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Clitheroe ( ) is a town and civil parish in the borough of Ribble Valley, Lancashiremarker, Englandmarker. It lies on the southern edge of the Forest of Bowland and is often used as a base for tourists in the area. The most notable building in the town is a Norman keep, suggested to be one of the smallest in the country.

The town elected two members to the Unreformed House of Commons. The Great Reform Act reduced this to one. It was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and remained a municipal borough until the Local Government Act 1972 came into force in 1974 when it became a successor parish within the Ribble Valley district.

The place has been claimed to be the most central town in Britain, by virtue of its proximity to the village of Dunsop Bridgemarker.


The name Clitheroe is thought to come from the Anglo Saxon words for "Rocky Hill", and was also spelled Clyderhow and Cletherwoode. The town was the administrative centre for the Honour of Clitheroe (previously spelled Honor). This land was held by Roger de Poitou, who passed it to the De Lacymarker family from whom it passed in 1310 to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster.

The town's earliest existing charter is from 1283, granted by Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln confirming rights granted by and earlier de Lacy between 1147 and 1177.


The front of Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
The four main secondary schools in the town are Clitheroe Royal Grammar Schoolmarker, Ribblesdalemarker High Technology College,Moorland Schoolmarker and Bowland High, the school with a specialist status in performing arts. There are several primary schools in the town. These are St James's Church of England Primary School, St. Michael and John's Roman Catholic Primary School, Pendle Primary School, Edisford Primary School and Brookside Primary School.


Clitheroe enjoys one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the UK. This is largely due to the presence of several companies that each employ hundreds. Most significant are Ultraframe, Hanson Cement, Tarmac, Dugdale Nutrition and Johnson Matthey.

Hanson Cement has been criticised for using industrial waste in its kilns, which some local inhabitants claim produces poisonous dioxins. Hanson Cement claims that its filters remove these and that government inspectors have approved the plant. However, locals continue to campaign for the use of industrial waste as fuel to cease.

Other businesses based in or around the town include; Clitheroe Light Engineering (engineering), Spiroflow (material handling), Shackletons Garden & Lifestyle Centre, Farmhouse Fayre, Townson Bros. (fuel suppliers) and Clarity Sign & Design (sign design and installation).

There are a number of small industrial sites in and around Clitheroe with the most prominent being the newly expanded Link 59 Business Park to the north of the town.

Jet engine development

During World War II, the Jet Engine was developed by the Rover Company. Rover and Rolls-Royce met engineers from the different companies at Clitheroe's Swan & Royal Hotelmarker. The residential area 'Whittle Close' in the town is named after Frank Whittle, being built over the site of the former jet engine test beds.

The castle

Clitheroe Castle
Clitheroe Castlemarker ( ) is argued to be the smallest Norman keep in the whole of Englandmarker. It stands atop a 35-metre outcrop of limestone and is one of the oldest buildings in Lancashiremarker. It is also the only remaining castle in the county which had a royalist garrison during the English Civil War.

The castle's most prominent feature is the hole in its side which was made in 1649 as was ordered by the government. It was to be put in "such condition that in might neither be a charge to the Commonwealth to keep it, nor a danger to have it kept against them".


A Conservative member of parliament has represented the town for many years, with the exception of Michael Carr, elected in 1991 for the Liberal Democrats. The current MP is Nigel Evans. Previous to both these was the high profile David Waddington.However, at local government level since 1991 the town of Clitheroe itself has elected at least 8 out of the 10 Liberal Democrat borough councillors to Ribble Valley Borough Council, while Clitheroe Town Council has been Liberal democrat controlled for that period too. Likewise since 1993 the Town has had a Liberal Democrat County Councillor to Lancashiremarker County Council.In addition, the borough returned one of the first six ever socialist MPs at the 1906 election, due perhaps to the large number of mill workers living locally at that time.Jimmy Clitheroe (1921-73) a comedian well known for his radio shows, was not from the town but from nearby Colnemarker. However, a cafe in the town is named after him.


Clitheroe has many small independent shops, as well as some smaller branches of chain stores, such as Clinton Cards, Timpsons, Boots the Chemist & WH Smith(Opens November 2009). There are numerous banks and building societies, including Lloyds TSB, Abbey (Santander), HSBC, Natwest & Yorkshire Bank. Clitheroe has a number of supermarkets; Booths, Tescomarker & Sainsbury'smarker. There are numerous cafes, hairdressers, & charity shops. There is also a little shopping arcade known as the Swan Courtyardmarker, which contains many shops and cafes. There are also 2 petrol stations, run by BP & TOTAL. April 2009 saw the opening of the much delayed Homebase store. Other prominent stores include; Dawsons Department Store, Sowerbutts, Cowgill's, Banana News, Kaine and Rawson and jwl Contemporary Jewellery amongst many others includin Ideal pet stores acoss from Sainsbury's next to Homebase.

Clitheroe Festival Weekend

Clitheroe has hosted a Spring festival since 1997.


The home ground of Clitheroe F.C.
Clitheroe F.C. play in the Northern Premier League Division One North. They play their home games at the Shawbridge Stadium, which is also the home ground of Blackburn Rovers WFC.

Hurst Green is a football team from near Clitheroe. They play in the East Lancashire Division 1, and in 2007 were crowned Champions.

An annual cycle race, the Clitheroe Grand Prix takes place in the town.

Clitheroe is also home to the PESL Futsal Cup, an annual futsal tournament, which takes place every August at Edisford.

Professional UFC fighter Michael Bisping also hails from the town.

Clitheroe Rugby Union Football Club, formed in 1977, play at the Littlemoor Ground on Littlemoor Road in the town

There is also a young persons football club, called Clitheroe wolves.

Successful motorsport racing driver Simon Horton hails from the town. Simon is sponsored by one of the towns major employers Hanson Cement (formally Castle Cement)


Clitheroe has a health centre, accommodating the Pendleside Medical Practice and the Castle Medical Group. There is a community hospital. The areas is served by the East Lancashire NHS Primary Care Trust.

Clitheroe also has its own Ambulance, Fire & Police stations.


There are three Anglican churches: St James' Church has recently been refurbished and is home to a lively all-age congregation; the more traditional St Mary's is prominent on Church Brow atop another limestone knoll; St Paul's is in the area of town known as Low Moormarker. The town also has a large Roman Catholic community. The majority of Roman Catholic children attend St Augustine's RC High School. The Catholic saint, Margaret Clitherow, was not from Clitheroe but lived and was martyred in Yorkmarker. There are also Methodist and URC churches in the town as well as the Clitheroe Community Church and Salvation Army citadel. In nearby Sawleymarker there is a Quaker Meeting House.

There is a sizeable Muslim community in Clitheroe. After years of campaigning for a Mosque in the town, permission was finally granted in 2006 for the conversion of a former church at Lowergate into a multi-faith centre which will have a Muslim prayer room and will be open to all faiths to use the rest of the building.


Clitheroe is well connected in terms of public transport links via Clitheroe Interchangemarker.

Train services in and out of Clitheroe

There are hourly trains to Blackburnmarker & Manchester Victoriamarker from the railway stationmarker that are operated by Northern Rail. Usually, services are operated by Class 150 trains, but sometimes Class 156 operate the service. The Ribble Valley Rail group (community rail group) is campaigning for services from Clitheroemarker to be extended to Hellifieldmarker.

Bus services in and around Clitheroe

There are also frequent bus services to the surrounding Lancashiremarker & Yorkshiremarker settlements. Transdev is the most prominent operator, mainly operating interurban services to other towns in Lancashire, Greater Manchester & West Yorkshire. Other operators include Stagecoach in Lancashire and Tyrer Bus. See list below for more details:

Services Operated By Transdev Lancashire United:

Routes Run by Other Operators:
  • The Mainline 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28 & 29 .... Clitheroe - Whalley - Padihammarker - Burnleymarker - Nelsonmarker - Colnemarker (Transdev Burnley & Pendle)
  • Route 231 .... Clitheroe - Whalley - Great Harwood - Accringtonmarker (M&M Coachesmarker Accrington)
  • Route 241 .... Clitheroe - Whalley - Great Harwoodmarker - Clayton-le-Moorsmarker - Accringtonmarker - Oswaldtwistle - Royal Blackburn Hospital (Tyrer Bus)
  • Bowland Transit B10/B11 .... Clitheroe - Slaidburnmarker circulars (Tyrer Bus)
  • Bowland Transit B12 .... Clitheroe - Chippingmarker - Garstangmarker (Travel For All)
  • Pendle Witch Hopper 70/71, P70/P71
  • 70/71 .... Nelson - Barleymarker - Clitheroe - Sabdenmarker - Burnleymarker (Sundays only, Tyrer Bus)
  • P70/P71 .... Nelson - Blackomarker - Barley - Downham - Chatburn - Clitheroe (Mon-Sat, Tyrer Bus)
  • Route 5 .... Longridgemarker - Ribchestermarker - Clitheroe (Stagecoach in Lancashire)
  • Route C1 .... Low Moormarker - Clitheroe - Peel Park (Travel For All / Stagecoach Ribble)
  • Route C2 .... Clitheroe - Low Moor - Chatburnmarker - Sawley - Grindelton (Mon - Sat circular Tyrer Bus)
  • Route C4 .... Clitheroe - Peel Park (circular, Tyrer Bus)
  • Route C5/C15 .... Clitheroe - West Bradford & Waddington Circulars(Mon-Sat circular Tyrer Bus)
  • Route C25 .... Clitheroe - Whalley - Brockhallmarker - Copster Greenmarker -Blackburn Stagecoach in Lancashire)

Twin Town

Clitheroe is twinned with a small town in Francemarker.

Media gallery

Image:Clitheroe Library.JPG|Clitheroe Library and Market Street.Image:Main_street_of_Clitheroe,_UK.jpg|The main street in Clitheroe, taken from Clitheroe Castlemarker.Image:Clitheroe street.JPG|The main street in Clitheroe, taken from Swan Court Shopping Arcademarker.Image:Clitheroe park enterance.jpg|The main park in Clitheroe; its entrance.Image:Clitheroe Park.jpg|The 'rose garden', with a gift from Londonmarker, a part of the Houses of Parliamentmarker.


  1. Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 531 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
  2. David S Brooks (1997). Vikings at Waterloo: Wartime Work on the Whittle Jet Engine by the Rover Company. Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. ISBN 1-872922-08-2]
  4. Welch, M.S. (2004) Lancashire Steam Finale, Runpast Publishing, Cheltenham, ISBN 1 870754 61 1

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