Town Hall with clock tower
Great Harwood is a small town in Lancashire, located 4½ miles north-east of Blackburn and adjacent to the Ribble Valley. Great Harwood is the major conurbation of the 'Three Towns'; the three towns being Great Harwood, Clayton-le-Moors, and Rishton. In 2001 the town had a population of 11,220, which decreased to 10,800 at the 2011 census.
Great Harwood is a town with an industrial heritage. The Mercer Hall Leisure Centre in Queen Street, and the town clock, pay tribute to John Mercer (1791–1866), the 'father' of Great Harwood, who revolutionised the cotton dyeing process with his invention of mercerisation. An agricultural society is also maintained.
The town was once on the railway line from Blackburn to Burnley via Padiham – The North Lancs or Great Harwood Loop of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. The last passenger train ran in November 1957 and goods traffic in 1964. The Martholme Viaduct on the line remains about one mile north-east.
The town football team, Great Harwood Town, closed in July 2006. Great Harwood Cricket Club, was a member of the Ribblesdale Cricket League, winning the senior division in 2008, and has seven teams, ranging from under 9s through to senior level. In 2016, the club accepted an invitation from the Lancashire League, and played in that league from the 2017 season.
Great Harwood used to have a lively and bustling market around the town clock in the main square. It was very popular, and drew people from across the county every week. It has declined in the last 15 years and almost disappeared, but having seen a small resurgence is now (May 2017) usually only a single stall which arrives every Friday with fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, clothes and pet supplies.
More recently, there has been a very popular farmers market held each first Sunday of every month. Stalls include rare selections of organic meat, traditional Malkin pie, fish and shell fish stall, luxury body care stalls, European stalls, locally brewed beer stalls, art and crafts and jewellery stalls.
Great Harwood has three supermarkets: Aldi, which opened in November 2010, Tesco, which opened in December 2011, and Morrisons, which was previously Co-Op, which originally opened in June 2001, which also opened in 2010. There are two petrol stations, run by Texaco, as well as Morrisons. A retained fire station is also located in the town, having opened in 1972.
Great Harwood is also home to Great Harwood Agricultural Show, an annual show held every year on the late May Bank Holiday Monday. The show is now in its 150th year, with the next show being held on 28 May 2018.
- Thomas Birtwistle (1833–1912), trade unionist and factory inspector, born at Great Harwood.
- Matthew Derbyshire, professional footballer with Blackburn, Olympiacos, Nottingham Forest and Rotherham.
- David Dunn, footballer, was born and brought up in Great Harwood. Played for Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City.
- Leslie Duxbury (1926–2005), Coronation Street scriptwriter, was a resident.
- Nicholas Freeston (1907–1978), award-winning Lancashire poet, who worked at Birtwistle and Fielding's, Delph Road Mill, Great Harwood.
- Michael Gibson, television presenter director, was brought up in Great Harwood.
- Mortimer Grimshaw (1824/5–1869), strike leader and political activist
- Ethel Carnie Holdsworth (1886–1962), writer, also published as Ethel Carnie and Ethel Holdsworth - lived in Great Harwood until her marriage in 1915 and some of her poems and novels were written in the town.
- Netherwood Hughes (1900–2009), World War I veteran, was born in Lord Street.
- Mick Jackson, writer, best known for his novel of 1997 The Underground Man, was born in the town in 1960.
- John Mercer, scientist who developed a process for treating cotton, was born in the town in 1791.
- Brett Ormerod, footballer, Great Harwood born and bred. Grew up on Duke Street.
- UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Great Harwood Built-up area (1119884003)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/sources/census_2011_ks/report?compare=1119884003. Retrieved 8 February 2018
- Lancashire Profile
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - subscription based, accessed 15 June 2011
- Suggitt, Gordon (2003). Lost Railways of Lancashire. Newbury, Berkshire: Countryside Books. pp. 80–82. ISBN 978-1-85306-801-0. OCLC 52565677.
- "Great Harwood Show". http://www.greatharwoodshow.com. Retrieved 5 June 2016.