Nelson, Lancashire

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Marsden Park.jpg
Marsden Park, Nelson
Grid reference: SD856376
Location: 53°50’5"N, 2°13’5"W
Population: 28,998  (2001)
Post town: Nelson
Postcode: BB9
Dialling code: 01282
Local Government
Council: Pendle

Nelson is a town in Lancashire, a sizable place with a population of 28,998 in 2001. It lies 4 miles north of Burnley on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The town developed as a mill town during the Industrial Revolution, but has today lost much of its industry and is characterised by pockets of severe deprivation and some of the lowest house prices in the country.[1][2]


The town was originally two villages, Little Marsden and Great Marsden.[3] A small mill had been established by the Ecroyd family at Edge End as early as 1740,[4] and there were two coal mines nearby,[4] but it was the coming of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 1796, followed by the East Lancashire Railway Line in 1849,[5] that spurred its development as an industrial town, with an economy based mainly upon cotton weaving.

There was already a Marsden on the railway network in the neighbouring county of York, so the new railway station was called the Nelson Inn, Great Marsden, after the adjacent public house, the Lord Nelson Inn named after Admiral Lord Nelson, from which the town also in time derived its name.[6]

Walverden Mill in Leeds Road was built in 1850,[7] and was soon followed by others. The town became associated in the 20th century with the production of confectionery as well, including Jelly Babies and Victory V and was where the package holiday company Airtours (formerly Pendle Travel and now part of Thomas Cook) began life as an independent travel agent. The textile industry, in particular, has now sharply declined, leaving the town with high unemployment.

Nelson was granted its charter of incorporation as a municipal borough by Queen Victoria in 1890.[5]

Extreme left wing politics in the early 20th century led to it being labelled "Little Moscow" by both the local and national press; indeed, the Nelson Leader ran the headline "Moscow calling" during the lockout of 1928. There was significant Communist Party influence in the town between the wars. When the Labour Party came to power in the town, they responded to local political feeling by placing utilities such as gas and water under the control of the municipal council, anticipating by decades the nationalisation of such utilities after Second World War. The council refused, moreover, to participate in celebrations for King George V's silver jubilee in 1935, saying that they would rather spend public money on free dinners for school children and the jobless.


The town centre is home to a number of high street multiples, and a mix of other shops. The town's shopping centre, originally called the Arndale Centre, was renamed the Admiral Shopping Centre in 1998, but it has since been renamed the Pendle Rise Shopping Centre.

The main road through the town, pedestrianized in the 1980s, was converted back to a road in 2011 to boost trade.

Transport links

Nelson is served by Junction 13 of the M65 motorway, which runs west to Burnley, Accrington, Blackburn and Preston, and north-east to Colne. From the town centre, the A56 runs south-west to the M65 at Brierfield and north-east to Colne and beyond, while the A682, ("Britain's most dangerous road")[8], heads north into the Yorkshire Dales.


  • Cricket: Nelson Cricket Club.
  • Football: Nelson FC (Football League members from 1921 until 1931)

Cricket was particularly popular in the town during the inter-war period, when the club enjoyed the services of Learie Constantine, the West Indian cricketer; when in 1969 Constantine became the first person of African descent to be given a life peerage, he chose to be gazetted as Baron Constantine, of Maraval in Trinidad and Tobago and of Nelson in the County Palatine of Lancaster.

Speedway racing was staged at Seedhill Stadium from 1967 to 1970. The Nelson Admirals were founder members of the British League Division Two.) The team later moved to Bradford. The track was also used for stock car racing.

  • Golf: Marsden Park (municipal club) and Kings Causeway (private, known simply as Nelson Golf Club)


Parks include:

  • Victoria Park
  • Marsden Park

The Arts, Culture and Enterprise Centre (The ACE Centre) provides the residents with a new multi-purpose venue and incorporates a cinema, theatre and bistro.

The Heritage Trust for the North West have numerous campaigns and projects in the area. One of which has seen the restoration and conservation of a whole street of Victorian workers housing, a former primary school and cotton mill, as it was feared that the Industrial Heritage of the town was at risk.[9] St Mary's Church is also another major project in the town, which is planned to open as an exhibition centre in Summer 2012.[10]


  • Radio:
    • 2BR
    • BBC Radio Lancashire
    • Pendle Community Radio, aimed primarily at the local Asian community.
  • Newspapers:
    • The Nelson Leader
    • Lancashire Telegraph

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Nelson, Lancashire)


  1. Accessed 4 August 2008. The most deprived “Lower Layer SOA” ranks 262nd out of 32482, placing it in the 1% most deprived areas in the country.
  2. Sold House Prices. Nelson appears in 10th place in the list of towns with the lowest property prices (averaging £97,307); Oxford Street in Brierfield, Nelson appears in 4th place in the list of streets with the lowest property prices (averaging £19,943).
  3. An Early History of Burnley, Pendle and West Craven Clayton 2006, p.118
  4. 4.0 4.1 Metcalfe 2005, p.7.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Metcalfe 2005, p.8.
  6. Nicolaisen 1970, p.140
  7. Metcalfe 2005, p.8
  8., 24 June 2007. Accessed 6 September 2007.
  9. HTNW (2010) "Lomeshaye Mill, School and Bridge Cottage",
  10. HTNW (2010) "St Marys Church, Nelson",


  • Clayton John A. (2006). The Valley of the Drawn Sword - The Early History of Burnley, Pendle and West Craven. Barrowford Press. ISBN 978-0-9553821-0-9. 
  • Metcalf M. (2005). Nelson (Images of England). Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7524-3630-2. 
  • Nicolaisen W. F. H., Gelling M., & Richards M. (1970). The Names of Towns and Cities in Britain. B. T. Batsford Ltd. ISBN 0-7134-0113-3.