Tourist guide to Padiham

PARK LIFE: Memorial Park in Padiham which provides an oasis of green for the town

SPLENDOUR: Gawthorpe Hall

First published in What's On Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by

It is wrong to label Padiham as a Burnley suburb because it has Saxon roots and for many years was a market town in its own right and set on the banks of the Lancashire Calder.

The central section is now a conservation area and a town trail is available which points out some of the main features.

The name Padiham and Habergham both suggest that this area of the Calder Valley was rich in timber and fish and thus attractive to the Anglian settler.

The splendidly proportioned Gawthorpe Hall is situated above a particularly attractive bend in the river.

An extensive rebuilding took place around a 14th century Pele Tower which guarded the ancient ford over the Calder.

Lawrence Shuttleworth watched over the construction of a wonderful Tudor dwelling and later historians can also thank him for keeping an accurate diary detailing his house and its management.

Full details of the stone quarried locally and the timber brought from neighbours at Read, Burnley Wood, Whalley and Mitton and details of the three years it took to build are listed.

What impressive visitors have been entertained in the comfort of the old hall and much would have been familiar to Charlotte Bronte who visited the Kay Shuttleworths in the 1850s.

What would have happened, one wonders, if Charlotte's husband the Reverend Arthur Nicholls had accepted the living of the church of Habergham Eaves in 1854 we can but speculate.

The forceful nature of Charlotte's father blocked this move and so we shall never know.

Gawthorpe with its surrounding gardens and woodlands is now carefully looked after by the National Trust.

There is no doubt that Gawthorpe is the main historical focus of Padiham, but the large village with its attractive market has many points of interest.

The river was important from the early days of the Industrial Revolution when cotton mills and coal mines all added their pollution load to the river.

At one time the residents of Padiham were known as "thick necks" and "water workers."

The former applies to a lack of iodine in the drinking water before the days of "iodised" table salt.

The lack of this element causes the thyroid gland to swell and produces a goitre or thick neck.

There is more comedy than science relating to an event in the 1840s which announced that Professor Unsinque would follow the bible by walking on the water of the Calder.

A large crowd assembled only to reveal that Professor Unsinque was the name of a duck!

A much more reliable Christian focus is found in the church of St Leonard set in a prominent position at the top of the village.

There was a church on-site much earlier than 1868 when the present structure was built. Inside there is a 16th century font given by the Abbot of Whalley.

The funding of the present church was helped by an increasing population at that time.

The cobbled streets around the old Hand and Shuttle pub indicates that cotton almost, but not quite, became a major town to rival such centres as Burnley.

A few mill buildings do remain, including the still functional Sherry's Towel Mill which is signed from the centre which consists of the White Horse pub and the impressive Town Hall.

Every town and village should celebrate its history and Padiham has produced its own excellent Town Trail which is well worth following.

There is also a world interest in Padiham due to the work of Gawthorpe's last resident.

Rachael Kay-Shuttleworth, during the 1960s, gathered together a huge collection of handcrafts and embroidery.

Her collection of needlework and textiles is world famous and a feature of the house.

The National Trust’s work is supplemented by help from Lancashire County Council.

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