Coordinates: 53°51′19″N 2°10′32″W / 53.8554°N 2.1756°W / 53.8554; -2.1756

Colne, with its town hall on the horizon
Colne is located in Lancashire

 Colne shown within Lancashire
Population 20,118 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference SD884399
Parish Colne
District Pendle
Shire county Lancashire
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town COLNE
Postcode district BB8
Dialling code 01282
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Pendle
List of places: UK • England • Lancashire

Colne (pronounced coaln) 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. It is 25 miles east of Preston, 25 miles north of Manchester and 30 miles west of Leeds. 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.

It is sometimes confused with the unrelated Colne Valley around the River Colne near Huddersfield in Yorkshire which includes the towns and villages of Marsden, Slaithwaite, Linthwaite and Golcar. There is another River Colne and Colne Valley around Earls Colne and Colchester in Essex.



The history of the local area dates back to the Stone Age[citation needed]. 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.[1]

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. .[2]

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.[3] In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, Colne became part of the Borough of Pendle.[4][5][6] In 2008 a town council was re-established.


Pendle Heritage Centre, Barrowford has much information on this. Today, Colne's cotton industry has all but disappeared, although other types of industry have taken its place. The East Lancashire Towel Company, Barrowford is the last mill in the UK still manufacturing towels using traditional Jacquard methods. 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,[7] 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.[8] 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,[9] 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.[10] 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.

The local bus company, Burnley & Pendle, was part-owned until 1996 by the local borough council. There are buses every few minutes during the daytime on the 'Main Line' service between Burnley bus station and Colne town centre. Most of these then fork in various directions at each end, and continue to Padiham, Clitheroe or Accrington from Burnley, and to Earby, Barnoldswick, Trawden or Keighley from Colne. Until 2005 the town had a direct bus service to Manchester in the shape of route X43, but this was withdrawn following low usage. and the Main Line routes improved in frequency to compensate.[11]

Pennine Motor Services, based in Skipton, operates an hourly service with distinctive orange buses each way from Skipton to Burnley via Colne.

Colne is on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal with a mile long dead straight tunnel to Foulridge and Foulridge Reservoir built in 1866 at the western end feeding the summit level.


Colne Grammar School was a main centre for education from the Middle Ages. It had John Tillotson an Archbishop of Canterbury 1691-1694 amongst its alumni. The new school (1812) in Barrowford Road closed in the late 20th century and the premises are to become flats in 2009.

Colne and its nearby villages now have nine primary schools, one of which is a Catholic school. There are three high schools in Colne, one of which is a Catholic school.

Nelson and Colne College is the main provider for post-16 education in the area – there is no grammar school or continuing sixth form centre, the nearest being in Burnley and Skipton. Nelson and Colne College offers AS-level and A-level qualifications, as well as BTEC, City and Guilds, Open College of the North West and some professional qualifications. The college also has tie-ins with some higher education institutions.

Sports and leisure

Colne F.C. is the town's football team; it currently plays in the North West Counties Football League. (The local Football League team is Burnley F.C., which also enjoys strong support in the town.) The town also has a junior football club, Colne JFC, which runs teams for 8 to 16 year olds, as well as a senior team.[12] Colne & Nelson Rugby Union Football Club is located at Holt House Playing Fields and the club will celebrate it's centenary in 2015. It runs 2 senior teams a Ladies' team and a massive Junior and Mini Colts section.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15]

Colne Golf Club [16] 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.[17][18][19] 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.[20][21]

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.[22] 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.[23]

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


The town sits at the far eastern end of Lancashire, close to the counties of North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire. The local area is served by TV from Granada and BBC North West. Colne is also served by radio from BBC Radio Lancashire, the commercial station 2BR, and Pendle Community Radio, a community radio service aimed at the borough's British Asian population.

A local newspaper, the Colne Times, a variant edition of the larger Burnley Express, is published on Fridays; a second, midweek edition, the Pendle Express, aimed at both Colne and neighbouring Nelson, is published on Tuesdays. The town is also served by the Lancashire Telegraph, which publishes a Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale edition six days a week and by a weekly freesheet, the 'Pendle Citizen', which appears on Thursdays.

Notable people

John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1691 until 1694 was educated in Colne Grammar School.[24]

Wallace Hartley, lead member of the orchestra on board the Titanic was brought up and buried in Colne and has a memorial near the Library Cenotaph.[25]

Sir William Pickles Hartley, jam manufacturer and philanthropist, who founded the Hartley's Jam Company was born in Colne in 1846 and attended a local British and Foreign School Society school. Hartley's Jam is still on the market though no longer linked to Colne. He gave some of his profits to build Hartley Hospital and Hartley Homes on the boundary with Laneshawbridge.[26]

Brian Redman, (born 9 March 1937 in Colne) Redman drove for Shadow Racing Cars both in CanAm and in Formula One in the 1960s and '70s and winning the SCCA/USAC Formula 5000 Championship three years in a row (1974–76) driving Lolas. He raced many Le Mans 24 hour races and living in Florida is still active appearing at the 36th Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races in August 2009.[27][28]

Sydney Silverman, MP for Nelson & Colne, 1935–68, winning eight elections and sponsoring the abolition of hanging in 1965.

Geoff Crambie, writer and local historian of Pendle and Colne.[citation needed]

Tony Livesey, British journalist and broadcaster who lives in Colne.

Mike Phelan, Assistant Manager of Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Natalie Gumede, actress best known for playing China in BBC Three's Ideal.

Jeff Smith MBE, motorcyclist known for his two FIM 500cc Motocross World Championships (1964–65), two British Trials Championships, multiple British Experts Trial wins, four individual race wins in the Motocross des Nations, one Scottish Six Days Trial win and eight ISDT Gold Medals.[2] He was a member of the BSA factory racing team.

Steven Burke, track and road cyclist who won the bronze medal in the individual pursuit at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Hannah Hobley, actress, best known for playing Chantelle "Telle" Garvey in ITV's Benidorm.

Alan Wharton, (1923–1993) England Test cricketer who played for Lancashire and later Leicestershire.

Jessica Forrest, Hollyoaks actress who plays fictional character Leanne Holiday.[citation needed]

See also




  • Dorothy Harrison (ed.), The History of Colne, Pendle Heritage Centre, 1988

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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  • Colne F.C. — Colne Full name Colne Football Club Nickname(s) The Reds Founded 1996 Ground …   Wikipedia

  • Colne — Colne …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Colne — (spr. kōln), Stadt (municipal borough) auf der Grenze zwischen Lancashire und Yorkshire (England), nördlich von Burnley, am Calder, das Colunio der Römer, hat bedeutende Baumwollindustrie und (1901) 23,000 Einw …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Colne — (spr. kohln), Stadt in der engl. Grafsch. Lancaster, (1901) 23.000 E.; Wollfabrikation …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Colne — Colne, alte engl. Stadt in der Grafschaft Lancaster mit 10500 E., Twist und Callicotfabriken …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

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  • colne — In Saxon and old English law, an account or calculation …   Black's law dictionary

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