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Town Hall. - - 525051.jpg
Accrington Town Hall
Grid reference: SD761286
Location: 53°45’12"N, 2°21’50"W
Population: 35,203  (2001)
Post town: Accrington
Postcode: BB5
Dialling code: 01254
Local Government
Council: Hyndburn

Accrington is a town in Lancashire about four miles east of Blackburn and six miles west of Burnley, on the mostly culverted River Hyndburn. Its name is commonly abbreviated by locals to "Accy".[1] The town has a population of 35,203 according to the 2001 and the wider urban area about it has a population of over 70,000.

Accrington is a former centre of the cotton and textile machinery industries. The town is famed for manufacturing the hardest and densest building bricks in the world, "The Accrington NORI" (iron), which were used in the construction of the Empire State Building and for the foundations of Blackpool Tower; famous for Accrington Stanley FC and the Haworth Art Gallery which holds Europe's largest collection of Tiffany Glass.

Accrington is a hill town located at the western edge of the Pennines within a bowl and largely encircled by surrounding hills to heights of 1,000-1,300ft. The Hyndburn or Accrington Brook flows through the centre of the town. Hill settlements origins were as the economic foci of the district engaging in the spinning and weaving of woollen cloth. Wool, lead and coal were other local industries. Geographical coordinates: 53° 46' 0" North, 2° 21' 0" West. Height above sea level: there is a spot height outside the Market Hall which is 438ft; the bench mark on the side of the neighbouring Town Hall is 441.10 feet.


The name Accrington appears to be Anglo-Saxon in origin. Its derivation is uncertain.

In the records it variously appears as Akarinton in 1194; Akerunton, Akerinton and Akerynton in 1258; Acrinton in 1292; Ackryngton in 1311 and Acryngton in 1324.[2]

The name may mean acorn farmstead from Old English æcern meaning acorn and tun meaning farmstead or village.[2] The southern part of Accrington, the township of New Accrington, was formerly in the Forest of Blackburnshire and the presence of oak trees may be inferred from local place names like Broad Oak and Oak Hill. The products of oak trees were once an important food for swine and a farmstead may have been named for such produce.[2]

As an alternative, the first element may be a personal name, as -ington is a common suffix meaning "X's people's village", but there is no known Old English personal name from which the first element can be derived. The Frisian names Akkrum, Akkeringa and Dutch name Akkerghem, are suggested though derived from the personal name Akker, and there may be a corresponding Old English name from which Accrington may be derived.[2]

The town we now call Accrington covers two townships which were established in 1507 following disafforestation; those of Old Accrington and New Accrington which were merged in 1878 with the incorporation of the borough council.[3] There have been settlements there since the mediæval period, likely in the Grange Lane and Black Abbey area,[3][4] and the King's Highway which passes above the town was at one time used by the kings and queens of England when they used the area for hunting when the Forest of Accrington was one of the four forests of the hundred of Blackburnshire.

Robert de Lacy gave the manor of Accrington to the monks of Kirkstall in the 12th century. The monks built a |grange there; removing the inhabitants to make room for it. The locals got their revenge by setting fire to the new building, destroying its contents and in the process killing the three lay brothers who occupied it.[3] An area of the town is named 'Black Abbey' a possible reference to the murders. Regardless of whatever happened Accrington did not remain under monastic control for long before reverting to the de Lacys.

It is thought the monks of Kirkstall may have built a small chapel there during their tenure for the convenience of those in charge residing there and their tenants, but the records are uncertain.[3] What is known is that there was a chapel in Accrington prior to 1553 [3] where the vicar of Whalley was responsible for the maintenance of divine worship. However it did not have its own minister and it was served, when at all, by the curate of one of the adjacent chapels. In 1717 Accrington was served by the curate of Church, who preached there only once a month.[3] St. James's Church was built in 1763, replacing the old chapel[3] however it did not achieve parochial status until as late as 1870.[4]

Until around 1830 visitors considered Accrington to be just a "considerable village".[3] The Industrial Revolution, however, resulted in large changes and Accrington's location on the confluence of a number of streams made it attractive to industry and a number of mills were built in the town in the mid-eighteenth century. Further industrialisation then followed in the late eighteenth century and local landowners began building mansions in the area on the outskirts of the settlement where their mills were located while their employees lived in overcrowded unsanitary conditions in the centre.[4]

Industrialisation resulted in rapid population growth during the nineteenth century, as people moved from over Lancashire and neighbouring counties to Accrington,[5] with the population increasing from 3,266 in 1811 to 10,376 in 1851 to 43,211 in 1901[4] to its peak in 1911 at 45,029.[6]

This fast population growth and slow response from the Church of England allowed non-conformism to flourish in the town. By the mid-nineteenth century there were Wesleyan, Primitive Methodist, United Free Methodist, Congregationalist, Baptist, Swedenborgian, Unitarian, Roman Catholic and Catholic Apostolic churches in the town.[3] The Swedenborgian church was so grand that it was considered to be the 'Cathedral' of that denomination.[6]

For many decades the textiles industry, the engineering industry and coal mining were the central activities of the town. Cotton mills and dye works provided work for the inhabitants; but often in very difficult conditions. There was regular conflict with employers over wages and working conditions. On 24 April 1826 over 1,000 men and women, many armed, gathered at Whinney Hill in Clayton-le-Moors to listen to a speaker from where they marched on Sykes's Mill at Higher Grange Lane, near the site of the modern police station and Magistrate's Courts, and smashed over 60 looms. These riots spread from Accrington through Oswaldtwistle, Blackburn, Darwen, Rossendale, Bury and Chorley. In the end after three days of riots 1,139 looms were destroyed, 4 rioters and 2 bystanders shot dead by the authorities in Rossendale and 41 rioters sentenced to death (all of whose sentences were commuted).[7][8]

In the 1842 'plug riots' a general strike spread from town to town due to conditions in the town. In a population of 9,000 people as few as 100 were fully employed.[9] From the 15 August 1842 the situation boiled over and bands of men entered the mills which were running and stopped the machinery by knocking out the boiler plugs. This allowed the water and steam to escape shutting down the mill machinery.[10] Thousands of strikers walked over the hills from one town to another to persuade people to join the strike in civil disturbances that lasted about a week.[11][12] The strike was associated with the Chartist movement but eventually proved unsuccessful in its aims.[13]

In the early 1860s the Lancashire cotton famine badly affected Accrington, although less so than the wider area due to its more diverse economy,[14] with as many as half of the town's mill employees out of work at one time.[15]

Conditions were such that a Local Board of Health was constituted in 1853 and the town itself incorporated in 1878 allowing the enforcement of local laws to improve the town.[3][4]

Accrington Pals

One well-known association the town has is with the 'Accrington Pals', the nickname given to the smallest home town battalion of volunteers formed to fight in the First World War. The Pals battalions were a peculiarity of the 1914-18 war: Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, believed that it would help recruitment if friends and work-mates from the same town were able to join up and fight together. Strictly speaking, the 'Accrington Pals' battalion is properly known as the '11th East Lancashire Regiment': the nickname is a little misleading, since of the four 250-strong companies that made up the original battalion only one was actually composed of men from Accrington. The rest volunteered from other east Lancashire towns such as Burnley, Blackburn and Chorley.[16]

The Pals' first day of action, Saturday 1 July 1916, took place in Serre in the north of France. It was part of the 'Big Push' (later known as the Battle of the Somme) that was intended to force the German Army into a retreat from the Western Front, a line they had held since late 1914. The German defences in Serre were supposed to have been obliterated by sustained, heavy, British shelling during the preceding week; however, as the battalion advanced it met with fierce resistance. 235 men were killed and a further 350 wounded — more than half of the battalion — within half an hour. Similarly desperate losses were suffered elsewhere on the front, and the First day on the Somme proved a disastrous day for the British Army (approximately 19,000 British soldiers were killed in a single day).

Later in the year, the East Lancashire Regiment was rebuilt with new volunteers — in all, 865 Accrington men were killed during First World War. All of these names are recorded on a war memorial, an imposing white stone cenotaph, which stands in Oak Hill Park in the south of the town. The cenotaph also lists the names of 173 local fatalities from Second World War.

After First World War and until 1986, Accrington Corporation buses were painted in the regimental colours of red and blue with gold lining. The mudguards were painted black as a sign of mourning.


The centre of Accrington is located around a pedestrianised street called Broadway with shops on both sides, which connects Blackburn Road to Whalley Road. On one side of Broadway forms part of a shopping centre called the Accrington Arndale, which consists of 52 retail units, and was opened in 1987.[17] The markets, with indoor and outdoor stalls, are on Blackburn Road next to the Town Hall.

The indoor market was opened in 1869 and the Market Hall is now a listed building; in 2010 it was refurbished and the following year it was named as best indoor market in a National Association of British Market Authorities competition.[18][19]

The outdoor market, with 37 stalls, is next to it and opens on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.[20] Near the town centre there is the Eastgate Retail Park.

Formerly cotton and textile machinery were important industries in the town. Accrington bricks, a type of iron hard engineering brick, were produced nearby in Huncoat.


  • The Accrington Observer
  • The Lancashire Telegraph

Sport: Accrington Stanley

Accrington Stanley FC is perhaps the town's most famous attribute, a club which is the butt of many (largely affectionate) jokes. The club's name is often invoked as a symbol of British sport's legion of plucky but hopeless causes.

The club entered the Football League in 1921 with the formation of the old Third Division (North); after haunting the lower reaches of English football for forty years, they eventually resigned from the League in 1962, due to financial problems, and folded in 1965. The club was reformed three years later and then worked its way through the non-league divisions to reach the Nationwide Conference in 2003. In the 2005–06 season, Stanley, after winning against Woking FC with 3 matches to spare, secured a place back in the Football League and the town celebrated with a small parade and honours placed on senior executives of the team. The football stadium is called the Crown Ground. Until the 2012-13 season, when Fleetwood Town entered the league, Accrington was the smallest town in England and Wales with a Football League club.[21]

Accrington Stanley Football Club has officially had its own pub in the town, the Crown, since July 2007.[22]

The club was ridiculed during the 1980s with a milk advert on television, in which a young boy boasted that Ian Rush had told him that "if [he] didn't drink lots of milk, when [he] [grew] up, [he'd] only be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley".

An earlier club, Accrington FC, were one of the twelve founder members of the Football League in 1888. However, their time in league football was even less successful and considerably briefer than that of Accrington Stanley: they dropped out of the league in 1893 and folded shortly afterwards due to financial problems. The town of Accrington thus has the unique "distinction" of having lost two separate clubs from league football.

Tiffany Glass

The Haworth Art Gallery[23] in Accrington contains an outstanding collection of Tiffany glassware presented to the town by Joseph Briggs, an Accrington man who had joined Tiffany's in the late 19th century and eventually became art director and assistant manager. The Art Nouveau vases are considered to be the most important such group in Europe. One of the most striking items is a glass mosaic exhibition piece, designed by Briggs himself and entitled "Sulphur Crested Cockatoos".

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Accrington)


  1. "Accy's Easter Rising". MEN Media - Accrington Observer. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Ellert Ekwall. "Accrington". Place Names of Lancashire. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 'Townships: Old and New Accrington'; A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Accrington Historic Town Assessment report". Lancashire County Council and Egerton Lea Consultancy with the support of English Heritage and Hyndburn Borough Council. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  5. "Patterns of Migration of Textile Workers into Accrington in the Nineteenth Century". William Turner. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 H Barrett & C Duckworth (2004). Accrington Old & New. Frith Book Company Ltd. ISBN 1-85937-806-4. 
  7. "Cotton Times". Doug Peacock. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011. 
  8. Turner, William (1992). Riot! Story of East Lancashire Loom Breakers in 1826. Lancashire County Books. ISBN 978-1-871236-17-0. 
  9. "An alarming statement of distress", the Newcastle Courant, 1 July 1842
  10. Newbigging, Thomas (1893). History of the Forest of Rossendale. Rossendale Free Press. 
  11. "Riot in Accrington", the Preston Chronicle, 3 September 1842
  12. "Disturbances in the Manufacturing Districts", the Liverpool Mercury, 19 August 1842
  13. "State of Trade", the Preston Chronicle, 12 November 1842
  14. "The Distress in Lancashire", The Leeds Mercury, 25 October 1862
  15. "State of Employment", The Preston Guardian, 3 December 1864
  16. Jackson, Andrew C (2009). "The Accrington Pals". Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  17. Bell, Alex (2013-02-01). "Arndale centre struggling to attract chains". Accrington Observer (MEN Media). Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  18. Cruces, Emma (2010-06-27). "Accrington market hall's £2m revamp unveiled". Lancashire Telegraph (Newsquest (North West)). Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  19. "Accrington market scoops national award". Lancashire Telegraph (Newsquest (North West)). 2011-01-31. Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  20. Cruces, Emma (2013-03-18). "Fears Accrington market on brink of collapse". Lancashire Telegraph (Newsquest (North West)). Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  21. Towns Represented in League Two 2007-8
  23. Haworth Art Gallery


  • William Turner. Pals: the 11th (Service) Battalion (Accrington), East Lancashire Regiment. Barnsley, Yorkshire: Pen & Sword, 1998. ISBN 978-0-85052-360-7