Tourist guide to Oswaldtwistle

Lancashire Telegraph: MILLING AROUND: Oswaldtwistle Mills MILLING AROUND: Oswaldtwistle Mills

THE area known affectionately as Ossie is not just a product of the Industrial Revolution and neither is it just a suburb of Accrington.

In fact the area has a long and distinguished history in its own right.

The name means "The boundary of the Kingdom of St Oswald."

The word "twist" is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning a boundary.

Oswald was king of Northumbria from AD 605 to AD 642 although some, if by no means all, historians dispute this explanation..

His boundary with the Kingdom of Mercia was around the village of Twiston on the foothills of Pendle and twisted around "Ossie."

Being such a devout Christian, it is no wonder that Oswald was made a Saint.

He was king from AD605 to AD642, which was a long reign in those days.

There is no doubt that Oswaldtwistle was just a small agricultural village until the 19th century when it expanded as a result of the textile industry.

In 1764 James Hargreaves invented a Spinning Jenny from his home which is now a private house but was once the post office at Stanhill.

There is still a Hargreaves connection as the Oswaldtwistle Mills is run by the family and which is a shopping outlet attracting visitors from far and wide.

It is housed in Moscow Mill, which was built in 1824 and has a textile exhibition called the Textile Tunnel.

This traces the history of cotton and includes industrial relations and the importance of Wakes Weeks.

Within the mill complex are excellent cafes while running around the mill is a Nature Walk which is popular not only during the summer.

The birdwatching is interesting at all seasons.

The centre of Oswaldtwistle is dominated by an attractive war memorial close to the library.

There are some splendid Victorian buildings in Ossie, including the Town Hall, built in 1874, and the Weavers' Institute, which dates to 1905.

This is now St Mary's Parish Hall but was once a noisy meeting place for disgruntled mill workers and suffragettes demanding that women should be given the vote.

Another project which has helped to heal the wounds of the Industrial Revolution is the Nature Reserve at Foxhill Bank.

This has been landscaped around the ponds which were built to provide water for a textile print works.

This is used as a splendid walk by local folks and is now attracting interesting numbers of naturalists.

Do not miss Stanhill on the outskirts of Oswaldtwistle.

Here is a cottage which used to be the post office, but was once the home of James Hargreaves.

It was here in 1745 that he invented the Spinning Jenny.

Look for Peel Fold, the one-time home of the Peel family.

Close to the north end of Oswaldtwistle and on the borders of Church are the Aspen Colliery Coke ovens situated on the canal bank.

The coke was produced from coal obtained from a nearby mine which was opened in 1869 and operated until the mid 19th century.

The ovens are now listed buildings but only the beehive shaped ovens and the loading dock on the canal bank now remain.

Look out for Rough Hey Gale also on the outskirts of Oswaldtwistle.

This is an unspoilt hamlet which is an important remnant of the textile industry.

Here the Walmseley family had a farm which they organised a putting out system.

Locals arrived to collect raw materials which they processed and then returned and were paid by the piece.

Here we have the origins of the term piece work.

The Walmseleys made a fortune and used some of the profits to build Moscow Mill down below in the town.

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