infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 53.704
longitude= -2.199
official_name= Bacup
population = 12,763 (2001 Census)
shire_district= Rossendale
region= North West England
shire_county = Lancashire
constituency_westminster= Rossendale and Darwen
post_town= BACUP
dial_code= 01706
os_grid_reference= SD868231

static_image_caption=Yorkshire Street, Bacup

Bacup is a town within the Rossendale borough of Lancashire, England. It is located between Burnley, Todmorden, Rochdale and Rawtenstall, near the border with West Yorkshire. According to the 2001 census, Bacup had a population of 12,763.

Having previously been a mill town of the Industrial Revolution, Bacup was once described by English Heritage as the best preserved cotton mill town in England. [ - Rossendale Tourist Board 2007 ]


Early history

Bacup is mentioned in a charter by Robert de Lacey in 1200 where a small village named "Fulebachope" is described. The Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names translates this as "muddy valley by a ridge", which remains a recognisably accurate description. It makes it one of the oldest settlements in the Rossendale Valley. Another, oft quoted (although grossly unreliable) explanation for the name is that farmers from the nearby Deerplay Farm would order the deer 'backup' the hill from Bacup (which is, however, pronounced 'bay-cup'). Deerplay is now the name of a pub, and the source of the River Irwell.

Bacup was a small settlement throughout the Middle Ages and only began to grow during the Industrial Revolution when, along with the rest of the East Lancashire area, it grew in size as the textile industry developed rapidly and many cotton mills and associated houses were built in the area.

Recent history

Bacup began to decline during the 20th century as an industrial settlement, a process not helped by the closure of its rail link. The population of Bacup declined from 22,000 in the 1911 census to 15,000 in the 1971 census. [ Census of England & Wales 1911. Return for Bacup CP 22,318; 1971 return for Bacup MB 15,115 ] There are on-going attempts to halt the decline with substantial government/EU inspired investment and development schemes.


Bacup was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1882.

In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, Bacup became part of the Rossendale Borough along with Rawtenstall, Haslingden, Whitworth and Waterfoot.


In terms of altitude, Bacup is the highest town in east Lancashire (835'/250m above sea level).Fact|date=October 2008


Bacup is home to the convert|17|ft|abbr=on long Elgin Street which held the record for 'shortest street in the world' until November 2006, when it was surpassed by Ebenezer Place, Wick, Caithness, Scotland. [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Street measures up to new record | work = | publisher = BBC News | date = 1 November 2006 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-08-09]

The Bacup Natural History Society was formed in 1878. The work of the society is carried out by a group of volunteers who have a base in the Bacup Natural History Museum which contains an idiosyncratic collection. Open only on Easter Saturday and Thursday evenings from 7.30pm.

Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers

Bacup is home to one of the few remaining English folk dance troupes who wear blackened faces - the Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers, or 'Nutters'. They are also the only genuinely old traditional team in existence, 'the most astounding dance occasion in the entire Custom Calendar'. [National Trust Guide to Traditional Customs of Britain pp.45; Brian Shuel; Webb & Bower 1985; ISBN 0-86350-051-X] Their origin is uncertain, although Moorish, pagan, medieval, mining and Cornish roots - often in combination - have been suggested. Their dancing is very distinctive and colourful, and the key date in the calendar is Easter Saturday, when they process around Bacup, starting at the Travellers Rest pub, and accompanied by the Stacksteads Silver Band. Their two dances are the "Garland Dance" and the "Nut Dance". The 'nuts' are wooden discs, which are worn on the dancers' hands, knees and belts and are struck in time to the music. [Once a Year, Some Traditional British Customs pp. 40-41; Homer Sykes; Gordon Fraser, London 1977; ISBN 0 900406 68 2]

Notable people

The professional English footballer, Marc Pugh was born in Bacup and he is currently playing for Shrewsbury Town in the English Football League 2. The internationally renowned fashion designer Betty Jackson was also born in Bacup, as was opera singer Sean Ruane.

Literary critic and writer Terry Eagleton.

In 2007, the murder of Bacup resident Sophie Lancaster attracted media attention to the town.

Cultural references

Bacup has been used as a filming location for the 1980s BBC TV police drama "Juliet Bravo", "Hetty Wainthropp Investigates", parts of "The League of Gentlemen" and much of the film "Girls' Night". Elements of the BBC TV drama "Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit" were also filmed on location in Bacup.


External links

* [ Bacup Times history website]
* [ Bacup Banter]
* [ Rossendale Online]

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