BYGONES readers may be unaware that one of East Lancashire's towns was actually named after a pub!

The assumption that Nelson honours Britain's greatest naval hero is untrue as its name is an unusual by-product of the Victorian railway age.

Historian Roger Frost explains with the aid of two postcards of the town's earlier days.

He tells me: "These two photographs us just how much Nelson has changed over the years - and not for the better many will agree.

"Both images are of the town centre around the time of the First World War and Nelson was quite different compared with older towns in North-East Lancashire.

"It might have a name taking the town back to the time of the great admiral Horatio, Lord Nelson. That is not the case. When he was alive, the town was a village known as Great Marsden.

"The name Nelson was adopted at the time the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway was completing its line in what some people erroneously call the Upper Calder Valley. The trouble was that the L&Y already had a station at Marsden, near Huddersfield. It could not do with another and at one stage it looked as if it would have two.

"Adjacent to Great Marsden, there was Little Marsden, now Brierfield. The railway company named the station there after a local field! Something similar was done for Great Marsden, but here the L&Y chose to name its new station after the most distinctive nearby public house.

"This had been the Waggon and Horses but that name had been replaced in honour of the victor at Trafalgar. The sign that went up on the new station was 'Nelson' and it was an instant hit. Nelson became the only town in England to be named after a pub!

"Being a newer town those around it, Nelson did not suffer from the appalling housing of Blackburn and Burnley. Although it would be wrong to say that Nelson was planned, there was more thought, as the town was developed, in such things as the width of its streets, the disposal of waste and the kind of housing required for a healthy population.

"Looking at the postcards, this can be seen. Notice the width of the streets.

"The buildings in the first image are very fine, with the magnificent spire of St Mary’s in the back ground. The properties on Railway Street and more homely. They are terraced, that it is true, but they are not the tiny back-to-backs prevalent in Blackburn and Burnley.

"The building of Nelson marked a way forward for development in an industrial town, something which its larger neighbours had to undertake themselves."