BURNLEY is out-performing every other town in East Lancashire in promoting and engaging with its residents about its heritage, according to new statistics.

A heritage index has been complied using indicators from listed buildings, battlefields and nature reserves to heritage open days, blue plaques, archaeology clubs and foods with protected status.


Burnley has jumped 167 places on the list to number 33 out of 325 council areas and has been praised for encouraging people to embrace its industrial heritage and increasing participation in volunteering.

Burnley councillor Roger Frost, who is also a local historian, said: “Burnley’s heritage assets are undervalued by people from outside the area.

“In Towneley Hall and Gawthorpe Hall you have some quite amazing buildings and the Weavers’ Triangle is unique.

“Burnley has worked hard to preserve its heritage assets where other former industrial towns have not.”

Published by the independent RSA think tank (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), in collaboration with the Heritage Lottery Fund, the index reveals which areas enjoy the most physical heritage assets; how actively residents and visitors in those areas are involved with local heritage, and shows where there is potential to make more of heritage.

Only Blackpool was higher than Burnley in Lancashire and it was placed 28th.

The Ribble Valley was the only area in East Lancashire to fall down the list ending up at number 177 from its previous position of 81st.

Hyndburn jumped 150 places to 123rd, Blackburn is at 148th and Rossendale 141st.

Pendle has climbed from 263rd to 215th.

RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor said: “The UK’s heritage is much-loved but its immense value is being ignored.

“The challenge for local authorities is to raise their sights from protecting history, although this is vital, to the possibility of heritage being at the heart of the conversation about a place’s future.”

The index reveals which places are making the best use of their heritage assets to attract new visitors, boost their economies and improve residents’ wellbeing; and which could be doing even more.

Carole Souter, chief executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “We hope this new index will help communities to better understand their heritage, identify its potential, and capitalise on what make their areas distinctive.

“We hope it will encourage debate about what heritage is.”