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Lancashire Towns & Major Villages


Alphabetical order – continued:

Leigh

Leigh is Anglo-Saxon in origin, and
it’s name means a “pasture” or “meadow”. Leigh
did not exist as a named entity before early mediaeval times, but
the district contained a few scattered cottages among a rather poor
quality landscape. Leigh was formed as a parish in the 12th century
and comprised six townships – Bedford,
Pennington,
Westleigh, Astley, Atherton and Tyldesley-with-Shakerley.
A church existed, oddly, standing across the boundaries of Westleigh
and of Pennington. The market place, near the church, was on the Pennington
side of the boundary.
In 1875 the three old townships were joined together and in 1894 part
of Atherton was added and the Urban District of Leigh came into being
as a result. In August 1899 by Charter it became the Borough of Leigh,
and remained so until Local Government reorganisation of 1974, when
it became part of the Wigan Metropolitan
Borough.

Newton-le-Willows

Newton is located near the intersection
of an old road between Haydock and Lowton, and a Roman road from Warrington
to
Wigan, and probably got it’s name
during Saxon times when it emerged, simply as a “new town”.
However, excavations at Castle Hill in Newton have revealed ancient
British artefacts dating back to 55 BC and suggest that it was constructed
by the Celts as a burial mound.
During Norman times Newton became the chief town in the Hundred of
Newton. The Domesday Book of 1086 shows that much of the lands in
Newton had been taken over by Robert de Banastre. The Banastres probably
built a castle or baronial mansion in Newton, but the site of it is
uncertain.
In 1258 Robert de Banastre was granted a Charter to hold markets and
fairs in the town, to be held near the site of the present St. Peter*s
Church. These markets were held on Saturdays and Mondays, and the
fairs in May and July.
In 1286 Alice, sole heir to the Banastre family , married John Langton,
and the land passed into ownership of the Langton family.
Newton elected its first MPs to Parliament in 1559, during the reign
of Queen Elizabeth I. Later the area fell under the ownership of the
Fleetwoods and then in 1660 Richard Legh of Lyme in Cheshire bought
Newton from the Fleetwood family and became lord of the manor.

Ormskirk

Ormskirk, Lancashire
Ormskirk
.
Aerial Photograph Courtesy of www.webbaviation.co.uk © 2005

Ormskirk’s first permanent inhabitants
were probably Scandinavian settlers (Danes, Vikings or Norsemen) from
Ireland and the Isle of Man who invaded and settled in the north-west
of England in the 9th century. Among their number was one Orme, a
leader who settled on the coast just south of the River Ribble in
840 AD. Orme was a Christian, or at least was an early convert as
it was he who built a ‘kirk’ (church) on the hill where the
settlement was situated. Hence, the settlement in time came to be
known as ‘Orme’s Kirk’.
In 1286 the monks of Burscough Priory were granted a Royal Charter
by King Edward I to hold a market in the town every week on Thursdays.
Soon the town became a major commercial and trading centre for the
surrounding farmlands. Later, in 1461, King Edward IV granted a charter
for the holding of annual fairs. In 1876 the Saturday market day was
added to the original Thursday market day and regular horse and cattle
fairs were held in the town until they died out in the early part
of the twentieth century. The market still exists today
.

Pendle

The Borough of Pendle consists
of the townships of Colne, Nelson, Barnoldswick and Brierfield, though
there are several smaller villages scattered around the borough including
Earby, Foulridge, Trawden, Reedley, Kelbrook, Winewall, Wycollar and
Barrowford.
The earliest settlements in Pendle date back to the Mesolithic Period
(as far back as 12,000 BC) where flint tools and stone axe heads have
been found at Boulsworth Moor, Monkroyd, Wycoller and Catlow.
Later a major settlement existed at the hill fort at Castercliffe
dated at 6 BC and was populated by the Brigantes – an early
Celtic tribe.
After the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century AD, the
land was frequently attacked by continental invaders from North Germany
– the Angles. They colonised much of Marsden (Nelson) and Trawden.

By the 11th century, Pendle became border territory and suffered further
incursions from Scandinavia – the Vikings. Pendle was given over to
Viking rule by Alfred of Wessex as part of “Danelaw”. It
was at this time that the town probably got its name from “pen”
(meaning hill).
1612 saw the infamous trials of the so-called Lancashire Witches,
when twelve people from Pendle were tried and seven hanged for witchcraft.

Poulton-le-Fylde

Poulton – (perhaps originally
“Poolton” ) means, simply, “the town by the pool”
Its name is derived from the River Wyre, situated at the bottom of
the Breck at Skippool. In the 1086 Domesday Survey, Poulton was counted
in the in the 60 villages in the Amounderness Hundred.
Poulton never had a Charter to hold a market, but one had existed
there unofficially over many centuries, and was first mentioned in
a document of 1628, by which time it was already well established.
Thus the town became an important market and commercial centre for
local farmsteads with blacksmiths, farriers, nail makers, carpenters
and joiners, shoemakers, dressmakers and tailors in trade as well
as all manner of food and victual suppliers. The market cross still
stands in the square though regular markets have not been held there
for some time. In 1842 “le-Fylde” was added to the town
name to distinguish it from nearby Poulton-le-Sands near Morecambe
.

Prescot

The name Prescot probably comes
from the Anglo-Saxon “prescota-cot” meaning a ‘priest
cottage’ and it was the centre of large medieval parish in the West
Derby Hundred. Originally it included fourteen other townships including
St Helens.
In 1333 the Lord of the Manor, William D’Acre, was granted the right
to hold a weekly market. In 1391 the manor was sold to John of Gaunt
and on his death passed to his son, who subsequently became King Henry
IV. A Royal Charter exempted the people of Prescot from paying taxes.
A number of potteries in the area provided an important source of
revenue and by 1592 there were seven pottery kilns known to exist
in the town. Thus the town producing fine pottery, examples of which
can be seen in Prescot Museum. Coal was also mined near the town in
the early 16th century. The local mine prospered until the opening
of the Sankey Canal in 1767 which broke the town’s monopoly of supply
to the City of Liverpool. Watchmaking was also introduced into Prescot
by Huguenot refugees from France. Watchmaking skills were further
developed by local blacksmiths, and by 1795 Prescot was said to produce
the best watches and clocks in the world
.

Preston

The City of Preston is the administrative
centre of the County of Lancashire and the seat of Lancashire County
Council. It has a long and celebrated history with Preston Parish
Church dating back to the 8th century AD. It was in 1179 that Preston’s
first Charter is granted by King Henry II. It is located at the centre
of Lancashire’s business and transport network – within easy access
of major motorways – the M6 for Birmingham and the Lake District,
the M61 to Bolton and Manchester, the M55 to Blackpool and Lytham
and the M65 into east Lancashire.
Preston’, as a university town, currently has around 25,000 students,
with the University of Central Lancashire in Preston as the sixth
largest and one of the fastest growing Universities in the UK.
The economy of Preston is largely based on traditional manufacturing
industries such as textiles and engineering. Major employers include:
Alstom train manufactures and BAe Systems who produce military and
commercial aircraft. Preston has a population of around 129,000, and
was awarded city status in April 2002 by Her Majesty the Queen in
celebration of her Golden Jubilee.

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© John Moss, Papillon Graphics AD 2013 Manchester, United Kingdom – all rights reserved.
This page last updated 16 Nov 12.