Tourist guide to Nelson



First published in Tourist guide Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Photograph of the Author by

It is often stated that Nelson is a modern town sandwiched between the two ancient settlements of Burnley and Colne.

This is not quite true as Nelson is still based around the two old villages of Great and Little Marsden not to mention the string of ancient villages situated on the foothills of Pendle which is almost but not quite high enough to be classed as a mountain.

Nelson takes its name from the Lord Nelson pub and would not have developed had it not been for cotton, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the railway.

These days the town centre is pedestrianised and there is good parking but some of it is disc.

The closed market is relatively modern but there is plenty of Lankie twang and character.

To the northeast, close to the junction of Townhouse Road and Boulsworth Crescent is what is left of the once magnificent Marsden Hall.

This was the power base of the de Walton family until 1912 when the family ran out of male heirs.

Then the local authority purchased the estate, created Marsden Park, but sadly demolished most of the hall.

One important section was thankfully left and has been used as a restaurant.

Nearby is a unique sundial dating from 1841 and which these days seldom receives more than a cursory glance.

The unique feature is the 1841 sundial which compares the time in other regions of the world which were important during this period.

On it there are spike-like indicators which provide details of the time in many parts of the world including Jerusalem, Calcutta, London, Moscow, Ceylon, Buenos Aires and perhaps prophetically Fort Nelson in the USA.

Up on the hills between Nelson and Colne is Walton Tower a small but prominent monument dating to 1835. It looks almost like a rocket about to blast off.

Long before Nelson helped the Industrial Revolution to blast off this upland area was settled and there are remnants of stone circles, Bronze Age settlements and an Iron Age fort.

This is known as Castercliffe and the earthworks situated about one mile from the Walton spire and astride the old road to Colne.

The information centre at Nelson provides the visitor with lots of places to visit including Brierfield, Barrowford, Blacko, Roughlee, Newchurch and Barley which is the ideal place from which to climb Pendle.

The modern road connecting Nelson with Colne in one direction and Burnley in the other, runs along the valley bottom, but the old high road still exists.

Like the Marsden sundial, the road has kept its secret nooks and crannies for thos with the time and energy to seek them out.

Carr Hall Lane in Nelson cuts between two housing estates and the modern bypass which carries traffic between Padiham and Nelson.

Carr Hall itself has long been demolished, but its impressive gatehouse can still be seen among the modern houses.

The drive, which once led up to the hall and now on the opposite side of the bypass, remains a fascinating feature and concerns the layout of the trees.

These days a herd of deer roam among the trees.

Many local men fought in the Battle of Waterloo and soon after the history, victory trees were planted and arranged in battle order.

Splendid and now old oaks still stand and mark the observation points marking the battle stations.

Other trees relate to the rank and file soldiers.

Carr Hall Lane now never receives a second glance unless folk remark on the deer and they therefore miss one of the most interesting War Memorials to be found in Britain.

The old roads and trading tracks around Nelson are well worth exploring.

One of the most interesting leads along Halifax Road to Harle Syke and on to Noggarth and obviously to Halifax.

In the days before cotton, wool was the important textile and the Piece Hall in Halifax was the most important trading centre.

Beyond Harle Syke is Roggerham Gate and on the old Halifax Road stands the remnant of the Noggarth Cross.

This was one of a number of crosses set up to guide medieval travellers across the desolate moorland paths.

They were gradually forgotten as lowland areas were drained and new roads subsequently built.

Those who explore modern-day Nelson should take time to explore Marsden and the old halls and highways which are all so steeped in history.


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