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Things to do in Colne, Lancashire

Colne is a former cotton town which is fortunate enough to be located in a very attractive semi-rural area. The town is dominated by Pendle Hill, which is famous for the Pendle Witches.

Colne Parish Church © Richard Sims
Colne Parish Church © Richard Sims

The town was originally a Roman settlement called Colunio and there are remains of a Roman fort on the outskirts of the town at Tum Hill.

Colne is known as the "Bonnie town on the hill" built as it is at the top of a hill. Over the years it prospered and spread out down both sides of the hill into what is called the North and South Valleys.

The town is centred upon a long straddling road which runs along the ridge of this hill.

The town centre has a good range of shops and a small covered market hall.

The Slab Bridge at Whycoller Hall Nr Colne. © Mr Philip Moon (HKt.B)
Slab Bridge at Whycoller Hall Nr Colne © Mr Philip Moon (HKt.B)

There is also a retail park at North Valley and a large outlet shopping centre called Boundary Mill on the border with Nelson.

The town has lost most of its traditional industry but is now emerging as a perhaps unlikely tourist attraction.

The main tourist attraction in the town is Wycollar Country Park. It is based on the area around the small hamlet of Wycollar which lies in a narrow valley.

At one time the local water board planned to flood the valley and turn it into a reservoir. Local protests stopped this and ever since, the village has been preserved and is now a very popular tourist attraction.

The Great Fireplace at Whycoller Hall Nr Colne.. © Mr Philip Moon (HKt.B)
The Great Fireplace at Whycoller Hall Nr Colne © Mr Philip Moon (HKt.B)

The centrepiece of the village is the ruins of Wycollar Hall, which has links to the Bronte sisters from the neighbouring town of Haworth. There is a small heritage centre attached to the library in the town centre.

The main event which brings crowds into the town is a music festival which is held every August bank holiday.

The town has 3 theatres, including the Municipal Hall which regularly hosts shows by well-known entertainers. Colne was also the place where Britains first purpose-built cinema was.

The towns most famous son is Wallace Hartley. Although not a household name, he is the conductor who famously made the Titanic's orchestra carry on playing whilst the ship sank.

His funeral in the town attracted a crowd of 50,000 for the procession.

The Pack Horse Bridge at Whycoller Hall Nr Colne.. © Mr Philip Moon (HKt.B)
The Pack Horse Bridge at Whycoller Hall Nr Colne © Mr Philip Moon (HKt.B)

Colne's football team reached Wembley in 1988 and won the FA Vase. The team enjoyed a dramatic rise through the leagues in the 1980s and were only refused promotion to the highest non-league division because the ground was not passed as satisfactory.

Unfortunately, the team disbanded but another team now plays in the regional league at Holt House Stadium.

Colne is certainly worth a visit, for its beautiful scenery and its tourist attractions. It is also a great base for a touring holiday, with the Yorkshire Dales being only 12 miles away.

The important tourist towns of Skipton, HarrogateBlackpool and Morecambe are close by, as is Manchester with all its attractions.

Description by Robert Holmes

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