Tourist guide to Haslingden

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

THE name Haslingden means the place where hazel trees grow, which was accurate in Saxon times when the Rossendale Forest was extensive.

Charles II granted a market charter in 1676 and at the time Haslingden was on the summit of a hill overlooking the old Roman Road linking Manchester with Ribchester.

To begin with Haslingden made its living from farming, quarrying and especially from the handloom weaving of wool.

With a coming of cotton, the damp valleys were ideal production centres and so "The Top of the Town" was ignored to concentrate on the lower areas.

Hargreaves Street Mill, built in 1861, became an important working focus, while King Street Methodist Chapel, where John Wesley once preached, became a religious focus.

The demon booze was frowned upon by the Methodists but their views were ignored by the illegal distillers of whisky who operated around the Haslingden Grane area.

Their story and skills are on display at the West Pennine Visitors Centre near Calf Hey reservoir, along with other aspects of Haslingden's history.

Within the tower of the 18th century Church of St James is a medieval chest, a set of stocks and a 16th century font.

At the bottom of the tower is the remains of what is thought to be a Saxon preaching cross which suggests that Haslingden should be regarded an ancient Christian settlement.

The old Haslingden market used to be held on Deardengate where there also a number of old weavers' cottages.

On the outskirts of Haslingden is Winfield's, a shopping outlet where there are bargains galore, including shoes, clothes and artefacts, plus an excellent cafe and a very large free parking area.

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