Burnley lies on the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire, at the confluence of the River Calder and River Brun. Its name is derived from Brun Lea, meaning ‘meadow by the River Brun’.
During the Industrial Revolution the town grew rapidly from a small market town to become the world’s largest producer of cotton cloth. At the same time it became a major centre of engineering, specialising in the manufacture of steam engines and looms.
Towns and villages in the area include Colne, Nelson, Padiham, Wycoller, and Barrowford. Pendle Hill lies 5 miles to its north.
Attractions & Things To Do
The arrival of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 1796 played a major role in decisions made by businessmen to locate their cotton mills and factories here. Many were built in an area south of the town centre, known today as the Weavers’ Triangle.
Despite the demise of the cotton industry after WWII, many of the weavings sheds, spinning mills, foundries and warehouses at Weavers’ Triangle are still standing. Plans to develop the whole area are in the pipeline. At Burnley Wharf the Weavers’ Triangle Visitor Centre is based in the old canal toll office and adjacent canal agent’s house. This small museum offers a wealth of information about Burnley’s industrial heritage and houses interesting mock-ups of a Victorian classroom and a typical weaver’s home.
At the southern end of the Weavers’ Triangle the Burnley Embankment carries the canal 60 feet above the town centre. Known locally as ‘the straight mile’, this impressive feat of engineering was named as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the British Canal System’ by Robert Aickman, founder of the Inland Waterways Association.
Despite its industrial heritage Burnley is almost two thirds countryside. Since the Forest of Burnley project began in 1997 more than 1 million trees have been planted around the town, doubling its woodland area.
Crown Point, high on the moors, offers a panoramic view of the town. It’s also the site of Burnley’s Panopticon; the amazing Singing Ringing Tree sculpture by architects Tonkin Liu.
From here the Wayside Arts Trail leads to the magnificent Towneley Hall. Home of the Towneley family from the 13th century to 1902, it is now the town’s museum and art gallery. A 5 year restoration programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund has seen the surrounding park restored to its former glory. Attractions include a fabulous woodland sculpture trail, children’s playground, bird reserve, and three golf courses.
Another historic house in the area is Gawthorpe Hall near Padiham. This impressive stately home boasts a fine collection of portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery and the Rachel-Kay Shuttleworth collection of embroidery, lace and textiles.
Burnley Mechanics is a thriving, intimate theatre hosting a varied programme of shows including music, comedy, and theatrical performances.
Burnley FC is the town’s professional football club and was one of the 12 founding members of the Football League. They have played their home fixtures at Turf Moor since 1883.
Further information about all these attractions can be obtained at the Burnley Tourist Information Centre.
For over 700 years Burnley’s bustling market has been a great place to shop. Today the Market Hall and Open Market offer more than 200 stalls selling everything from fruit and vegetables to clothes and electrical products.
High street names such as Wilko, Next, River Island, Boots and Peacocks can be found in the Charter Walk Shopping Centre.
Many of the town’s former cotton mills have now been converted to mill shops; shopping outlets offering a huge choice of products under one roof. One of the largest is Barden Mill. Situated by the side of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal it boasts over 30,000 sq ft of retail space and 50 departments. The owners have also developed Reedley Marina, a modern marina with excellent facilities and great views of Pendle Hill.
Burnley has a reasonable choice of hotels.
Car – Burnley is easily reached from the M6 and M65 (Preston/Blackpool areas) or the M66 (Manchester/Manchester Airport).
Air – Blackpool and Manchester Airport are roughly the same distance from Burnley (42 miles by road). Liverpool John Lennon Airport is 55 miles from the town.