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Sabden - - 67357.jpg
Sabden viewed from Padiham Heights
Sabden is located in Lancashire
 Sabden shown within Lancashire
Population 1,371 [1]
OS grid reference SD779374
District Ribble Valley
Shire county Lancashire
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BB7
Dialling code 01282
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
List of places

Coordinates: 53°49′59″N 2°20′10″W / 53.833°N 2.336°W / 53.833; -2.336

Sabden is a medium to large village and civil parish in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire. Sabden is located south of Pendle Hill, in a valley about 3 miles north-west of Padiham. The parish is 2,451 acres.[2] It lies in the Forest of Pendle section of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Sabden is believed to have been derived from Old English sceppe denu, meaning spruce valley.[3] The name occurs as early as 1296 as Sapedene,[4] however this likely refers to Sabden Hall, located in the hamlet now known as Sabden Fold in Goldshaw Booth.


In 1387 Sapenden Haye (Sabden Hey) was demised by John of Gaunt to Thomas de Radcliffe.[5] A bridge is mentioned near here in 1425.[5]

Both Yates' 1786 and Greenwood's 1818 maps of Lancashire mark two settlements at this site: Hey-houfes and Sabden Bridge[6][7] It was known as Sabden Hey and Heyhouses when it developed into a hamlet [8]

The Starkie family of Huntroyde Hall near Padiham were landowners in Heyhouses from at least 1787 and in 1801, Le Gendre Piers Starkie purchased the remaining portion to add to the Huntroyde estate. The family were the patrons of St. Nicholas’ church (built in 1841).[5]

The early 19th century Beauties of England and Wales series, describes the "extensive factory and print grounds of Messrs Miller, Burys & Co" here. Leaving the place unnamed, it mentions the remoteness of the site, and that the owners had built a company shop and chapel for the 2,000 employees.[9]

Farming and quarrying were the mainstays from the 16th century with many small farms and several quarries. There is still a good example of a very old vaccary (medieval cattle farm) wall at the roadside near the ancient Stainscomb property east of the village.[10] In the later 18th and the 19th century fabric printing and weaving industries took over.

Strings of Lime gals (Galloway ponies) were a common site from the mid-18th century into the late 19th century; they generally carried slate, lime and coal, making their way through Sabden going between the Burnley coal fields and the Clitheroe / Chatburn lime kilns.[11]

The small community of 1818

The Weavers Arms was a public house, now long closed, it was on the Top Row.[12]

The Old Black Bull, previously The Printers Arms, (the large house next to the bridge) was a pub until the 1960s[13]

The high-quality water in the valley attracted the calico printing industry[14] and Sabden became one of the best renowned places for Calico fabric prints in the UK if not the world, the industry kept going until 1931.[15] At one stage there were 7 mills in the village employing over 2,000 people, this meant many workers travelled to work daily from surrounding towns and villages on foot, many working a 12-hour shift or more.[16][17]

All the mills meant an increasing demand for transport for people, coal, raw materials and finished goods. This led to the formation of the Clitheroe, Burnley and Sabden Railway Company,[18] who issued shares, but the railway never came. Many of the houses were built for the mill workers by the mill owners.[19]

Before 1904 the village was in seven different parishes and residents would move around to gain the lowest rates, after about 6 years of negotiations and wranglings it was all settled, Sabden was a township, resulting in 44 pages of newspaper cuttings![20]

Wesley Street was known as Long Row (the longest row at the time) and Badger Wells Water,(a tributary brook) originally ran down Littlemoor and joined Sabden Brook near Bull Bridge, not as it now does, down the rear of Wesley Street[21][disputed ] This is confirmed on the 1818 map on the right, where the Pendle Forest border follows the water course directly south to join the main brook near the bridge.[22] In 1847 there were two bridges at the bottom of Wesley St, one for Clitheroe road and one for Whalley road, both for the Badgers Wells Water. There were no houses on the west side of Padiham road or south of Whalley road.[23] The garages at the bottom of Wesley St were once the first ten on the street, one up one down houses, back to back[24] this explains why the numbers now begin at 12, they were known as Centre Row.


Sabden became a civil parish in 1904, when it was formed from the township of Heyhouses, parts of the 6 parishes of Goldshaw Booth, Higham with West Close Booth, Northtown and Read, all in the Burnley Rural District, and from Pendleton and Wiswell in the Clitheroe Rural District. Sabden remained in the Burnley Rural District until the local government reforms of 1974.[25]

The village is in the single-member Sabden Ward of the Ribble Valley Borough Council.[26]


Sabden is 500 feet and higher above sea level and due to its position on Pendle Hill, it is usually 2 °C colder than the surrounding settlements of Clitheroe and Whalley. The highest point on a road is the Nick of Pendle at 993 feet and on land Spence Moor at 1,462 feet. Badger Wells Water (brook) runs from the flanks of Pendle and Churn Clough reservoir above the village to the north east and is culverted down Whalley road, before joining Sabden Brook. A tributary of the River Calder, Lancashire the brook runs under Bull Bridge (named after the pub which closed many years ago) and down through the centre of the village towards Whalley. To the south of the village on the hill, lies Sabden wood. The main rock type in Sabden is Lancashire gritsone, and the soil is mainly clay-based.


In the 2001 census, Sabden had a population of 1,371,[1] and as of 2011 had grown to 1422 with 614 households.[27] However, since 2011, plans for multiple new plots at the mills of Watt street have meant that as of 2012/13, the village's population will increase dramatically to an estimated 1800–2000 inhabitants.


There are two pubs in the village, the Pendle Witch on Whalley road and the White Hart Inn on Padiham road.

Sabden also has two convenience shops, one containing a Post Office. There is a deli called 'Sandwitches' (sic), located on Whalley Road in the middle of the village as well as a hair salon. Brookside Garage Sabden is situated across from the White Hart on the car park, and there is a cafe off Watt street. Industry was more prominent in the past when Sabden had a furniture making company, 'Contrast', however as of spring 2012, much of the old Cobden Mill (named after Richard Cobden) was demolished to make way for housing development, this only left the modern built Falcon House with its car park. 'Marbill' timber also relocated to a nearby village, and the derelict building will be used for further homes.


Sabden has two primary schools, St Mary's RC Primary School Sabden and Sabden County Primary School.

The village is in the catchment area of the Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, Ribblesdale High School and St Augustine's RC High School.


  • Richard Cobden was a well known free trade politician and contributed to the village history,[28] with Cobden Farm [1] and the now demolished Cobden mill replaced by Cobden Court (new housing) all holding his surname.

Yeppe Knaves grave[disputed ] hides high on the ridge towards Pendleton, above the coffin road to Whalley Abbey;[29] he was a disowned late-13th-century criminal who could not be buried in a parish and was buried on two boundaries, in 1327 his grave was a landmark[30]

In more recent years David Waddington the past home secretary, lived at Whins House (with an armed police guard). This was before he was posted as Governor of Bermuda in 1992.





  1. ^ a b "Parish headcount" (PDF). Lancashire County Council. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  2. ^ UK Census Data 2011
  3. ^ Ekwall, Eilert (1922). The place-names of Lancashire. Manchester University Press. p. 80. 
  4. ^ The forgotten Valley by Clifford Moorhouse 1978 p38
  5. ^ a b c Farrer and Brownbill 1911, pp. 513-14
  6. ^ Yates' 1786 Lancashire map
  7. ^ 1818 Greenwood's Lancashire map
  8. ^ Sabden Before 1600, and Heyhouses and the Neighbourhood by Dr J.A. Laycock
  9. ^ Britton 1807, pp. 136-38
  10. ^ The forgotten Valley by Clifford Moorhouse 1978 plate 27,28&43
  11. ^ Clitheroe In Its Railway Days by Stephen Clark 1900
  12. ^ 1906 Court Document
  13. ^ Sabden Past & Present A. Barrett & David Eaves
  14. ^ The Birth Of A Lancashire Village p66 by Clifford Moorhouse
  15. ^ The Birth Of A Lancashire Village p79 by Clifford Moorhouse
  16. ^ The forgotten Valley by Clifford Moorhouse 1978
  17. ^ Britton, Beauties of Engl. 'Lancs.' 136–8
  18. ^ Clitheroe, Burnley & Sabden Railway Act 1886
  19. ^ The Birth Of a Lancashire Village by Clifford Moorhouse
  20. ^ The Birth Of A Lancashire Village p78 to p92 by Clifford Moorhouse
  21. ^ The forgotten Valley by Clifford Moorhouse 1978 p50 & p66
  22. ^ Greenwoods 1818 map
  23. ^ OS 1st edition 1:2,500 map
  24. ^ Sabden Past & Present p34 A. Barrett & David Eaves
  25. ^ "Sabden CP Lancashire through time – Administrative history of Parish-level Unit: hierarchies, boundaries". A Vision of Britain through Time. University of Portsmouth & others. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  26. ^ "Ribble Valley Borough Council". Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  27. ^ UK Census data 2011
  28. ^ The Birth Of A Lancashire Village p30 to p42 by Clifford Moorhouse
  29. ^ OS 1st edition 1:2,500 map E376 N4378
  30. ^ The forgotten Valley by Clifford Morehouse 1978 p38-39


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