Heritage > Counties > England


The famous 'Red Rose' county of Lancashire has, since 1974, lost much of it's coverage in terms of land, yet still retains it's traditional charm.

Formerly a world centre for cotton manufacture the traditional crafts, along with 'dark satanic mills' have been replaced by more modern and varied industries.

Lancashire covers an area of 1,173 square miles and has it's administrative centre at Preston. The old mill towns of Blackburn, Chorley, Lancaster, Accrington, Burnley the port of Fleetwood and the resorts of Blackpool (with it's world famous tower)and Morecambe all blend together to make Lancashire a fascinating mixture of past and present.

Geographical features within the borders of Lancashire include the River Ribble and Pendle Hill, the traditional centre of witchcraft. Lancashire is separated from it's traditional rival county of Yorkshire by the 'backbone of England' the Pennines.

The county has a population of 1,400,000 and is still one of the largest counties in England in terms of size and density of population.


Between the mountains of the Lake District and the point where the river Mersey separates it from Cheshire, this is arguably the most varied of the northwestern counties. There is splendid scenery here with lofty mountain peaks and bare moorland, beautiful rivers and fast-flowing streams.

In Northwest England, the main county (excluding Furness) has clearly defined geographical boundaries. To the north, it is marked by the high fells of the Lake District; to the east by the Pennines; to the south by the River Mersey; and to the west by a long and irregular coastline on the Irish Sea, broken into two unequal parts by Morecambe Bay. Off the coast at Barrow is Walney Island. The Mersey forms the boundary between this county and Cheshire for some distance.

The scenery is mountainous in the north, hilly in the east, and low-lying in the south on the border with Cheshire. But there is also a good deal of fertile farmland, particularly in the Fylde and in the southwest of the county.

Furness is the peninsula jutting down in the northwest, separated from the main part of Lancashire by the stretching sands of Morecambe Bay. It is bordered by Westmoreland and Cumberland to its north and west.


Easter: In the town of Bacup, Coconut Dancers, ÔNutters', perform a traditional dance with wooden cups attached to their hands, waists and knees. On Easter Monday, the ancient custom of Egg Rolling takes place in Preston.

June: Hornby Village Festival.

July: St Helen's Show at Sherdley Park.

July: At the Manchester Show at Platt Fields, there is a flower show, military tattoo and show jumping.

End of July: Royal Lancashire Show at Chorley.

August: Southport Flower Show, one of the largest in the country, is held at the end of the month.

Late August: Blackpool illuminations are turned on.

August Bank Holiday: Lancaster hosts the Georgian Legacy Festival and one of the highlights is the National Sedan Chair Carrying Competition.

September: The Greater Manchester Marathon is held on the first Sunday of the month.


ORIGIN OF NAME: From the Brittonic/Anglo-Saxon meaning Ôthe Roman fort on the River Lane'. The local English population often called any Roman settlement Ôceaster' - hence Lune-ceaster which became Lancaster.

NAME FIRST RECORDED: 1127 as Loncastra.

COUNTY MOTTO: In Concilio Consilium (ÒIn Counsel is WisdomÓ).

COUNTY TOWN: LANCASTER The town fairly creaks and groans under the weight of its formidable history and some of its oldest buildings are still in use. The castle is used partly as a crown court and prison and the Shire Hall, which has a collection of coats of arms dating from the 12th century, can also be visited.


BARROW-IN-FURNESS: Capital of a beautiful area with the ruins of Furness Abbey, once the most powerful around, lying in a wooded vale. The town is a succession of terraced houses dominated by the once all-menacing Trident nuclear submarines.

BLACKBURN: Another of Lancashire's key cotton weaving centres with the Lewis Textile Museum to prove it. Modern engineering is the main industry.

BOLTON: Busy industrial town and cotton-spinning centre with many old mills converted to other industries. Ye Old Man and Scythe inn situated in Church Gate has Civil War connections and is an attractive pub to visit. William Lever, son of a Bolton grocer, was born here and went on to soapmaking and the beginnings of Port Sunlight and Unilever.

BURY: A Roman station, Saxon fort and baronial castle at Castle Croft shows this was an important place before King Cotton made its name for the town.

LIVERPOOL: Beatles fans may head for Mathews Street site of the Cavern Club, or try the Magical History Tour. Take a ferry across Mersey to get glorious views of the waterfront or shop at Albert Docks. There is so much on offer in this city which vividly reflects the later history of England.

MANCHESTER: The Castleford area boasts a fine industrial museum on the site of the world's oldest passenger railway station. The G-Mex Exhibition Centre and club scene is the modern face of the city.

OLDHAM: History has it that this was a textile town in Charles I's day and of course it then developed into one of the great Lancashire contributors that put the Great in Britain. Its Town Hall cost £4,000 in 1840.

PRESTON: Lancashire County Council's administrative centre. North End FC, once a major footballing force, now famed for its unique Tom Finney Stand, opened in 1995. Fine museums and an art gallery.

SALFORD: After cotton came rubber and waterproofing industries and considerable replanning. The Quays are a reminder of its links to Manchester to which it is more or less joined. A new Lowry Art Gallery and Albert Finney Theatre have opened here.

ST HELENS: Began its development as an industrial town in the 1600s with coal-mining, and in 1773 glass making was introduced. There have been four different churches on the site of the current one.

WARRINGTON: Equidistant between Manchester and Liverpool but with an identity of its own, designated a new town in 1968 and now a communications centre.



Grange over Sands

COUNTY RIVERS: The major rivers are the Mersey, Ribble and Lune, all of which flow westwards into the Irish Sea. Also the Calder, Hodder and Wyre.

HIGHEST POINT: The Old Man of Coniston at 2,633 feet.

LANCASHIRE'S LOCAL GOVERNMENT: The County of Lancashire has a complicated administrative map. Lancashire County Council only caters for about half of the County of Lancashire which is shared on a two-tier basis with 12 District Councils, namely Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire and Wyre. Blackpool and Blackburn are unitary councils where Lancashire County Council has no place. Lancashire North of the Sands, known as Furness, is two-tiered with Cumbria County Council, Barrow in Furness District and South Lakeland District Councils (shared with the Counties of Westmorland and Yorkshire) providing the services. In the south, a number of unitary metropolitan authorities cut a swathe across Lancashire's boundary with Cheshire where the Metropolitan Boroughs of Halton, Manchester, Tameside, Trafford and Warrington actually provide services for parts of both Counties. Todmorden (partly in Yorkshire) comes under Calderdale council. Bolton, Bury, Knowsley, Liverpool, Oldham, Rochdale, St Helens, Salford, Sefton, and Wigan are unitary councils solely to administer Lancashire lands.


Liverpool will forever be remembered for its popular music connections from the war years to the 90s rave scene. All four members of the Beatles were born in Liverpool, as were 60s singers Frankie Vaughan, Cilla Black and Gerry Marsden (Gerry and the Pacemakers). The 80s saw the likes of bedsit favourites The Smiths and Echo And The Bunnymen , and New Order (resurrected in the 90s).

The Manchester dance scene produced the Happy Mondays, since transformed into Black Grape, and another band, Oasis, have crafted two of the best pop albums of the 90s. Take That burst on the scene here also in the 90s and disappeared to reappear in solo guises. Mark Owen lives at Leck.

Gracie Fields was a native of Rochdale and a museum honouring her is to be built in the town.

Lisa Stansfield, the international pop star, is related to Gracie Fields, and like her famous relative comes from Rochdale.

The town of Preston, ÔProud Preston', has many famous sons (and daughters). Sir Richard Arkwright, a prominent figure in the Industrial Revolution, was born in the town and the house in which he developed his water frame in 1768 survives on Stoneygate.

Other natives of Preston include the 18th century painter Arthur Devis and poets Francis Thompson and Robert Service. The opera singer Kathleen Ferrier was born three miles southeast of the town at Higher Walton.

Children's author Beatrix Potter lived on the county's northern border at Hill Top Farm, near Sawrey, until her death in 1943.

Writer John Ruskin, after whom the Oxford college is named, bought a house in Coniston in 1871 and retired there in 1884. He died in 1900 and is buried in the churchyard at Coniston.

The Manchester aviators Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown made the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic by air in 1919, flying from St John, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Ireland.

The long-running ITV soap Coronation Street is shot almost entirely on location in a specially built set at the Granada studios in Manchester. The set forms part of a studio tour along with Russell Grant's World of Astrology and Sherlock Holmes's Baker Street.

The film version of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter, directed by David Lean, was shot on location at Carnforth station.

Brookside, Channel 4's soap, is shot and set in Liverpool.

Albert Finney, recently resurrected in Dennis Potter's bequest plays, was born in Salford.

Stan Laurel (the tall thin one) was born at Ulverston, which now houses the Laurel and Hardy Museum.

Ukulele-playing comedian with the toothy grin, George Formby, was born in Wigan and was hugely popular in the music halls and cinemas of the region.

Josef Lock, Irish tenor and subject of the movie Hear My Song, lived in Lytham St Anne's.

Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and Johnny Weissmuller were stationed in Warrington during the Second World War and drove to Royal Lytham to play golf.

Dame Thora Hird comes from Morecambe.

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