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Accrington Town Hall
Accrington shown within Lancashire
|OS grid reference|
|– London||222 miles (357 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||North West England|
Accrington Town Hall
Accrington shown within Lancashire
|OS grid reference|
|– London||222 miles (357 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||North West England|
Accrington is a town in the Hyndburn borough of Lancashire, England. It lies about 4 miles (6 km) east of Blackburn, 6 miles (10 km) west of Burnley, 20 miles (32 km) north of Manchester city centre and is situated on the mostly culverted River Hyndburn. Commonly abbreviated by locals to "Accy", the town has a population of 35,203 according to the 2001 census and the urban area 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 F.C. and the Haworth Art Gallery which holds Europe's largest collection of Tiffany Glass.
The name Accrington appears to be Anglo-Saxon in origin. 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.
The name may mean acorn farmstead from Anglo-Saxon æcern meaning acorn and tun meaning farmstead or village. 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. Anglo-Saxon ᴁcerntun might become Middle English Akerenton, Akerinton and the like. Also worth considering is that in the Lancashire dialect acorn was akran.
There is no known Old English personal name from which the first element can be derived. But if the Frisian names Akkrum, Akkeringa and Dutch name Akkerghem, are derived from the personal name Akker there may be a corresponding Old English name from which Accrington may be derived.
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. There have been settlements there since the medieval period, likely in the Grange Lane and Black Abbey area, 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. 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. What is known is that there was a chapel in Accrington prior to 1553 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. St. James's Church was built in 1763, replacing the old chapel however it did not achieve parochial status until as late as 1870.
Until around 1830 visitors considered Accrington to be just a "considerable village". 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.
Industrialisation resulted in rapid population growth during the nineteenth century, as people moved from over north-west England to Accrington, with the population increasing from 3,266 in 1811 to 10,376 in 1851 to 43,211 in 1901 to its peak in 1911 at 45,029.
This fast population growth and slow response from the established church 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. The Swedenborgian church was so grand that it was considered to be the ‘Cathedral’ of that denomination.
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).
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. From 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. 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. The strike was associated with the Chartist movement but eventually proved unsuccessful in its aims.
In the early 1860s the Lancashire cotton famine badly affected Accrington, although less so than the wider area due to its more diverse economy, with as many as half of the town's mill employees out of work at one time.
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.
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, in 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 World War I. 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 World War II. The trenches from which the Accrington Pals advanced on 1 July 1916 are still visible in John Copse west of the village of Serre, and there is a memorial there made of Accrington brick.
After World War I 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 2001 census gave the population of Accrington town as 35,203. The figure for the urban area was 71,224, up 1.1% from 70,442 in 1991. This total includes Accrington, Church, Clayton-le-Moors, Great Harwood and Oswaldtwistle. For comparison purposes that is approximately the same size as Aylesbury, Carlisle, Guildford or Scunthorpe urban areas.
The borough of Hyndburn as a whole has a population of 81,496. This includes Accrington Urban Area and other outlying towns and villages such as; Altham, Baxenden, part of Belthorn, Huncoat, Rishton and Stanhill.
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. 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.
The outdoor market, with 37 stalls, is next to it and opens on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Near the town centre there is the Eastgate Retail Park.
|This section requires expansion. (November 2009)|
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 300-400m. 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 133.5m; the bench mark on the side of the neighbouring Town Hall is 441.10 feet.
The town has strong local travel links as Accrington railway station lies on the East Lancashire Line serving trains running locally and trains running from Blackpool to York. However, recent changes to the train timetables have been a disservice to Accrington, increasing the journey time to Preston (a vital link to London or Scotland) by up to 1.5 hours. However, there are still buses to Manchester every thirty minutes as well as more frequent services to other towns in east Lancashire. The main road running through the town centre is the A680 running from Rochdale to Whalley. The town is served by junction seven of the M65 and is linked from the A680 and the A56 dual carriageway which briefly merge; linking to the M66 motorway heading towards Manchester. The closest airports are Manchester Airport at 27 miles (43 km), Blackpool Airport at 28 miles (45 km) and Leeds Bradford Airport at 30 miles (48 km).
There was once a rail link south to Manchester via Haslingden and Bury, but this was closed in the 1960s as part of cuts following the Beeching Report. The trackbed from Accrington to Baxenden is now a linear treelined cycleway/footpath. A train service to Manchester via the Todmorden Curve on the Caldervale Line is planned to start in 2014.
Bus operators Pilkington Bus and M & M Coaches are based in Accrington, and Holmeswood Coaches, Rossendalebus and Transdev subsidiaries Burnley & Pendle and Lancashire United also provide bus services in the town; routes serve places such as Blackburn, Oswaldtwistle, Rishton, Burnley and Clitheroe.
Accrington is represented in parliament as a part of the constituency of Hyndburn. Note that the constituency boundaries do not align exactly with those of the district of the same name.
Accrington was first represented nationally after the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 after the 1885 general election by Accrington (UK Parliament constituency). This seat was abolished in the 1983 general election and replaced with the present constituency of Hyndburn (UK Parliament constituency).
Hyndburn consists of 16 wards of 35 councillors. Due to its size Accrington is represented by a number of wards in the Borough of Hyndburn. The town largely consists of the Milnshaw, Peel, Central, Barnfield and Spring Hill wards, although some parts of those wards are in other towns in the borough.
Accrington became incorporated as a municipal borough in 1878. Under the Local Government Act 1972, since 1974, the town has formed part of the larger Borough of Hyndburn including the former Urban Districts of Oswaldtwistle, Church, Clayton-le-Moors, Great Harwood and Rishton.
State secondary schools in Accrington include:
Rhyddings Business and Enterprise High School, in nearby Oswaldtwistle, also serves the area.
Accrington and Rossendale College (also known as Accross) is a further education college for 14–19-year-olds.
The local hospital is Accrington Victoria Hospital however, as it only deals with minor issues, A&E is provided by the Royal Blackburn Hospital. Other services are provided at the Accrington Pals Primary Health Care Centre and the Accrington Acorn Primary Health Care Centre. Some wards in Accrington rank amongst the most deprived in terms of healthcare and life expectancy in the country. According to the 1991 census 28% of houses in the borough were considered 'unfit', chiefly those in Accrington and Church. A current urban regeneration scheme, Elevate East Lancashire, is attempting to remedy these problems.
The town's other famous association is with Accrington Stanley F.C., 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 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. Coincidentally, one of the teams relegated—and thus being replaced by Stanley—were Oxford United, who were voted into the Football League to replace the previous Accrington Stanley. 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.
An earlier club, Accrington F.C., 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.
Local Swimming Club Pioneer 79 is based in the area and uses Acrrington Swimming Pool. The club coaches a broad spectrum of age groups, including local swimmer Niamh Robinson who is sponsored by local company TP Properties.
The Haworth Art Gallery 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".
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