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For other uses, see Clitheroe (disambiguation).
Clitheroe town centre - - 74167.jpg
Clitheroe Town Centre
Clitheroe is located in Lancashire
 Clitheroe shown within Lancashire
Population 14,765 (2011)
OS grid reference SD742417
Civil parish Clitheroe
District Ribble Valley
Shire county Lancashire
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BB7
Dialling code 01200
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Ribble Valley
List of places

Coordinates: 53°52′16″N 2°23′30″W / 53.8711°N 2.3916°W / 53.8711; -2.3916

Clitheroe /ˈklɪðər/ is a town and civil parish in the Borough of Ribble Valley in Lancashire, England. It is near the Forest of Bowland and is often used as a base for tourists in the area. It has a population of 14,765.[1][2] The most notable building in the town is Clitheroe Castle, suggested to be one of the smallest Norman keeps in the country.

The town elected two members to the Unreformed House of Commons. The Great Reform Act reduced this to one. It was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and remained a municipal borough until the Local Government Act 1972 came into force in 1974 when it became a successor parish within the Ribble Valley district.


The name Clitheroe is thought to come from the Anglo-Saxon for "Rocky Hill",[3] and was also spelled Clyderhow and Cletherwoode.[4] The town was the administrative centre for the lands of the Honor of Clitheroe. These lands were held by Roger de Poitou, who passed them to the De Lacy family from whom they passed in 1311 to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and subsequently, to the Duchy of Lancaster.[4] At one point the town of Clitheroe was given to Richard, 1st Duke of Gloucester. Up until 1835 the Lord of the Honor was also by right Lord of Bowland, the so-called Lord of the Fells.[5]

The town's earliest existing charter is from 1283, granted by Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, confirming rights granted by one of his forebears between 1147 and 1177.[3]

According to local legend, stepping stones across the River Ribble near the town are the abode of an evil spirit, who drowns one traveller every seven years.[6]


Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

The three main secondary schools in the town are Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, Ribblesdale High School and Moorland School. There are several primary schools in the town. These are St James's Church of England Primary School, St. Michael and John's Roman Catholic Primary School, Pendle Primary School, Edisford Primary School and Brookside Primary School.


Clitheroe has several companies that each employ hundreds. Most significant are Ultraframe, Hanson Cement, Tarmac, Dugdale Nutrition and Johnson Matthey.

Hanson Cement has been criticised for using industrial waste in its kilns, which some local inhabitants claim produces poisonous dioxins. Hanson Cement claims that its filters remove these and that government inspectors have approved the plant. However, locals continue to campaign for the use of industrial waste as fuel to cease.

There are a number of small industrial sites in and around Clitheroe with the most prominent being the newly expanded Link 59 Business Park to the north of the town.

Jet engine development[edit]

During World War II, the jet engine was developed by the Rover Company.[7] Rover and Rolls-Royce met engineers from the different companies at Clitheroe's Swan & Royal Hotel. The residential area 'Whittle Close' in the town is named after Frank Whittle, being built over the site of the former jet engine test beds.

The Castle[edit]

Clitheroe Castle
Clitheroe's main shopping street

Clitheroe Castle is argued to be the smallest Norman keep in the whole of England. It stands atop a 35-metre outcrop of limestone and is one of the oldest buildings in Lancashire. It is also the only remaining castle in the county which had a royalist garrison during the English Civil War.

The castle's most prominent feature is the hole in its side which was made in 1649 as was ordered by the government. It was to be put in "such condition that in might neither be a charge to the Commonwealth to keep it, nor a danger to have it kept against them".[citation needed]

Dixon Robinson was in residence as Steward of Clitheroe until his death in 1878 and resided at the castle from before 1841. His son Aurthur Ingram Robinson lived at the Castle after 1878.


Clitheroe has been represented by a Conservative Member of Parliament for many years, with the exception of Michael Carr, elected in 1991 for the Liberal Democrats. The current MP is Nigel Evans. Previous to both these was the high profile David Waddington. However, at local government level since 1991 the town of Clitheroe itself has elected at least 8 out of the 10 Liberal Democrat borough councillors on Ribble Valley Borough Council, while Clitheroe Town Council has been Liberal Democrat controlled for that period too. Likewise since 1993 the town has elected a Liberal Democrat County Councillor to Lancashire County Council. In addition, the borough returned one of the first six ever Socialist MPs at the 1906 general election, due perhaps to the large number of mill workers living locally at that time.


Clitheroe has many small independent shops, as well as some smaller branches of chain stores, such as Timpsons, Sayers, Boots, Ideal Pet Stores, WH Smith, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero, and Homebase. There are numerous banks and building societies, including Lloyds TSB, Santander, Barclays, HSBC, NatWest & Yorkshire Bank. Clitheroe has three jewellers, with Nettletons Jewellers being on the high street. Peugeot (Perrys) opened a dealership in the town in 2000, but it has since closed.

Clitheroe has five supermarkets: Booths, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Lidl & Aldi (which is set to open soon). There is a shopping arcade known as the Swan Courtyard, and two petrol stations, run by BP & Texaco (which includes a Subway).

Clitheroe festivals[edit]

The first Ribble Valley Jazz Festival for over 40 years - held from 30 April–3 May 2010 - was organised by the Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Club, based in Clitheroe. Clitheroe has hosted a Spring festival since 1997, and sausage day has been celebrated on 5 January. This is due to the local love and manufacture of sausages.[citation needed]

The annual Clitheroe Food Festival takes place in early August. Eighty or more Lancashire food and drink producers are selected to participate by the festival organisers. Lancashire's top professional chefs, the town's retailers, groups and volunteer organisations also take part.[8]


Clitheroe F.C. Football Ground
Clitheroe Skate Park

Clitheroe F.C. play in the Northern Premier League Division One North. They play their home games at the Shawbridge Stadium, which is also the home ground of Blackburn Rovers WFC. There is also a youth football club, Clitheroe Wolves. Clitheroe Rugby Union Football Club, formed in 1977, play at the Littlemoor Ground on Littlemoor Road in the town and run two rugby teams.

An annual cycle race, the Clitheroe Grand Prix takes place in the town. Clitheroe is also home to the PESL Futsal Cup, an annual futsal tournament, which takes place every August at Edisford. In April 2006, Clitheroe Skatepark officially opened.[9]


Clitheroe has a health centre, accommodating the Pendleside Medical Practice and the Castle Medical Group. There is a community hospital. The areas is served by the East Lancashire NHS Primary Care Trust. Clitheroe also has its own Ambulance, Fire & Police Stations.


United Reformed Church in the Town Centre

There are three Anglican churches: the Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene is a traditional Anglican church prominent on Church Brow on a limestone knoll; St James' Church has recently been refurbished and is home to a lively all-age congregation; St Paul's is in the area of town known as Low Moor. The town also has a large Roman Catholic community. The majority of Roman Catholic children attend St Augustine's RC High School, Billington. The Catholic saint, Margaret Clitherow, was not from Clitheroe but lived and was martyred in York. Trinity Methodist Church, part of the wider Methodist Circuit in Clitheroe and surrounding villages, is located on the edge of Castle Park in Clitheroe. There is also a URC church in the town as well as the Clitheroe Community Church and Salvation Army citadel. In nearby Sawley there is a Quaker Meeting House.

There is a sizeable Muslim community in Clitheroe.[citation needed] After years of campaigning for a Mosque in the town, permission was finally granted in December 2006, for the conversion of a former church at Lowergate into a multi-faith centre, which has a Muslim prayer room. It is open to all faiths to use the rest of the building.[10]


Clitheroe Railway Station
View towards Railway Station from Clitheroe Castle

Clitheroe is well connected in terms of public transport links via Clitheroe Interchange.

Train services[edit]

There are hourly trains to Blackburn and Manchester Victoria from the railway station that are operated by Northern Rail.[11] Usually, services are operated by Class 150 trains, but sometimes Class 156 and Class 153 operate the service. The Ribble Valley Rail group (community rail group) is campaigning for services from Clitheroe to be extended to Hellifield.[citation needed]

Bus services[edit]

There are frequent bus services from Clitheroe Interchange to the surrounding Lancashire and Yorkshire settlements. Transdev is the most prominent operator, mainly operating interurban services to other towns in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire. Other operators include Holmeswood Coaches, M&M Coaches, Little Red Bus & Tyrer Bus.

Notable people[edit]

  • Michael Bisping, professional UFC fighter.
  • Jimmy Clitheroe (1921–73) a comedian well known for his radio shows, was born in the town but raised in Blacko, near Colne.
  • John Lund, Eight-time BriSCA F1 Stock Cars World Champion.
  • Dixon Robinson (1795-1878) Honour of Clitheroe, Blackburn Lawyer and major landowner / employer of Clitheroe and Chatburn. Built the Pendle Hotel. Owned the Chatburn Horrocksford Lime Co, Bold Venture Kiln, Limeworks and Quarry from 1837 to his death in 1878. Lived at Clitheroe Castle.

Twin town[edit]

Clitheroe is twinned with a small town in France.

Media gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Town Council History". Clitheroe Town Council. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  4. ^ a b "Clitheroe". Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-11-14. Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 531 of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
  5. ^ Forest of Bowland official website
  6. ^ Ash, Russell (1973). Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Reader's Digest Association Limited. p. 362. ISBN 9780340165973. 
  7. ^ David S Brooks (1997). Vikings at Waterloo: Wartime Work on the Whittle Jet Engine by the Rover Company. Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. ISBN 1-872922-08-2]
  8. ^ Clitheroe Food Festival
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Welch, M.S. (2004) Lancashire Steam Finale, Runpast Publishing, Cheltenham, ISBN 1-870754-61-1

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]