Tourist guide to Barnoldswick

BORDER COUNTRY: Barnoldswick in Lancashire . . . or is it in Yorkshire?

BORDER COUNTRY: Barnoldswick in Lancashire . . . or is it in Yorkshire?

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

THE most certain way of starting a quarrel in Barnoldswick is to say the town is in Lancashire.

It has been part of the Red Rose county since 1974 when politicians reorganised the boundaries but to local people Barnoldswick has always been in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Let us not argue about boundaries but accept that Barnoldswick is a fascinating place to live and to visit.

It is not just a product of the Industrial Revolution but, as its name implies, is of ancient origin.

The name Wick is Scandinavian for a settlement and people were living hereabouts by Norman times.

A Roman road ran very close to the modern town.

There is still a thriving shopping centre in the town and the choice of pubs and restaurants is equally impressive.

Did such an important town have a substantial parish church?

It did not and St James's church only dates to 1842, when money was generated by profits from cotton.

Instead, the people in medieval times worshipped at one of two churches on the outskirts of the town.

Some went to St Mary-le-Gill, reached via the road to Thornton and Skipton.

The other church, situated in the hamlet of Bracewell, is pure Norman and the doorway of St Michael's is a fine example of this period.

Bracewell Hall is also of great historical interest and during the Second World War the team developing the jet engine were housed in the building.

The secret location was used and not detected by the Germans.

This meant that Rolls-Royce was at the forefront of the development of the jet engine and this technological lead has been maintained ever since.

Barnoldswick made its money from cotton and later from jet engines.

A spin-off from the cotton industry has survived to the present day and an old mill is now the working base for the Silentnight bed and furniture factory.

This mill is situated close to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, which brought great prosperity to the town.

There are splendid strolls along the canal towpath, especially at the Greenberfield Locks.

Here is a car park, a teashop and an impressive set of locks.

Greenberfield is the highest point on the canal and from here water flows down in one direction to Yorkshire and on the other descends into Lancashire.

Water to supply the locks is still fed by pipeline from Winterburn reservoir, built in 1892 and sited 20 miles away in the Yorkshire Dales.

Also on the canal is Salterforth, where there is an old wharf which handled limestone quarried locally.

Close by is the Anchor Inn, a hostelry which is very popular, especially during Sunday lunchtime.

In the cellars there are stalactites and stalagmites formed by water dripping through the limestone flooring. Stalagmites grow up from the ground.

Remember "g' for ground and "g" for stalagmite. The "c" comes from ceiling and also stalactite.

The Anchor is famous for these formations. Close to Salterforth is Lower Park Marina, which is popular not only with those who love messing about in boats, but also those who just love watching colourful boats.

The Bancroft Mill Engine Trust was formed in 1980 to preserve the industrial heritage of the last working steam mill engine in the area.

The engine and boilerhouse are in working order and there is a display of other machines, tools and documents relating to the weaving industry.

Bancroft Shed was built in 1920 and the engine made in Nelson powered 1,250 looms until the mill closed in 1978.

Barnoldswick once had a Cistercian monastery from the 12th century.

Because the monks fell out with local people, they moved their abbey to Kirkstall near Leeds.

The church of St Mary-le-Gill, in an isolated spot signed off the road to Thornton, is a reminder of the time of the monks.

It is one of the most beautiful churches in England and well worth a long, hard look.

Close to St Mary-le-Gill is the factory run by Rolls-Royce.

The name is famous the world over for the development and perfection of jet engines.

Those who love the Barnoldswick area should not miss a visit to Thornton-in-Craven.

Here is another ancient and venerable church, with its simple but impressive screens and some stained glass worth travelling miles to see.

Look outside to find a set of Alms Houses which were built in 1815.

Those who visit this area should never forget that this is true border country which everyone should be proud of.

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