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Colne is the second largest town and civil parish in the Borough of Pendlemarker in Lancashiremarker, Englandmarker, with a population of around 20,000. It lies at the end of the M65, 6 miles north-east of Burnleymarker, with Nelson immediately adjacent, in the Aire Gap with two main roads leading into the Yorkshire towns of Skipton and Keighley. It is 25 miles east of Prestonmarker, 25 miles north of Manchestermarker and 30 miles west of Leedsmarker.There is beautiful countryside around Colne and many old villages close by, including Bronte Country and Haworthmarker to the south east and Pendle Hill, Newchurch and Barley and Clitheroe to the north west. Nearby villages include Barrowford, Foulridgemarker, Winewallmarker, Cottontree, Trawden and Laneshaw Bridge and the hamlet of Wycollermarker with its historic pack horse bridge and clam bridge said to date back to the Iron Age. Wycoller Hall is a ruin there.There are narrow roads to the South over the moors to Hardcastle Crags and Hebden Bridgemarker. The attractive Forest of Bowland lies near Pendle.

It is sometimes confused with the unrelated Colne Valley around the River Colne near Huddersfield in Yorkshire which includes the towns and villages of Marsden, Slaithwaite, Linthwaite and Golcar. There is another River Colne and Colne Valley around Earls Colne and Colchester in Essex.


The history of the local area dates back to the Stone Age . A Mesolithic camp site, a Bronze Age burial site, and stone tools from the Bronze and Stone Ages have been discovered at nearby Trawdenmarker, and there are also the remains of an Iron Age fort, dating from the 6th century BC, above Colne at Castercliffemarker.

The name Colne is of Celtic origin . The first settlement is thought to have been founded between the 4th and 1st centuries BC by the Brigantes , and was located along the Trans-Pennine ridgeway, a major trade route dating back to the Bronze Age.

Although a Roman road passes through nearby Barnoldswickmarker, and some Roman coins have been discovered, there is no conclusive evidence of the Romans having occupied the area. There is, however, some debate among local historians as to whether the Romans may have stayed at Castercliffe.

During the period of Colne's history lasting from the early 6th century to the late 10th century, Colne came under Northumbrianmarker and then Viking rule, finally coming firmly under Norman control in the 11th century. It is claimed that the Battle of Brunanburh was fought near Trawden, in the year 937 AD.

From the 1090s until 1311, the area was controlled by the de Lacysmarker of Pontefractmarker from their outpost at Clitheroe Castlemarker. Pendle Forest and Trawden Forestmarker date from this period, forests in those times being hunting grounds for royals and other nobles. St. Bartholomew's Church dates from before 1122 when the town's market was located in the churchyard. The churchyard used to house wooden stocks on wheels - these are now in the library. People were placed in them on market days. see Memories of Colne by Mrs Cryer 1910.

The town developed in two parts: Colne, on top of the ridge; and Waterside, at the base of the southern side of the ridge, next to the river. By 1296, a corn mill and a fulling mill had been established down by the river. Later, coal was also mined here.

By the 15th century, Colne had become a major centre for the woollen trade, in particular for the production of lightweight kersey. With the Industrial Revolution, cotton manufacturing became the main industry in the town, aided by the completion of the Leeds and Liverpool Canalmarker in 1816, and by the arrival of the railway.

The town was made an urban district in 1894 and designated a borough in 1895. It grew down the two sides of the hill into what are called the North and South Valleys and towards Nelsonmarker and Laneshawbridgemarker. The town's population declined during the 20th century, as with many Lancashiremarker mill towns, from 26,000 in 1911 to 19,000 in 1971. In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, Colne became part of the Borough of Pendlemarker. In 2008 a town council was reestablished.


Pendle Heritage Centre, Barrowford has much information on this. Today, Colne's cotton industry has all but disappeared, although other types of industry have taken its place. The East Lancashire Towel Company,Barrowford is the last mill in the UK still manufacturing towels using traditional Jackquardmethods. Many of the old weaving mills that used to dot the landscape have either been demolished to make way for retail space, or now accommodate alternative manufacturing industries. The service sector is a growth industry, and now occupies some town centre locations. The main industrial area, Whitewalls, is on the boundary with Nelsonmarker, next to the end of the M65 motorway, and houses a range of employers, including an abattoir, retail, automotive components, electronics, equipment hire and engineering/manufacturing.Boundary Mill Stores was established here in 1983 as one of the first UK factory outlets and moved into new larger premises atthe end of the M65 recently. There are now stores in Grantham, Newcastle and Walsall. Ref Tours was a family run business which became one of the first UK overseas tour operators offering holidays trips from headquarters off Albert Rd Colne in the late 1950's. It eventually became part of Airtours.


Situated on the edge of the Pennines, Colne has views of several well-known hills. Boulsworth Hillmarker overlooks most of the town and lies on the Lancashire and West Yorkshire county boundary just south of Trawdenmarker. Noyna Hillmarker overlooks Colne from the north east, close to Foulridgemarker; from there it is possible to see most of east Lancashire and into the Yorkshire Dalesmarker. Blackomarker Tower (Stansfield Tower) is clearly visible to the north west, and between Noyna Hill and Blacko Tower is Weets Hillmarker and its long eastern slope, White Moor.

Arguably the most well-known local landmark is Pendle Hillmarker. Colne is about 5 miles east of Pendle Hill, which many people walk up, particularly at Halloween, owing to its association with the Pendle witches; several nearby farmhouses are reputed to be haunted, and have featured on the TV programmes Most Haunted and Most Haunted Live!

The town is also known for the British in India Museum, and the Wallace Hartley Memorial, in memory of the bandmaster of the RMS Titanicmarker who used to live in Colne and is buried in the cemetery.


Colne is connected to the national railway network. The railway stationmarker is ¾m (1 km) west of the town centre. It forms the eastern terminus of the East Lancashire Line, which runs to Nelsonmarker, Brierfieldmarker, Burnleymarker, and on to Prestonmarker and Blackpoolmarker. The line beyond Colne to Skiptonmarker, formerly part of the Midland Railway, was closed by British Rail in 1970.

The local bus company, Burnley & Pendle, was part-owned until 1996 by the local borough council. There are buses every few minutes during the daytime on the 'The Main Line' service between Burnleymarker bus station and Colne town centre. Most of these then fork in various directions at each end, and continue to Padihammarker, Clitheroemarker or Accringtonmarker from Burnleymarker, and to Earbymarker, Barnoldswickmarker, Trawdenmarker or Keighleymarker from Colne.

Pennine Motor Services, based in Skiptonmarker, operates an hourly service with distinctive orange buses each way from Skiptonmarker to Burnleymarker via Colne.

Colne is on the Leeds and Liverpool Canalmarker with a mile long dead straight tunnel to Foulridgemarker and Foulridge Reservoir built in 1866 at the western end feeding the summit level.


Colne Grammar School was a main centre for education from the Middle Ages. It had John Tillotson an Archbishop of Canterbury 1691-1694 amongst its alumni. The new school (1812) in Barrowford Road closed in the late 20th century and the premises are to become flats in 2009.

Colne and its nearby villages now have nine primary schools, one of which is a Catholic school. There are three high schools in Colne, one of which is a Catholic school.

Nelson and Colne Collegemarker is the main provider for post-16 education in the area – there is no grammar school or continuing sixth form centre, the nearest being in Burnleymarker and Skiptonmarker. Nelson and Colne College offers AS-level and A-level qualifications, as well as BTEC, City and Guilds, Open College of the North West, and some professional qualifications. The college also has tie-ins with some higher education institutions.

Sports and leisure

Colne F.C. is the town's football team; it currently plays in the North West Counties Football League. (The local Football League team is Burnley F.C., which also enjoys strong support in the town.) The town also has a junior football club, Colne JFC, which runs teams for 8 to 16 year olds, as well as a senior team. Nelson & Colne Rugby Union Football Club is located next to Colne F.C.

The town has the oldest cricket club in the Lancashire League, Colne Cricket Club, which was formed in 1830. The first games were played on the Horsfield, the same field that is used today. It has been a continuous member of the Lancashire League since 1890.

Pendle Leisure Trust runs the Pendle Leisure Centre next to the railway station. This has two swimming pools, a fitness gym, a sauna, a sports hall and an outdoor all-weather pitch.

There are two large local parks. One is the King George Playing Fields next to Skipton Road (A56) between Colne and Earbymarker. The other is Alkincoats Park, off the road between Colne and Barrowfordmarker (B6247). Alkincoats Park has bowling greens, hard surface tennis courts, pitch and put golf, a children's play area and footpaths that lead to areas close to the Leeds-Liverpool Canalmarker and the now-dismantled Colne to Skiptonmarker railway line. The towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and the trackbed of the dismantled Colne to Skipton railway are also popular leisure destinations, as is Ballgrove Picnic Area at the eastern edge of Colne, close to Laneshaw Bridgemarker. It is possible to walk from here to historic Wycollermarker.

Since 2004 Colne has hosted an annual Grand Prix cycle race around the town centre. It follows the 800 metres of the town centre one way road system. Some 2500-4000 local people attend the event, which is part of the British Cycling Season Championship.

Ralph, the father of Roger Bannister the first sub-four minute miler was born in Colne, the family having lived here for 400 years. Roger Bannister and the Four-minute Mile By John Bale

Every August bank holiday, the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival takes place, which attracts people and artists from all over the world over three days. Many local pubs and clubs stage music gigs; others hold 'fringe' type gigs. The main focus of attention, where the larger events are staged, is the Municipal Hall close to the town centre. A second festival, The Colne Gala, has been held on most years for the last three decades, with a parade along a route through the town centre to the main Gala event at Alkincoats Park and Holt House.


The town sits at the far eastern end of Lancashiremarker, close to the counties of North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire. New road signs on the A56 road between Earbymarker and Colne mark the traditional historic boundary between Lancashiremarker and the West Riding of Yorkshire, and the original signs still exist on the Leeds-Liverpool Canalmarker between Colne and Barnoldswickmarker. As a result of this 1974 boundary change and the local geography of the area, the local area is served by TV from both the Granada and Yorkshire regions of ITV, and both BBC Northmarker and BBC North West. Colne is also served by radio from BBC Radio Lancashiremarker, the commercial station 2BR, and Pendle Community Radio, a community radio service aimed at the borough's British Asian population.

A local newspaper, the Colne Times, a variant edition of the larger Burnley Express, is published on Fridays; a second, midweek edition, the Pendle Express, aimed at both Colne and neighbouring Nelson, is published on Tuesdays. The town is also served by the Lancashire Telegraph, which publishes a Burnleymarker, Pendlemarker and Rossendalemarker edition six days a week and by a weekly freesheet, the 'Pendle Citizen', which appears on Thursdays.

Notable people

John Tillotson the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1691 until 1694 was educated in Colne Grammar School.ref <<HTTP:></<HTTP:>/,M1>>

Wallace Hartley the lead member of the orchestra on board the Titanicmarker was raised and buried in Colne and has a memorial near the Library Cenotaph.

Sir William Pickles Hartley jam manufacturer and philanthropist, who founded the Hartley's Jam Company was born in Colne in 1846 and attended a local British and Foreign School Society school. Hartley's Jam is still on the market though not linked to Colne now. He gave some of his profits to build Hartley Hospital and Hartley Homes on the boundary with Laneshawbridge.

Brian Redman (born 9 March 1937 in Colne, Lancashire) Redman drove for Shadow Racing Cars both in CanAm and in Formula One in the 1960s and 70s and winning the SCCA/USAC Formula 5000 Championship three years in a row (1974-1976) driving Lolas. He raced many Le Man 24 hour races and living in Florida is still active appearing at the 36th Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races in August 2009.<<HTTP:></<HTTP:>/>> <<HTTP:></<HTTP:>/>>

Sydney Silverman was the MP for Nelson & Colne from 1935 - 1968 winning 8 elections and sponsoring the abolition of hanging in 1965.

Geoff Crambie local historian for the pendel area who specialises in the history of colne. He is a well respected man in the area and has wrote several books on the history.




  • Dorothy Harrison (ed.), The History of Colne, Pendle Heritage Centre, 1988

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