Rawtenstall as seen from a hill in Haslingden
|OS grid reference|
|• London||177 mi (285 km) SE|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||North West England|
Rawtenstall (// or locally //) is a town at the centre of the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire, England, with a population of 22,000. It is the seat for the Borough of Rossendale, in which it is located. The town lies 17.4 miles north of Manchester, 22 miles east of Preston and 45 miles south east of the county town of Lancaster. Nearby towns include Bacup, Haslingden and Ramsbottom.
The name Rawtenstall has been given two possible interpretations. The older is a combination of the Middle English routen ('to roar or bellow'), from the Old Norse rauta and the Old English stall 'pool in a river' (Ekwall 1922, 92). The second, more recent one, relates to Rawtenstall's identification as a cattle farm in 1324 and combines the Old English ruh 'rough' and tun-stall 'the site of a farm' (Mills 1991, 269), or possibly, 'buildings occupied when cattle were pastured on high ground' (Mills 1976, 125).
The earliest settlement at Rawtenstall was probably in the early Middle Ages, during the time when it formed part of the Rossendale Valley in the Honour of Clitheroe, and consisted of simple dwellings for forest servants and animals. More substantial buildings may have followed in the 15th and 16th centuries with corn and flour mills.
The town entered a major period of growth during the Industrial Revolution, as new mills were constructed to process cotton. The climate and weather were conducive to the industry, as was the town's nearby location to the rapidly developing industrial and mercantile centre at Manchester, dubbed 'Cottonopolis'. Only a few of these mills survive today, and none are still operational. During this period, David Whitehead and his brother became important entrepreneurs in the town. They built a number of mills, including one of the earliest mills in the valley, at Lower Mill, and the still existing Ilex Mill. They also built substantial houses for themselves at Holly Mount, as well as large numbers of terraced houses for their workers. The population of Rawtenstall quadrupled in the first half of the 19th century and would double again in the second half. Other industries active in this period included quarrying and small scale coal mining, as well as an expanding commercial sector.
As with many small mid-Lancashire towns, it saw a population decline in the 20th century, going from 30,000 inhabitants in the 1911 census to 21,500 in the 1971 census. With the decline of the traditional manufacturing industries, shoemaking became one of the last survivors. The firm of H. W. Tricketts, in nearby Waterfoot, had been a major producer and exporter of footwear across the British Empire, but eventually the last shoemaking firms closed as production moved overseas.
A local board was formed for the town in 1874 and the district it governed was extended to cover parts of the townships of Lower Booths (Rawtenstall itself), Higher Booths, Newchurch and Haslingden in the ancient parish of Whalley and Cowpe, Lench, Newhall Hey and Hall Carr, and part of Tottington (Higher End) in the ancient parish of Bury. Subsequently, Rawtenstall was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1891 and in 1894 a civil parish was created to match the borders of the borough. Following the local government reorganisation in 1974 Rawtenstall became part of the Borough of Rossendale.
Rawtenstall is part of the Rossendale and Darwen constituency, after the constituency of Rossendale was abolished in 1983. The constituency sends one member of parliament to the House of Commons. As of May 2013, both Lancashire County Council and the local council, Rossendale Borough Council, are controlled by the Labour Party.
Jake Berry MP has been the Member of Parliament for Rossendale and Darwen since 2010.
Its neighbouring communities in the valley are Bacup, Haslingden and Ramsbottom. The area is bounded to the north by Loveclough and Whitewell Bottom, to the east by Waterfoot and Cowpe and to the south by Townsend Fold and Horncliffe. The River Irwell passes through the town on the first part of its route between Bacup and Manchester. Over recent years the area has become increasingly popular with visitors, attracted by historic buildings, dramatic landscapes and fine walking country.
Like most of the United Kingdom, Rawtenstall has an oceanic climate.
|Climate data for Rawtenstall|
|Average high °C (°F)||3.9
|Average low °C (°F)||−1.1
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||165
The town is served locally by Rosso, with a large bus station close to the centre, as well as frequent express services X43 to Burnley, Nelson and Manchester run by Burnley Bus Company. The town has had bus routes since the early 1930s. Lancashire and Rossendale are planning to replace the station with a modern bus interchange. In 2007 a proposal to demolish the station and build a Lidl store on the site was considered. The new Lidl store was completed in 2009.
Rawtenstall railway station also serves the town, but since the closure of the main line to Manchester, it now operates mainly as a tourist route, as part of the East Lancashire Railway, of which Rawtenstall station forms the northern terminus. The M66 motorway from Manchester is linked to Rawtenstall via the A56 bypass, allowing for a driving time between Manchester and Rawtenstall of around half an hour.
The town has a number of primary and secondary (high) schools, including Bellmont School, St Paul's C of E Primary, Cloughfold Primary School, Leabrook School, Alder Grange Community and Technology School and All Saints' Catholic High School. Though located in Waterfoot, rather than Rawtenstall, the traditional grammar school, Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School takes part of its name from the town.
Culture and community
The Rossendale Valley's local newspaper, the Rossendale Free Press was originally based in Rawtenstall, before being bought out by the Manchester Evening News in 2009 and subsequently moving to Manchester. Rawtenstall also has one of the largest indoor markets in Rossendale (a sign declaring it to be "probably the friendliest market in the world"), which suffered a serious arson attack in March 2011.
It was home to the North of England's largest dry ski-slope, before it was closed due to funding cuts. Ski Rossendale was located five minutes from Rawtenstall town centre in the Oakenhead area, directly above Whitaker Park and Rossendale Museum. Over its 40-year existence it had seen world record attempts and was used by Olympic athletes and novice skiers. It re-opened once again in November 2011 with new funding, with a large ceremonial fireworks display on its opening day, Bonfire Night.
It is also home to the traditional herbalist and temperance bar Fitzpatrick's Herbal Health, which claims to be the oldest brewer of sarsaparilla and dandelion and burdock in the country. Fitzpatrick's gained television acclaim in April 2005 when managers Gareth Hawden and Chris Law won the Famous Sarsaparilla Taste-off on ITV. It is the last bar of its kind in England.
Famous fashion boutique Sunday Best is situated on Bank Street. Sunday Best won The Daily Telegraph magazine's best shop in Britain award for women's fashion in 2011 whilst Roland's Florist on Bacup Road was runner up in the best florist category. The awards were judged by TV shopping guru Mary Portas.
Police facilities in Rawtenstall were one of five sites used for the training of new recruits to the Lancashire Constabulary. In late 2011, due to funding cuts, Rawtenstall Police Station, along with various other stations in the area, closed down. Rawtenstall is also the location of the area's county and magistrates' courts.
Whitaker Park is located on the outskirts of the town centre, and consists of the former house of the mill owner George Hardman, set in extensive landscaped grounds. Donated to the township in the early 20th century for the purposes of civic recreation, the house now contains the Whitaker which is Rossendale's Museum and Art Gallery, whilst the gardens and surrounding land are laid out as a public park. The museum contains exhibits of local history, or displays of the house as it was originally. Part of it houses an extensive exhibition of taxidermy, whilst other areas are used to display contemporary art. The park itself has tennis courts, a bowling green, basketball court, a skateboard area and a playground as well as formal gardens and fountains.
The Irwell Sculpture Trail also runs through the town, where four of the sculptures are located; the Whispering Wall, the Gateway, the Willow Tree and the Bocholt Tree. The last, by sculptor Bernard Tindall, celebrates Rossendale's twinning links with the town of Bocholt, Germany. The Shoe Trail also hits the outskirts of the town, and goes through nearby places such as Whitaker Park.
Rawtenstall's shopping centre had become deserted and boarded-up, and after 2003 various proposals were put forward regarding reconstruction or refurbishment. An agreement between Rossendale Council and the owners of the Rawtenstall centre, Ashcap, in February 2011, was said to "improve Rawtenstall town centre". In late 2011 the shopping centre was demolished, creating a new town square area, where local markets and other events are infrequently held. Rossendale Council funded the demolition using money set aside for a public pool in neighbouring town Haslingden. This move was slammed by critics and the local papers.
In 1993 the first professional beauty salon in Rawtenstall opened on Ormerod Street and still trades today as Polished Beauty Clinic.
- Elizabeth Bainbridge – retired opera singer
- Ernest Tomlinson (1924–2015) – composer
- Fred Tomlinson (1927–2016) – singer, songwriter and composer
- Jane Horrocks – actress, voice artist, musician and singer, Absolutely Fabulous
- Lee Cartwright – retired footballer who made over 400 league appearances for Preston North End
- Winston Place (1914–2002) – England Test match cricketer
- Phil Lester – YouTuber and former BBC Radio 1 personality
- Thomas Hamer – Parasport swimmer
- "The Parish of Whalley: Lower Booths", A History of the County of Lancaster, 6, 1911, pp. 435–436
- "Rawtenstall CP through time". visionofbritain.org.uk. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
- "Scunthorpe historic weather averages in the United Kingdom". Intellicast. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
- Gould, Peter (2008). "Haslingden Corporation Transport". Peter Gould: Local Transport History. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
- "Profile: A century of service in Rossendale". Bus and Coach. com. Plum Publishing Limited. 18 July 2007. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
- Magill, Peter (4 December 2007). "Lidl plan for Rawtenstall bus station". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
- "Welcome to the Library and Information Service web site - History of Rawtenstall". Lancashire County Council. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2008.
- "Rawtenstall Market boss defiant after arson attack". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
- "Ski Rossendale shuts for the final time". Rossendale Free Press.
- Pike, Stuart (22 July 2011). "Ski Rossendale to take off once again". Rossendale Free Press. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- Pike, Stuart; Thacker, Simon (18 November 2011). "Fury as police axe three of the Valley's four police stations". Rossendale Free Press. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- "Wrapping off £12m town centre". menmedia.co.uk.
- "Deal 'on the table' for Rawtenstall's Valley Centre". Lancashire Telegraph.
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