Nelson, Lancashire

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Marsden Park.jpg
Marsden Park, Nelson
Nelson is located in Lancashire
 Nelson shown within Lancashire
Area  4.64 km2 (1.79 sq mi) [1]
Population 29,135 (2011 Census)
   – density  16,187/sq mi (6,250/km2)
OS grid reference SD856376
   – London  184 miles (296 km) SSE 
District Pendle
Shire county Lancashire
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town NELSON
Postcode district BB9
Dialling code 01282
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Pendle
Website Pendle Borough Council
List of places

Coordinates: 53°50′05″N 2°13′05″W / 53.8346°N 2.2180°W / 53.8346; -2.2180

Nelson is a town and civil parish in the Borough of Pendle in Lancashire, England, with a population of 29,135 in 2011. It is 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Burnley on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

It developed as a mill town during the Industrial Revolution, but has today lost much of its industry and is characterised by pockets of severe deprivation and some of the lowest house prices in the country.[2][3]


An 1895 stationary steam engine built by William Roberts & Co of Nelson installed at Queen Street Mill Textile Museum, Burnley

The town was originally two villages, Little Marsden and Great Marsden.[4] A small mill had been established by the Ecroyd family at Edge End as early as 1740,[5] and there were two coal mines nearby,[5] but it was the coming of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 1796, followed by the East Lancashire Railway Line in 1849,[6] that spurred its development as an industrial town, with an economy based mainly upon cotton weaving.

There was already a Marsden on the railway network in the neighbouring county of Yorkshire (West Riding), so the new railway station was called the Nelson Inn, Great Marsden, after the adjacent public house, the Lord Nelson Inn named after Admiral Lord Nelson, from which the town also in time derived its name.[7]

Walverden Mill in Leeds Road was built in 1850,[8] and was soon followed by others. The town became associated in the 20th century with the production of confectionery as well, including Jelly Babies and Victory V and was where the package holiday company Airtours (formerly Pendle Travel and now part of Thomas Cook) began life as an independent travel agent. The textile industry, in particular, has now sharply declined, leaving the town with high unemployment.


Nelson was granted its charter of incorporation as a municipal borough by Queen Victoria in 1890.[6] Radical left wing politics in the early 20th century led to it being labelled "Little Moscow" by both the local and national press; indeed, the Nelson Leader ran the headline "Moscow calling" during the lockout of 1928. There was significant Communist Party influence in the town between the wars. When the Labour Party came to power in the town, they responded to local political feeling by placing utilities such as gas and water under the control of the municipal council, anticipating by decades the nationalisation of such utilities after World War II. The council refused, moreover, to participate in celebrations for King George V's silver jubilee in 1935, saying that they would rather spend public money on free dinners for school children and the jobless.

The town became, under the Local Government Act 1972, part of the non-metropolitan district of Pendle on 1 April 1974.[9] It currently has three tiers of local government, Lancashire County Council, Pendle Borough Council and a town council, with 24 councillors, which was elected for the first time on 1 May 2008.[10]

Pendle Borough Council has been governed since 2004 by the Liberal Democrats, led by Alan Davies (Liberal Democrat). The mayor – a ceremonial post, which rotates annually – is currently Anthony Beckett (Conservative). The borough comprises sixteen wards in total, six of which – Bradley, Clover Hill, Marsden, Southfield, Walverden and Whitefield – represent the town.

Lancashire County Council has been governed since 1994 by Labour. The town is represented on the council in three divisions: Brierfield & Nelson North, Nelson South, and Pendle Central.[11]

The Member of Parliament for Pendle, the constituency into which the town falls, is Andrew Stephenson (Conservative), who was first elected in 2010.

Nelson lies within the North West England European Parliament constituency, which elects eight MEPs by proportional representation - currently three Conservative (ECR), two Labour (PASD), one Liberal Democrat (ALDE), one UKIP (EFD), and one BNP (NI).[12]


Year Population[9]
1911 39,479
1921 39,841
1931 38,304
1939 34,803
1951 34,384
1961 32,292
1971 31,286
2001 28,998
2011 29,135

The United Kingdom Census 2011 showed a total resident population for Nelson of 29,135. The town forms part of the Burnley-Nelson urban area, which has an estimated population of 149,796; for comparison purposes, this is about the same size as Huddersfield or Oxford.[13]

The racial composition of the town in 2011 was 57.8% White, 40.4% Asian, 0.1% Black, 1.5% Mixed and 0.2% Other.[14] The largest religious groups are Christian (39.0%) and Muslim (37.6%).[15] The town is strikingly segregated: the Marsden ward, which in 2006 elected the borough's first British National Party councillor, is 92.6% White, while the Whitefield ward is 72.8% Asian or Asian British.[16][17]

59.02% of adults between the ages of 16 and 74 are classed as economically active and in work.[18]

Council houses in Bradley ward


The town centre is home to a low number of high street multiples, including: Farmfoods, Greggs, Optical Express, Specsavers, Wilkinson's, Superdrug, Home Bargains, Post Office, Thomas Cook, Martin McColl, Poundworld, Store Twenty One, Select Fashion, Boots, and Betfred.

A Tesco Metro closed in 2010, as did Ethel Austin, Bonmarche, B & M, Iceland, Poundstretcher, Woolworth's and Argos in July 2011. On the edge of the town centre, there is a Morrisons supermarket, which was the chain's 100th supermarket to open in 1999; there is also a B&Q in the town, just off the M65, and a Lidl supermarket.

As well as motor dealerships from Citroën (Walker Farrimond), Peugeot (Perry's) and Land Rover (Hillendale), the town has a branch of We Buy Any Car. The town's shopping centre, originally called the Arndale Centre, was renamed the Admiral Shopping Centre in 1998, but it has since been renamed the Pendle Rise Shopping Centre.

Nelson Market, a covered market below the Pendle Rise Shopping Centre, is open Mon-Sat 9:00 am – 5:15 pm.

Another shopping centre in Nelson is The Victory Centre, although a branch of William Hill bookmakers is currently the only remaining store in it. The main road through the town, originally pedestrianized, was converted back to a road in summer 2011 to boost trade.

Shell, Esso, BP and Morrisons operate petrol stations in the town. A Subway store is located in the Shell garage.


Nelson is served by Junction 13 of the M65 motorway, which runs west to Burnley, Accrington, Blackburn and Preston, and northeast to Colne. From the town centre, the A56 runs southwest to the M65 at Brierfield and northeast to Colne and beyond, while the A682 – Britain's most dangerous road[19] – heads north into the Yorkshire Dales.

In November 1969, a multi-storey car park with space for 350 cars was opened in Nelson.[20]

In December 2008, the town's new bus and rail interchange was opened at a site which used the existing railway station.[21] The new interchange facility cost £4.5 million and included enhancements such as cycle stands, taxi & car drop off facilities, electronic information displays, a direct link to the railway station including a passenger lift and an enclosed passenger concourse with 10 bus stands.[22]

Rail services to and from Nelson are provided by Northern Rail. The Interchange has an hourly stopping service west to Blackpool South via Blackburn and Preston, and east to Colne.

The main bus operator in Nelson is Burnley & Pendle, although Pennine and Tyrer Bus operate some services. National Express operates one coach service to London each day from the Interchange. The town has good bus links into Manchester, compensating for the lack of a frequent rail link: the X43/X44 Witch Way service (operated by Burnley & Pendle) runs via Burnley and Rawtenstall to Manchester city centre, using a fleet of specially-branded double-decker buses with leather seats.


The town is home to Nelson F.C., who were Football League members from 1921 until 1931 and played in the lower semi-professional leagues until resigning from the North West Counties League in 2010, and to Nelson Cricket Club. Cricket was particularly popular in the town during the inter-war period, when the club enjoyed the services of Learie Constantine, the West Indian cricketer; when in 1969 Constantine became the first person of African descent to be given a life peerage, he chose to be gazetted as Baron Constantine, of Maraval in Trinidad and Tobago and of Nelson in the County Palatine of Lancaster.

Speedway racing was staged at Seedhill Stadium from 1967 to 1970. The Nelson Admirals were founder members of the British League Division Two.) The team later moved embloc to Odsal Stadium, Bradford. The track was also used for stock car racing.

The town also has two golf clubs, a municipal at Marsden Park and a private club in Kings Causeway known simply as Nelson Golf Club.


The town is home to several parks the most notable of which are Victoria Park and Marsden Park. The recently opened Arts, Culture and Enterprise Centre (The ACE Centre) [1] provides the residents with a new multi-purpose venue and incorporates a cinema, theatre and bistro. The Heritage Trust for the North West have numerous campaigns and projects in the area. One of which has seen the restoration and conservation of a whole street of Victorian workers housing, a former primary school and cotton mill, as it was feared that the Industrial Heritage of the town was at risk.[23] St Mary's Church is also another major project in the town, which is planned to open as an exhibition centre in Summer 2012.[24]


Local radio for Nelson is currently provided by 2BR and BBC Radio Lancashire, and – since September 2007 – by community radio service Pendle Community Radio, aimed primarily at the local Asian community. There are two local newspapers: the Nelson Leader, published on Fridays, and the daily Lancashire Telegraph, which publishes a local edition for Burnley and Pendle.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Office for National Statistics. Accessed 15 April 2008.
  2. ^ Accessed 4 August 2008. The most deprived Lower Layer SOA ranks 262nd out of 32482, placing it in the 1% most deprived areas in the country.
  3. ^ Sold House Prices. Nelson appears in 10th place in the list of towns with the lowest property prices (averaging £97,307); Oxford Street in Brierfield, Nelson appears in 4th place in the list of streets with the lowest property prices (averaging £19,943).
  4. ^ An Early History of Burnley, Pendle and West Craven Clayton 2006, p.118
  5. ^ a b Metcalfe 2005, p.7.
  6. ^ a b Metcalfe 2005, p.8.
  7. ^ Nicolaisen 1970, p.140
  8. ^ Metcalfe 2005, p.8
  9. ^ a b Accessed 23 April 2008.
  10. ^ Pendle Borough Council. Accessed 15 April 2008.
  11. ^ Lancashire County Council. Accessed 24 April 2008.
  12. ^ European Parliament official site. Accessed 24 April 2008.
  13. ^ Office for National Statistics. Accessed 6 September 2007.
  14. ^ 2011 census. Accessed 24 November 2013.
  15. ^ 2011 census. Accessed 24 November 2013.
  16. ^ 2011 census. Accessed 24 November 2013.
  17. ^ 2011 census. Accessed 24 November 2013.
  18. ^ Office for National Statistics. 2001 census. Accessed 24 April 2008
  19. ^, 24 June 2007. Accessed 6 September 2007.
  20. ^ "News: Multi-storey car park". Motor. nbr 3518: page 57. 22 November 1969. 
  21. ^ "Interchanges". Lancashire County Council. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  22. ^ "Nelson Interchange". Lancashire County Council. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  23. ^ HTNW (2010) "Lomeshaye Mill, School and Bridge Cottage",
  24. ^ HTNW (2010) "St Marys Church, Nelson",
  25. ^ El Bombín: Tales of British Football Coaches Around The World. Accessed 24 April 2008.
  26. ^ "John Simm: The time of his life", The Independent, 11 February 2007. Accessed 24 April 2008


  • Clayton John A. (2006). The Valley of the Drawn Sword - The Early History of Burnley, Pendle and West Craven. Barrowford Press. ISBN 978-0-9553821-0-9. 
  • Metcalf M. (2005). Nelson (Images of England). Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7524-3630-2. 
  • Nicolaisen W. F. H., Gelling M., & Richards M. (1970). The Names of Towns and Cities in Britain. B. T. Batsford Ltd. ISBN 0-7134-0113-3. 

External links[edit]