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Tourist guide to Accrington
ACCRINGTON is one of those underrated towns with a longer and prouder history than many give it credit for.
Although now a typical cotton town recovering from industrial decline, it should be regarded as an ancient settlement.
Its name derives from Ac – which means a settlement among the oak trees. We still call the fruit of the tree the acorn.
Ing means a wet area and tun is a settlement.
Until late Norman times there was just a village set amid a forest.
Accrington once belonged to the monks of Kirkstall Abbey and the Cistercians had a farm called a Grange in the area.
When the abbey was dissolved in 1538 the townsfolk bought the monastic estates and the present St James Church was built on the site in 1763 and the tower added in 1803 as the town became prosperous during the cotton boom.
Accrington once became famous for its production of linen then came carpet sweepers, red bricks, Terylene, brushes, baseballs exported to America, billiard tables, glassware and textile machinery.
Richard Kenyon of Ewbank invented a carpet sweeper in the 1860s and in doing so invented a new word.
In the Second World War the factory was taken over to produce parts for bombers and gliders.
It was the First World War, however, which provided Accrington with fame and horror.
A battalion of 1,100 "Pals" was raised very quickly and on the first day of the battle of the Somme over 550 young men were killed, injured or missing.
At the information centre, close to the market hall built in 1868, a leaflet called The Acorn Trail is on sale.
This follows a town trail including memories of old abbeys, coaching inns and a town hall on Blackburn Road.
Corinthian columns support the entrance porch.
Built in 1858 this was formerly the Peel Institute to celebrate the life and work of Sir Robert Peel, a local lad who became Prime Minister in the 1840s.
The Carnegie Library on St James Street was built in 1909 and in the entrance hall are busts of Dante, Milton and Shakespeare.
The market hall is Romanesque in style and achieves a balance between ancient and modern a duo also in evidence when the town holds its food festival which also involves entertainment and clog dancing.
The Ossie Cloggers are a famous troupe whose routines are said to date back to the days when mill lasses strutted their stuff in the alleys between rows of looms.
The rhythms were derived from the clattering of the looms.
Set amid extensive views is the Haworth Art Gallery.
It was built in the Tudor style in 1909 as the home of a Prince in the Kingdom of Cotton but given to the town in 1921.
It now houses a collection of the American Tiffany glass which is the finest collection to be found anywhere outside the USA.
This collection was given to the town by a local lad named James Briggs who worked in the factory during its heyday in the 1920s.
Accrington will always be famous for the ‘Reds’ football team one of the founders of the Football League.
Alas they went out of business but Accrington Stanley has recovered and in 2003 was promoted into the Conference.
Then came the promotion to the Football League in 2006 and has held its place there ever since. What next we wonder?
In 1974 boundary changes created the Borough of Hyndburn, named after the river.
The name literally means the stream or burn where deer paused to drink.
As well as Accrington, Hyndburn now incorporates Church, Oswaldtwistle, Clayton-le-Moors, Rishton and Great Harwood.