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Colne (/kɒln/) is the second largest town and civil parish in the Borough of Pendle in Lancashire, England, with a population of 20,118. It lies at the eastern end of the M65, 6 miles north-east of Burnley, with Nelson immediately adjacent, in the Aire Gap with two main roads leading into the Yorkshire towns of Skipton and Keighley.

There is beautiful countryside around Colne and many old villages close by, including the Bronte Country and Haworth to the south east and Pendle Hill, Newchurch and Barley and Clitheroe to the north west. Nearby villages include Barrowford, Foulridge, Winewall, Cottontree, Trawden and Laneshaw Bridge and the hamlet of Wycoller with its historic pack horse bridge and clam bridge said to date back to the Iron Age. Wycoller Hall is a ruin there. There are narrow roads to the south over the moors to Hardcastle Crags and Hebden Bridge. The attractive Forest of Bowland lies near Pendle.

Colne must not be confused with the unrelated Colne Valley around the River Colne near Huddersfield in Yorkshire nor with the Colne Valley around Earls Colne and Colchester in Essex.

The history of the local area dates back to the Stone Age. A Mesolithic camp site, a Bronze Age burial site and stone tools from the Bronze and Stone Ages have been discovered at nearby Trawden, and there are also the remains of an Iron Age fort, dating from the 6th century BC, above Colne at Castercliff.

Although a Roman road passes through nearby Barnoldswick, and some Roman coins have been discovered, there is no conclusive evidence of the Romans having occupied the area. There is, however, some debate among local historians as to whether the Romans may have stayed at Castercliff.

During the period of Colne’s history lasting from the early 6th century to the late 10th century, Colne came under Northumbrian and then Viking rule, finally coming firmly under Norman control in the 11th century.

From the 1090s until 1311, the area was controlled by the de Lacys of Pontefract from their outpost at Clitheroe Castle. Pendle Forest and Trawden Forest date from this period, forests in those times being hunting grounds for royals and other nobles. St Bartholomew’s Church dates from before 1122 when the town’s market was located in the churchyard. The churchyard used to house wooden stocks on wheels – these are now in the library. People were placed in them on market days.

The town developed in two parts: Colne, on top of the ridge; and Waterside, at the base of the southern side of the ridge, next to the river. By 1296, a corn mill and a fulling mill had been established down by the river. Later, coal was also mined here.

By the 15th century, Colne had become a major centre for the woollen trade, in particular for the production of lightweight kersey. With the Industrial Revolution, cotton manufacturing became the main industry in the town, aided by the completion of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 1816, and by the arrival of the railway. By 1891 there were 30 cotton mills listed in Colne with more in the surrounding areas of Trawden and Laneshawbridge. The largest had 2,400 looms and the smallest 56.

The town was made an urban district in 1894 and designated a borough in 1895. It grew down the two sides of the hill into what are called the North and South Valleys and towards Nelson and Laneshawbridge. The town’s population declined during the 20th century, as with many Lancashire mill towns, from 26,000 in 1911 to 19,000 in 1971. In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, Colne became part of the Borough of Pendle. In 2008 a town council was re-established.

Today, Colne’s cotton industry has all but disappeared, although other types of industry have taken its place. Many of the old weaving mills that used to dot the landscape have either been demolished to make way for retail space, or now accommodate alternative manufacturing industries. The service sector is a growth industry, and now occupies some town centre locations. The main industrial area, Whitewalls, is on the boundary with Nelson, next to the end of the M65 motorway, and houses a range of employers, including an abattoir, retail, automotive components, electronics, equipment hire and engineering/manufacturing. Boundary Mill Stores was established here in 1983 as one of the first UK factory outlets and moved into new larger premises at the end of the M65 recently. There are now stores in Grantham, Newcastle and Walsall. Lyon’s Tours was a family run business which became one of the first UK overseas tour operators offering holidays trips from headquarters off Albert Road, Colne in the late 1950s. It eventually became part of Airtours.

Situated on the edge of the Pennines, Colne has views of several well-known hills. Boulsworth Hill overlooks most of the town and lies on the Lancashire and West Yorkshire county boundary just south of Trawden. Noyna Hill overlooks Colne from the north east, close to Foulridge; from there it is possible to see most of east Lancashire and into the Yorkshire Dales. Blacko Tower (Stansfield Tower) is clearly visible to the north west, and between Noyna Hill and Blacko Tower is Weets Hill and its long eastern slope, White Moor.

Arguably the most well-known local landmark is Pendle Hill. Colne is about 5 miles east of Pendle Hill, which many people walk up, particularly at Halloween, owing to its association with the Pendle witches; several nearby farmhouses are reputed to be haunted, and have featured on the TV programmes Most Haunted and Most Haunted Live!

The town is also known for the British in India Museum, and the Wallace Hartley Memorial, in memory of the bandmaster of the RMS Titanic who used to live in Colne and is buried in the cemetery.

Colne is connected to the national railway network. Colne railway station is ¾m (1 km) west of the town centre. It forms the eastern terminus of the East Lancashire Line, which runs to Nelson, Brierfield, Burnley and on to Preston and Blackpool. The line beyond Colne to Skipton, formerly part of the Midland Railway, was closed by British Rail in 1970.

Colne is on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. North-east of Colne the canal enters a 1 mile (1.6 km)-long dead straight tunnel to Foulridge. At the western end of the tunnel, three reservoirs built between 1793 and 1866 feed the summit level.

Colne & Nelson Rugby Union Football Club is located at Holt House Playing Fields and the club will celebrate its centenary in 2015. It runs 2 senior teams a Ladies’ team and a massive Junior and Mini Colts section.

The town has the oldest cricket club in the Lancashire League, Colne Cricket Club, which was formed in 1830. The first games were played on the Horsfield, the same field that is used today. It has been a continuous member of the Lancashire League since 1890.

Pendle Leisure Trust runs the Pendle Leisure Centre next to the railway station. This has two swimming pools, a fitness gym, a sauna, a sports hall and an outdoor all-weather pitch.

Colne Golf Club is located at Law Farm, to the north east of the town.

There are two large local parks. One is the King George Playing Fields next to Skipton Road (A56) between Colne and Earby. The other is Alkincoats Park, off the road between Colne and Barrowford (B6247). Alkincoats Park has bowling greens, hard surface tennis courts, pitch and put golf, a children’s play area and footpaths that lead to areas close to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the now-dismantled Colne to Skipton railway line. The towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the trackbed of the dismantled Colne to Skipton railway are also popular leisure destinations, as is Ballgrove Picnic Area at the eastern edge of Colne, close to Laneshaw Bridge. It is possible to walk from here to historic Wycoller.

Since 2004 Colne has hosted an annual Grand Prix cycle race around the town centre. It follows the 800 metres of the town centre one way road system. Some 2,500-4,000 local people attend the event, which is part of the British Cycling Season Championship.

Ralph, the father of Roger Bannister the first sub-four minute miler in 1954, was born in Colne, the family having lived here for 400 years. “Roger Bannister and the Four-minute Mile by John Bale”

Every August bank holiday, the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival takes place, which attracts people and artists from all over the world over three days. Many local pubs and clubs stage music gigs; others hold ‘fringe’ type gigs. The main focus of attention, where the larger events are staged, is the Municipal Hall close to the town centre. A second festival, the Colne Gala, has been held on most years for the last three decades, with a parade along a route through the town centre to the main Gala event at Alkincoats Park and Holt House.

Colne is also home to the amateur-run Pendle Hippodrome Theatre.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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