves the west of the town with Junction 27 connecting the town to the motorway, Charnock Richard Services on the M6 are located in Chorley Borough.


Chorley's main form of public transport is the bus and it has a very modern central bus station known as Chorley Interchange.


The main central station is Chorley railway stationmarker in the town centre. The station is used by:

The station was also served by the Wigan-Blackburn Railway line up until it was closed in 1960. The line also had stops at Heapeymarker and Brinscallmarker.

There is also a station at Euxton marker between Wigan and Preston.


The Leeds and Liverpool Canalmarker runs parallel to Chorley and several marinas and locks are located on the Chorley area. Marinas along the canal include:

  • White Bear Marina, Adlington
  • Cowling Launch, Chorley
  • Top Lock, Whittle
  • Botany Bay, Botany Brow
  • Riley Green, Hoghton


Chorley Library (1905), formerly the Chorley Training College and Adult Education Institute
92 (Chorley) Squadron Band
Chorley is home to numerous primary schools both council and church supported.

Chorley has the following 6 high schools:

Some independent schools are also present just outside the borough.Most Chorley children go on to attend the nearby Runshaw Collegemarker in Leyland. Runshaw College has also expanded into the former administration site of ROF Chorley and is using, amongst others, the main Administration Building.

Lancashire College, based in Chorley, is a part of Lancashire County Council's Lancashire Adult Learning, offering a wide range of courses, a speciality being intensive residential language courses. From 1905 to 1981 the town was home to Chorley Training College (from the 1960s known as Chorley 'Day' Training College), designed by the Victorian and Edwardian architect Henry Cheers, and the town centre building now occupying this site is now Chorley Public Library.


Chorley is home to the semi-professional football team, Chorley F.C., also known as the 'Magpies' due to their black and white strip. Founded as a rugby team in 1875, they switched to playing football eight years later. Since then they have had limited success, with their most memorable moments being two appearances in the second round of the FA Cup, and two seasons in the Football Conference in the late 1980s. They currently play in the Northern Premier League First Division.

The town and surrounding boroughs boast a number of cricket clubs, with two teams taking the town's name. Chorley Cricket Club currently play in the Northern League, and were finalists in the ECB National Club Cricket Championship for three consecutive seasons from 1994 to 1996, winning the trophy on the first two occasions. Chorley St James Cricket Club are the second side in the town, competing in the Southport & District Amateur Cricket League, having been members of the Chorley League until its demise in 2005.

Chorley RUFC was founded in the early 1970s and initially their matches were on the playing fields of Astley Park. Since there was no club house in the early days the team played from the Prince of Wales pub, near the town's covered market. Work started on a new clubhouse on 22 March 1984, on an area of land off Chancery Road, situated on the edge of the freshly constructed Astley Village Estate. The club currently run two senior sides and a mini section, the 1st XV playing in the RFU North Lancs 2 division.

Until 2004, Chorley also boasted a rugby league side, Chorley Lynx, who played in league two of the national league. However, the club was forced to close in 2004 due to small crowds and the withdrawal of funding by backer Trevor Hemmings. Many of the club's players and staff joined the newly formed Blackpool Panthers, operating out of nearby Blackpoolmarker.

Chorley also boasts as being home to some of the countries most successful track cyclists including Jason Queally and Bradley Wiggins, both Olympic gold medal winners. The town due to the Manchester Velodromemarker has become home to some of the biggest names in the sport.

In terms of local sporting facilities the town is home to a large council owned leisure centre; All Season which contains a 25 metre swimming pool, two sports halls, squash courts and a fitness suite. The borough also includes other gym facilities, two other council owned leisure centres; Clayton Green and Coppullmarker and another public swimming pool at Brinscallmarker. The town is also home to a Next Generation fitness centre and other private pools and leisure centres. It is also home to a David Lloyd Tennis Centre.

A mile south of Chorley town centre, Duxbury Park boasts one of the best municipal golf courses in the North of England.

The town is also home to many amateur football, rugby and cricket teams. There are also several grass football pitches, bowling greens and tennis courts in the town. A public outdoor swimming pool did exist in Astley Park but was demolished in the 1990s due to Health and Safety fears.

Chorley are also home to the Chorley Harriers Running Club, who regularly compete in road, cross country, fell and athletics events.


Nationally Chorley is often portrayed as a barometer of public opinion, especially during political campaigns as it has both a large rural and urban mix.

Chorley has two local newspapers: the weekly paid-for Chorley Guardian and the free Chorley Citizen.A British comedy television show, Phoenix Nights, cited Chorley's radio station, Chorley FM, whose slogan was "Coming in your ears". Chorley does have a radio station, (which is unconnected to the TV Series) The station based in Chorley originally broadcast for only a few weeks, but in 2005 received a licence to broadcast from Chorley Community Centre, for more information see Chorley FM.

As well as Phoenix Nights, comedian Dave Spikey based his comedy series Dead Man Weds on, and filmed most of it in, Chorley. Steve Pemberton, the creator of The League of Gentlemen, based most of its characters on folk from Adlingtonmarker.

Seal Films, a local film production company brought an accolade to the town in 2001 after they were nominated for a Royal Television Society Award for a short film. The company continue to operate in Higher Wheelton.

Culture and community

Chorley is well known for the Chorley Little Theatre. It also has two Historical Societies (the Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society and the Chorley and District Natural History Society) and Chorley Film Society.

Places of interest

Astley Hall

Notable people



External links

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