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View over Cliviger.jpg
A view over Cliviger
Cliviger is located in Lancashire
 Cliviger shown within Lancashire
Population 2,350 (2001)
OS grid reference SD864299
Civil parish Cliviger
District Burnley
Shire county Lancashire
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BURNLEY
Postcode district BB10
Dialling code 01282
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Burnley
List of places

Coordinates: 53°45′54″N 2°12′22″W / 53.765°N 2.206°W / 53.765; -2.206

Cliviger is a civil parish in the Borough of Burnley, in Lancashire, England. It is situated to the southeast of Burnley, and northwest of Todmorden, having a population of roughly 2,500.[1] Although the whole parish lies within the Borough of Burnley it is actually split between three postal towns, with a few farms lying in either the Todmorden or Bacup postal areas.

Nowadays, it is mainly a dormitory area for people working in Burnley and other towns in East Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

Contrary to popular (and in some cases mistaken local) belief there is no village of "Cliviger". The principal settlements within the parish are Walk Mill, Southward Bottom, Overtown, Mereclough and Holme Chapel.

It is also a popular misconception that Cliviger is "one of" or "the second" largest civil parish in England. Whilst undoubtedly it does cover a relatively large area, there is no firm evidence to confirm this claim. The tendency in England is for parishes to become larger the further north they are situated; this is because the populace tends to become more thinned out in areas such as Cumbria and Northumbria. The largest civil parish in England is that of Simonburn in Northumbria, which absoutely dwarfs Cliviger in the area that it covers[citation needed].


There is some lack of certainty as to the origin of the name Cliviger. The Rev. Dr. Thomas Dunham Whitaker, a noted 18th century historian, theologian and vicar of the parish from 1796 to 1821, conjectured that the origin was Saxon, from "clivvig" and "shire", meaning "rocky place". However, Cliviger is not mentioned in the Domesday survey, so it is difficult to tell whether the area was known as such prior to the Norman invasion[citation needed]. After Domesday, an area which roughly corresponds to the current parish was known to be part of the Manor of Ightenhill, in the Honour of Clitheroe, and the Steward of the area was one Robert de Cliverchere. It is therefore more likely that this is the origin of the name. The last known member of the family was Cecilia de Clivacher who died shortly before the accession of Edward I to the throne of England. After that the name becomes extinct.

During the mid-18th century, Cliviger produced worsted (woolen) pieces for the neighbouring town of Burnley. An annual event is the Holme Sheep Fair, which is said to be one of the oldest village fairs in England.[citation needed]

St John the Divine Church in Holme Chapel was endowed in 1787 by Rev. Dr. Thomas Dunham Whitaker who was vicar of the parish from 1796 to 1821. The churchyard is the resting place of James Yorke Scarlett, a British general in the Crimean War, famous for leading the charge of the Heavy Brigade at the Battle of Balaklava. The chapel also contains two 15th century misericords, which probably originated at Whalley Abbey.

The area has been the site of human habitation for thousands of years. The remains of a Bronze-age burial mound is known to exist on Moseley Height above Mereclough and was excavated by the noted Burnley historian Dr. Bennett in the 1960s. Finds included cremation urns, other pot sherds, spindle whorls, beads and flint tools. These are now in the collection at Towneley Hall, although sadly not on general display. Another burial cairn exists behind Law House at Mereclough; here was found a gold torc, which is now in the British Museum.


Cliviger Parish Council consists of 9 councillors who serve a 4-year term of office, with council meetings held once a month.[2] It is also part of the Cliviger with Hurstwood ward of Burnley Borough Council, along with the neighbouring parish of Worsthorne with Hurstwood. Currently represented by Michael Tattersall, David Heginbotham and Cosima Towneley [3] (all of whom also serve on the parish council and are affiliated with the Conservative Party). And it is also part of the 'Burnley Rural' seat of Lancashire County Council.

Cliviger is made up of five enumeration districts named Mereclough, Overtown, Walk Mill, Southward Bottom and Holme Chapel, the last being regarded as the village centre, with a primary school (St John the Divine C.E. Primary School), the church and the village hall.


The parish is located at the northwestern entrance to Cliviger Gorge, which extends southeast to the (now) West Yorkshire town of Todmorden. It is regarded as a remarkable example of a glacial valley[4] that follows a fault line cutting through the South Pennine Moors. There is a legend that a spectral huntsman and his hounds appear in the gorge every Halloween.[5]

The valley was formerly a major transport link between Lancashire and Yorkshire, both the A646 road and a railway line pass through it (there was previously a railway station at Holme Chapel). However a road called 'The Long Causeway’ which runs above the valley (passing Coal Clough Wind Farm), is believed to be ancient in its origins, possibly dating back to the Bronze Age.[6]

The parish contains the sources of Lancashire's River Calder, Yorkshire's River Calder and the River Irwell. It lies astride the main watershed of Great Britain, as the Lancashire Calder and the Irwell flow west (via the rivers Ribble and Mersey respectively) to the Irish Sea, whilst the Yorkshire Calder flows east (via the Aire, the Ouse and the Humber) to the North Sea.

Social Life[edit]

Clivger's social life largely revolves around its four surviving pubs - the Ram Inn and Queen Hotel in Holme's Chapel and the Fighting Cocks (now Nino's Italian Restaurant and Bar) and the Kettledrum Inn in Mereclough; the church, school and village hall in Holme's Chapel and the Mount Zion Methodist church in Walk Mill. The school and churches play host to familiar national organisations such as Brownies and Rainbows, whilst the village hall hosts local interest groups, activity groups for senior citizens and mother-and-toddler groups amongst other things. An annual flower show also takes place at the village hall in August each year, whilst a fete and duck race take place at the recreation ground on Park Road every May.


The parish is the historical home of the Whitaker family, possibly the most notable being 16th century theologian William Whitaker. Ormerod House was the home of the Thursby family—notable members include General James Yorke Scarlett, commander of the so-called "Heavy Brigade" during the Crimean War; and also the mother of Korvettenkapitan Peter-Erich Cremer, one of the most decorated U-boat aces of the Second World War (and ultimately adjutant to Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz), was a Thursby.

Notable residents of the parish, past and present, include -

  • Titus Thornber, historian and naturalist.
  • Edward "Eddy" Rawlinson, former newspaper photographer and picture editor of the Manchester edition of the Daily Mirror.
  • Lady Mary Towneley MBE, notable horsewoman who did an incredible amount of work to open up many forgotten bridleways and pack-horse routes in Northern England. She was instrumental in bringing about the construction of the Pennine Bridleway long-distance route. A loop of this route which circumnavigates Cliviger is named the Mary Towneley Loop in her honour. Her other achievements include recreating Dick Turpin's legendary ride from London to York, and also taking part in the Vienna to Budapest endurance ride which she would have won had she not stopped to help a fellow competitor involved in an accident. Lady Mary died in 2001 at the age of 65.
  • General James Yorke Scarlett, commander of the so-called "Heavy Brigade" during the Crimean War.
  • Tom Heaton, current Burnley FC goalkeeper.
  • Jerry Dawson, long-serving Burnley goalkeeper. Jerry was born in Cliviger and lived all his life in the parish. The sports pavilion on the playing fields at Mount Lane was rededicated as the "Jerry Dawson Pavilion" in 2010.
  • Colin Waldron, former Burnley FC defender.[7]
  • Frank Casper, former Burnley FC player and manager.[8]
  • Chris Casper, former Manchester United and Reading footballer and manager of Bury, son of Frank Casper, was brought up in Cliviger.
  • John McArdle, the Liverpool-born Brookside actor.


  1. ^ .Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Burnley Retrieved 4 February 2010
  2. ^ Cliviger Parish Website Accessed 2010
  3. ^ Burnley Council Accessed 2010
  4. ^ West Yorkshire Geology Trust Accessed 2010
  5. ^ "Halloween / Samhain - Mysterious Britain & Ireland". Mysterious Britain & Ireland. Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  6. ^ The AA Accessed 2010
  7. ^ This is Lancashire (news archive) Accessed 2010
  8. ^ Burnley Express Accessed 2010

External links[edit]