Tourist guide to Clayton-le-Moors

WATER OF LIFE: The arrival of the canal transformed Clayton from a sleepy hamlet into a thriving industrial community

WATER OF LIFE: The arrival of the canal transformed Clayton from a sleepy hamlet into a thriving industrial community

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

CLAYTON literally means a settlement built on the foundations of clay.

At one time the settlement was known as Clayton Super Moras, meaning a stretch of barren land. Either name is accurate.

Until the Industrial Revolution, the Clayton area had a number of impressive old buildings, including the Dunkenhalgh, Clayton Hall and Sparth House.

Between Clayton and Rishton is the Dunkenhalgh, which was the former residence of Judge Walmesley and later the equally influential Petre family.

Lord Petre objected when the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was being cut because its towpath allowed poachers access to his land.

He insisted that the towpath be moved to the opposite side and this accounts for the fact that the path changes sides at Church Kirk and Enfield bridges.

The Dunkenhalgh is now a hotel and health club. The Petres' old manor dates partly to the 13th century.

It remained a residence until 1947 and is said to be haunted by the spirit of a former French governess.

Clayton Hall also has a history dating back to Norman times and parts of the 18th century site are now surrounded by modern housing.

Sparth House is a fine old building and now a popular restaurant and hotel.

It dates to 1556 and has mullion windows and some of the original leaded lights have been retained.

Clayton-le-Moors was the home of Arthur Appleby, who played cricket for Lancashire in the Victorian period.

People who played cricket in those days had to be amateurs because only men with money had the leisure time to play.

Appleby owned flour mills along the banks of the canal and also had a fleet of barges to supply them.

He built his first mill in Clayton and when his profits increased he built mills in Blackburn and Bootle.

It was the canal, coal and cotton which changed Clayton from a sleepy old hamlet to a bustling industrial village.

For nine years from 1801, nearby Enfield was the terminus of the canal until the finance was raised to complete the cut first to Blackburn, then on to Wigan and eventually to Liverpool.

The canal at Enfield therefore, has a number of substantial warehouses.

There are several old swing bridges between Enfield and Clayton-le-Moors.

On the canal bank at Clayton there was once situated the Dr Lovelace's Soap Factory.

In Victoria times the factory patented a bar of soap which floated and this did not get lost in the bath!

Another well known man of the village was John Mercer, who also has firm connections with Great Harwood.

In 1853 he discovered the process of producing a semi-transparent fabric which was named after the inventor.

It is also suggested that Mercer the chemist invented red ink and he is commemorated in the delightful Mercer Park, which was opened in 1913.

The Church of All Saints was built in 1840 with money provided by John Mercer.

This is indeed strange because Mercer was a committed Methodist.

All this means that Clayton-le-Moors is not just an industrial village, but full of fascinating history and wonderful old buildings.

Despite the presence of an industrial estate on the outskirts, this village is worth more than a second look.

Between Clayton-le-Moors and Whalley are two old bridges.

At the Hyndburn Hotel the river of the same name is spanned.

There follows Cock Bridge which spans the River Calder and a footpath follows the river over the Nab to Whalley.

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